We explain how to calculate your jet ski fuel economy so you can better plan your next trip. We cover range, MPG, gas consumption and efficiency.
How far can a jet ski go on a tank of gas?
Well, it depends on a few criteria.
The most important of which is jet ski fuel economy (the rate at which it uses fuel).
This is measured in miles per gallon or mpg. Jet ski mpg varies from one model to the next and can be affected by external factors too.
Some of the basic factors that affect jet ski fuel consumption and therefore jet ski range are:
- Weight – extra cargo will increase the total weight and decrease your jet ski miles per gallon
- Weather conditions – a headwind makes your jet ski work harder to maintain speed
- Water conditions – rough water makes your PWC work harder too
- PWC condition – make sure your watercraft is serviced and in good condition.
- Speed – riding faster uses more fuel. Acceleration also uses more fuel.
We’ll go into this in more detail a bit later on.
How to Calculate Jet Ski Fuel Consumption
The actual MPG of your PWC may vary from the figures quoted by the manufacturer. That’s because there are numerous factors that impact your fuel efficiency (find out all about them in the next section).
Figuring out a jet ski mpg can be harder than figuring out a car or trucks mpg. Jet skis and PWC, in general, are much smaller than average vehicles so their gas usage varies more widely. Adding an extra passenger may not even phase a car’s mpg but it would definitely affect how far a jet ski could go.
To find out your jet ski or waverunners mpg, fill the tank completely up and reset the odometer. Ride until you reach at least half a tank. Keep in mind the closer you get to being empty the more accurate of a calculation you will get. When you are done riding, refill the tank completely. Divide the number of miles you rode by how many gallons you refilled the tank with and that is your jet ski’s MPG.
So basically the formula is: miles ridden / gallons refilled = mpg.
For example, a 10 mile journey that used 2 gallons gives 10/2 = 5 mpg.
It might be easier to do this in kilometers so the measurement would be kpg or kilometers per gallon.
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Major Factors Affecting Jet Ski Range
There are several things that can affect how much gas a jet ski uses.
The faster you ride a jet ski, the more fuel it will use. Most people consider 35mph a cruising speed, anything above that is going to start burning fuel more rapidly. Think of this as city mpg vs highway mpg.
Riding conditions also affect a jet ski’s mpg. Smoother water will also allow watercraft to go farther on less gas. Choppy water makes the jet ski work much harder than usual.
The type of engine greatly determines a jet ski’s mpg. An engine with more than 200hp is most likely not fuel-efficient. More cylinders and a larger displacement are going to increase fuel consumption. It makes sense that a jet ski with a supercharged engine is going to use much more fuel (as well as more expensive fuel) than an average recreational jet ski.
If you find yourself shopping for a high cc supercharged engine, be prepared to pay for the gas and maintenance it’s going to require.
Here’s a list of factors that will affect the range your jet ski has:
- Temperature (of both water and air)
- Water conditions
- Wind direction and speed
- Type of water (saltwater is denser and therefore slower than freshwater)
- Humidity (more humid air is “thicker” and therefore slower)
- Riding style (the ride position of the rider and also how aggressively they ride will affect the fuel efficiency)
- Condition of the PWC
- Weight of rider
- Extra cargo
- Large cargo and size of rider affecting aerodynamics
The speed used for calculating fuel efficiency makes a huge difference. There are two ways of doing this. You can use the WOT or wide-open throttle speed or the cruising speed.
WOT or full throttle speed is just like it sounds and means riding at maximum speed (safely of course!). This is the least fuel-efficient speed at which to travel and therefore is great for making a measurement of your PWC’s lower limit of fuel economy.
The cruising speed should be the optimal speed for fuel-efficiency. This is the most economical speed for you to travel. Generally speaking, it will be around 20-30mph but it’s different for each model.
The style of riding is also a huge factor. Aggressive acceleration and deceleration will have a huge impact on fuel economy. Likewise, avoiding wakes and cornering gently will be beneficial.
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MPG VS GPH
In the world of PWC, often people go by GPH or gallons per hour rather than MPG. The reason being is a lot of people don’t keep track of how far they went, but they know how long they were riding.
On average a jet ski uses 6.5gph-8gph at a cruising speed of 35mph. When the throttle is opened up, a jet ski will use between 20gph and 25gph. As you can see there is a huge margin between the cruising gph and the full throttle gph.
How far a jet ski can go on a tank mostly depends on how it’s ridden. Jumping wakes and racing your friends is fun but it will cost you a little extra. Luckily for riders PWC are generally pretty fuel-efficient. Even supercharged, inter-cooled, high hp engines fare well in comparison to other vehicles. Gas consumption shouldn’t be the biggest concern but it is important to consider.
GPH formula – gallons of gas used / number of hours ridden = GPH (Gallons per hour)
MPG formula – miles ridden / gallons of gas uses = MPG (Miles per gallon)
Do you have any questions or suggestions on figuring out jet ski mpg? Let us know in the comment section below.