“What is the most reliable jet ski?” is one of the most popular questions from new buyers. Ironically, the most reliable jet ski is actually a waverunner. The term “jet ski” refers to Kawasaki’s PWC (personal watercraft), but a “waverunner” is the name of Yamaha’s PWC. So in reality, the most reliable jet ski isn’t a jet ski at all.
While ultimately it depends on make, model, and opinion, most experienced riders would agree that Yamaha makes the most reliable “jet ski” on the market.
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Why Yamaha is the most reliable jet ski
Yamaha’s waverunners are not only dependable, but easy to work on. Many people are okay with occasional maintenance, (and they should be) but some engines can be very difficult to work on even for experienced mechanics. It doesn’t take very much skill to do the simple repairs that may be required down the line on a Yamaha engine.
That being said, other jet ski models shouldn’t be ruled out as a first time purchase. Yamaha may make some of the longest lasting “jet skis”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they make the best jet ski. Several other questions should be asked before deciding which brand to go with. Are you looking for a family jet ski? Do you want the fastest jet ski you can find? What is your budget? These are all points that should be addressed before making a decision.
Yamaha makes some of the most reliable watercraft, but you may find another brand fits your needs better. The Sea Doo Vs Yamaha Vs Kawasaki argument is a prime example of this. Each of them have at least a few models that outshine their competition. Although it’s easy to start picking sides, remember that no manufacturer is perfect. Just because one company had the best option one year, doesn’t mean they’ll still have it the next.
Other factors to consider
Many people find that jet skis designed for cruising last longer and require fewer repairs than performance jet skis. If dependability is what you’re looking for, you may want to bypass the sporty models.
Another big factor that effects a jet ski’s longevity is the type of engine. A 4 stroke is much easier to maintain than a 2 stroke, and they tend to last longer as well. That being said, it’s probably better to skip out on the Yamaha Superjet considering it’s one of the last remaining 2 stroke engines. This is a bit of an anomaly though, which is almost certainly due to that fact that it’s a stand up model. You’ll find new jet skis almost always have 4 stroke engines. The industry has been slowly pushing out most 2 stroke models. Within the next few years, they’ll most likely be completely removed from the industry.
If you’re planing on buying a used jet ski, try avoiding any supercharged engines. A supercharged engine will without a doubt have more required maintenance. Skipping out on speed may be necessary if you’re looking for longevity.
Yamaha’s Waverunners take home the trophy for the most reliable jet ski, but there are some good runner ups. Kawasaki and the now extinct Honda jet skis are both renowned for their dependability.
The problem with Kawasaki is they aren’t quite as dependable as a Yamaha, and their engines can be tricky to work on. Many people stand by Kawasaki and argue it as the most reliable jet ski, but in the end Yamaha usually beats them out. The majority of Kawasaki jet ski engines are designed for racing, and they simply don’t have the same longevity as a more moderate and fuel efficient alternative.
Honda is known in more than one industry for making long lasting engines. Their jet ski engines aren’t flawless, but they’ve been known to log hundreds of riding hours without a problem.
Unfortunately, Honda has stopped making jet skis. Now that Honda has stepped out of the jet ski market, parts can be hard to find, and the existing models aren’t exactly getting newer. This doesn’t stop people from keeping their old models, and putting in the required work to bring them back to life. A lot of Honda fans are perfectly okay with their reliability, and have fewer problems then people would expect out of a 10 year old watercraft.
The honest truth
In the end, the most reliable jet ski largely depends on opinion. Dependability can be subjective. What qualifies as “dependable” varies from person to person. Many companies offer great jet skis with amazing engines. This is why it’s always good practice to consider multiple brands, and multiple models. Other companies offer models close to Yamaha’s dependability but generally they don’t quite match it.
If you do choose to look around, you’ll find that most agree with giving Yamaha the title of most reliable jet ski.
I was kind of on the fence about buying a Yamaha but this eased my mind a bit.
We’re glad it helped!
As a Yamaha fan Im a bit biased, but I really agree with the points you made. I definitely respect other models (Kawasaki’s are my second favorite) but Yamahas just seem to last.
Good read, thanks for sharing.
I’ve gone with Yamaha for just about every power sports vehicle you can think of and they’ve never let me down..
I don’t understand why Seadoos don’t match Yamahas reliability since their engines don’t take in sea water (often salt water) to cool their engines but have a system like a car’s radiator. It seem like that would increase longevity substantially.
Ahh, I remember the days of Honda jet ski’s. I kind of wish they’d come back into the game. They were definitely fun to ride!
Good read, but I think you underplayed Sea Doo and Kawi’s a bit. Not to say that Yamaha’s aren’t good but I’ve found other companies, Sea Doo specifically, to be very reliable as well.
Thanks for the feedback Glen!
It can be somewhat difficult to say for sure which brand is the most reliable unless you tested the models head to head in the same conditions for an extended period of time. Sea Doo and Kawasaki definitely make exceptional watercraft, but in the end they seem to require more maintenance than Yamaha.
This is just my personal experience and it should be taken with a grain of salt. All jet ski’s are fun jet ski’s, and each of the brands make great models.
Keep riding whatever makes you happy!
No one talks about the weight capacity limits that the jet skis can carry (max Lbs) I have been looking at both , the Yamaha FX CRUISER HO, it is said to do 63 MPH ,use reg. 87 octane fuel BUT has a weight capacity of 530 LBS and the sea doo GTX LIMITED 300,it is said to do 55 MPH use 87 octane/91 octane recommend (I was told it run real bad on 87 octane,that means $ 15.00 more at each fill up for the 91 octane ) has a weight capacity of 600 LBS. if you look at fuel for them the FX holds 18.5 gal at 6.3 lbs a gal =116 LBS and the GTX holds 15.9 gal at 6.3 lbl =100 LBS . As a fisherman and look at it as I do my boats for off shore fishing 20 + miles out, if you add up fuil,all safty equipment,small ancor,rope,all rod holders large cooler(100-150 qt 17lbs ),bait well (5-7 gals),4-6 fishing rods,gaft,landing net,tackle(hooks, lures, pliers,line and other things ) fish finder/gps,compass,vhf radio antanna,spare battery(for all electronics) ice for cool (to ice down fish and food,drinks 12-20 lbs), all the fish catch(I all ways catch 100-200+lbs to bring home and stock up the freezer) 200 lbs for one person , NOW and it up and with just one person,THE FX is max out or 30 lbs over weight limit,the sea doo has about 50-70 lbs still . thefx is more reliable ,faster,uses 87 octane but max out with one person, the GTX is slower needs 91 octane,more at each fill up, and still only one person. all jet skis should by law be fully foamed filled making them 100 % unsinkable and carry a heavier load.I seen on YOU TUBE a lot of jet skis sink fast.and some times you would like to take a nother person fishing with you . running boats with 110-200 gal fuel tanks at $ 3.00 a gal adds up a lot each trip out (20- 60 miles) we though looking in to jet skis might be a good idea and fun to fish from ,but I was hoping there would be a better weight capacity on them….
Comparing jet skis and weight capacitys
Thanks for the excellent write up. I’m currently looking to purchase my first PWC and was leaning towards Yamaha as their boat engines have never let me down. This seals it for me. Thanks!
Glad we were able to help! You can’t go wrong with Yamaha’s marine engines.
Have fun on your new waverunner!
I have a Yamaha and I put a lot of hours on it and ride it hard and put it up wet and it still starts up every time
Sounds like Yamaha people stating Yamaha is the best! A little bias in this report, eh.
Seadoos are bullet proof as well and not really even mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, Yamahas are real good.
Seadoo probably not mentioned as they are the market leader!!!
Prior to making my purchase I went to numerous dealers that sold every make that is made, and virtually ALL of them said Yamaha without a doubt. With that said, I spoke to those that rent them, and the unanimous choice was Yamaha as well. If that isn’t enough information to tell you that Yamaha is king, then nothing will.
I was told by a salesman who sells both Yamaha and Sea Doos that Yamahas generally are built slightly better as a whole but they all have raw water cooling vs. the Sea Doos that have closed-circuit cooling. This means the Yamahas will have to be flushed after each use in salt water and may be more problem-prone sucking in sand or debris into their cooling system. Any comments from those with experience?
My dependable Yamaha has broken the Hull in the same place 4 times. There has been no help from Yamaha. Repaired by Yamaha dealers all 4 times. Just broke again for the 5th. time same spot.
I was a jet ski mechanic for 17 years. Now i just fix them as side jobs out side of my normal full time job. Yamaha water crafts are basically bullet proof. They are built to last, and are mechanic friendly. Plus they hold their value more then other brands. i would put Kawasaki 2nd, Sea Doo 3rd, and Polaris 4th. My little brother Tommy (The Bomber) Bonacci has 6 world title championships >1 on a Sea Doo and 5 on Yamahas, plus 3 amateur world championships on Kawasaki 550 stand up jet skis. He is currently leading the 2018 national tour after winning the first 2 rounds in the sport spec class which he races a Yamaha Blaster. I’ve built and serviced all his race skis which are practiced on and raced, and trust me….he is very hard on his skis. Yamaha builds the most reliable water-craft with out a doubt!
My Dealership (DFW TX area) sells both; Seapoo and Yamaha. Service Mgr. 20+ years told me; “John, Seadoo’s come in this shop ’cause they are broken….Yamahas come in for oil changes and regular maintenance . Swift Water Rescue…Surfing tows in Hawaii….NOTHING but Yamaha. You will NEVER see a seaPoo in those situations…for a reason.
I am deciding on between Yamaha VX Cruiser and VX Cruiser HO. The main difference is the engine 1.0 vs 1.8
Top speed is not that important to me, but I’m wondering if the 1.0 will not last as long due to the higher RPM.
This will answer all the questions on who makes the most reliable Waverunner/PWC on the market.
Answer: Yamaha and why? because yamaha owns 90% of the rental jetski market accross the United states. Seadon’t may sell more jetskis, but remember they are the ones in the shop more than any other jetski on the market. Yes thats right even the Kawis’s are more reliable than the Seadon’t. I have seen 1000 hours on a yamaha VX deluxe, and with no issues other than normal wear and tare.
ive had seadoos and yamaha, seadoo xp951, rxp1500 supercharged..no problems.
Yamaha gp1300r was great , but i was very disappointed when my gp1200 triple blew up. Im sure the 4 strokes are much better..but i don’t think I would buy another two stroke yamaha unless it was converted to premix.
I’m not experienced and have very little knowledge about PWC. But I have put over 100 hours on my 2009 Yamaha, banged into docks, sucked up ski ropes and run in salt and fresh water. Only have I replaced my battery. I’ve even done my own oil changes. But I’ve had brand new motors on mowers, generator, boats…And trust me a can break them all. So Yamaha is #1. Because I can’t seem to break it.
That is a good article. Thanks for being truthful. The other manufacturers will come after you to prove you wrong or keep you quiet.
So Yamaha 2 stroke as a 2nd hand purchase , will I be able to get parts in 5 or 10 yrs time . Will the 2 strokes be banned ?
Having owned Yamaha ATV’s I can honestly say they are very reliable and a great ride. I also own Seadoo’s as well. While the Seadoo’s require more maintenance, they still are a cheaper entry into the PWC market. Having read your article I am starting to look at upgrading my PWC’s for the coming riding season. Maybe will have to become a Full on Yamaha family ??
I have got a Yamaha Waveblaster 2 on the back of my boat. I have owned this ski for 4 years it has never let me down and it has probably done 6/700 hours and pretty sure the engine has never been appart!!!!!