Fall and Winter are prime times to purchase a Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Sea-Doo, experts say
Whether you’re simply watching those Jet Skis circling The Statue of Liberty in Manhattan or taking to Philadelphia's Delaware River over the summer, you’re most likely thinking: “Hmm … that looks like fun!”
Well the time to buy a Personal Water Craft (PWC) is at the end of the season and, regrettably, that’s almost here. Fall and winter are prime time to invest in a used PWC. In fact, two-thirds of online respondents in a poll of PWCToday readers agree to wait until post season to buy.
Kawasaki's Jet Ski, Yamaha's WaveRunner and Bombardier's Sea-Doo are among the power brands in an active PWC market. Since their introduction in the early 1960's, PWCs have come a long way. You can still get the old-school 2-stroke, stand-up models, which require mixing oil and gas for fuel, but used PWCs today that comfortably seats two, three, or even four fun lovers, at prices that generally range between $4K to $14K. The price range varies on condition and the bells and whistles. Financing and PWC-dedicated insurance plans are readily available.
Kelley Blue Book estimates the value of used jet skis. For a 2012 Kawasaki four-stroke, four cylinder model, KBB suggests $6,140 to begin negotiation with a dealer, so you're safe thinking that it will cost you under $6K. But don’t forget to add in annual operating costs including gasoline, registration of the ski and a trailer if necessary, and insurance, maintenance and repairs, and storage, if needed.
The Kawasaki described above runs on 87 octane gasoline, just like the family car. The time and distance a tank of gas will take you depends on lots of variables but posters at PWCToday indicate that 50 miles and 8 hours or more per tank is a safe estimate.
BEFORE YOU BUY
The most inclusive info websites we found, with great threads and links, are jetski.com and PWCToday. You'll save time by checking them first.
Jet skis are high-performance machines, ranging from 500 to 1500 cc's and more than 300 horsepower. They require care and maintenance throughout the season and then storage and winterizing in northern climates during the off season/Inside storage is recommended but a cover may be enough in temperate zones.
Obviously, inspect before you buy. If you're a mechanical DIYer, it'll be fairly simple. If you're not, bring a mechanically-oriented friend. Giving a close inspection of the fiberglass body will tell you a lot about how it's been used. Ask questions. How many hours are on the engine? A PWC with 50 hours is considered a low-hour machine and 300 hours is typically the max you can expect, according to a USA Today analysis. Where has it skied? Cruising or racing? Winterized or not? Questions and inspections are key because unless the ski is near water, you won't get to test drive it.
REGISTRATION AND INSURANCE
Every state requires PWC registration ($26.25 in New York and about $50 for two years in Pennsylvania), according to information collected in August, 2015. Only two states, Arkansas and Utah require PWC insurance.
Although your homeowners policy may provide some PWC and trailer protection off the water, state DMV websites strongly recommend insuring your ski against liability, collision or damage. If you have a boat most companies will allow you to buy a rider but there are differences between boat and PWC insurance.
The average cost of insuring a PWC varies dramatically, from as little as about $150 to highs of $500 or more. This depends on coverage levels and potential add ons, including injuries you may incur from an uninsured boater, wreck removal or towing, personal property coverage, and PWC trailer coverage.
The PWC industry has been focused on safety for 20 years, according to jetski.com. It reports that PWC usage is up 39 per cent and accidents reduced 22 percent in the past two decades. Still, there are more than 5,500 PWC accidents annually so insurance and safety education are important.
More states are requiring a safe boating course before PWC use so check your DMV for boating education rules.