Buying a Personal Watercraft (PWC): 7 Things to Consider
Fast, nimble, and fun, riding a personal watercraft, or PWC, is a great way to spend an afternoon jumping waves, racing, or even just zipping along the coast.
But let’s put all fun aside just for a second because if you’re looking to buy a jet ski, there are at least seven things we think you should consider before handing over your hard-earned cash.
- How much
- Best time of year to buy
- What PWC is right for you
- What do you plan on doing with your PWC
- PWC inspection
- Go on a sea trial
- Lifejackets for PWCs
How much should you pay for your jet ski?
Like any other vehicle, a jet ski’s value can depend on whether it is new or used, how many hours it has been run, and the kind of care it received from the previous owner.
New PWC prices for inexpensive models can start around $5,000 and reach into the tens of thousands of dollars for high-end models.
Do some research online and compare the new or used PWC you are considering with similar models of the same size, age, and horsepower. By comparing the price of several similar models, you can get a good idea of that model’s market value.
What is the best time of year to buy a Jet Ski?
The best time to buy jet skis and other personal watercraft is usually in the fall or winter.
People often switch to larger or smaller models, different performance characteristics, or other options altogether when the season ends and the weather gets cooler.
When buying while the weather is cold, remember that it may be difficult, or even impossible, to take the PWC for a test ride.
Which type of personal watercraft is right for you?
How do you picture yourself on your PWC: standing up or cruising while sitting? For people who want extra agility, the ability to do tricks, and a smaller package, a stand-up jet ski might be best.
A Yamaha WaveRunner is probably best for those who want to spend more time on the water or carry a second rider. Their extra size, capacity, and comfort can make it easy to play in the sun all day long.
Pro Tip: Check for available PWCs for rent near you, and try different styles and types out.
What do you plan to do with your PWC?
There are so many options today that it’s easy to find the perfect fit for your wants and needs. Do you want to spend the day jumping waves on the Atlantic Ocean, or are you looking for the ability to pack camping gear and go off exploring in Alaska?
There are personal watercraft made to carry extra passengers, tow wakeboarders, go fishing, or just go racing across the open water. Which one is right for you?
Get the personal watercraft inspected before you buy
Like any other vehicle, jet skis and personal watercraft can have hidden structural or mechanical problems that may go unnoticed. Be sure to have any used PWC inspected by an experienced professional before you buy.
Go on a test run or “sea trial”
Since one of the best times to buy a Jet Ski is in the fall, cold weather can make it impossible to take the PWC for a test ride. Make your purchase contingent upon a successful sea trial to protect yourself from hidden problems.
Lifejackets when riding (Yes, really!)
Like other watercrafts, there are rules that apply to jet skis, such as the requirement to wear a life jacket while onboard.
Pro Tip: Jet ski owners must follow the same laws and guidelines as other boaters, such as No Wake zones and other common rules of the road.
Be sure you understand any rules or laws that boats and personal watercraft must follow to ensure you have a great day on the water.
And don’t forget, Boatsetter’s here for you; check out these articles for more on PWCs:
- How to Drive a Jet Ski
- 8 Best Jet Skis & Other 2023 PWCs
- Watersports Basics: How to Get Started
- Jet Ski Safety Guide
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Chuck Warren fell in love with boats at 9 years old while helping to restore his grandfather’s 1939 44-foot Elco cruiser. A lifelong boater, Chuck has experience operating large and small vessels on the waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and the Great Lakes.
During his 35-year marine industry career, Chuck has been the driver for several offshore powerboat racing teams, the chief engineer aboard a Caribbean research and salvage vessel, captain of a Florida Keys sunset cruise, and more.
Today, Chuck is a boating industry writer, copywriter, and captain who lives on his 40-foot boat in the summer when he isn’t delivering vessels around the Great Lakes or teaching new boaters to drive. Winters are split between the West Michigan lakeshore and wherever his travels take him.