Does Salt Water Ruin Jet Skis?

Does Salt Water Ruin Jet Skis?

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Owning a Jet Ski or other type of personal watercraft, or PWC, can provide many hours of fun both in salt water and fresh water. The corrosive power of salt water is not a myth, however; it can hurt your PWC. But there are things you can do to protect your investment from the effects of salt water. If done conscientiously and correctly, a watercraft should provide nearly as many hours of use in salt water as it does in fresh water.

Salt Water Use

Though many people buy PWCs just for use in a lake or river, others enjoy taking them to the beach. In fact, many people buy them exclusively for that purpose. Some people use their PWCs in the backwaters near the ocean. It should be noted that these waters still may have a high salt content. PWCs used in these areas will require the same thorough cleaning they would require if used in the ocean.


As salt is the biggest threat to PWCs, cleaning them out after use in the ocean becomes a very important factor. With most of these types of watercraft, there is a way to do that easily. A hose can be hooked up to the water injection port, thus enabling fresh water to go through the interior of the system. This should help maintain the inner workings of the PWC. Using a salt dissolver, along with the fresh water, is another good idea.


The interior mechanical equipment of the Jet Ski is not the only component that needs washing off. Salt water can be a danger to other parts of the vehicle, as well. Therefore, opening up the engine bay and giving it a thorough rinsing is also important. Be careful not to spray electronic components while doing this. Otherwise, the PWC could experience a failure in this area and require expensive repairs.


Though this is often a secondary consideration, the vinyl seats and coverings on the PWC can also take a hit from the salt water. In addition to the engine bay, the outside of the craft should be hosed down, as well. Using a vinyl sealer can also help prolong the life of the upholstery. With a little care, this component should last as long as the rest of the PWC.

Time Frame

As with most types of maintenance, the sooner and more often you do this, the better off your PWC will be. In the case of salt water, it is best to do the cleaning and rinsing as soon as possible after getting the vehicle out of the water. This ensures the salt does not have the time to work its way into the surface materials and begin the corrosion process. Never leave a Jet Ski in salt water for extended periods of time as the vehicles are generally not designed for that.


The question of whether salt water ruins Jet Skis or any other type of PWC is ultimately up to the owner. People who take care of their machines after use in salt water might find they have no problems. Those who do not could find the lives of the machines significantly shortened.

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