How Much Does it Cost to Rebuild a Jet Ski Engine? All Factors Considered


Next time you are on the water and notice your engine running funny, or it totally dies, you may begin to think about rebuilding your engine. There are many parts involved and special tools, but most jobs can be done DIY or you can use hired help at the shop.

How much does it cost to rebuild a jet ski engine?

A jet ski will range from to if you are able to DIY rebuild the top end of your jet ski engine. If you need to take it to a shop, figure about $65 per hour of labor and about 8-16 hours depending on your jet ski. Parts through the dealer may be 20% more expensive due to their markup.

Smaller, older models of jet skis will probably have 2-stroke motors, while the larger ones will likely run 4-stroke engines.

As you can probably guess, the larger, 4-stroke engines will cost a bit more to rebuild. Although the parts for these engines are much more common, and in general there’s plenty of resources to use when rebuilding these types of engines.

2-stroke engines are smaller, and the parts you can find will be cheaper, but most personal watercraft (PWCs) run 4-strokes these days. You will have to do some searching to find decent parts to rebuild these as many are not made anymore, and it might take a bit more creative building.

For this article we won’t be looking into how to rebuild these engines, but what parts you will need and how much it’s going to cost. So take a quick look, and see if rebuilding a PWC is within the budget for your next DIY project.

The Parts Involved with Rebuilding a Jet Ski Engine

While rebuilding the engine on your jet ski, you may need some or all of the following parts. While estimating how much parts will cost, figure replacing more than may be needed. For example: if you are already spending the time to change 2 of 3 pistons, you may as well change the third.

●       Pistons Kits ($100-$200)

Most piston kits you will find on the lower end of this in the $100-$140 range, if you’re looking at a supercharged engine, it will be more expensive. Most piston kits will include: 

  • Piston
    • Steel rings
    • Cir-clips
    • Piston pin

Be sure to look for warranties on these kits as well, some places and websites will offer a lifetime warranty on these. You never know when things might go wrong, so it’s a great idea to keep the safety net up, especially if you’re inexperienced in rebuilding these engines.

Keep in mind if this price is each. If you have a 4 stroke, your piston cost would be $800 if all four are bad. Typically only one will go out, but as a precaution, it may be wise to replace all if you have low compression.

●       Gasket Kits ($75 – $250)

A gasket is a material that fills in the space between two mating surfaces to prevent leakage at the joint. Two surfaces are generally not perfectly matched, so something is needed to create a seal. Gaskets are used as this seal to prevent pressure or liquids from leaking out between irregular mating surfaces.

Complete gasket kits will include head gaskets and o-rings, base gaskets, intake gaskets, exhaust gaskets, and other gaskets specific to the type of make and model of the jet ski.

There is such a wide price range on this because gaskets of the age of the PWC engine matters a lot in the pricing of these gaskets. For most 1990 – 2000 jet skis, you will see gaskets kits run for less than $100, while ones from this last decade will cost you nearly double.

●       Rods and Bearings ($80-$100)

These rods connect the pistons to the crankshaft and will usually run for around $85. Most of the time these will come with washers, a piston pin, a lower rod bearing, and a wrist-pin bearing as well. Of course, you can search around a good bit to find some better deals.

I’ve seen some sites charge $130 for a crankshaft rod, there are definitely deals to be found on these parts.

●       Motor Mounts ($45 – $60)

Large displacement engines and the force from impacts received in jumping waves can cause enormous forces to be exerted onto the motor mount. This of course is what getting a good motor mount is for, higher-priced ones will live a bit longer life, and can take more jumps if you plan to go out on rougher waters.

A benefit of replacing your old Jet Ski mounts is that the excessive vibration and movement of your Jet Ski engine will slowly degrade the rest of your driveline, bearings, driveshafts, etc.

You can likely find older motor mounts for cheaper but these may have corrosion on them and is something to look out for if you find cheap motor mounts that will need replacement soon after you install them.

●       Cylinder Sleeves ($80 – $100)

The purpose of a jet ski cylinder sleeve is to provide a wear surface for the piston rings. As the piston moves in the cylinder, the cylinder walls can become very worn and damaged. In such cases, the use of a sleeve made of hard metal can restore proper clearances to an engine.

There are two types of sleeves: centrifugal spun cast iron and poured cast iron. Poured cast iron sleeves are usually more prone to weakness and porosity, and are thus on the lower end of the price range above.

So when you’re looking at these parts, be sure to take note of which type of sleeve you are purchasing, and you can potentially spot a great deal.

● Crankshafts ($200-$800)

If you need to replace your crankshaft, it will be more of a full engine rebuild and not a top end job. Crankshafts will range from $200 if you have an older 2 stroke jet ski to above $800 if you have a newer 4 stroke engine.

The crank shaft is really the heart of your engine and they can get warped or simply break. The pistons ride on the crankshaft so if you do bad piston damage, you may want to check the alignment of the crankshaft.

The bearings on the crankshaft are also known to go out as they can rust due to the running environment, aka water.

Different Types of Jet Skis

There most common brands of Jet Skis are as follows:

  • Sea-Doo
  • Kawasaki
  • Polaris
  • Tigershark
  • Yamaha

Needless to say, all of these run different engines, and some will need more expensive parts to get them running.

Sea-Doo complete engine rebuild kits are pretty reasonably priced and will cost you around $275-$330. These are the most common jet skis you’ll see around, and there are plenty of resources to use to help your process along the way.

Kawasaki kits are the most expensive and can run up to $450 for the priciest ones. Only the more expensive Yamaha complete rebuild kits will come up about the $400 mark.

Of course, this is just for the complete kits for these specific types of brands. If you’re going for the individual parts route, you may be able to find a rebuilt motor for a good price, however, you’ll be looking at a lot more work for yourself along the way.

Special Tools

In order to put together these complex engines, you will need a little bit more variety to your toolkit than some wrenches and screwdrivers. Here is a quick overview of some of the specialized tools you may need to put together your PWC engine:

These are just a few examples of what kind of tools you will need depending on the brand of engine you’ll be rebuilding. Most of these tools cost $10 – $20 or less but you should research exactly what these tools are used for before buying.

Some tools are specific for Sea-Doo engines, others for Kawasaki, and not to mention it can depend on what year the engine is from whether the tool you bought will be of any use.

The Wrap Up

All in all, it’s hard to say how much it will cost you personally in your venture to rebuild your jet ski engine.

Surely, you’ve seen the videos on Youtube that say they rebuilt their Kawasaki engine from scratch for only $300. Of course, they had every tool available to them and a work garage to make it as simple as possible.

If you already have the engine and are just looking for a complete rebuild kit, you may only need to spend $300-$400. However, if you’re looking at rebuilding with individual parts, you may run it up to around $500 or more.

Any which way you slice it, rebuilding your PWC engine yourself will save you a ton of money. Shops will likely charge you more in labor than what they paid for the kits themselves, and with a little bit of time and know-how, you will be back out on the water in no time. 

Eric

I have been an avid boater / jet ski fanatic since I was a kid.

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