Can You Run a WaveRunner Out of Water?

If you have considered purchasing any PWC or jet ski, or specifically a WaveRunner, there are a few key things you should know about these personal watercraft and how they run. While they can be fun and entertaining out on the water, they should always be driven carefully and taken seriously. You should drive any jet ski with as caution as you would a traditional boat.

Can you run a WaveRunner out of water? You can run almost any PWC or jet ski out of water. However, you should never attempt to run your WaveRunner out of the water without proper preparation, as it can cause detrimental damage to your machine’s engine.

You should never try to purposefully or accidentally run your WaveRunner from the water onto a bank or nearby land surface, as this can be extremely dangerous. If you do need to start your jet ski outside of the water, you should only do so no longer than specified in your manual, and only when it is necessary. However, unlike other forms of boats, you can run a jet ski out of the water with the proper care. 

How do Jet Skis Run?

Yamaha, Kawasaki, and most other jet ski brands use similar parts to run their devices; this will include WaveRunners. These jet skis use water to cool the engine but can run out of water for a few seconds. However, when running out of the water, the entire engine and exhaust are not being cooled. 

These jet skis get water by using an impeller as a pump, and there is a hole in this pump for it to flow water through the engine, allowing it to cool. This is unlike a boat, which will use a spinning fan that has to be in the water. 

If you do run your WaveRunner out of the water without proper water supply, it should be for only fifteen seconds maximum. If the jet ski is not in the water or getting a proper supply of water, the engine and exhaust are at high risk of overheating. Usually, this will cause alarms to go off, and you will be alerted of this overheating risk. 

When to Run the WaveRunner Out of Water

There are a few times that you can run a jet skit out of the water if you have a proper flushing system in place, which we will later discuss. However, there are times when you can run the device out of the water momentarily to ensure it is working properly. Remember that you should never run the jet ski out of the water for more than a few seconds, or you are putting the entire device at risk. 

Sometimes that you may want to start the WaveRunner momentarily to ensure it is working properly are:

  • To check that the battery is charged
  • If you are buying a used jet ski and need to ensure it will start
  • If you have not run the device in some time and need to ensure it is working
  • Before attaching it to the flushing mechanism and keeping the engine cool this way 
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Flushing Your Jet Ski 

If you do need to run the WaveRunner out of the water, you should have a proper water supply in place to keep the engine and exhaust cool. You will want to consult your owner’s manual for the correct procedure on running your jet ski on the hose. If you do this process wrong, it can hydro lock your engine and cause damage. 

Because saltwater can be detrimental to your jet ski, you should flush your device after every ride, both in fresh and saltwater. Flushing will remove any salt, algae, weeds, and shells that may have entered your engine. This prevents damage to your engine and lowers the chance of corrosion for your device.

Most modern jet skis have a hose connector that you can easily use for interior cleaning. You will simply attach your traditional garden hose to the connector before starting your engine to flush your device. However, if you have an older WaveRunner model, you will want to purchase a flush kit that comes with an adaptor.

Unfortunately, many companies have made it difficult to find adaptor kits today, but there are still some online that you can purchase. You will simply connect this kit and then attach your traditional garden hose the same as you would with a built-in adaptor. 

Step by Step Instructions 

To fully flush your jet ski and prepare it for the next ride, you should follow the specific steps laid out in your owner’s manual. While some models will differ, most jet skis can be flushed by following these instructions:

  1. Remove the jet ski from the water and place it on the trailer attached to your vehicle. You should always place the rear of the jet ski towards the lower end of the trailer if it tilts downward slightly. This allows gravity to work with you and can speed up the flushing process. 
  2. Connect one end of your hose to the jet ski’s flush port and the other end to your water supply. As mentioned, certain WaveRunner models do need a flush kit that you should add. However, most can be flushed using a traditional water hose. 
  3. First, press the ignition button and let the engine run for a few seconds, never more than 15 seconds, as it can cause damage. However, you should have just enough time to quickly turn on the tap and let a strong flow of water enter your machine. 
  4. You can then rev the engine several times, flushing the system with fresh, clean water. This should go on for at least a few minutes and up to five minutes. 
  5. Disconnect the hose from the device and rev the engine a couple more times. This will allow it to cough out any remaining water and ensure it is fully flushed. 
  6. To fully prepare your jet ski for the next ride, you will want to wash down the outside of the jet ski at this time and give it a quick scrub with soap. Afterward, you should dry the device with a towel or let it dry naturally in the sun. At this time, some will apply a wax. 

What to Expect If You Run Your WaveRunner Out of Water

If you do run your WaveRunner out of the water, it will not sound pleasant. Again, take care not to run your jetski longer than mere seconds. However, even if you are running your device with a hose, when the engine is running outside of the water, it can be very loud during this process. It may even sound like something is terribly wrong.

The watercraft can even sound like metal balls rattling around in the back. This is normal, though it may be alarming for someone who has not heard it before. The rattling sound you hear is from the pump, and if it is not getting water, it is not floating which causes it to bounce around.

Also, the exhaust is louder when running outside of the water. The sound of the water is used to muffle this exhaust sound, and you do not notice it as much when you are out on the water. 

However, you should not worry about these sounds unless they get out of control or if you have gone beyond the recommended amount of time that your device should be running without water. 


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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