How to winterize a jet ski

How to Winterize a Jet Ski

Written by Carolyn Jackson


The sad news is that summer is over and it’s time for your last outing on the water, but the good news is that prepping your jet ski for winter is easy and will ensure your favorite toy stays around as long as possible. Winterizing a jet ski is important annual maintenance, which will make it faster and easier to get things started next summer and will ensure your jet ski is in top condition and primed to last years.

Why Do I Need to Winterize a Jet Ski?

Winterizing your jet ski, or preparing your PWC (personal watercraft) for the colder months, will help increase the longevity and performance of your jet ski. You will avoid things like rust, corrosion, and cracked parts from freezing water (which, if you remember middle school science, water expands when it freezes). This will save you time and money in the spring. Not convinced? Check out our article on how much a jet ski costs, and maybe this will persuade you to take excellent care of your PWC.
Can I pay someone else to winterize my jet ski for me?
Yes, you can. It is a little pricey though. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$600 for a mechanic to winterize your jet ski for you.

Still Need to Take the Plunge and Purchase a Jet Ski? 
Check out our Ultimate Jet Ski Buying Guide, which covers all the topics you need to know like price, top brands and models, required equipment, and licensing. And take a look at our Definitive Guide to Jet Ski Loans to get a really good idea of how to get the best possible loan rates.


List of Items You Will Need to Winterize a Jet Ski

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Fuel stabilizing fluid
  • Fogging oil spray
  • Silicone lubricant spray
  • Antifreeze
  • Clean towels
  • PWC Cover


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Is Winterizing a Jet Ski the Same for All Brands?

The answer is yes and no. Although the basic steps we outline below are a great starting point and general guidelines to follow, each brand (Kawasaki, Sea-Doo, and Yamaha) has slightly different protocols and recommendations for how to winterize a jet ski properly. You can find the specific details about which brands of antifreeze and fogging oil they prefer you to use as well as the specifics on how to change the oil and other jet ski parts in the manufacturer owner’s manual.

How Do I Winterize a Jet Ski?

The goal of winterizing a jet ski is to ensure the vehicle is dry, cleaned and ready to go unused for months. Winterizing a jet ski is an easy task (albeit a tedious one), but we are going to make it even easier with a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Drain any water

There will be water inside and around your jet ski. Step one should always be drying and draining the water. Remove the drain plugs to let the trapped water drain. There will be water inside your jet ski’s cooling system, which intakes water while in use to cool the engine and other moving parts. To remove this water, run the engine in 30-second intervals while tiling your jet ski’s handle back to drain all the water. The best way to do this is to look at the manufacturer-issued owner’s manual. Look for a section on flushing the jet ski’s cooling system.

Step 2: Clean your jet ski

It is extremely important to thoroughly clean your jet ski with soap and water. Grime, algae, salt buildup and other dirt will have collected on the hull throughout the summer. Bonus points for waxing the exterior of your jet ski. This will prevent UV damage as well as standard wear and tear, keeping your jet ski in top condition all winter long.

Step 3: Use Fogging Oil to protect your engine from rust and corrosion

Fogging oil is a frequently used item in the marine industry. Fogging oil is an aerosol petroleum treatment for long-term lubrication and corrosion resistance. When properly administered, it forms a thin film on metal components that, unlike oil, remains intact with time. It can be used on any gasoline 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine. Without a fogging oil, oils and lubricants drain from cylinder walls, making the vehicle susceptible to corrosion. You can buy fogging oil from Walmart or Amazon.
Here’s how to use fogging oil on your jet ski to prevent corrosion:

  1. Start the engine and remove the air filter
  2. While the engine is running, spray fogging oil into the air intake of each cylinder
  3. After 10 seconds, shut off the engine
  4. Remove the spark plugs
  5. Spray fogging oil into each cylinder using an extension tube for three seconds each


Step 4: Lubricate the control cables and steering system with a lubricant spray

Each jet ski manufacturer will recommend a lubricant they feel is best for their vehicles. Make sure to consult your manufacturer owner’s manual to see which type of lubricant they recommend for your specific make and model.

Pro Tip: When you winterize a jet ski, consider replacing the oil and oil filter. A full oil tank will prevent condensation. To change the oil, simply drain the old oil, replace the filter, and refill it with new oil. Do not throw the old oil in the trash or down the drain. Many oil change and auto parts stores will accept old oil, sometimes for a small recycling fee. 


Step 5: Fill the tanks

Fill the gas tank and then top it off with a stabilizer, which will keep it clean. Run the jet ski engine to mix the gas and the stabilizer thoroughly. Be sure to read the instructions on the stabilizer fluid before using it. Also, be sure to note that the stabilizing fluid is for gasoline engines, not diesel. Most manufacturers make branded stabilizing fluid as well. Stabilizer liquid will prevent evaporation, which causes condensation, which is a problem for an engine.
You can also add antifreeze liquid to the cooling system to ensure no stubborn water freezes in the low temperatures, causing you major problems.

Step 6: Take out the battery

Remove the battery from the jet ski to elongate its life and ensure it doesn’t corrode. Remove the negative charge first followed by the positive charge and store the battery in a cool (not cold), dry place.

Step 7: Cover and store your jet ski in a safe place

The best route is to keep the jet ski on the trailer in an enclosed location like a garage or shed. Find some material to place in the exhaust so no bugs or animals find their new home. Then, finally, cover the jet ski and voila, you are done!


It may seem like a lot of work, but you can complete these steps in less than an afternoon, which will earn you an entire winter’s worth of peace of mind. These steps will also make opening your jet ski next summer much faster and get you on the water in a vehicle that is in tip-top shape. Essentially, winterizing your jet ski will guarantee that you spend less time at the mechanic and more time on the water. And isn’t that what we all want?

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