One of the best ways to enjoy hot summer days is out on the water, and a personal watercraft is an easier, more budget-friendly option for a water adventure. A personal watercraft (PWC) is a water vessel that’s powered by an impeller-driven waterjet that a rider can sit, stand or kneel on (as opposed to a boat that you sit inside of). The United States Coast Guard defines a PWC as a jet drive boat that’s less than 13 feet long, but each state has its own definition of what a PWC is.

If you have one of these vessels, you already know you must abide by all local, state and federal laws while on the water, and some states even require you to have your PWC certificate to operate one. Aside from following laws while operating one of these, you should follow proper maintenance tips to keep you and your family safe and keep your PWC in its best shape. Below, we share our top maintenance tips to ensure you have a great, safe adventure out on the water.

A Man Riding a Personal Watercraft

Before You Head Out on the Water

Even though a PWC is all about fun and adventure, owning one does come with some responsibilities. Along with safely sharing the waterways with other boaters, making sure your PWC is in good shape is just as important when it comes to safety.

Before you set out on the water, read the owner’s manual. Your PWC may have specific guidelines you must follow. One of the most important aspects of maintaining your PWC is proper fuel and oil maintenance. Just like a car, you will need to change the oil and check the fuel so your PWC functions properly and doesn’t cause damage to the environment.

Depending on your specific PWC, it may require a mixed solution of oil and fuel. If it does and you haven’t taken your PWC out in a while, you will want to check the mixture. If fuel has been sitting in the engine without a stabilizer, add one before you start the engine. If the fuel inside is too old, properly dispose of it. Note: Improper disposal can be dangerous and could even cause a fire, so consult an expert if needed.

Next, check for any damages. If anything is out of place, broken or missing, fix it or replace it before you head out. We also recommend insuring your PWC. Although a PWC is all about fun, and accidents can be rare, the risk is still there. PWCs are covered under Recreational Vehicle Insurance. Having the right insurance will let you leave your worries back on land.

Personal Watercrafts Parked at a Dock

What to Do After Every Ride

After every ride, you should perform a few simple tasks to keep your PWC in good shape. First, you’ll want to wash it. No matter if you were out in saltwater or fresh water, buildup can cause damage over time. You’ll also need to flush the internal systems after every ride to avoid internal corrosion. And, just as you check for damages before you set out on the water, you’ll want to repeat this after every ride, too.

When it comes to storing your PWC, keep it in a dry area. If you’re storing it in the water, use a PWC lift to help prevent water damage. This will also make it easier to clean and flush your PWC. To protect it from outdoor elements, place a cover on it after washing and flushing it.

Seasonal Maintenance Tips

As we mentioned before, changing the oil is important and we recommend changing it once a year before you bring it out for the next summer. If your PWC has been sitting idle for a year, apply lubricant to stiff fittings and seals so they function properly. And, when it comes time to winterizing your PWC, wash and flush it, top off the fuel and stabilizer, lubricate fittings and seals and store it in a safe, dry place until it’s time to bring it out again. With these proper maintenance tips, you’ll enjoy your PWC for many years to come and with peace of mind that you’re keeping you and your family safe out on the water.

Keep Your Family Safe When Out on the Water with These Boat Safety Tips