Kawasaki has been in the personal watercraft business since the early 1970s, patenting the Jet Ski brand and starting off with a line-up of standing Jet Skis. Though Kawasaki now specialises in sit-down Jet Skis, the company continues to provide assistance to owners of its earlier stand-up Jet Ski models. For these makes, the company offers a troubleshooting guide and minor repair tips in each Jet Ski make's owner's manual. Despite the great variety in Jet Ski engineering over the years, minor repair instructions are similar across all stand-up Jet Ski makes.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 1 tspn. baking soda
- Shop rag
- Wire-bristle brush
- Replacement battery
- Unleaded petrol
- Kawasaki Jet Ski engine oil
- Garden hose with freshwater hookup
- 9 mm (3/8 inch) male hose adaptor
Operate the Jet Ski's starter. If the engine won't turn over, there may be something wrong with the Jet Ski's electrical system.
Check the engine starter interlock switch, located on the left handlebar of most Jet Skis. Ensure that this switch is pushed all the way to the right. Otherwise, the starter motor cannot operate.
Check the engine's battery by removing the engine cover and accessing the battery, located on the bottom-left side of the engine case near the carburettor on most Jet Skis.
Remove the battery by disconnecting the black (ground) lead from the battery first, followed by the red lead. Undo the two rubber hold-down straps and carefully lift the battery out of its terminal without tipping it.
Clean the battery terminals if they are dirty or have build-up. Use a solution of one tbsp of baking soda and one cup of water for this cleaning. Dry the battery terminals thoroughly with a shop rag.
Scrape any corrosion away from the battery terminals using a wire-bristle brush.
Replace the battery with one of the same voltage if corrosion is extreme or if the battery is damaged.
Charge the battery fully using a separately-powered charger.
Reinstall the battery, this time installing the red lead first and the black lead second.
Operate the starter. If the engine won't turn over still, take the Jet Ski to a dealer for inspection.
Engine not turning over
Use the starter. If the engine turns over but does not start, or if the engine loses power or misfires, check the fuel level.
Refuel using a 40:1 petrol-to-engine oil mixture if fuel levels are inadequate. Use only unleaded gasoline and Kawasaki Jet Ski engine oil.
Check the spark plugs by removing the engine cover and accessing the engine case. Spark plugs are in each of the Jet Ski's cylinders, though number and specific type of plugs varies according to model and year. Refer to the "Maintenance" section of your owner's manual for specific information.
Remove the spark plug cap for each spark plug. Then, using a spark plug spanner, rotate each plug counter-clockwise and gently lift it from the cylinder.
Replace the spark plug with the type listed in the owner's manual if the electrode-end of the original is damaged, burnt, or white and brittle.
Measure the spark plug gap for each plug, which is the distance between the hook at the end of the plug. The necessary width varies according to Jet Ski model, and can be found in the "Maintenance" section of the owner's manual.
Widen this gap if it is too large by pressing the hook-end of the plug against a firm surface.
Shorten the gap with a spark plug gap tool by gently pulling the hook-end wider.
Reinstall each spark plug with the spark plug wrench into each cylinder and return the spark plug caps.
Start the engine once more. If problems persist, contact a Kawasaki dealer.
Engine not starting, misfiring, or losing power
Check the jet pump first, located at the very back of the jet ski. Turn off the engine and remove any visible debris or seaweed that may have collected.
Take the Jet Ski to the shop to have the fuel tank drained if you suspect that any other mixture other than 40 parts unleaded petrol and one part Kawasaki Jet Ski oil was used.
Flush out any debris that may have built up in the cooling system by first obtaining a 9 mm (3/8 inch) male hose adaptor and a standard garden hose with fresh water hookup.
Access and unscrew the cooling water hose, located inside the engine case near the bulkhead.
Screw the garden hose with 9 mm (3/8 inch) adaptor to the cooling system. Before turning the hose's water on, turn on the Jet Ski and allow it to idle.
Turn on the water and adjust water flow until a small trickle of water continually seeps from the bypass outlet on the left side of the Jet Ski.
Allow the Jet Ski to idle for several minutes with the water running to thoroughly flush the cooling system.
Stop the water and remove the garden hose with the Jet Ski's engine still running.
Rev the engine a few times to clear out any water from the exhaust system.
Screw the cooling water hose back in place and replace the engine case cover.
Restart the Jet Ski and consult a Kawasaki dealer if it still overheats.
Tips and warnings
- Major repairs are best handled by a skilled mechanic or a Kawasaki dealer.
- To prevent explosive fumes from igniting, do not smoke or work near an open flame while handling petrol.
- Wearing gloves and goggles while handling the battery can help to prevent acid burns.
- Use only the parts recommended in the owner's manual of a specific Jet Ski to avoid engine damage.
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