Personal recreational watercraft like Jet Skis can be fun, but if you want to enjoy yours for years to come, you’ll need to store it properly when you’re not riding the waves.

Jet-powered personal watercraft often are known by their brand names, such as Jet Ski or Sea-Doo, said Chris Manthos, director of the American Watercraft Association. Some people call them water scooters.

When preparing your personal watercraft for storage, remember that no two models are exactly alike. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your owner’s manual. It’ll tell you how to properly drain water from the engine.

Beware of Moisture

Moisture can damage stored watercraft, so make sure your watercraft is completely dry before you put it away. Removing all of the water from the engine is essential, particularly if you live in a cold climate, said Michael Olson, who works at Ride Motorsport in Woodville, WA.

“You have to flush that out. Otherwise, it can freeze the [engine] block and cause cracks,” he said.

If you use your watercraft in salt water, failing to drain the engine can lead to corrosion that damages mechanical parts, said Tom Gobrecht, owner of the Whittier Fun Center in Whittier, CA.

You’ll need to run the engine briefly make sure there is no water trapped inside, but take care not to overheat it. You’ll also need to spray fogging oil through the carburetor and spark plug holes.

Wash Your Watercraft

washing watercraft

Before you put your personal watercraft in storage, clean it thoroughly with fresh water. This is to make sure that any dirt, algae and salt are removed and can’t do damage.

“Cleaning is one of the best things you can do,” Manthos said.

If you gently wash your watercraft by hand, rather than using a pressure sprayer, you’ll be less likely to cause damage. Once your watercraft is clean, dry it and cover it with a coat of wax. If you lubricate the metal surfaces with oil, it’ll help prevent corrosion.

Before you put your watercraft in storage, disconnect the battery. Fill the gas tank with fuel, along with a stabilizer to prevent condensation.

“Using a fuel-stabilizing treatment greatly reduces the deterioration process, which can happen in as little as two weeks,” Olson said.

If you place rags in the exhaust pipe and the ski of your personal watercraft, that’ll prevent rodents from nesting inside while the craft is in storage. Don’t forget to remove the rags before starting the engine.

If you don’t have time to prepare your watercraft for storage, a watercraft dealership can take care of it for you.

Find a Secure Self-Storage Facility

Make sure you have a safe place to store your watercraft. If you leave your water scooter outdoors on a trailer, be aware that it could be damaged amid shifting temperatures. Freezing weather can harm the engine, and harsh sunlight can damage the paint and the seat.

If you don’t have room in your garage, you can rent space at a self-storage facility. Outdoor spaces can be rented, but enclosed interior units provide the most protection. Make sure your watercraft is covered before it’s placed in storage to protect it from dust.

Because water scooters are expensive, good security is a must at the facility you choose. Be sure to ask the facility manager what precautions have been taken to discourage theft and vandalism, such as installation of security cameras.

“You have to do your due diligence,” Gobrecht said.

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Emmet Pierce