Are you experiencing the no start with your jet ski? You insert the key on your lanyard, you push the little button and…….nothing. Replacing the starter motor is a straight forward procedure you can do yourself. We can get you back on the water in no time at all.
More often than not, the cause of the no start is a dead, or weak battery. These batteries don’t last long. Every season I have to get a new battery. I’ve tried going with the previous seasons battery, only to have it die when I was out on the water! Be safe and invest in a good battery every season.
Before working on a jet ski it’s a good idea to make sure it is on a solid base where it cannot move sideways or tilt. The jet ski trailer can work for repairing a jet ski, but it is far from ideal. The reach to gain access to the engine compartment is tall/high, you will probably need to mount the trailer to get to the starter, which can cause a tilt of the jet ski. If you can make a stand, or borrow one, I recommend it.
Jet Ski Starting Sequence
There are four steps the starting system goes through to activate the starter motor in a jet ski. A no start situation can be one of the four part starting sequence, or a couple of the parts.
- The first part is the lanyard key and the push button assembly on the handle bar. When the lanyard key is inserted and the button pushed it allows a signal to go to the electrical box which.
- Second, if the signal passes through the fuse, the battery will be allowed to send voltage to the starter solenoid.
- The third part is the starting solenoid located in the electrical box under the seat, attached to the back wall, allows the current to pass through to the starter motor.
- The starter turns over and the jet ski comes to life!
If all goes according to plan the power from the battery, through the starting solenoid, reaches the starter, located under the exhaust manifold, that is located under the seat, and turns the starter motor, and off we go.
If there is any break in the wires from the push button on the handle bar, all the way to the starter, the starter won’t turn over.
Check the System
The following steps will help you to determine whether the wiring, or the actual starter, is the problem. If any of the following continuity checks fail, then it is not the starter:
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD CLEAN GROUND ON THE BATTERY NEGATIVE CABLE (The black cable from the battery. It should be attached to the engine with a bolt). Something as simple as a dirty, corroded, connection can cause a no start.
- Is the battery FULLY charged? A battery with a low charge will not start a jet ski.
- Start at the push button. Open the front cover and remove the bucket insert to access the wire connections below the steering wheel. They are attached to the left side wall (left side as when you are sitting on the ski). Disconnect the connector with the wires from the push button. With your meter, check if there is continuity when the key is inserted and the button pushed?
- With the connector still disconnected, use the meter to check for continuity from the connector to the fuse in the electric box. Don’t forget to reconnect the starter button connection wires when you are done.
- Inside the electric box, is the fuse still good? Check it with your meter.
- You can test the starter solenoid by removing it and then directly touching the positive and the negative (respectively) to the positive and negative on the battery, it should immediately click. This little solenoid is often the reason for a no start. You should hear a click from this little device when the contacts touch each other in an attempt to start.
- Last, but not least, the red, positive cable from the electric box to the starter, what condition is it in? Check the continuity with your meter. Check the post it attaches to on the starter for corrosion, and a clean connection.
Did it pass all inspections? If it did, then it’s probably your starter, so let’s replace it.
This Is What You Can Expect To Pay For A Starter
Remove the Starter
Disconnect the negative battery cable from the terminal. Personally, I remove the positive and the negative when I’m playing with the starter, or the electric box. Both of these can give you one heck of a jolt! Disconnecting both will prevent any accidental starts, or electrical shock.
Under the seat, at the very bottom of the engine, is where the starter is located. There’s no need to panic. It may look daunting, but it is quite simple. There is an internal and an external exhaust on these engines (See photo). Once the external is unbolted, the internal needs to be de-tached. Refer to the accompanying photo’s and follow along:
- Remove the exhaust: There are bolts attaching it to the motor on the inside between each manifold and to the top of the engine. In addition there is a hose clamp on both ends of the exhaust. Once these bolts and hose clamps are removed the boot on each end must be slid off. This can be difficult. Use a screwdriver to pry it.
- Under the front boot is an additional hose clamp. This additional hose clamp is holding the inner exhaust in place. Loosen it by unscrewing it until the inner exhaust is free.
- Carefully maneuver the exhaust from the engine. It is about 15 lbs altogether so it can be trying on your patience to get it out. I slid mine towards the back, lowered it down into the cavity, then the front side was able to clear the lip and it came out.
- Once the exhaust is out of your way, unscrew the four bolts on the front side of the starter (See photo). You can’t get a clear view of the starter because of the engine mounts and the engine blocking a clear view. Use a mirror and feel for the four bolts on the front holding the starter and remove them. Then, remove the two on the back. The starter will now be free of the engine once these bolts are removed.
- You can now lift the starter out by sliding it towards the rear to disengage the splines, and then up so you can remove the red, positive, battery cable.
Install the New Starter
- Get your new starter and attach the red, positive battery cable to it.
- Lower the starter down into position and press forward so the splines mesh into the motor splines nicely. Do NOT force this part or you can break the starter.
- Once you have the starter seated, install the bolts on the back side.
- Now install the bolts on the front of the starter and torque them down.
- After cleaning up the contact ends of the exhaust manifold, wedge it back down into position, and attach the inner exhaust with its hose clamp.
- Then push the boots back into position and tighten the hose clamps.
- Replace the rubber hose on top of the exhaust.
- Hook up the battery cables to their appropriate terminals (positive/red to positive battery terminal and negative/black to the negative battery terminal).
Now fire it up!