Jet skis have a lot of similarity to other boats, and one of them is that they can tend to lean to one side.
While there are some similarities and fixes that work for both jet skis and boats, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to jet skis. Let’s go over how to fix a jet ski that is leaning to the left or right.
Why Your Jet Ski Leans
There are a few reasons why a jet ski will lean as listed below:
- Unbalanced load.
- Water in the hull.
- Handlebars are not straight.
- Damaged hull.
- Too top-heavy.
- Not getting enough speed.
We’ll go over each reason and explain how to fix your jet ski leaning problem.
1. Unbalanced Load
Probably the most common reason for a jet ski to lean to one side, especially if it’s docked, is an unbalanced load.
Jet skis are long and skinny compared to other boats, so anything too heavy on one side will cause it to lean. Even a simple anchor on one side of the front storage can cause a jet ski to lean.
I’ve seen people put items that should not be store inside the engine compartment sides and that cause the lean. Nothing should be stored in the engine compartment of your jet ski!
To fix the lean, move objects around or remove them. Get small plastic containers or bags to better hold things in place if you need to carry them. Velcro is a great option for bags to keep them in place. If you carry fuel on the back of your jet ski, make sure it’s in the middle or has something on the other side to counterbalance it.
2. Water In The Hull
A jet ski leaning to one side out of the nowhere and getting worse over time is a sign that you have water in your hull.
When I do a lake test on a jet ski, one of the things I do is rock the craft side to side to see if it wants to roll over. A jet ski taking on water will want to roll over far easier.
This was a lesson I learned quickly when I fixed a jet ski and was water testing it, took a turn too sharp, and it rolled over with ease. The jet ski was sinking, so I flipped it back over, fired it up, and got back to the trailer as quick as I could.
When you take the jet ski out of the water, remove the drain plugs to see how much water comes out. Some water is fine, but if you’re getting cups and cups worth of water out of your jet ski, then that is not normal. You need to check for leaks to fix this problem.
3. Handlebars Are Not Straight
If your handlebars are not straight, it can make you think the jet ski is leaning to one side as it throws your perspective off.
The handlebars and nozzle can be adjusted, your owner’s manual shows you how, and this is how you fix the lean.
I tend to see this more on new jet skis that are not properly set up by the dealership, but it’s possible for it to happen on older jet skis. For older jet skis, the steering cable could be rusted or damaged and that is why it’s off, so you may need to take it into repair.
4. Damaged Hull
Over time, a jet ski hull can get damage and you may never notice it.
If the damage is bad enough, it could create friction and cause the jet ski to lean to the side of the damage as it acts as a rudder.
Some Sea-Doo had what was called an OPAS which are fins in the rear and when they got damaged it would cause leaning and odd turning. These fins should lift when you get going, but if they got stuck or jammed, it could make leaning and turning a problem.
A damaged hull could also lead to taking on water, which can for sure cause a leaning problem for your jet ski.
5. Too Top-Heavy
Jet skis are long and skinny compared to other boats, this means the more weight on top, the more it leans and wants to fill like it’s rolling over.
This lean becomes more obvious the more people you have on your jet ski. Sure, it’s a 3-person seating capacity, but that doesn’t mean 3 adults. Combined with 3 people not being in sync and going every direction, it becomes a balancing act, especially at lower speeds.
Then there are a few models of jet skis that are just top-heavy. One example was Sea-Doo’s that had a suspension. The suspension needed travel room, and it was just naturally more top-heavy.
Smaller jet skis are more affected by the leaning problem, especially EX and Spark models. It was even worse on older 2-stroke jet skis!
6. Not Getting Enough Speed
If you tried everything else and can’t figure out why your jet ski leans to one side, especially at lower speeds, then you’re simply not going fast enough.
I see this problem pop up with people who buy performance model jet skis but only cruise around on it. Jet skis like the Sea-Doo RXP-X and Yamaha GP1800R have a hull that is made for racing and will lean or dart around at lower speeds. The hulls can’t find their lines at lower speeds, as they’re made for going fast. This is a super common mistake new jet ski buyers make, they think they need the supercar of PWCs but spend more time pulling tubes and hating it because the jet ski is all over the place.
This leaning problem can still happen on other jet skis, but it’s at much lower speeds. The jet ski needs to get beyond its wake, or it’s going to keep falling back or leaning into its own wave. It’s either idle speed or above 8MPH for most jet skis, sticking lower and the jet ski flaps around.