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  1. #1

    Considering looking at a couple of 4-stroke skis

    This summer I’ve been kicking the tires a little bit, casually looking for a second jet ski, maybe buying one if I find the right deal. There are a couple of 4-stroke skis for sale locally and I really don’t know what to look for on them. They are both STX-12Fs.

    Now I know that 4-strokes are more reliable than 2-strokes when properly maintained, but they’re also drastically more expensive to repair when something goes wrong. What kinds of things should I be looking for when inspecting them? How can I tell if the ski is ready for another 10 years of service or if it’s on the way to a several thousand dollar repair bill?

    I’m almost thinking that going with a 2-stroke in my price range is a safer bet since the worst case scenario repair is drastically less expensive than it is for a 4-stroke.

  2. #2
    Just for comparison, I can get a clean STX-12R or a Yamaha XLT1200 for less money than the 4-stroke Kaws.

  3. #3
    I recently purchased 2 kawasaki 4 stroke skis (used). I'm certainly no expert so my advise is based on limited experience. I got a decent deal but they weren't problem free and I've saved on service because I do my own wrenching.

    My biggest mistake was not testing them fully on the water and taking the sellers word and a driveway test. I went 4 stroke becuase in my area, 2 strokes are not allowed in some places and it seems 4 strokes are the wave of the future and more desireable by the general masses.

    I'm happy with my purchase (STX12-F & STX15-F) but I prefer the 15F over the 12F. It seems from all my reading that the 12 is more likely to experience catastrophic engine failure (low compression, piston problems etc) despite having less power -when compared with the 15. Other than that, they are both quite comperable and considered very reliable against their peers.

    Things I'd check.

    Verify the displays work flawlessy - these aren't cheap to replace (over $800! for parts alone- same for 2 strokes!)
    That the skis start and run well- no stalling or looping idle.
    That they accelerate and attain full RPM and reasonable top speed (52-58 mph?) without any engine warnings (including battery)
    That they don't leak (running or at rest).
    That they've been serviced regularly and thoroughly (including valve adjustments)

    That's my .02c.


  4. #4
    I've heard a lot of good things about the 15F, but they're out of my price range.

  5. #5
    mirror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Seminole, FL
    What year and how many hours are we talking about on the 12f, I have had 15f's since their first year in 2004. The 12 is much slower but still quick out of the hole. I look at the overall condition of the machines and if there is very much corrosion on the engine or other parts I would pass immediately. I am in Florida so a lot of salt riding which takes a lot to maintain a clean boat. JAV made good points and he does speak from experience but seems to be working out his problems himself which is a good thing. We are at the end of the season so you might be surprised what you might be able to purchase in your price range. You look for what you want and then you work out your price, these skis well maintained can last a long time. My first had over 300 hours before I made a mistake that ruined the engine, wasn't the skis fault was mine. I don't thing I would buy anything modified already also, sponsons and ride plate changes wouldn't bother me but no engine work or electronics.

  6. #6
    I'm in MI, so salt water shouldn't be an issue. The 12F's I'm finding in my range are 03-04 models, usually well over 100hrs on them. How is the power on a 12F relative to a 12R or XLT 1200 two stroke? I certainly don't want anything with less get up and go than my current machine, a ZXI 1100.

    I'll check compression on anything I buy, but that won't tell the whole story by any means.

  7. #7
    wotxxxsd's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Ride what ever you plan on buying. Ride for 15-20 min to see if any codes or mishaps come up.
    Too much junk being sold as good running machines...

  8. #8
    On a well maintained 4 stroke- 100-200 hours is nothing. I rented some 2012 machines (Yamaha VX) while we were on vacation at OBX. They already had upwards of 700 hours and still felt great. The owner told me nothing more than standard maintenance was done to the machines.

    I've never ridden a ZXI1100 so it's hard to compare power. I will say that 2 strokes, size for size, usually feel stronger than 4 strokes. I hate to keep coming back to the 15F but I think that would be more comperable to the 1100 2 stroke. The 12F has around 120HP, the 15F 160HP. That should give you some basis for comparison and understand that both are probably heavier than your 2 stroke machine.

    BTW- what are you seeing for prices?

    BTW- i've read that the vintage your looking at is considered good years (reliability wise). Everything I read suggested that Yamaha was probably the most reliable, but the Kawasaki STX 4 strokes were a very close second.

  9. #9
    wotxxxsd's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    The worst thing for a ski is when it sits unused.
    Rentals are used daily and that's the main reason they can run for that many hours.
    When a ski sits moisture gets in to certain parts and shorten the skis life.

  10. #10
    I'm seeing 12F's in the $3500-4000 range, but there's usually high hours or something else with them. The good ones are more money. I have yet to see a 15F under $5000, really nice ones are more. Yamaha 4-strokes seem harder to find and I'm under the impression that most of them are 110hp and not very quick. I hear the non-turbo Hondas are slow too. I'm leery of anything with a turbo or supercharger. It sounds like i'd be better off waiting until I can afford a nice 15F.

    Like I said above, I'm really only interested in buying if the right deal comes up. I really haven't found anything jumping out at me yet.

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