Polaris Jet Ski – Are They Worth Buying?
Up until the early 2000s, a Polaris jet ski was a fairly common sight on the water. They were one of the top jet ski manufacturers and made some very admirable watercraft. By no means were they ever the most popular jet ski, but there were definitely around. Sadly, their already small market share shrank to nothing when they ceased production in late 2004.
Despite closing their doors, Polaris jet ski models are still readily available. More and more used models have begun to enter the market and at very reasonable prices. Given their low costs, many new buyers are looking at Polaris jet ski models as an affordable entry to the world of PWC.
A Polaris jet ski used to be a decent personal watercraft to own, but the question is, is that still the case? Is it still worth it to buy a Polaris jet ski? Why does Polaris no longer make PWC? Will they ever make a new Polaris jet ski?
Well, a lot of those questions depend on who is being asked.
Polaris Jet Ski Overview
Polaris is a well-known action sports manufacturer that started back in 1954. They’re most popular for creating the first-ever snowmobile but have also made motorcycles, ATVs, jet skis, and everything in between.
The true name of a Polaris jet ski is technically a “Polaris Sea Lion”, but the term jet ski is more universal. Similar to some of the other extinct PWC manufacturers, Polaris jet ski models were a little late to the market. The first popular Polaris jet ski models began appearing in the early to mid-’90s, right when the personal watercraft market was approaching its peak.
Models like the Polaris 750 jet ski, as well as several variations, were fan favorites early on. In the beginning, their models used imported Fuji engines that performed excellently for the time. However, EPA standards, as well as production costs, led them to create their own domestic engine by the late ’90s.
Why did Polaris stop making jet skis?
Many new PWC enthusiasts, and even some veterans, don’t even know why Polaris stopped making jet skis. Most people chalk it up to a simple explanation like lack of sales, which is true, but their problems were much more extensive than that. Realistically, there are 4 main causes as to why Polaris stopped making jet skis:
Perhaps the biggest problem Polaris watercraft had been how late they were to the game. This is the same challenge other now-defunct manufacturers had. By the time Polaris jet skis entered the market, Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki had all been making PWC for decades. Attempting to carve out a share of the market so late proved to be challenging, even when the market was at its peak.
Another major contributing factor to the failure of the Polaris jet ski program was their actual manufacturing. From the very beginning, they outsourced their major parts, which wasn’t very cost-effective in the long run. By the time their production costs and tightening EPA regulations forced them into creating a domestic engine, they were already on their last leg.
One of the less talked about problems Polaris had been the overall market that they were in. There was a PWC boom that peaked somewhere in the mid-’90s, but shortly after dropped dramatically. The popularity of personal watercraft in the early and mid-’90s is arguably what kept Polaris afloat for so long. After the popularity subsided, their market share was simply too small.
Despite the challenges they faced, Polaris pushed on through into the early 2000s. Unfortunately, an accident in 2001 led to an extensive lawsuit that ultimately led Polaris to cease production of their watercraft. After struggling through the challenges of a booming market, it simply wasn’t worth it to continue on after things slowed down.
The Real Reason Polaris Stopped Making Watercraft
Most people who know about why Polaris stopped making jet skis get stuck on the sales and the lawsuit. While both of those were contributing factors, there were many other difficult tasks that Polaris faced that led them to shut their doors.
Is it still worth it to buy a Polaris jet ski?
For obvious reasons, a Polaris jet ski is one of the most affordable models available on the market. They’re aged, used, and no longer in production. This allows potential buyers to pick up an entry-level watercraft for a steal. A lot of people don’t care about age, branding, or bells and whistles. They simply want a jet ski.
Some enthusiasts will argue that a Polaris jet ski is an excellent option, while others would avoid it like the plague. Ultimately it’s up to the individual to decide, but these are some of the pros and cons worth considering.
Polaris Jet Ski Pros:
- Price: Since all Polaris jet ski models are used, they provide a very low barrier to entry into the world of personal watercraft. It’s not uncommon to find a Polaris 750 for sale for as little as $300. On the higher end of the spectrum, buyers can expect to pay up to $2,500. Either way, a Polaris is almost always an affordable option.
- Style: Something that a lot of critics tend to overlook when it comes to Polaris jet ski models is their style. Most of the surviving models are from the mid to late ’90s, so they have a really cool retro design. Everything from their lines to their purple and teal colorways is straight out of the ’90s. Maybe the style is something only older generations can appreciate, but it’s still a benefit worth noting.
- Fuel Efficiency: The overall fuel efficiency of a Polaris jet ski is a bit subjective, but depending on the model, they tend to fare well compared to modern standards. Some of their models also have decent sized fuel capacities, so riding all day with no refueling is a common possibility.
Polaris Jet Ski Cons:
- Reliability: Unlike some of the other used PWC out there, Polaris watercraft models don’t have a reputation for being the most reliable. It’s important to note that just about any jet ski can be dependable with proper maintenance, but a Polaris may require more work than others. Once they’re running smoothly they tend to last, but because of their age, they almost always need new parts needed to get them going.
- Replacement Parts: A major problem Polaris watercraft owners face is the hassle of hunting down replacement parts. Most Polaris jet skis have sat for an extended period, and require some extensive TLC to get back into working condition. Finding the necessary parts can sometimes be difficult, depending on the year and model. Fortunately for all the owners out there, Polaris jet skis have relatively simple engines, so they can be very easy to work on.
- Features: Due to their age, no Polaris jet ski is going to come with the standard features that a modern-day watercraft has. Most electronic bells and whistles that people love are nonexistent on Polaris watercraft. Of course, this isn’t a huge problem for everyone, but it should definitely be considered.
In the end, it’s up to people to decide for themselves whether or not it’s worth it to buy a Polaris jet ski. There are definitely some great models still out there, as long as someone’s willing to put in the time and effort required.
New Polaris Jet Ski Models
Does Polaris still make jet skis? No. That being said, there are rumors that they may return to the PWC market now that demand has begun to rise again. Oddly enough, these rumors have surfaced around the same time as speculation that Honda will be reentering the market as well.
Sadly, as much as fans would love a new Polaris jet ski model, it more than likely won’t happen. These rumors are probably floating around because of the popularity of the current market. Even though many people would love for them to be true, there hasn’t been any official news on a possible resurgence.
For Polaris, a reentrance into the PWC industry would essentially mean starting from scratch. Considering the very sizable market share that Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki own, it just doesn’t seem like a very likely scenario.