Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Motorcycles?

Owning a defective motorcycle comes with its fair share of problems. If the bike has an exterior lighting defect, the headlights could fail when you least expect it. Unfortunately, headlight failure endangers the life of the driver, passenger, and other road users.

In addition, a motorcycle with a persistent defect triggers unexpected expected expenses. If the bike breaks down far from home, you may need to hire alternative accommodation and towing fees to secure your bike.

Fortunately, California lemon law protects consumers who accidentally buy motorcycles with persistent defects that manufacturers failed to solve.

If you’re looking for a solution for your defective motorcycle, consider speaking to an experienced California lemon law attorney about your legal options.

Is there a Lemon Law for Used Motorcycles?

California lemon law treats motorcycles as consumer goods. In addition, it covers new or used motorcycles with a manufacturer’s new warranty bought or leased for personal, household, or family reasons.

More importantly, California lemon law doesn’t cover motorcycles bought for offroad use instead of highway use.

If the manufacturer or dealer fails to fix a persistent defect after a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either:

  • Refund the buying price
  • Replace the defective motorcycle— whichever you prefer

How to Determine a ‘’Reasonable Number’’ of Repair Attempts

In all motorcycle lemon law claims, a question always arises whether the consumer gave the manufacturer a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect. In addition, the California lemon law requires consumers to alert the manufacturer about the persistent fault.

Taking the vehicle to the dealership for repairs is an excellent opportunity to inform the manufacturer about the defect. Once the manufacturer is aware of the defect, the consumer should allow the consumer a reasonable window to fix it.

The answer to the above question depends on the severity of the defect and circumstance of the matter. For instance, a motorcycle manufacturer has a limited opportunity to fix a fault that endangers the lives of the rider, passenger, and other road users.

On the other hand, the manufacturer has an extended window—up to five times for a general defect that annoys. Further, the manufacturer has a limited window to fix the flaw; a consumer can initiate a lemon law claim if the motorcycle spends over a month at the repair shop.

Ultimately, the lemon law doesn’t set a number.

Even so, California lemon law presumption offers the following guidelines when probing whether a manufacturer made a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect:

  • The manufacturer hasn’t fixed the defect after four or more repair attempts.
  • The motorcycle could cause severe injury or death, and the manufacturer has made two unsuccessful repair attempts.
  • The motorcycle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days— not necessarily consecutive for a repair problem covered by the warranty.

The California lemon law presumption applies to motorcycles bought in California that develop a defect within 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. More importantly, the above guidelines offer a mere direction; only a judge or arbitrator makes the final determination.

In addition, some manufacturers argue the consumer needs to give them a sufficient window to fix the problem. Unfortunately, it is a defense strategy that can delay or deny your claim.

Consider hiring a motorcycle lemon law attorney to counter misleading manufacturer claims and represent your interest.

Common Problems in Motorcycle Lemon Law Cases

Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Motorcycles?

The common problems in motorcycles are often similar to those experienced by vehicle owners and mainly originate from manufacturer defects.

Here’s a list of common problems experienced by motorcycle owners:

Service Brake Issues

Service brake is an essential safety component for a motorcycle. Unfortunately, the quality may dip due to manufacturer defects, temperature, driving habits, and the effects of interconnected parts.

Here are a few causes of brake failure that can trigger a lemon law claim:

  • Brake Binding: Brake binding is a mechanical issue on the brakes where the brakes bind the liner to the brake drum and remain engaged without applying any force. It is also called brake dragging. You can experience brake dragging if an error occurs during manufacturing, resulting in defective springs.
  • Grabbing Brakes: It occurs when the brakes remain seized or develop a tendency to hold. Poor assembly of the greasy linings may lead to brake grabbing after some time. A manufacturer defect could leave an opening for dirt or dust to enter the brake shoe assembly, resulting in brake grabbing.
  • Excessive Loss of Brake Fluid: Loose connections at various joints could trigger loss of brake fluid at the caliper side, reservoir, benzo bolts or plunger assembly. Unfortunately, brake fluid loss reduces braking effectiveness, which can increase the likelihood of a crash.

If your motorcycle has a service brake issue, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement under California lemon law.

Loose Chain

The chain acts as the transmission component for a motorcycle. It is also the primary link between the engine and the wheels. Although motorcycle chains are durable, they also require regular maintenance.

However, the following manufacturer defects can make it difficult to operate your bike:

  • Premature Chain Wear: Poor design can cause premature chain wear in bikes. For instance, the manufacturer could have created improper chain tension—either too tight or too loose— leading to sudden damage to the drive train or sprockets.
  • Worn Out Gear Teeth: If the front or rear teeth are worn down, the chain may become loose because there is a smaller grip between the links on the chain and when they spread out as they move around the sprocket. A manufacturer defect can trigger faster wear and tear of sprocket teeth. You can identify worn sprocket teeth because they look thinner and pointer instead of rounder and fatter.

Consider following instructions and schedule for cleaning and lubricating the chain. Otherwise, you could void the warranty and lemon law protection if a chain defect occurs because of neglect or lack of proper maintenance.

An Overheating Engine

A motorcycle engine should settle to its average temperature after running for a few minutes. However, a manufacturer defect could cause the engine to run hotter than usual.

Here are a few manufacturer defects that can cause the engine to overheat:

  • Faulty Cooling System: If the manufacturer installed a defective water pump, radiator cap, or radiator fan, it can hinder the performance of the cooling system and cause the engine to overheat.
  • Defective Thermostat: A thermostat is an essential component that controls the radiator fan. Whenever the engine temperature rises, the thermostat signals the radiator fan to run, a chain reaction that cools the engine. If a manufacturer’s design affects the thermostat’s functionality, the radiator can’t work, causing engine overheating.
  • A Leaking Radiator: The role of a coolant is to remove heat from the engine by absorbing excess heat. If the manufacturer’s design has created leaks in the radiator, coolant levels will be persistently low, causing the engine to overheat.

Engine Oil Leaks

An engine oil leak is a common problem with motorcycles. Unfortunately, an engine oil leak creates a safety hazard because it can ignite a fire.

Here are the common manufacturer defects that cause an engine oil leak:

  • Faulty Piston Rings: A well-designed piston ring seals the combustion chamber and prevents oil from leaking. However, a manufacturer defect can cause premature wear and tear, leading to an oil leak.
  • Defective Filler Cap: The oil filler cap covers the engine oil chamber. The filler cap also prevents oil from escaping due to engine pressure. If the filler cap has a structural defect, it may cause an engine oil leak through the filler cap.
  • Faulty Crankshaft Seal: If a manufacturer defect causes the crankshaft seal to dry out frequently, it may be susceptible to cracking, triggering an oil leak.

Electric System Malfunction

Electric system malfunction is one of the dreaded issues with motorcycles. Interestingly, the wiring is even more intricate with new bike models. While most electric system defects are easy to fix, manufacturer defects are persistent and prove a hard nut to crack.

Some causes of electrical system malfunction include a defective battery, faulty main fuse, defective stator, or a faulty CDI box. For instance, it is almost impossible to find the source of a defect in a CDI box.

The only way to fix a CDI defect is by swapping it with a working unit, which explains why an electrical system caused by a manufacturer defect may prove persistent, expensive and frustrating.

Hire an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney to Increase Your Chances of Success

It is challenging to rely on a defective motorcycle to run your business and personal errands. The frequent breakdowns may force you to hire an alternative transport means, which can disrupt your financial plan.

You deserve compensation for the inconvenience caused by owning a lemon motorcycle. As such, consider working with an experienced lemon law attorney to improve your chances of settlement.

At LemonLaw123, our expertise in handling many lemon law claims puts you at an advantage across California. We extend our services to clients in every district and county of the Golden State, and remember, there are no fees unless we win your case.

Contact us online or call us at 657-529-5239 for a free case review.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, personally handled over 500 lemon law cases and settlements.