Does California Lemon Law Apply to Motorcycles? How to File a Claim

In the Golden State of California, where the open roads attract bike enthusiasts year-round, you might find yourself wondering if the California Lemon Law extends its protection to motorcycles. 

In this article, we will explore whether the California Lemon Law applies to motorcycles and, if so, how you can go about filing a claim.

Found out that you bought a lemon motorcycle?

Understanding the California Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law is officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act enacted in California in 1970. The primary purpose of this law is to protect consumers who have purchased or leased new and used motor vehicles that exhibit significant defects or non-conformities. These defects must impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. In essence, the law ensures that consumers do not become victims of the proverbial “lemon.”

What Constitutes a “Lemon”?

Any vehicle, in this case a motorcycle, is considered a lemon if it has a substantial defect or non-conformity that impairs its use, value, or safety and cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts by the motorcycle manufacturer or its authorized repair shop.

To give you a better idea of what kinds of problems might qualify your motorcycle as a lemon, here are some common issues:

  • Engine Malfunctions: Persistent engine issues that affect the motorcycle’s performance and safety can be a basis for a Lemon Law claim.
  • Brake and Suspension Problems: Faulty brakes or suspension can jeopardize your safety while riding. These issues are taken seriously under the Lemon Law.
  • Electrical and Wiring Issues: Electrical problems, such as frequent electrical failures or issues with the motorcycle’s wiring, can be grounds for a Lemon Law claim.
  • Safety-Related Defects: Any motorcycle defect that poses a significant safety risk can lead to a Lemon Law claim. This includes issues like steering malfunction, sudden stalling, unsolved oil leaks, or erratic behavior.

California Lemon Law and Motorcycles

Yes, the California Lemon Law does extend its protection to motorcycles, such as dirt bikes, cruisers, sports bikes, scooters, and electric motorcycles. If you’ve purchased or leased a motorcycle in California and it meets the criteria of a lemon, you have rights under this law. The law considers motorcycles as “consumer goods” and is applicable to them, just as it is to any road vehicle.

While the California Lemon Law offers protection to motorcycle owners facing persistent defects, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind:

Check your warranty coverage

Lemon Law claims are typically viable during the manufacturer’s warranty period. If the claim is successful, the manufacturer might be required to release a replacement motorcycle. If the defective motorcycle’s warranty expires when the defects are detected, you may not be eligible for protection under the Lemon Law.

Keep records

Maintain thorough records of all your interactions with the manufacturer and dealership. This includes invoices, repair records, and correspondence. These documents will be invaluable should you need to file a Lemon Law claim.

Seek legal guidance

Engaging a lemon law attorney who specializes in motorcycle cases can significantly improve your chances of a successful resolution. They understand the intricacies of the law and can advocate for your rights effectively.

Monitor manufacturer response

Manufacturers often respond differently to claims. Some may cooperate and offer a refund or replacement promptly, while others may resist. An experienced attorney can navigate these situations and negotiate on your behalf.

Filing a Lemon Law Claim in California

If you suspect your motorcycle is a lemon, don’t delay taking action. The Lemon Law has strict deadlines, and waiting too long could jeopardize your ability to file a claim.

Step 1: Document the Defect

Your first step is to document the defect or issue with your vehicle. Keep copies of all repair invoices, work orders, and communication with the manufacturer or dealership.

Step 2: Notify the Manufacturer

To initiate a Lemon Law claim, you must notify the vehicle’s manufacturer (not the dealership) in writing about the defect and your intent to seek a refund or replacement. Send this notice via certified mail to have proof of delivery.

Step 3: Give the Manufacturer a Fair Opportunity

Once the manufacturer is informed, they are entitled to a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle. This usually involves a series of repair attempts.

Step 4: Consult an Attorney

If the manufacturer is unable to fix the issue or refuses to do so, it’s advisable to consult an experienced lemon law attorney. They can guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.

Step 5: File a Lawsuit

If all else fails, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer to seek compensation, including a refund or replacement of the vehicle.

Beyond Lemon Law: Accidents and Personal Injuries

Unfortunately, a lemon motorcycle can become a safety hazard on the road. A defective brake system, faulty engine, or electrical malfunction can contribute to accidents. If you believe your motorcycle accident was a result of your vehicle’s defect, consult with a personal injury attorney. They can help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Product Liability Claims

In some motorcycle Lemon Law cases, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. These claims focus on the manufacturer’s responsibility for producing a faulty product that caused injury or loss. Product liability cases can be complex, so legal representation is crucial.

FAQs on Lemon Law and Motorcycles

What if the manufacturer refuses to cooperate even after I’ve followed all the steps?

If the manufacturer refuses to cooperate, your motorcycle Lemon Law attorney can escalate the matter through legal channels. They may initiate a lawsuit to enforce your rights under the Lemon Law.

Can I handle a Lemon Law claim on my own, without an attorney?

While it’s possible to pursue a Lemon Law claim without an attorney, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel, as manufacturers often have legal teams to defend against such claims. An attorney will help you fight for your rights and get you fair compensation.

Is the Lemon Law limited to specific motorcycle brands?

No, the California Lemon Law applies to all motorcycle brands sold in the state, regardless of the manufacturer, including Harley Davidson, BMW, Ducati, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, etc.

Can I still file a claim if I made modifications to my motorcycle?

Modifications may complicate your Lemon Law claim, but it’s still possible to pursue a claim if the issues you’re experiencing are unrelated to the modifications. Consult with a motorcycle Lemon Law lawyer for guidance in such cases.

Final Thoughts

The California Lemon Law does extend its protection to motorcycles, providing a safety net for consumers who find themselves with defective vehicles. However, navigating the Lemon Law process can be complex, and it’s essential to document the issue and necessary.

If you believe that the motorcycle you bought is a lemon or your accident was a result of your motorcycle’s defect, consult with a personal injury attorney. They can help you file claims and get fair financial compensation.

At Motorcyclist Attorney, our award-winning motorcycle accident lawyers are dedicated to helping you get the justice you deserve. 

We work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t need to pay us unless we win!Contact us at (844) 284-9437 for a free case consultation. We are available 24/7!


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