By: Brett Shainfeld

One of the perks of living in California is the breathtaking scenery that rests before drivers cruising along one of the many scenic highways across the Golden State. Whether you’re cruising along the Big Sur coastal route, passing through wine country in Santa Barbara, flying by the Redwoods in the north or battling the desert heat to stargaze in Anza Borrego, nothing quite beats the feeling of riding on the California highway system.

Well, there is one thing that might: taking your journey on the back of a brand new motorcycle.

The Relationship Between California and Motorcycles

With over eight-hundred thousand registered motorcycles in California, the state has long held a rich history with bike riders. The beautiful scenery and pristine weather make cruising along on a Harley Davidson more appealing than just about anywhere, and thus thousands of new motorcycles are sold to drivers in California year after year. With so many bikes out on the road, it’s natural to wonder what happens when a brand new motorcycle doesn’t perform as advertised.

The dream of owning a motorcycle can be had by anyone, from returning military personnel to retirees and everyone in between. It can quickly sour when you finally decide to drop the cash and invest in your dream, only to have your motorcycle falter and fail on you. If this is you, and you’ve found yourself going back and forth from the dealer in an attempt to repair a recurring problem in your motorcycle, you’re probably wondering when the nightmare will end.

Is There Such A Thing as a Lemon Motorcycle?

Motor vehicle owners are used to the unfortunate nuances of safety recalls and lawsuits regarding cars and trucks, but you may be less familiar with how the same consumer laws that apply to those vehicles work for motorcycles. What’s your recourse if you’ve been sold a defective motorcycle? How far does your warranty extend? Can you consider your motorcycle to be a “lemon”? Let’s take a look at each of these questions and provide some background that will help you in determining critical next steps to getting your motorcycle back on the road and protecting you from dangers while driving.

Motorcycle Lemon Law: How the Law in California Applies to Your Bike

The short answer to whether or not your motorcycle can qualify as a lemon in the state of California is yes. As you may know, motorcycle lemon law in California protects consumers from manufacturers that sell faulty vehicles and are unable or unwilling to fix the errors, which could result in financial loss and risk of injury if driven. The motorcycle lemon law in California states that manufacturers should be given a reasonable number of attempts to correct the problem, but if they’re unable to, the vehicle should either be replaced or a refund issued. This typically applies to vehicles that are under some form of a warranty, and the Song-Beverly Act, among other consumer protection legislation, insulates the buyer in such circumstances.

In the case of motorcycles, they do fall within the limitations of California’s lemon law. There are, however, some different forms of legislation that relate to motorcycles (as well as trailers and boats). Under Civil Code section 1793.2(d)(1), which covers “consumer goods”, your motorcycle is covered if it is sold with a written warranty and purchased primarily for personal or family use. The “consumer goods” referenced in this civil code have historically applied to motorcycles in cases, and they must be subject to repair attempts prior to the repurchase or product replacement portion of the law taking effect (much like automobiles).

A primary difference in the case of motorcycle lemon law is that the manufacturer has the choice to either repurchase the product or replace it as a way of fulfilling their obligation under motorcycle lemon law in California. This differs from automobile cases, in which the consumer carries the choice in the decision. In such a case, if you are fed up with the motorcycle and want nothing to do with the brand, you have much less recourse available to simply having the bike repurchased as compared to owning an automobile.

While that may seem like a definite negative in the law, there is a plus side to owning a motorcycle in lemon law cases. Unlike automobiles, which must have demonstrated defects that “substantially impair the use, value or safety” of the vehicle, motorcycles need not be required to show such outstanding circumstances; defects of a lesser scale can suffice for the lemon law to be triggered.

Another plus is that, when a motorcycle is purchased, there is often specific sales documentation and warranties attached at the time of the sale that can provide for further claims under laws other than just the motorcycle lemon law in California. This can, of course, strengthen your case and make the litigation process a little bit simpler.

How to Go About a Motorcycle Lemon Law Case in California

By far the most critical part of any type of motorcycle lemon law case is documentation. From the moment you start the financing process for your motorcycle, keep track and document everything. Any time you take your motorcycle in for a repair, be sure to obtain specific documentation related to the process that specifically notes what type of repair work was completed and how the issue was diagnosed; this is vital in demonstrating the number of repair attempts by the manufacturer or dealership.

The bike also needs to follow the similar standards of an automobile before filing for a motorcycle lemon law case. This means that the motorcycle will needed to have been repaired multiple times, stayed in the shop a certain number of days (typically thirty in total), and defects need to be both discovered early during the warranty period and not have resulted from driver crash or negligence.

Because mileage rates tend to be lower on motorcycles than automobiles, be aware of your mileage as it relates to your warranty protection. If you’re using your bike for leisure, this shouldn’t be an issue, but for riders who use their motorcycle for their daily commute, it’s much more important to take note of.

Contact Shainfeld Today for Help with Your Motorcycle Lemon Law Case

If you have any questions about navigating the lemon law process as it pertains to motorcycles, don’t hesitate to reach out. Shainfeld Law has built an office that prides itself on expertise when it comes to consumer litigation, with years of experience under our belts. Contact us for more information about how to move forward with your case and obtain the legal recourse you deserve.