How to Avoid Buying a Lemon when Purchasing a Motorcycle Privately

How to Avoid Buying a Lemon when Purchasing a Motorcycle Privately

Purchasing a motorcycle is an exciting experience! One of the best benefits of buying a used motorcycle is the major cost savings. 

You may be hesitant to purchase a previously owned bike because of uncertainty regarding its condition. Luckily, there are many ways to verify that a bike is in safe operating condition. 

Continue reading below to learn ways you can avoid buying a lemon.

Vehicle History Report/Maintenance Documents

In the early stages of inquiring about the motorcycle, you can ask the seller to send you a vehicle history report. 

One of the most popular vehicle history report companies is CarFax. Their report provides information on registration history, warranty, service history, salvage titles, major accidents, etc. 

Just keep in mind that this document may not be comprehensive, as it only shows the information that was reported and not things that the owners may have fixed on their own. 

You can also ask the seller to provide you with copies of maintenance and repair documents. The seller can request this information from their repair shop(s). 

Motorcycle Inspection

In the mid-stages of the buying process, around the time you begin to negotiate with the seller, you can ask them to have the bike inspected. 

If you’re confident in your motorcycle knowledge, you can do the inspection yourself. Or, if you’re not much of an expert or are purchasing a motorcycle out of state, you can get the bike inspected by a professional motorcycle mechanic. 

If you’re getting the motorcycle inspected out of state, we recommend that you handle the transaction yourself and have the results sent directly to you. This way, you know you’re getting your information straight from the source. 

Certificate of Title

At the end of the motorcycle buying process, ownership will be transferred to you via the Certificate of Title. This document states the owner(s) of the motorcycle and any possible lenders. It also states the odometer brand and title of the brand. 

In order to transfer ownership, you and the seller must sign the Certificate of Title. But, before you sign the title and pay the seller, it’s very important to read the odometer brand and title of the brand. These two items will give you insight on the history of the motorcycle and its current condition. 

The odometer brand tells you important information about the motorcycle’s odometer reading. And, the title of the brand gives insight on previous damage to the motorcycle. 

It’s important to note that not all states have legal disclosure requirements for the titles and brands listed below. Therefore, it’s important to follow up with a DMV representative for specific information. 

To learn about brand and title classifications, continue reading below. 

Odometer Brand

When you are reviewing the Certificate of Title, it’s important to check for the odometer brands below before signing the document. 

Actual: The mileage stated is the actual mileage on the vehicle’s odometer. There are no discrepancies.

In excess of mechanical limits: The odometer on the vehicle has reached its limit. For example, the odometer reads 99,999 or 999,999. Therefore, there is no way to know the motorcycle’s actual mileage. This applies to mechanical odometers not digital. 

Not actual mileage: The odometer does not reflect the correct mileage. There is a discrepancy. Therefore, an odometer discrepancy document must be completed. 

Exempt: A statement of mileage is not required. For example, vehicles 10 years or older are exempt from written odometer disclosure documents. 

Title of the Brand

When you review the Certificate of Title, it’s important to look out for the following branded titles before signing the document. 

Lemon Title Brand: This describes a vehicle that has been deemed unsafe to drive due to an excess of defects. 

Odometer Rollback Title Brand: This vehicle’s odometer has been tampered with to reflect a lesser value, which is illegal. 

Salvage Title Brand: This vehicle has suffered damage which would cost more to repair than what the vehicle is actually worth. 

Water Damage Title Brand: This vehicle has suffered water damage. The main cause of vehicle water damage is flooding.

Hail Damage Title Brand: This vehicle has suffered damage from a hailstorm.

In Conclusion

Buying a used motorcycle may seem a bit daunting at first. But now that you know how to spot a lemon, you can complete the buying process worry-free.

Ultimately, purchasing a used motorcycle is a matter of personal preference. If you would like the cost savings of purchasing a used bike but don’t wish to do so privately, you should consider buying from a dealership. 

Some dealerships even offer Certified Pre-owned (CPO) motorcycles. These bikes are hand-selected and inspected. Some even come with an extended warranty.

Have you ever accidentally purchased a lemon? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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