Thinking About Buying a New Scooter... Avoid This One!

Sccooter Review. Avoid this one!

April, I purchased a brand new scooter, a Tao Tao. The dealer, who shall remain nameless and unremarkable to-date, swore it was a great scooter and that I would be very happy with it.

If being stranded on the road or having to walk it home on various occasions equals happy, then I am ecstatic. The dealer was happy, too. The first week it broke down, they came and picked up the scooter and left me to fend for myself. I'm just grateful I had bus fair. The dealer said, "It was a dirty sparkplug. Boy, was I happy.

It broke down again during the second wonderful month of ownership. I road it right into their shop because it kept dying on me at intersections and sputtering. My friend followed me in her car to make sure I got there with it. They replaced the engine, because somehow the engine was cracked. The dealer said, "All good now." It was good for about a month. Then it left me stranded again and for some reason, it never got picked up and no one from the dealer called me back. They do swear however, that they did come to get the scooter but that neither it nor I was home. I must have taken the scooter out for a walk or something at the time they showed up to collect it. I managed to get it started again and it broke down again. This time the kick start mangled to get it started but then the kick start fell off.

It began the sputtering again and continued having it's starting issues. I hooked it up to a trickle charger at night hoping maybe that would help. It seemed to make it a little better. You can imagine, by now, that I am beyond happy with my scooter. Until finally, in the fifth month, I got so happy with pushing it around that I finally pushed it up to a local Gulfport shop.

The scooter got a new carburetor, a new starter, a new break switch and is awaiting a new kick start, all out of my own pocket and all under 3,000 miles. The dealer I purchased it from, said they have only one record of the scooter being in their shop for a bad spark plug and won't fix it for free and won't admit to the scooter and this brand being a lemon and won't call it warrantee work.

Now into the sixth month, I would just like to say, I can't be happier or healthier due to all of the exercise I get pushing such a great, non-lemon scooter around. It's kind of like having an expensive accessory wherever I go. It's a good thing I like the unpredictable because I never know if it's going to start but no surprise there.

If you are shopping for scooters, do yourself a favor and stay away from the Tao Tao brand. They are the ones with the stickers that say V.I.P. and Future Champion. It's a good thing, too, that it has stickers, and otherwise, I might think I didn't get anything for my $800. While they are more affordable in the beginning, they are unreliable, undependable and no one wants to take responsibility for them. I called the manufacturer and they told me I had to go to the dealer and we know how that went.

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Phil November 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Kymco Scooters are sooo much better and are very dependable.... Vespa are great too.... Chinese scooters are what is know as disposable scooters they are noting but junk.....
Trace Taylor November 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I can only speak for the Tao Tao becuase I have no experience with any other Asian brand scooters. But I can say with no uncertainty that Tao Tao are pure junk.
Trace Taylor November 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM
OMG, it broke down and left me stranded again, today, just like yesterday. Started right up, got me there then refused to restart. But don't worry folks, it's not a lemon. The manufacturer and dealer assured me it isn't a lemon. I pushed it across the street to the mechanic shop and walked away. I just had to walk away before I set fire to the thing.
terri hunter May 23, 2013 at 12:29 AM
has anyone heard of the brand ice burg we think the dealer called them for the moped please let me know.
john doe May 24, 2013 at 05:10 PM
ice bear
john doe May 24, 2013 at 05:11 PM
ice bear not ice burg
kim center May 26, 2013 at 01:38 PM
iam thinkin about buying a 2012 tao tao....any one have anything good to say about them
Trace Taylor May 26, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I wrote this blog about the Tao Tao. However, since my scooter repair guy at Jimmy's Scooter Repair Shop on 22nd has replaced just about every part, and since I use only Non Ethanol gasoline as suggested by Jummy's, it now runs like a dream. Off the factory floor though, prior to investment like this, my experience has shown me that they have issues. Cracked vacuum hoses, bad plugs, bad break handles, bad breaks, failing break lights, cracking engine casing, old rubber and so failing front and back tires, failing starter, etc... Thanks to Jimmy's Scoiter Repair, all good now!
Rah Mad May 27, 2013 at 01:51 AM
I just bought a 2013 Tao Tao scooter and only have had it for there weeks, and it's at 136 miles. At first the idle was adjusted and ran fine for a couple of days and then it stopped starting up. The engine makes the sound of a car that doesn't want to start up but can't. Electrically and kick starting it won't come on. The battery works BC the.lights and all turn on but when I push the starter button down and hold the brake it just makes the "trying" to start up sound, but eventually u hear a clink sound. I'm so pissed BC the dealer is acting like the scooter isn't a complete lemon!
Rah Mad May 27, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Excuse me..the.engine makes a skins that it wants to start jp but cant
Rah Mad May 27, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Up* not jp
Trace Taylor May 27, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Yep, sounds just like my scooter two days and 42 miles after I bought it brand new. Starter whining, refusal to start on so on and so forth. The dealer didn't stand behind it after the second issue. They said it was probably something I was doing because they had no way of knowing how I treated the scooter. A just bought, brand new scooter. They just never called me back. I called the manufacturing office and they said it wasn't their deal, that I needed to work it out with the dealer, and that it wasn't a lemon and they had no way of knowing how I treated the scooter but regardless, it was not their problem. However, since Jimmy's scooter repair replaced just about every part, it runs fine, a little loud but nothing I can't live wiith.
Trace Taylor May 27, 2013 at 02:03 AM
Mine was 2012 bought in 2012.
CJ July 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Keep in mind that it's not just the brand of Chinese scooter that Trace bought that has problems...''all'' Chinese scooters do. They ''all'' uses the same ''one piece'' rear drive/transmission thing. They are easy to identify by this feature. You see the same thing on all Chinese scooters. While ''that part'' of the scooter is actually rather remarkable ...like anything Chinses...it is the ''rest of the scooter'' that usually causes the problems with these Chinese scooters. It is hard to not be tempted by their very low cost. We have one , but knew it would require lots of ''tweaks'' to keep it going. Once you get the hang of your individuals scooters ''little problems''....then you can make these worth owning...but they are not a scooter for people who are not very mechanical. The same size scooter in a Honda cost 5 times more money. Ours has ''easily'' been worth it's money...but I can see why they would not be a good buy for many people. The best advice I can give to anyone is buy them from a local shop who will make sure you can get the scooter ''legal''. We bought ours online...and it was a nightmare. There is a scooter dealer up by Hudson, north of Dunedin, who sells these things online who deserves to be in prison for the way he rips off people...and that is typical for the online scooter dealers. Beware and avoid them. It is unbelievable what we had to go through to get ours titled.
Marcus July 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM
I don't understand why you don't mention the dealer's business name. Not only is the scooter a problem but the daeler is worse and it would be a good idea to warn others about that dealer's bad business practices.
CJ July 31, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Who are you directing your comment to, Marcus? There are several people here who have mentioned similar issues from this Chinese scooters...but I don't think any of them mentioned where they bought them. You are missing the point if you think knowing the dealers name will help you find a good Chinese scooter and a good dealer that sells them. Scooters dealers...all of them...not just the Chinese ones are ''notoriously'' known for basically throwing you under the bus if you buy a Chinese scooter from them. They cost too little money for them to do too much for you after you buy one. They will hand with you a week or two, but after that...it's on you. If you buy one of their more expensive scooters...then they ''might'' give you better service...but don't count on it being ''much'' better. An exception may be someplace like a Honda Dealer that sells Honda scooters. There are other Name Brand dealers that are the exception also. But the other dealers are so numerous in our area they have to sell these things at very competitive prices to get buyers. You simply are not going to get a whole lot of ''service'' on a scooter that you paid up to 10 times less than a name brand scooter...such as Honda, most Italian scooters, etc. You ''do'' get what you pay for when you buy a scooter. The name brand ones will simply not need much service...probably for a very long time. That said....myself and others opted for the Chinese ones ''anyway''...because they are so darned cheap, but I also knew I was mechanical enough to deal with the issues they will have. Just keep in mind, though...you can get stuck with one that is such a total lemon...simple being good mechanically is not going to be enough. It is a chance you have to take sometimes to save money. Trace sounds like she had exceptionally bad luck...but overall....the Chinese scooters can be a awesome deal if money is tight. Just be sure you have lots of baling wire, clothes hanger wire, duct tape, and a big hammer to hit it with. Plus, brush up on your dirty words to call it.
CJ July 31, 2013 at 12:25 PM
If you want to buy a scooter you will not regret buying let me recommend a Honda Metropolitan (smaller city scooter), or a Suzuki Burgman (one that can go on the Interstate) both can be bought used and are worth the money. I own a Chinese Scooter and a Burgman 400 and we have a lot of fun with both of them. My Chinese scooter is 3 years old and has not had one thing go wrong that could not be fixed easy. But it has several little thing wrong that I just ignore. You are not going to have a Chinese scooter that does not have some little bug with it...but just deal with it and they can last many years. I can get you the name of the Dealer up near Hudson that I bought mine from online, if you want me to. Just ask...but avoid the online deals on these. there are dealers right here in town that can get you one for about the same price and they will make sure it gets titled.
Francis McFrancis August 10, 2013 at 07:04 PM
The big problem with these scooters is what you save in the beginning quickly disappears after paying sixty or seventy dollars an hour for repairs. Some brands are far better than others ( GMW for example) but you can't beat a Vespa or any Japanese scooter for long life and reliability. Pay now or pay, and pay, and pay later.
Red August 27, 2013 at 08:39 AM
Thanks to all for the heads-up on these scooters. I keep seeing them on the road and I think: wow that's gotta be a cheep way to get around. But whoa! If I want a place to throw away my money, I'll buy a hole in the water for a boat.
Charlesworth Longtooth III August 27, 2013 at 07:30 PM
I am glad to have my suspicions confirmed about the flood of Chinese scooters to hit the US shores. There are dozens on Craigslist and all of them are pretty much one year old out of warranty Chinese scooters. I can't help but laugh at the complete misunderstanding of our language when it comes to marketing these hunks of crud. I mean, could you imagine buying a motorcycle or car that had the phrase "future champion" on it? You get what you pay for. I am going to buy a scooter soon and I see that a 8=10 year old comparable Japanese scooter goes for about the same money. Vespas are about double but are way cool as well as reliable. For the 1K or so that these cost, I am contemplating spending just a bit more and buying an 80s v-twin motorcycle and say forget the scooter idea.
Joe Blough September 03, 2013 at 02:48 PM
I bought a TaoTao scooter this spring and have been extremely happy. If you spend a little time before you start it up the first time they are great. Following these steps gave me no problems. 1. Charge the battery 2. attach handle bars and front wheel 3. Drain transmission oil and refill with 80/90 gear oil 4. Drain motor oil (it comes with shipping oil only) and refill with a quality non-synthetic 10w30 oil 5. replace the chinese spark plug with a NGK brand 6. replace the fuel and vacuum lines with new from auto parts store (chinese rubber WILL break down) I also use high octane fuel with seafoam added. I have over 3500km so far and besides oil changes (switched to full synthetic oil after 300km break-in, and change it every 1000km) Mine does 45 - 50 mph without any modifications. I am looking at replacing the rollers to get a little more top speed out of it.
Doc Webb's Bay Post October 11, 2013 at 08:26 AM
I have a Q-Link 150cc Siena I purchased from Seminole Scooters in Pinellas Park. It is about 4 years old, came with a two year warranty. It has had a few problems, but great dealer service both warranty and after warranty. Parts are available direct from the importer and are pretty reasonable. I ride with a passenger so replaced the clutch with a heavy duty one but that is about it. Very reliable, lots of fun and great mileage.
Joel January 04, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Gee, I have a TaoTao 50 I bought new 2-1/2 years ago, it has 3000 on the odometer now, it has not failed once, I drive it daily instead of the car, I even use it to get to work right now in the winter in single digit temps the same as I did last winter. If you broke the kick starter it was your fault, these are not motorcycle kick starters, you WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP that lever like a 1200 cc twin cycle- expect it to BREAK. Everyone who has scooters KNOWS the factory sealed carbs are jetted in china to run LEAN, it is up to you the new owner to determine what the correct size jets are for YOUR AREA and elevation, and replace those so the engine doesn't burn up by running it LEAN. Run any gasoline engine too lean and watch what happens when the engine seizes up, the factory can only ballpark an average jet size, you have to fine tune the settings so it doesnt run too rich or too lean, the easiest way to do that is replace the sealed stock carb with an aftermarket one and the right sized jets for your elevation/climate (about $45) You really think the plugs that come with a $600 scooter are top quality? everyone in scooters knows to throw out that torch brand chinese plug and put in a quality NGK or similar plug. As far as cracked rubber hoses etc go, again, everyone in scooters knows that the FIRST thing you do is replace all of the rubber hoses, chinese rubber is garbage and we all know that, replace the rubber fuel line and vacuum hoses with NAPA hoses, an inline fuel filter and make sure to always use unleaded premium high octane gas, more trouble happens when you try running ahigh compression engine on cheap low octane gas, worse yet- with ethanol in it. These scooters REQUIRE high octane premium gas. What people who slam TaoTao don't realize is- the engines used- the 49/50cc QMB 139 engine is the exact same engine used by COUNTLESS scooter manufacturers and has been THE engine used for many years in scooters around the world. Unless you go buy a $2500 Honda Metropolitan with fuel injection, or some other premium $2500 brand scooter, then you are going to get a scooter with a QMB 139 engine just like TaoTao uses. I am quite happy with my TaoTao 50 and I would not hesitate to buy another one just like it. I would prefer a fuel injected engine and like the style of the Metropolitan but I refuse to pay $2500 for one AND also deal with the restricted speed those have- you can barely go 25 on the flat because Honda puts restrictors in the engine to prevent you from going faster.
Joel January 04, 2014 at 07:15 PM
I might also mention that scooters are not something the un-mechanically inclined should ever buy, your chances of finding a repair shop near you are slim at best, if you are going to buy a scooter of any kind make sure you buy the repair book for it and LEARN about how it works and learn how to do basic preventative maint and service- you CANT be running to a dealer 50 miles away to replace a spark plug or replace a fuel filter it would be insane! Nearby motorcycle shops and auto garages will not have parts or the manuals and will never be able to do anything more on a scooter than maybe replace a flat tire so don't count on those to help. If you DO replace a tire make sure they DONT use the automotive tire removal machine on your rim! The tire must be removed with motorcycle tire spoons or equiv by hand, if they use the machine meant for removing car tires from steel rims it will BEND the aluminum rim almost instantly. My TaoTao 50's original battery is still in it working fine after 2-1/2 years, ditto for the light bulbs. I replaced the original drive belt and variator at 2500 as I had the case side open to inspect the belt and figured I'd save some effort later and just go ahead and renew both parts as long as I had it open. The belt was like $15 and the whole brand new variator was like $35, a half hour later I replaced both, good to go- neither NEEDED to be replaced, the belt had marginal wear on it but it IS a wear item that does require periodic replacement.
Joel January 04, 2014 at 07:38 PM
The same size scooter in a Honda cost 5 times more money. Ours has ''easily'' been worth it's money...but I can see why they would not be a good buy for many people. " Mine has been, I bought it in March of 2010 on-line, shipped to my door for about $625, best bargain ever, it's saved my older car from the wear and tear and it's 25 mpg gas mileage, while the scooter never got anywhere near the false 100+ mpg claims in ads, it does average around 70 mpg. Since i work 1/2 mile from home and come home for lunch it saves me from starting and running my car 4 times a day to drive just 2 miles. Yet I have taken it for pleasure rides and errands on the open roads running around 40 mph to nearby towns 18-20 miles away and back. I would say THE biggest issue of all are 3 things: 1) when you get it make SURE to replace all the oils, make sure you keep it replaced frequently- clean oil is a key to long bearing life too. 2)REPLACE the OEM sealed carb with an aftermarket carb jetted to the correct jet size for your elevation and climate- they ALL come jetted too lean form the factory and that will cause hard starting issues, poor running, lack of power and overheating that causes engine seizing/failure, the carb jet is the one crucial item everyone overlooks, and it's the one thing that affects engine running in every way- from starting to engine life. 3) ADJUST the valves is another crucial thing, if the valves are not adjusted properly the engine will not start up easy or run well, the valve adjustment is fairly simple using feeler gages and directions form the book on h ow, there's youtube videos showing how to do it and many scooter folks on scooter forums such as 49ccscoot.proboards.com who have posted numerous articles and guides on all of this.
Pete Hansen January 25, 2014 at 06:50 PM
I'll give ya 50 bucks for it!!
Joel January 25, 2014 at 07:37 PM
"Pete Hansen January 25, 2014 at 06:50 PM I'll give ya 50 bucks for it!! " How "intelligent" a response, why even bother logging in and posting crap like that in the first place, LOSER!
Carolyn Logan April 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Joe, please can I email you? I have a scooter and have a couple of questions to what you have written here about a few items I should get. My name is Carolyn and my email is carolynsuelogan @ yahoo.com. I am getting ready to buy a carburetor and some other items for my scooter that is brand new that I have hardly been able to ride. Thank you, or you can call me 813 900 3999 it would be greatly appreciated.
Carolyn Logan April 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Not Joe, but Joel, sorry typo
Joel April 17, 2014 at 09:28 PM
Carolyn, you might do well to join the scooter forum and get a wide variety of input and suggestions, try this forum; http://49ccscoot.proboards.com/ What I replaced or wrote about is part of the standard PDI (post delivery inspection) every one in the know about scooters does to their newly acquired scooter, there's threads, videos and pdf files explaining procedures, what to do, not do etc there for people new to scooters.


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