Report: Fire Problems Continue to Plague Popular Models of Polaris Off-Road VehiclesFebruary 19, 2020
By ELI WOLFE, FairWarning
Editor’s note: Story was updated February 14. See correction at end of the story.
Polaris Industries, which boasts of being a global leader in sales of off-highway vehicles, also has the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 company for recalls, according to a new report.
The nonprofit Consumer Federation of America documented 110 recalls for various defects in off-road vehicles since 2010. Polaris—a top manufacturer of some of the most popular trail machines, including both all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs)—has had 35 official recalls, by far the most of any company, along with five other actions described as stop sale/stop ride notices.
Asked to comment on the recall report, a Polaris spokeswoman said that “when an issue is identified, we are proactive and vigilant about finding the solution.”
Unlike two of its competitors, Polaris had no official recalls involving fire hazards in 2019, a departure from the recent past. In recent years, Polaris has had to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles due to fires linked to at least four deaths and dozens of burn injuries. In 2018, the Medina, Minnesota-based company agreed to pay a record $27.25 million fine for failing to promptly notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about fire hazards.
But safety advocates argue that Polaris actually initiated multiple fire-related recalls last year—but just called them by a different name.
In 2019, Polaris posted five stop sale notices on its website, four of them involving fire hazards. The last fire-related notification, made in December, warned riders that some 2019-2020 Ranger XP 1000 models were equipped with incorrectly routed fuel lines. Overall, the four notices covered 79,508 vehicles and nine reported incidents, which weren’t described, and no reported injuries.
Sean Kane, president of the consulting firm, Safety Research & Strategies Inc., highlighted the notices in a recent blog post about Polaris’ history of fire-related recalls. He said the notices were not posted on the CPSC website, which routinely publishes information about official recalls. Kane has consulted for plaintiff attorneys with cases against Polaris.Want more stories like this? Sign up here to get news alerts.
An agency spokeswoman said there were recalls fortwo of the vehicles mentioned in the notices—the 2019 PRO XD and 2019 RZR XP models. But both recalls dealt with brake failures, not fire hazards, in some units.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers are required to inform the commission about product defects that could endanger consumers. But the agency has very limited power to issue mandatory recalls, so it tries to push companies to do voluntary ones. Even so, many companies choose instead to issue stop sale/stop ride notices. Unlike a recall, these notifications are not the product of negotiations with the agency, and…