Fire Risks Remain With Popular Off-Road Vehicles - NBC4 Washington
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Fire Risks Remain With Popular Off-Road Vehicles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Safety Experts Say Fire Dangers Still Exist With Popular Off-Road Vehicles

    A year after the government sounded the alarm about fires on popular off-road vehicles, News4 learned the danger still exists. Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan explains. (Published Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018)

    A year after the government sounded the alarm about fires on popular off-road vehicles, the danger still exists.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Polaris released a joint statement alerting the public about the fires in December 2017.

    Since 2013, Polaris has recalled almost a half million off-road vehicles for fire risks.

    There are accusations that a fix isn't stopping the fires, and ROVs not part of the recall are also catching fire.

    “Polaris has conducted more recalls than any other OHV manufacturer, but we feel like there needs to be more looking under the hood here and more understanding of what exactly is going on,” said Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America.

    Despite all of the recalls, consumers still don't have the information needed to protect themselves, Weintraub said.

    Neither Polaris nor the CPSC will say which vehicles have caught fire after being repaired, and it’s still unclear what’s causing the fires in the first place.

    “Or whether in fact there are still vehicles out there that the manufacturer and CPSC know about that are posing fire hazards,” Weintraub said.

    In a statement to News4, the CPSC said since the December 2017 joint statement, it issued nine more recalls, including "four fire/burn hazards" and 2017 and 2018 vehicles.

    Weintraub said it's still unclear whether the fire hazard has been resolved.

    Polaris said it made "additional investments" over the past two years to "improve the safety of our vehicles."

    In addition to the recalls, Polaris said it issued a "voluntary safety bulletin" on "several RZR models despite having received no reports of fires" on those vehicles.

    In April, Polaris agreed to pay a $27 million civil penalty for failing to report defective recreational off-road vehicles. It was the largest fine in the history of the CPSC.

    CPSC Statement

    As you may know, we have statutory restrictions on our ability to publicly disclose information about companies and can only share information that has been released following our public disclosure process. In the year following the December 19, 2017 joint statement, CPSC has continued to make this a priority issue and we have worked diligently with Polaris to address pending safety issues. Over those 12 months, that work has resulted in nine recalls covering a number of issues, including four fire/burn hazards. Note that two of the fire cases involved 2017 and 2018 vehicles. Link to notices 18-133 and 18-708.

    In addition to working on these issues, CPSC secured an agreement on April 2, 2018 from Polaris to pay a $27.25 million civil penalty to settle charges that Polaris failed to report defective recreational off road vehicles. Polaris further agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act and a related system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure timely reporting in the future.

    On a broader level, CPSC continues to work toward improving the safety of all off highway vehicles. In July of this year, Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle wrote to a group of off highway vehicle standards organizations to encourage them to work with CPSC to improve voluntary standards to address thermal and mechanical hazards for off highway vehicles. In September of this year, CPSC staff presented additional details to the vehicle standards organizations to support continued efforts to improve the safety standards for these vehicles. Supporting the ongoing improvements to the standards is a top priority of the CPSC and Acting Chair Buerkle.

    Polaris Statement

    The safety of our customers and products has been a cornerstone of Polaris since its inception and remains of paramount importance today. Over the last two years, we have made additional investments in the people, processes, and tools to improve the safety of our vehicles and to give our customers the best riding experience in the industry. In addition to our proactive efforts to prevent safety and quality issues, we also have an enhanced post-sale surveillance processes that continually reviews extensive and diverse data sets to quickly identify and address issues that may emerge with vehicles in the field.

    We have worked in partnership with the CPSC to voluntarily recall certain RZR model vehicles to address potential safety concerns, the last of which was in April. Concurrently, we also issued a voluntary safety bulletin, outside of our partnership with CPSC, on several RZR models despite having received no reports of fire, as the vehicles did not meet our quality standards.

    We strongly encourage our customers to ensure any previously issued recalls are completed. Should a consumer have any questions as to whether there is still an outstanding recall on their vehicle, they can contact a Polaris authorized dealer or visit www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” to enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and determine if there are additional repairs needed. Polaris also encourages riders to follow all safety instructions found in the owner’s manual and visit Polaris.com/RiderSafety to learn about additional safe riding practices.

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