Recalls, yep. Those things. We’ve heard ENOUGH about them the past few years in the automotive industry, and now they’re becoming popular in the side by side industry!
4/18/16- Yamaha recalls their YXZ for a sticking throttle in icy conditions.
4/19/16- Polaris recalls their 2013-2016 RZR900 and RZR1000 models for burning to the ground (along with your hopes and dreams)
4/26/16- Arctic Cat recalls their Wildcat 1000s to add an additional 25hp..? Ok maybe not. BUT WE CAN DREAM!
For us, these recalls are good AND bad in the same sense. On one hand, it’s fairly obvious Yamaha should have caught the icing throttle issue. Their experience spans DECADES and Yamaha machines have been no strangers to the winter conditions. On the other hand, they recalled the machine so quickly that no one has been hurt and their reputation hasn’t been tarnished by lawsuits or any other litigation.
But Polaris, ohhhh Polaris. As we all know a ship that big is hard to turn and they have been at best “lack luster” in their handling of fire claims. Anyone can Google “rzr fire” and find literally HUNDREDS of cases in which Rangers and RZRs (of all sizes!) burning to the ground without any action from Polaris until their first recall of ~4500 units back in 2012 (including Ranger and RZR XP900 models) for a fire hazard that resulted in AT LEAST 1 injury.
As we now know, this isn’t the first time Polaris has been under fire for recalls. Again in 2015 they recalled RZR 170 youth models for a potential fire hazard. Luckily, at the time of the recall there have been no injuries. But yet AGAIN in October of 2015 Polaris recalled ONLY 2015 model year RZR 1000 and RZR 900 models for a pinched fuel line issue that resulted in a fire hazard.
A mere 2 months later the brand new Polaris RZR XP Turbo model was recalled for (you guessed it!) a FIRE HAZARD! This time it was due to improperly torqued bolts that hold the oil drain into the turbo. Hot oil could leak and ignite causing a fire.
And despite these recall efforts, we now know just recently that Polaris has done a blanket recall on the 2013 through current RZR 1000 and RZR 900 models for ANOTHER FIRE HAZARD ISSUE that affects over 100,000 units.
SO WHAT GIVES?
Well, obviously high horsepower machines built to recreational off-road vehicle standards are notoriously tough to make strong and safe while keeping the price in check. And with Polaris models selling more than any other, they will naturally have a higher occurrence of issues. So is this problem a function of volume? Is it a function of “customer engineering?” We don’t know yet. There is a cost to be at the top and for Polaris it’s them vs fire.
What can be done?
At this point it’s clear Polaris has a trend for mistakes along the line that put their customers in danger. Whether its a manufacturing issue, engineering issue, or dealer assembly issue it’s clear that Polaris needs to take steps to prevent this from happening. It’s bad PR, it costs money, and it’s just generally bad for business. As with any issue, it’s always a balance of cost versus reward and certainly Polaris can’t afford more recalls.
What can you do?
If you own an affected model (check here with Polaris’s VIN checking tool) and get to the dealer IMMEDIATELY. If you have YXZ and drive in icy conditions, contact your dealer also! And if you have another machine with issues that aren’t recalled or even known, it’s still a smart idea to document this issue with your dealer for the future. Being that I am mostly involved in the Arctic Cat world, I’ve seen a lot of situations in which AC will give a “good will” part (whether it be an engine, clutch, etc) to a customer that had a verified issue that AC is aware of. In fact, my 2012 had a new engine installed for free in 2014 (yes, 1.5 years AFTER the factory warranty) due to an oil leak. It’s a known problem and luckily AC has great customer service! I haven’t dealt with the other companies personally, but I’ve read a lot of stories that make me think other companies aren’t as good as AC.
What does the future hold?
This is where it get’s tricky. With the side by side industry growing the amount of new and used machines being purchased is growing and we can only assume new issues will come to light at an even faster pace. And obviously manufacturers hold a responsibility to ALL their customers to give them a machine that won’t spontaneously combust or launch you into a tree when the throttle sticks. But, at what point do we draw the line? Certainly we don’t want another “Ban the 3 wheelers because kids are getting killed!” situation that causes needless public panic, misconception, and machine destruction at the hands of a few highly-influenced law makers. But there needs to be a sense of commitment to customers from companies. It’s a fine line, and we’re sure all of the manufacturers walk it gently.
Stay tuned for future details regarding these recalls and any new ones down the road. We’ll do our best to keep you (the consumer!) on top of issues.