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Polaris Vehicles Linked with Over 200 Fires; Riders Suffer Burn Injuries

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), manufacturer Polaris has announced a new recall. On March 21, 2017, the company recalled about 19,200 Sportsman 850 and 1000 All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) because of burn and fire hazards.

This is one of a number of recalls the company has implemented because of safety concerns. As far back as 2009, the company was pulling products from the market due to oil leaks that could pose fire and burn hazards to riders.

Polaris Recalls ATVs Because of Melting Heat Shield and Exhaust Problems

According to the CPSC, the right-side panel heat shield on these ATVs can melt, which can lead to fires and burn hazards. In addition, the 2015 Sportsman 1000 ATVs have exhaust springs that can stretch and damage the exhaust seal. This can result in leaks that also pose fire and burn hazards.

So far, Polaris has received reports of at least 793 incidents involving these safety problems, including reports of warped, melted, or burned side panels. They’ve also heard about 47 fires and four minor burn injuries.

The recall affects all model year 2015 and 2016 Polaris Sportsman 850 and 1000 model ATVs that were sold nationwide between May 2014 and March 2017. Polaris has instructed customers to stop using their ATVs immediately and to contact Polaris to schedule a free repair. To see if your product is affected by this recall, refer to the Polaris website.

Polaris Implements a Series of Recalls Due to Burn Hazards

According to the Spokesman, Polaris has issued recalls involving more than 280,000 vehicles to date due to fire risks. The vehicles have been linked to more than 207 fires and at least one death of a 15-year old girl in Utah.

Back in 2009, they recalled about 4,700 Sportsman ATVs because the valve assembly could fail in freezing temperatures, causing oil leaks in the exhaust system and increasing risk of fires. At that time, the company had received reports of six valve assembly failures, resulting in three small fires. Vehicle damage was also reported.

In April 2016, the company again recalled 53,000 off-road vehicles because of fire dangers. This time, it was the Polaris RZR that caused the problems. The recall involved 2015 RZR 900, S 900, 900 XC, 4 900, XP 1000, and XP4 1000 off-road vehicles. Polaris had received four reports of the RZR 900s developing fuel leaks and two reports of them catching on fire. One of those incidents resulted in a burn injury to a consumer. They also received 25 reports of RZR 1000s with fuel leaks.

In September 2016, the company recalled about 42,500 off-road vehicles, again because of burn hazards. The recall included all model year 2014 Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS, and CREW 900 vehicles. The company had received 36 reports of them overheating and catching on fire, including reports of three minor burns and one sprained wrist. As with the other recalls, the company offered a free repair.

Polaris Facing Injury Lawsuits

In October, ABC News reported that Polaris was facing a class action lawsuit over their allegedly defective Sportsman ATVs. Plaintiffs claimed in their complaint that the vehicles built between 2009 and 2016 were dangerous to ride, and could burst into flames because of an exhaust heat defect. The plaintiffs also asserted that Polaris was aware of the defect for years, but failed to take appropriate and timely action to protect their consumers.

The defect, according to the plaintiffs, is in the exhaust pipe, which is located next to the rider’s right leg and extends under the rider’s seat to the back of the vehicle. The pipe can overheat, melt other components, and result in a fire that can harm the rider.

ABC News also reported in November 2016 that a California man was filing a suit against Polaris after his RZR caught fire. He told the reporter that he was off-roading with his girlfriend in Lucerne Valley when he “felt a rush of heat” and saw a burst of flames behind him. In seconds the whole vehicle was engulfed in flames.

The man and his girlfriend escaped, and he rolled on the ground to get the fire to go out on his arms and legs. He suffered severe second- and third-degree burns to more than 20 percent of his body, and his girlfriend suffered burns to her legs.

The man was driving his girlfriend’s father’s vehicle, which was one of those recalled by Polaris. In addition to blaming the company for defectively designing their product, he also states that Polaris failed to ensure that customers were aware of critical recalls and necessary repairs.