An Analysis of OHV Recalls: Increasing Number of OHVs Pulled from Market due to Safety Concerns
A Consumer Federation of America (CFA) analysis of off highway vehicle (OHV) recalls found that from January 2010 to June 2021, there have been 132 OHV recalls, and the number of recalls per year has increased from two recalls in 2010 to 16 recalls in 2020. So far in the first half of 2021, there have been 9 recalls. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and utility task vehicles (UTVs). CFA’s analysis of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) OHV recall reports since 2010 found that the highest number of recalls occurred from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2019.
In addition, CFA analysis of CPSC OHV recall reports during the period analyzed found that 19 brands were involved in the recalls, and the brand with the most recalls (over triple that of the brand with the second most recalls) was Polaris. CPSC reports identified at least 71 injuries and two deaths linked to OHVs that were subsequently recalled. . Also, nearly two-million OHVs were estimated to be sold and subsequently recalled.
Recall Volume by Brand and Year
From January 1, 2010 through June 10, 2021, a total of 132 recall notices were identified. Nineteen brands were involved in the notices, and the brand that had the most recall notices during the period was Polaris. Figure 1, below, shows the number of OHV recalls during the report period. In 2017, there were a total of 24 recalls—the highest number of recalls in a single year during the period analyzed. In 2021 thus far, there have been nine recalls. In 2020 and 2019, there were 16 recalls. In 2018, there were 17 recalls and in 2016, there were 16 recalls. In 2011, there was one recall, but the following year the number of recalls increased to nine, a nine-fold increase, which was the highest increase, between years, for the time period analyzed by CFA.
The OHV recalls involve 19 different brands. Figure 2, below, shows that Polaris had the most recalls, 50, while Kawasaki had the second highest number of recalls, 16. BRP had the third highest number of recalls, 11.
*Arctic Cat issued three recall notices under the name Arctic Cat on March 2014, July 2015, and August 2016. In October 2017 and November 2017, Arctic Cat issued a recall but under the name Textron. According to Textron’s website, Textron announced it purchased Arctic Cat in March 2017. For the purposes of this analysis, the Textron recall for Arctic Cat was included under the name Arctic Cat.
**Different CPSC recall notices for Bad Boy Buggies differ on who is issuing the recall. On January 2017, Textron issued a recall for Bad Boy Buggies, and it was listed as the manufacturer of Bad Boy Buggies in the CPSC recall notice. On April 2014 and December 2011, Bad Boy Buggies issued two recalls for UTVs alongside E-Z-GO. E-Z-GO issued the two recalls for golf carts. Both Bad Boy Buggies and E-Z-GO are manufactured by Textron, according to the CPSC recall notices. For the purposes of this analysis, the recalls issued under Textron and E-Z-GO for Bad Boy Buggy products are included under the name Bad Boy Buggies.
Recalls Driven by Fire and Crash Hazards Posed by Fuel, Steering, and Throttle Issues
There are numerous reasons why OHVs have been recalled, and CFA was able to identify some patterns. For example, looking at the entire period, the cause of the most recalls is fire hazards. Fire related hazards accounted for 56 recalls (42.7%). The second most common hazard indicated in the OHV recall notifications related to throttle issues which accounted for 18 of the 131 recalls, or 13.7%. The third most common hazard identified as the cause of OHV recalls involved steering related issues which made up 16 recalls (12%). These top three hazards represent nearly three-quarters of hazards that led to recalls (68%).
Fire related hazards include issues such as fuel hoses leaking, exhaust pipes cracking, firewalls failing, melting of components, and other fuel related-issues. Issues related to the throttle include the throttle failing to return to idle or failing in some way. Examples of steering related issues include the steering shaft breaking and the electronic power steering unit malfunctioning.
Injuries and Deaths
Injuries or deaths were involved in about one in five OHV recalls. Out of the 131 recalls analyzed, 28 recalls (21%) involved at least one injury. Tragically, the most serious involved two deaths. The most recent documented death associated with a recall occurred in January 2017 and involved the rollover of an OHV that was subsequently recalled because it did not have seatbelts, resulting in the death of a 14-year-old passenger. The second death occurred in April 2016 on an OHV that caught fire (the specific part of the vehicle that caught fire was not identified) and then rolled over, resulting in the death of a 15-year-old passenger.
There were 76 injuries included in the recall notices. The CPSC did not always identify the severity of the injuries, but of the 76 injuries included, there were at least two severe injuries. One individual suffered a serious leg injury after a rollover incident (the vehicle in this incident was part of the same recall as the January 2017 death above). And the second severe injury included a young child who suffered severe burns after an ROV caught fire (this recall noted that an additional five people suffered burn injuries but did not indicate that they were severe).
1,943,481 Vehicles Subsequently Recalled were Sold
For every recall issued, the CPSC estimates the number of impacted vehicles sold. For the 131recalls analyzed, the CPSC estimates that 1,943,481vehicles subsequently recalled were sold. The recalls that involved the largest number of OHVs were two Polaris recalls and two American Honda recalls. The first Polaris RZR ROV recall impacted approximately 133,000 vehicles, in April 2016, and was due to the risk of the vehicle catching fire and involved the largest number of vehicles recalled during the period analyzed.
The second highest number of individual vehicles involved an American Honda Pioneer ROV, recalled due to problems with the electric power steering. This recall occurred in December 2020 and involved about 118,600 vehicles. The recall with the third highest number of vehicles was the second Polaris RZR ROV recall. This vehicle was recalled due to heat shield problems and affected approximately 107,000 vehicles. The fourth largest recall involved 82,000 American Honda ROVs recalled in June 2019 due to the throttle pedal sticking in the open position.
Investigation into Cause of Increasing Recalls Needed
OHVs are powerful vehicles that can pose safety risks to OHV drivers and passengers even during seemingly low risk conditions. But when drivers are unwittingly using defective OHVs, the safety risk increases even more. More defective vehicles being used means more potential injuries and deaths.
OHV companies must do everything necessary to ensure the safety of their products. While we applaud companies for taking responsibility and recalling their products, problems should be identified before the products enter the marketplace and pose risks to consumers. We urge companies to continue to voluntarily recall products with the CPSC and not unilaterally take actions that are not recalls.
This analysis identified that more OHV recalls have been occurring more recently. These recalled OHVs have been involved in incidents resulting in at least two deaths and 71 injuries. The CPSC must investigate why the number of OHV recalls are increasing and take steps, along with OHV manufacturers, to prevent these tragedies and improve the safety of these vehicles.
 Brand, is used to denote the type of OHV being recalled. While the brand is sometimes synonymous with the manufacturer, it is sometimes the name of an OHV produced by a manufacturer of a different name. In some instances, it is not clear from the recall notice who the manufacturer is.
 A single CPSC recall notice can include a single model or multiple models, as well as a single model year or multiple model years, or any combination of these factors.
 There were five CPSC recall notices that included golf carts alongside OHVs. The CPSC recall notices did not separate the total units of the OHV products from the golf cart products. Therefore this total includes some units of golf carts.
Appendix: Links to CPSC OHV Recall Reports
From January 1, 2010 through June 10, 2021