Off-Highway Vehicles

2020 Analysis of OHV Recalls: Increasing Number of OHVs Pulled from Market due to Safety Concerns

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 over the past 10 years, there have been 123 OHV recalls, and the number of recalls has increased from two recalls in 2010 to 17 recalls in 2018, and 16 in 2019. In 2020, there were also 16 OHV 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 from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2020 found that 19 brands[1] 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.[2] CPSC reports identified at least 71 injuries and two deaths linked to OHVs that were subsequently recalled. Also, nearly two-million[3] OHVs were estimated to be sold and subsequently recalled.


Recall Volume by Brand and Year

From January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2020, a total of 123 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 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, 47, while Kawasaki had the second highest number of recalls, 14. BRP/Can-Am had the third highest number of recalls, 10.

*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.

In 2019, we included five actions as recalls but these actions are unilateral actions by the manufacturer, Polaris, that were deemed “Stop Sale/Stop Ride Notices.” One of these notices was issued in June 2019, two notices were issued in October of 2019, and two were issued in December of 2019. These “Stop Sale/Stop Ride Notices” did not involve the CPSC and the CPSC did not communicate these actions to the public. These “Stop Sale/ Stop Ride Notices involved 92,353 vehicles in total and were recalled for a number of reasons including: seat belts not functioning properly; fire hazards, including: incorrect fuel line routing, fuel rail fasteners being improperly torqued, damage to fuel lines in the event of a drive belt failure; and a clutch inlet duct not being removed prior to shipping. While Polaris did not include any information about injuries in these notices, Polaris did include that four incidents occurred where the drive belt failed and damage to the fuel line resulted, and five incidents occurred where the clutch inlet duct created a fire hazard.


Recalls Driven by Fire, Throttle, and Steering Hazards

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 52 recalls (42%). The second most common hazard indicated in the OHV recall notifications related to throttle issues which accounted for 18 of the 123 recalls, or 15%. The third most common hazard identified as the cause of OHV recalls involved steering related issues which made up 14 recalls (11%). 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 123 recalls analyzed, 25 recalls (20%) 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 71 injuries included in the recall notices. The CPSC did not always identify the severity of the injuries, but of the 71 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).


1,928,585 Vehicles Subsequently Recalled were Sold

For every recall issued, the CPSC estimates the number of impacted vehicles sold. For the 123 recalls analyzed, the CPSC estimates that 1,928,585 vehicles 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.


Appendix: Links to CPSC OHV Recall Reports
From January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2020.
Note: if highlighted in gray, that action was a unilateral action taken by the company.

Recall Date Company Link
12/22/2020 BRP
12/3/2020 American Honda
11/19/2020 Polaris
7/24/2020 CFMOTO
7/23/2020 Polaris
7/2/2020 Polaris
7/2/2020 Polaris
6/18/2020 American Honda
4/16/2020 Polaris
4/16/2020 Polaris
4/16/2020 Polaris
3/19/2020 Kawasaki
3/19/2020 Kawasaki
1/30/2020 Bobcat
1/30/2020 Polaris
1/30/2020 Polaris
*12/23/2019 Polaris
*12/20/2019 Polaris
*10/22/2019 Polaris
*10/11/2019 Polaris
9/4/2019 John Deere
9/4/2019 Kawasaki
6/28/2019 Yamaha
6/13/2019 American Honda
*6/7/2019 Polaris
6/4/2019 Polaris
6/4/2019 Polaris
5/22/2019 Arctic Cat
3/14/2019 Kawasaki
3/5/2019 Arctic Cat
3/5/2019 Arctic Cat
12/6/2018 Kawasaki
11/8/2018 American Honda
10/31/2018 CFMOTO
10/24/2018 Cub Cadet
9/11/2018 John Deere
9/26/2018 CFMOTO
9/5/2018 Polaris
8/27/2018 Polaris
8/23/2018 American Landmaster
7/17/2018 Polaris
8/8/2018 Bobcat
8/8/2018 Polaris
6/29/2018 BRP
5/15/2018 American Honda
4/19/2018 Polaris
4/19/2018 Polaris
4/10/2018 BRP
4/2/2018 Polaris
12/21/2017 John Deere
12/21/2017 Polaris
11/30/2017 Kubota
11/16/2017 Arctic Cat
10/30/2017 Polaris
10/27/2017 Arctic Cat
10/17/2017 Polaris
9/6/2017 Kawasaki
8/22/2017 Polaris
8/10/2017 Kawasaki
8/8/2017 Polaris
7/25/2017 Polaris
7/19/2017 Polaris
7/18/2017 Polaris
7/6/2017 Cub Cadet
6/20/2017 Kawasaki
5/9/2017 American Honda
4/13/2017 Polaris
4/13/2017 Polaris
4/11/2017 John Deere
3/21/2017 Polaris
3/2/2017 Polaris
1/12/2017 BRP
1/11/2017 Bad Boy Buggies
12/29/2016 Polaris
11/22/2016 BRP
9/15/2016 Polaris
9/1/2016 Polaris
8/23/2016 Arctic Cat
7/28/2016 John Deere
*7/25/2016 Polaris
7/7/2016 Kawasaki
6/28/2016 Polaris
5/12/2016 Kubota
5/10/2016 American Honda
5/5/2016 BRP
4/29/2016 Cub Cadet
4/19/2016 Polaris
4/13/2016 Yamaha
3/9/2016 KYMCO
12/15/2015 Kawasaki
12/10/2015 Polaris
10/7/2015 BRP
10/6/2015 Polaris
8/13/2015 American SportWorks
7/28/2015 Arctic Cat
7/23/2015 Polaris
5/26/2015 BRP
4/14/2015 Yamaha
2/3/2015 Gibbs Sports Amphibians
10/16/2014 American Honda
9/25/2014 Bad Boy Buggies
7/30/2014 Kawasaki
4/22/2014 Bad Boy Buggies
3/18/2014 Arctic Cat
2/25/2014 Polaris
6/19/2013 Polaris
2/24/2013 John Deere
1/29/2013 BRP
1/20/2013 John Deere
1/20/2013 BRP
1/9/2013 Polaris
11/15/2012 John Deere
10/2/2012 Kubota
9/19/2012 Club Car
8/22/2012 Kawasaki
4/26/2012 Kawasaki
4/10/2012 Club Car
3/15/2012 Kawasaki
1/26/2012 KYMCO
1/26/2012 Columbia ParCar
12/14/2011 Bad Boy Buggies
11/23/2010 Cub Cadet
7/8/2010 American Suzuki Motor Corp


[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.