On April 19, Polaris Industries, working in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), issued a voluntary recall of more than 133,000 of its popular RZR 900 and RZR 1000 off road golf carts for sale through authorized dealers. After a series of accidents, the company determined that the models in question have the potential to burst into flames under certain circumstances. According to the Minneapolis StarTribune, this is one of the largest recalls of off road golf carts for sale in history.
Polaris RZRs Involved in 160 Fires
Federal officials confirm that more than 160 reports of fires in conjunction with its RZR 900 and RZR 1000 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) that were sold from July 2012 to April 2016. In the course of these incidents, 19 people suffered injuries, including first-degree, second-degree and third-degree burns, and a 15-year-old girl in Utah, Baylee Hoaldridge, lost her life.
“This is Polaris’s largest recall, and we take the matter very seriously,” said an unnamed Polaris spokesperson. “We conducted a thorough investigation to pinpoint the root causes of fires and other thermal-related events. In consultation with the safety commission, we developed a comprehensive corrective action plan to address them.”
Several media outlets report that the recall came only after BJ and Nicole Hoaldridge, the parents of Baylee Hoaldridge, hired an attorney who has stated Polaris is to blame for the death of their daughter.
The Hoaldridge family thought it would be fun to rent a four-seat Polaris RZR 900 to celebrate Independence Day last July. Baylee’s father and grandfather were in the front seats while she and a cousin sat in the rear. As BJ negotiated a turn at a speed of 5 mph, the vehicle tipped on its side. Everyone except Baylee quickly escaped unhurt. However, the 15-year-old girl was trapped in her seat, and flames quickly erupted, engulfing the vehicle.
Baylee was immediately taken to the University of Utah Hospital where doctors discovered she had suffered third-degree burns over 65 percent of her body. The injuries soon became infected, and it became necessary to remove her large intestine and amputate both legs. Baylee endured 27 additional surgeries over the next four months before finally succumbing to her injuries in November.
Polaris issued a limited recall of 53,000 RZR off-road golf carts for sale in October before Baylee died, but after a further analysis of the situation, the company expanded the recall to include 133,000 additional units.
“When the manufacturer came out with the recall, we were so happy that they cared enough about our situation,” said Nicole Hoaldridge. “Our number-one goal was to make sure that this didn’t happen to anybody else.”
The reply from Polaris admitted no fault in the matter. “We remain deeply saddened by the tragic death of Baylee Hoaldridge,” read the official statement from Polaris. “We have expressed our sympathy and condolences to the Hoaldridge family. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the tragic rollover incident, we are unlikely ever to know what caused the fire.”
However, Polaris now says the company has identified six issues with the recalled RZR vehicles that can cause them to burst into flames:
- Fuel-tank vents are misrouted and may melt, causing a fire.
- Unspent fuel from engine misfires may enter the exhaust, producing excessive heat and fire.
- Heat shields are insufficient in preventing fires from exhaust heat during normal operations.
- Voltage regulators may malfunction and cause fires.
- A leaky fuel-box seal may allow water to enter, which can cause a fire.
- The exhaust manifold has no shielding, leaving it exposed to flammable liquid from the cargo box.
Check VIN Online
The CPSC has warned consumers to stop using all of the recalled RZR ROVs immediately, and Polaris has agreed to suspend sales until the issues have been corrected. In addition, Polaris now provides detailed recall information and a VIN lookup on its website.
“We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers as we work to ensure all the systemic thermal risks we identified are eliminated from our vehicles,” said Scott Wine, CEO, and Chairman of Polaris.