A defect in the engine design of Ranger and RZR recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs) made by Polaris Industries has been blamed for multiple fires, burn injuries, and deaths, but the manufacturer’s safety recalls have failed to fix the root of the problem.
Since 2013, Minnesota-based Polaris has recalled on several occasions multiple models of ROVs in its Ranger and RZR ROV lines to address problems with its “ProStar” engines, which have triggered more than 250 fires, dozens of severe burn injuries, and at least three deaths. Despite the manufacturer’s recalls, however, the ROVs continue to pose a serious safety risk to drivers and passengers.
Polaris has blamed the fire hazard on various problems, but the fact that some of the vehicles supposedly repaired under the recalls continue to catch fire indicates the presence of a more fundamental problem – possibly a more extensive defect.
Polaris designed its ProStar engines in-house. These unusually high-powered engines boost the performance of many Polaris Ranger and RZR vehicles but they also generate intense levels of heat. The engine and its exhaust system are situated directly behind a panel just inches away from the passenger compartment.
Some of the incidents reported to Polaris and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicate the engine and exhaust system in many Polaris ROV models lacks adequate ventilation and heat shielding. Without these protections, heat is able to build up just inches away from the vehicle’s combustible body panels and vehicle occupants.
This dangerous design, which the recalled vehicles have in common, can result in potentially deadly fires. Some of the Ranger and ROV recalls were prompted by fires that broke out while people were driving the ROVs, resulting in deadly accidents and multiple burn injuries.