Yamaha Rhino ATV Recalled for Brake DefectMar 25, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Yamaha is recalling the Rhino ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) amid concerns that brakes on the Rhino ATV may fail. The recall, which covers about 7800 Rhino Side-by-Side ATVs, is just the latest safety issue to plague the Yamaha Rhino ATV, which some consider to be the most dangerous ATV on the market.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the brake caliper on the left front wheel of the recalled Yamaha Rhino ATVs could have been made incorrectly, resulting in brake fluid leaking. This can cause a loss of braking and control of the vehicle, posing a serious safety risk to the driver and passenger. The recall covers Model Year 2008 Rhino YXR450 and YXR700 Side-by-Side Vehicles sold at Yamaha dealers nationwide from October 2007 through March 2008 for between $8,300 and $12,000. Consumers with a recalled Rhino ATV should stop using them immediately and contact any authorized Yamaha Rhino dealer to schedule a free repair. The CPSC said registered owners were sent direct mail notification of this recall.
So far, no injuries have been reported in relation to the Rhino brake defect. However, that has not been the case with another Rhino safety issue - rollover accidents. While many ATVs are prone to accidents, the Yamaha Rhino ATV is even more likely to be involved in rollover accidents. What’s more, these accidents are also more likely to result in serious injuries and deaths. Critics say the Yamaha Rhino is top heavy, and it has tires that are extremely narrow. These design defects make it far more likely that the Yamaha Rhino will tip and rollover while going through a turn, even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow speed and is on a flat surface. Furthermore, the Yamaha Rhino is designed in such a way that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover accident. Victims of Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents usually experience broken or crushed legs, ankles or feet. In some cases, victims have been permanently disabled, and have had limbs amputated following a Yamaha Rhino rollover accident. When Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents involve children, the results are often fatal.
Unlike the brake issue that sparked today's recall, Yamaha has been slow to acknowledge the Rhino ATVs rollover issues. In September 2006, Yamaha Motor Corp. sent a letter to the owners of Rhino ATVs warning that the Rhino was prone to tip while going through sharp turns. However, the wording of the Yamaha letter seemed to place much of the blame for Rhino rollover accident injuries on the victims themselves. Yamaha warned passengers of the Rhino ATVs to use seatbelts, and to keep their hands, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. The letter also included information on handling the Rhino if it should start to tip over. But since Yamaha sent the 2006 letter, it has become increasingly apparent that the actions recommended by Yamaha do little to protect passengers involved in Rhino rollover accidents.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Yamaha appeared to finally take the Rhino’s safety issues seriously. At that time, the company offered free modifications to the owners of new and used Rhinos. These modifications included the addition of doors to the ATV, as well as additional handholds. However, the company still has not recalled or offered refunds to the owners of the dangerous Rhino ATVs. It is not yet known if the modifications to the Yamaha Rhino ATVs will in fact make the vehicles safer.