The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Yamaha Motor Corp. of U.S.A., announced a recall and free repair program to address safety issues with all Rhino 450 and 600 model off-highway recreational vehicles.
The CPSC says Yamaha also has voluntarily suspended sales of these models immediately until repairs can be made. Yamaha officials were not available for comment Tuesday morning and were reportedly in meetings dealing with the situation.
CPSC says it has investigated more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths in the two Rhino models, with more than two thirds of the incidents involving roll-overs and many unbelted occupants. About 120,000 vehicles sold since the Rhino was introduced in 2003 are involved in the recall.
Today's announcement says the recall will involve the installation of a spacer on the rear wheels as well as the removal of the rear anti-sway bar to help reduce the chance of rollovers and improve vehicle handling. Also half-doors will be installed on units that do not have them -- a move to keep occupants' arms and legs within the vehicle during operation.
CPSC says owners of affected vehicles should stop using them until they contact their Yamaha dealer to schedule a recall appointment and to take advantage of a free helmet offer that goes with the recall program.