Recall Program To Correct Snowmobiles Arranged By Commission And Kawasaki Motors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
January 26, 1981  
Release # 81-003
 

Recall Program To Correct Snowmobiles Arranged By Commission And Kawasaki Motors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 26) -- Following reports of serious injuries involving snowmobile drive tracks, a three to four million dollar voluntary repair program to correct approximately 16,500 1978 and 1979 model snowmobiles was announced today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Kawasaki Motors Corp. (USA) of Santa Ana, California.

CPSC staff learned of the problem with the snowmobile tracks in May, 1980, when the company notified CPSC of several incidents involving bar detachment injuries. To date, CPSC staff has been informed by Kawasaki of approximately 20 such injury incidents, including fractures or severe lacerations which in three cases required the amputation of a finger. These incidents occurred when the snowmobile had been lifted or turned on its side and the track was rotating at high speeds.

In settlement of its alleged failure to report promptly to CPSC information which the Commission believes indicated that these snowmobile tracks could pose a substantial risk of injury to the public, Kawasaki has agreed to pay $90,000 to CPSC.

The snowmobile tracks involved are the MGB (molded grouser bar) type which were designed and manufactured by Kawasaki and by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The tracks have experienced detachment of the metal bar from the rubber belts of the track. Kawasaki has not used this track on any of its models since 1979.

When the bars become partially or completely detached from the rubber belts and when the snowmobile is lifted or turned on its side exposing the rotating track, bars can strike the hands, legs or feet of a person who is lifting the snowmobile or standing next to the rotating track.

Kawasaki is notifying by mail all snowmobile owners with registered warranties for the 1978 and 1979 Invader and Intruder models, informing them of the safety hazard and the company's track replacement program. Notice also will be given through Kawasaki dealers nationwide.

Kawasaki has agreed to replace, free-of-charge, all MGB tracks on the 1978-79 Intruder and Invader models with its current model track which has no bars. The company estimates that the replacement program will cost between $3 million and $4 million. Owners of these snowmobile models are being urged to contact their local Kawasaki dealer promptly (but no later than June 30, 1981) for information on the track replacement program. Track replacement will be performed by Kawasaki dealers as the replacement tracks become available from the manufacturer.

In connection with the $90,000 payment and the voluntary corrective action plan, Kawasaki denies that there was any failure to report information as required by law, and further denies that any substantial risk of injury exists. The voluntary corrective action plan, offered by Kawasaki and accepted by the Commission after negotiation, states that Kawasaki has not admitted that any violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act has occurred. The replacement program is being conducted because it is in the public interest to minimize any risk of injury which may be posed by the tracks now being replaced.

Owners of the 1978-79 Invader and Intruder snowmobiles are being urged to follow all instructions in their owner's manual and to keep their hands and feet away from all rotating snowmobile tracks. These tracks should be inspected visually before starting the engine. After starting, if a banging or clattering is heard from underneath the vehicle, immediate track replacement should be sought.

To verify model numbers affected by the repair program and for information on the location of Kawasaki dealers, consumers should call CPSC's toll-free hotline at 800-638-2772.