Snowmobile Recall: a Pain? or a Sign That the System Is Working?
November 28th, 2017

Snowmobile Recall: a Pain? or a Sign That the System Is Working?

What is your first thought when you see a snowmobile recall notice? For some people that depends on which manufacturer the recall is from, and whether it will offer up an excuse to pick on their buddy’s ride. For others, it means a quick check to see if the recall affects their sled or a sled they are thinking of purchasing, and then it’s quickly forgotten. But—if the recall does affect your ride—it may lead to disappointment, anger or even disgust.

Recent recall/product updates from Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Polaris, and Yamaha.


Snowmobile Recalls – Then vs Now

Snowmobile recalls are nothing new. I had a recall on a sled back in the early 1990s for a potential steering post problem due to a bad weld. I received a politely worded letter about it in the mail, booked the appointment and it was checked. In total, about three people in my circle of friends even knew it had happened. In today’s world, that same recall would hit a social media page with sixty or seventy thousand members. This would then lead to a brand bashing opportunity for those just waiting to get their word in. This makes the recall instantly seem like the end of the world. Suddenly no one can believe that a sled ever got off of the drafting board. Suddenly they are all junk.

Industry Demands

We demand better sleds, we demand that our brand of choice keeps up with its competition, and we demand that our sleds get faster, lighter and better handling every year. Is the downside to this a shortened development time in a race to get new ideas to market? It honestly is amazing how fast an idea can be put together and released to the consumer. Could this lead to oversights that might cause a recall? If it does it is certainly not intentional. No manufacturer is going to release something that they know will fail; however our consumer demands dictate that they cannot take the time to test a new product in every possible scenario before releasing it either. And we put them through some pretty crazy scenarios.

The harder a sled can be ridden, frankly, the harder we ride it. We don’t have to look far to see jumps, drops, and climbs that were absolutely unimaginable a few short years ago. The “average” rider is often doing things with their sled that only the highest level pros could do in recent history. So, the better the sled gets, the more we abuse it. This abuse (maybe we should call it “using a product to its fullest potential” instead) can lead to things breaking. Then it is up to the manufacturer to decide if there are enough failures to warrant a recall consideration, or a product improvement update, to keep us safe and happy. Or perhaps the issue is simply just abuse.


snowmobile recall


They Exist for a Reason

No manufacturer WANTS to recall a product; it’s bad publicity and expensive. At the same time, no manufacturer wants to risk the liability of leaving a known issue out there, waiting for an accident either. The litigious society into which we have evolved plays no small part in this.

The manufacturers want everyone to be satisfied with their purchase, and they want everyone using their product to be safe. This goal is weighed against the costs associated with hindsight engineering. The resulting balancing act between the two is mostly our fault! We demand a product that can take any havoc we may wreak on it, while becoming lighter, more powerful and longer lasting than the sled before. Oh, and keep the price down too, would ya? We are a demanding bunch.

Let’s be honest, for the consumer, a snowmobile recall can be a real pain to deal with. However, there is another thought to consider the next time you see a recall. Recalls also mean that the system is working. It means the backstops are in place to catch problems or safety issues within design or assembly. It means that the manufacturers are listening to us, the consumers, and our concerns. The same digital world that allows all of us to vent, comment on or learn about potential problems is the same transparency that gives the manufacturers immediate feedback and helps them determine if a recall should be considered.


Snowmobile Recall: A Sign That the System Is Working

Wouldn’t it be nice if the sleds we ride left the factory perfectly designed for every circumstance, every time? Sure, but it’s not realistic to expect. So the next time you see a recall (and there will be a next time), remember that it is proof that the manufacturer is listening and taking our concerns to heart, and that the checks and balances are in place to keep us safe. It is proof that the system is working.


– Marty