A nationwide recall of 13,000 off-road vehicles is to be launched by car manufacturer Polaris Industries, after an investigation revealed asbestos-laden parts in at least 12 models.
The recall of certain Polaris youth quad bikes, sold in Australia and New Zealand, was prompted by recent testing in the US, which identified asbestos in brake pads, brake shows, gaskets and washers in some models.
"Polaris is recalling certain youth all-terrain vehicles [ATVs] and associated service parts in Australia and select other countries because we believe they contain asbestos, which is banned in these jurisdictions," Polaris country manager Alan Collins said.
"Polaris has been working and continues to work collaboratively with the appropriate authorities in each jurisdiction, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to quickly develop the appropriate remedy for these vehicles."
About 13,000 Polaris quad bikes are believed to have been supplied in Australia since 2001.
Models affected by the recall include the Scrambler 50, Predator 50, Outlaw 50 and the Ace 150 produced between 2001 to 2017.
Use or importation of asbestos has been prohibited in Australia since 2004, although the ACCC understands Polaris only recently became aware of the presence of asbestos in some of its quad bikes.
"Fortunately, the advice we have currently received indicates that the presence of asbestos in the quad bike parts is unlikely to present a safety risk while riding the quad bike," ACCC acting chairwoman Delia Rickard said.
"Nonetheless we are treating this issue extremely seriously and working closely with Polaris to gather all relevant information that enables a fast, efficient remediation of any bikes that contain these parts."
Ms Rickard said any asbestos was more likely to present a safety risk to owners who conducted their own mechanical work, and to professionals who repair and service quad bikes.
Mr Collins said third-party expert testing had concluded that riding the affected quad bikes "does not result in asbestos exposure to the rider, and third-party expert review has concluded that servicing gaskets found in the affected vehicles does not pose a threat to health".
Other countries, including the US and Canada - which do not have similar bans on asbestos - have not been affected by the recall.
In 2015, the ACCC issued a recall on asbestos-laden counterfeit brake pads designed to fit Toyota Hilux utes and Hiace vans, after it was discovered they were being sold illegally in Australia.
Before that - in 2012 - almost 25,000 Great Wall and Chery Chinese cars were recalled by Ateco Automotive when asbestos was found in the engine and exhaust gaskets.
Chief executive officer of the Motor Traders' Association of Australia Richard Dudley said it was concerning to hear of yet another asbestos-related recall.
"Polaris vehicles predominantly end up in regional and rural Australia land holdings on farms. Obviously after the initial warranty period, farmers are quite adept at maintaining their own machinery and tend to do so. So that is of significant concern," he said.
"The secondary issue that concerns us is the need to tighten importation rules ... this highlights an issue we've had about government proposals to allow for the personal importation of vehicles that are not destined for the Australian market."
The ACCC will trigger the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group Rapid Response Protocol.
Triggering the protocol ensures all relevant agencies work together to implement a whole-of-government response.
Consumers who own a recalled Polaris quad bike are encouraged to contact their nearest authorised Polaris dealer to arrange the safe replacement of affected parts.
Affected Polaris models:
- Scrambler 50
- Predator 50,
- Outlaw 50
- Scrambler 90
- Predator 90
- Outlaw 90
- Outlaw 110
- Sportsman 90
- Sportsman 110
- Phoenix 200
- Sawtooth 200
- Ace 150 produced between 2001 to 2017