Previous Recall Remedy for Ricon Wheelchair Lifts Called into Question
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a new investigation into potentially defective Ricon wheelchair lifts. An estimated 28,000 model year 2006-2014 S2000 and 5500-series wheelchair lifts could be affected.
On February 25, 2015, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) was contacted by a school transportation services company regarding the Ricon S-series wheelchair lifts installed on three of its buses. The company alleged that the repair remedy performed on the lifts from a previous recall (14E-041) had failed.
Ricon recalled the lifts in question in July of 2014 after it was found that the lift platform could separate from the lift due to cracked side plates. This posed an injury risk to the lift operator.
Following receipt of the complaint, ODI staff inspected one of the buses referenced above and found that the lower left pivot had completely fractured on a wheelchair lift installed on the bus 212 days and 11,862 miles earlier.
During the previous recall repair, the lift was outfitted with a remedy intended to prevent such failures.
Bus maintenance staff advised that, in addition to the fractured pivots, they found both platform bumpers (installed as remedial components in the previous recall) completely bent back against the arms rendering them ineffective.
During the inspection, ODI staff also noted that the lift door window was cracked. The cracked window represented additional evidence that the platform continued to oscillate while in the stowed position despite the presence of the recall remedy platform bumpers.
ODI is opening this Recall Query investigation to assess the effectiveness of the remedy performed during the previous recall. If the remedy is found to be ineffective, additional steps could include a new recall of all affected lifts.
Concerned owners of vehicles containing Ricon S2000 and 5500-series wheelchair lifts should contact their local dealer.
Just last month, Ricon agreed to pay a $1.75 million civil penalty and submit to increased oversight by NHTSA for continuing to sell defective wheelchair lifts that were recalled for posing a fire hazard.