NHTSA Opens Investigation Into 1.9M Toyota Rav4 Vehicles Due To Fire Risks

Federal highway safety regulators have opened an investigation into the safety of nearly 2 million Toyota Rav4 vehicles, after receiving multiple complaints that indicate the 12-volt battery in certain models may be at risk of shorting out, causing the vehicles to stall and lose power before catching on fire.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the Toyota Rav4 investigation on February 25, following at least 11 reports of engine compartment fires that occurred while the vehicles were in motion or parked.

According to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), all 11 incident reports involved a non-crash thermal event originating on the left side of the engine compartment, where the 12-volt battery is located in fourth generation Toyota RAV4 vehicles.

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The investigation covers an estimated 1,862,103 Toyota RAV4 crossovers from model years 2013 through 2018, which were distributed for sale throughout the U.S. to licensed dealers.

Toyota stated seven vehicle owners reported driving under routine conditions when the vehicle stalled prior to noticing an engine compartment fire, while the remaining four fires occurred when the vehicles were parked, with the engine turned off.

One of the incidents reported to the NHTSA, in September 2020, involved a New England resident who stated that while fueling his Toyota RAV4 at a local gas station he began to smell fumes before noticing flames coming from underneath the hood and glowing embers dropping to the ground from under the front left wheel.

Another incident recorded by NHTSA in February 2020, involved a man from Maryland who reported parking his Toyota RAV4 under his carport. Shortly after exiting the vehicle he noticed the front end was consumed in flames, which spread to his wife’s vehicle and then to the carport attached to his home. The local fire department was dispatched to extinguish the fire and prevent the spread of damage to both vehicles and his home.

A preliminary review by Toyota and the ODI have determined the 12V battery B+ terminal may short to the battery hold down frame, which could cause a sudden loss of electrical power, vehicle stalling and/or a fire originating in the engine compartment.

The ODI reported improper battery installation or prior front end collision repair were factors identified after collecting field reports. NHTSA reported a preliminary evaluation has been opened to better understand contributing factors and frequency of the fires originating from the battery region, to determine if a safety defect requiring a recall is necessary.

NHTSA stated additional information will be provided as the investigation continues and that customers should report all incident reports to the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.


  • JenniferDecember 27, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    My 2013 Rav4 started on fire while I was parked. I was able to exit the car and within 3-5 minutes the engine as on fire. The car was deemed a total loss.

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