Toyota has recalled nearly 1.9 million RAV4 SUVs due to potential engine fires resulting from problems with the 12-volt batteries. While the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received four complaints of engine fires occurring when the vehicles' ignitions were off, Toyota is not instructing owners to park their RAV4s outdoors.
This recall follows the investigation by regulators into the cause of engine fires in RAV4s, with one possible cause being replacement battery issues. The NHTSA has documented nine cases where the 12-volt batteries may have caused fires, loss of electrical power, or engine stalling. Furthermore, eight reports indicated fires starting on the driver's side of the engine compartment where the battery is situated.
Despite these concerns, Toyota encourages owners to bring their RAV4s to a dealer for inspection to ensure that replacement batteries have been installed correctly and the holding clamps are secured. Additionally, they recommend getting the recall repairs done as soon as possible. But they have not instructed owners to park their vehicles outdoors.
In 2021, Toyota issued a consumer advisory for owners to have their SUVs inspected at a dealer free of charge. The recall applies to specific RAV4s ranging from the 2013 to 2018 model years. These vehicles may have smaller top dimensions on their replacement batteries, which can cause the battery to shift during hard turns, potentially creating an electrical short.
Toyota has identified 22 "field technical reports" in the US and is working to devise a solution. Once it is available, dealers will replace the hold-down clamp, battery tray, and positive terminal cover with improved versions. Owners are expected to be notified by late December. RAV4 owners can also check if their vehicle is involved in the recall by entering their vehicle identification number (VIN) at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.
The NHTSA began its investigation in February 2021 after receiving 11 complaints about thermal events, including fires, melting, or smoke. In half of the cases where the RAV4 was in motion, drivers experienced stalling before any thermal event occurred. The 12-volt battery has been identified as the origin of the majority of incidents reviewed by the agency.