Nearly 2 million models could be affected.
The Toyota RAV4 may not be the best SUV on the market in every sense, but its combination of attributes has made it a roaring sales success in the US. Last year, over 430,000 units found homes in the country, making it the best-selling SUV, and best-selling non-truck, in the US once more. With so many RAV4s on the roads, it figures that a safety issue affecting this otherwise reliable model could be a massive problem. That could be the case as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has initiated a preliminary evaluation investigation for 2013-2018 model RAV4s over a potential fire risk that could affect nearly 2 million models.
The issue involves the 12V battery B+ terminal, which can short against the battery hold down frame. This can lead to a vehicle stall, the loss of electrical power, and in a worst-case scenario, a fire that begins in the engine compartment. So far, 11 complaints have been received, with the so-called "thermal event" occurring when the RAV4 was being driven in the majority of these cases. If the investigation leads to a full recall, the scale would be significant as an estimated 1,862,103 units of the RAV4 would be affected. In half of the reported incidents, RAV4 drivers saw a vehicle stall occur just before the thermal event.
Toyota has been subject to widespread recalls before, of course. There was the Takata airbag recall that affected numerous automakers including Honda and Ford, while Toyota had to recall over 2.4 million hybrid models for the possibility of a vehicle stall. It remains to be seen if the RAV4 issue leads to a full recall. At this point, the NHTSA said that the preliminary evaluation seeks to "better understand the contributing factors and frequency of vehicle fires originating from the battery region of the subject vehicles." We'll let you know if this developing story changes in the days and weeks ahead.