Toyota RAV4 faces government investigation over potential SUV fire risk

U.S. auto-safety regulators have launched an investigation into the most popular SUV in America over a potential fire risk.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation revealed that it has opened a probe into the 2013-18 model-year Toyota RAV4, covering more than 1.86 million vehicles.

The agency reported in an investigative filing that it had received 11 complaints and additional data “alleging a non-crash thermal event originating in the left side of the engine compartment” of the RAV4.

Most of the incidents happened while the RAV4 was being driven, but four happened when the vehicle was off.

“Drivers experienced stalling prior to the thermal event in half of the instances where the vehicle was in motion,” NHTSA investigators said.

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The agency said the RAV4’s 12-volt battery appears to be the source of the issue, potentially due to improper installation.

NHTSA said it had not documented any injuries or accidents connected to the defect.

“Toyota is aware that NHTSA has opened this investigation and we are cooperating with the agency,” the automaker said in a statement.

Toyota Rav4 (Photo: Toyota)

The RAV4 was the best-selling SUV in the U.S. by a long shot in 2020, notching 430,387 sales. Second best was the Honda CR-V at 333,502.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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