Toyota RAV4 investigation into 1.9M SUVs opens following engine fires

NHTSA said it documented 11 fire complaints, but 1.9 million SUVs are part of the investigation population.

NHTSA has 11 complaints of "thermal events."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Monday it officially opened an investigation into 1.9 million Toyota RAV4 SUVs following fire complaints from owners. NHTSA said it logged 11 individual complaints surrounding fire outbreaks in the engine compartment.

Specifically, the probe looks at the 2013-2018 RAV4, or the previous-generation SUV -- not the RAV4 currently on sale. According to the investigation opening summary, most of the 11 fires occurred while the owners were driving the vehicle and named the 12-volt battery as the source in most cases. However, four fires broke out while the ignition was off.

NHTSA did not there seems to be a connection between the fires and either improper battery installation or previous front end collision repair. But, "the overall number of vehicle fire allegations with the battery as the area of origin is larger than its peer population," according to the document. The investigation will look more closely at the contributing factors and whether there's a serious safety defect afoot.

Toyota in a statement said it's aware of the investigation and "we are cooperating with the agency."

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