23TB13/23TA13 – Unsecured Battery May Cause Short Circuit – 2013-2018 Toyota RAV4

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November 1, 2023 NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 23V734000

Unsecured Battery May Cause Short Circuit

A battery short circuit increases the risk of a fire.

 

NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V734

Manufacturer Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing

Components ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

Potential Number of Units Affected 1,853,568

 

Summary

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain 2013-2018 RAV4 vehicles. Certain replacement 12-volt batteries may not fit properly in the battery tray, allowing the battery to move and contact the hold-down bracket, possibly causing a short circuit.

 

Remedy

Dealers will replace the battery clamp sub-assembly, battery tray, and positive terminal cover, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 17, 2023. Owners may contact Toyota’s customer service at 1-800-331-4331. Toyota’s numbers for this recall are 23TB13 and 23TA13.

 

Notes

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.nhtsa.gov.

 

Check if your Vehicle has a Recall

 


SAFETY RECALL 23TA13 (Interim Notice 23TB13)
Certain 2013 – 2018 Model Year RAV4
Potential Vehicle Fire

Model / Years Production Period Approximate Total Vehicles Approximate Stop Sale Dealer Inventory
2013-2018 RAV4 Late November 2012 –Mid-November 2018 1,854,000 0

 

On November 1, 2023, Toyota filed a Defect Information Report (DIR) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) informing the agency of our intent to conduct a voluntary Safety Recall on 2013- 2018 model year RAV4 vehicles.

 

Condition

Some replacement 12-volt batteries of the size specified for the subject vehicles have smaller top dimensions than others. If a small-top battery is used for replacement and the hold-down clamp is not tightened correctly, the battery could move when the vehicle is driven with forceful turns. The movement could cause the positive battery terminal to contact the hold-down clamp and short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire.

 

Remedy

Toyota is currently preparing the remedy. When the remedy is available, Toyota dealers will replace the battery hold down clamp, battery tray, and positive terminal cover with improved ones FREE OF CHARGE. At this time, Toyota estimates the remedy will be available in the middle of 2024 but this is subject to change. Until the remedy is available, owners who have not had the free inspection performed under Consumer Advisory 21TG01 should be encouraged to do so.

 

Covered Vehicles

There are approximately 1,854,000 vehicles covered by this Safety Recall. Approximately 19,900 vehicles involved in this Safety Recall were distributed to Puerto Rico.

 

Owner Letter Mailing Date

Toyota will notify customers by late December 2023

 


Certain 2013 – 2018 Model Year RAV4
Potential Vehicle Fire

Frequently Asked Questions
Original Publication Date: November 1, 2023

Q1: What is the condition?

A1: Some replacement 12-volt batteries of the size specified for the subject vehicles have smaller top dimensions than others. If a small-top battery is used for replacement and the hold-down clamp is not tightened correctly, the battery could move when the vehicle is driven with forceful turns. The movement could cause the positive battery terminal to contact the hold-down clamp and short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire.

 

Q2: What is Toyota going to do?

A2: Toyota is currently preparing the remedy. When the remedy is available, Toyota dealers will replace the battery hold down clamp, battery tray, and positive terminal cover with improved ones FREE OF CHARGE.

 

Q3: When will the remedy become available?

A3: Toyota is currently preparing the parts and repair instructions for the remedy. At this time, Toyota estimates that the remedy can be available the middle of 2024 but this timing is subject to change. Until the remedy is available, if you have not had the free inspection performed under Consumer Advisory 21TG01, please contact your authorized Toyota dealer. See Q5, below.

 

Q4: Which and how many vehicles are covered by this Safety Recall?

A4: There are approximately 1,854,000 vehicles covered by this Safety Recall. Approximately 19,900 vehicles involved in this Safety Recall were distributed to Puerto Rico.

Model Name Model Year Production Period
RAV4 2013-2018 Late November 2012 –Mid-November 2018

 

Q5: Toyota previously announced Consumer Advisory 21TG01 for the same subject vehicles. What is 21TG01 and how does it relate to this recall?

A5: Toyota announced Consumer Advisory 21TG01 on November 18, 2021. Prior to issuing the Advisory, Toyota discovered that aftermarket battery suppliers were recommending batteries of a size contrary to Toyota-published information for the subject vehicles (the specified battery is SAE Group size 35). It was also found that replacement batteries were not being secured to the torque specifications provided by Toyota and, in some cases, parts of the battery hold down hardware were not being used or were missing. This prompted the Advisory to owners about proper replacement battery selection and installation. Toyota announced the Advisory to provide a free inspection of the battery at authorized Toyota dealers. Owners with additional questions regarding the Consumer Advisory should contact their Toyota dealer or the Toyota Brand Engagement Center at 1-888-270-9371 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Eastern Time.

 

Q5a: Why is Toyota now deciding to initiate a recall for the same subject vehicles?

A5a: After issuing the Consumer Advisory, Toyota learned that some Group size 35 replacement batteries have smaller top dimensions than others. Additional evaluations of these batteries led to the decision to conduct a recall of the subject vehicles.

 

Q5b: I have not had the free inspection from Consumer Advisory 21TG01 performed yet. Should I have this inspection performed or wait until the recall remedy is available?

A5b: Toyota is encouraging owners who have not had the free inspection under Consumer Advisory 21TG01 completed to visit an authorized Toyota dealer for the free inspection.

 

Q5c: I already had Consumer Advisory 21TG01 completed on my vehicle. Is there anything I can do now?

A5c: Owners who have further concerns about their vehicle after Consumer Advisory 21TG01 has been completed may visit a Toyota dealer for vehicle diagnosis.

 

Q6: What if I previously paid for repairs related to this Safety Recall?

A6: Reimbursement consideration instructions will be provided in the owner letter.

 

Q7: How does Toyota obtain my mailing information?

A7: Toyota uses an industry provider who works with each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to receive registration or title information, based upon the DMV records. Please make sure your registration or title information is correct.

 

Q8: What if I have additional questions or concerns?

A8: If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Toyota Brand Engagement Center at 1-888-270-9371 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Eastern Time.

 


Percentage of Vehicles Estimated to Actually Contain the Defect:

Unknown. Toyota is unable to provide an estimate of the percentage of vehicles to actually contain the defect. Whether movement of the battery occurs that will lead to contact between the positive terminal and the hold down bracket depends, in each case, on the variation in force produced on the battery while driving, the installation torque of the battery hold down assembly, the location of installation within the battery tray of the battery, and the top case dimensions of the replacement battery. However, as the NHTSA manufacturer portal requires an integer value be entered, Toyota has entered the value “1” in response to this question in the portal. For the purpose of this report, “1” means “unknown”.

 

Description of Problem:

SAE Group 35 is the specified 12-volt battery size for the subject vehicles. The battery is installed, in accordance with a process containing torque specifications for certain components, on a tray in the engine compartment, and is held in place by a hold down assembly. During driving that produces high levels of lateral G-force and where the battery has not been secured with the correct torque specified in the installation process, the battery hold down assembly may not sufficiently hold in place certain aftermarket SAE Group 35 batteries. These aftermarket batteries have a smaller top case dimension compared to the overall dimension of the battery. An oversized tray, together with reduced clamping force (resulting from using incorrect torque), can allow battery movement that is greater than the distance between the battery positive terminal and the bracket of the hold down assembly. This movement is possible for these batteries even if all parts of the battery hold down assembly are present. In this condition, a short circuit could occur, generating heat. If sufficient heat is generated, components within and around the battery can sustain thermal damage, increasing the risk of a fire.

 

Chronology of Principal Events:

February 2021 – July 2021
PE 21-005 was opened by NHTSA on February 25, 2021 to investigate allegations of non-crash thermal events originating in the engine compartment. Toyota investigated these allegations and found that aftermarket suppliers were recommending batteries of a size contrary to Toyota-published information for the subject vehicles. Toyota also conducted a review of field data, confirmed the design concept and manufacturing processes, and performed a comprehensive evaluation and performance analysis of the battery and hold down bracket hardware in the subject vehicles. Through these evaluations it was also found that replacement batteries were not being secured to meet the torque specifications provided by Toyota. In some cases, parts of the battery hold down hardware were not being used or were missing. No defect was found in the vehicles. Toyota issued Consumer Advisory 21TG01 on July 15, 2021 to address the issues of incorrect battery size and incorrect installation.

August 2023 – September 2023
Toyota discussed the status of the investigation and met with NHTSA to discuss static evaluations that NHTSA conducted in relation to various aftermarket SAE Group 35 batteries, the size specified by Toyota for the subject vehicles. Some of these batteries had smaller top case dimensions than other Group 35 batteries Toyota had previously evaluated. In light of this additional information, Toyota began further evaluations.

October 2023
Toyota conducted dynamic testing with varying G-forces using Group 35 batteries with smaller top case dimensions that had not been previously evaluated. The dynamic testing accounted for installation of the battery hold down hardware with a torque specification less than the Toyota recommended value. The same dynamic evaluation was also conducted using the proper battery installation process. Toyota confirmed that movement of the battery was only possible during aggressive driving if the battery hold down hardware had not been installed to the specified torque.

However, during driving that produces high levels of lateral G-force and where the battery has not been secured with the correct torque specified in the installation process, the battery hold down assembly may not sufficiently hold in place certain aftermarket SAE Group 35 batteries that have a smaller top case dimension compared to the overall dimension of the battery because an oversized tray assembly and the reduced clamping force (resulting from using incorrect torque) can allow battery movement that is greater than the distance between the battery positive terminal and the bracket of the hold down assembly. This movement is possible for these batteries even if all parts of the battery hold down assembly are present. In this condition, a short circuit could occur, generating heat. If sufficient heat is generated, components within and around the battery can sustain thermal damage, increasing the risk of a fire.

Based on the results of this investigation, Toyota decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall campaign for the vehicles identified above on October 26, 2023.

As of October 11, 2023, based on a diligent review of records, Toyota’s best engineering judgment is that there are twenty-two Toyota Field Technical Reports and zero warranty claims that have been received from U.S. sources that relate or may relate to this condition and which were considered in the decision to submit this report.

 

Description of Corrective Repair Action:

All known owners of the subject vehicles will be notified to return their vehicles to a Toyota dealer. For all involved vehicles, Toyota dealers will replace the battery clamp sub-assembly, battery tray, and positive terminal cover with improved ones at no cost to owners.

 


6 Affected Products

Vehicle

MAKE MODEL YEAR
TOYOTA RAV4 2013-2018

 


4 Associated Documents

Defect Notice 573 Report

RCLRPT-23V734-5615.PDF 215.235KB

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Toyota – Defect Information Report (Chronology) – November 2023

RMISC-23V734-6685.pdf 32.196KB

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Recall Acknowledgement

RCAK-23V734-4526.pdf 756.404KB

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Toyota – 23TB13 Dealer Packet – November 2023

RCMN-23V734-9460.pdf 276.628KB

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Latest Recalls Documents

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/documentList.xhtml?docId=23V734&docType=RCL

 


1 Associated Investigation

Fire Originating from 12V Battery Area
NHTSA ID: PE21005
Dated opened: February 25, 2021

NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received eleven complaints and additional Early Warning Report (EWR) data alleging a non-crash thermal event originating in the left side of the engine compartment of the fourth generation (XA40 platform, Model Year 2013-2018) Toyota RAV4 vehicles.

A majority of thermal events occurred during driving conditions, with four taking place with the ignition off. Drivers experienced stalling prior to the thermal event in half of the instances where the vehicle was in motion. The twelve-volt battery was identified as the area of origin in a majority of the incidents reviewed.

Improper battery installation or prior front end collision repair was a factor in the EWR Field Reports. Despite these external influences on the battery retaining method, the overall number of vehicle fire allegations with the battery as the area of origin is larger than its peer population.

This Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to better understand the contributing factors and frequency of vehicle fires originating from the battery region of the subject vehicles relative to peer vehicles.

The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID using the following complaint identification numbers: 11394683, 11378273, 11362502, 11348663, 11327143, 11317639, 11316999, 11315799, 11311546, 11271217, 11034782.

 


 

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