2013-2018 Toyota RAV4 battery compartment fires

September 2022

The APA received two reports of underhood fires on Toyota RAV4 models with gas engines, originating in the engine compartment in the area of the battery.

After referring the cases to Transport Canada for investigation, the APA learned that the issue appears to concern undersized replacement batteries that can shift after installation and cause a short circuit. It`s not the power rating of the smaller battery that is a concern, but the fact that it may not fit securely in the standard Group 35 battery compartment the RAV4 is designed for. Toyota has stopped short of a safety recall, but it issued a notice called a Consumer Advisory inviting owners of the approximately 250,000 affected 2013-2018 RAV4 models to bring their vehicles in for an inspection. Unfortunately, an "Advisory" does not appear in the Transport Canada recalls database, which means that second owners may not become aware of the risk. In this situation, the responsibility lies with the shop that installed a poorly-secured replacement battery, but actually obtaining a refund may take some work.

Here is Toyota`s take:
Using the wrong size battery, or not installing a replacement battery properly, can cause damage to the battery and the vehicle, and it could cause a vehicle fire. To address this concern, an authorized Toyota dealer will perform one inspection of the battery to confirm if it is the correct size free of charge. If certain components used to secure the battery in place are damaged or missing during this inspection, they will be replaced FREE OF CHARGE as long as the correct size battery is installed.


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1. Check battery group number

1.1. Open the hood
1.2. Confirm that the battery installed is a group 35 or JIS D23.

- If the label is too dirty to read, clean with a rag.
- If the vehicle is built in Japan (VIN begins with “J”), the OE battery will not show the group number. Instead, look for JIS number D23.

Toyota`s offer includes the following battery compartment components:
  • The battery clamp (hold-down bracket)
  • The bolt that secures the battery clamp to the vehicle
  • The J-hook bolt and nut
  • The tray under the battery
It appears that a physical aspect of the battery installation could allow the battery terminals to contact the hood and a short circuit ensue.This is a tricky situation, as the service campaign does not cover the cost of replacing a wrong-size battery. (Toyota Canada has authorized dealers to offer a replacement battery in the correct size at cost.) Some owners will be reluctant to replace a battery that was already replaced once before if it is in perfectly good condition, or they may prefer to take it up with the shop that installed the battery. In that case, the vehicle owner would have used up their one free inspection under the campaign. 

If the customer refuses to install a Group 35 battery, the dealer will apply a sticker in the battery compartment indicating that the incorrect battery is installed. (That could help make your case with the replacement battery retailer who installed a wrong-size battery.)

Aftermarket replacement batteries differ from the originals quite frequently, but it rarely creates a safety hazard. If the replacement battery has been in the vehicle for a year or more, industry practice would dictate prorating its replacement. You may then have to visit a Toyota dealership for the correct battery compartment components to replace any damaged parts.