Transport Canada uncovers potential dangerous defect in Toyota RAV4

News Release

Nearly 150,000 vehicles in Canada to be recalled immediately; rear seatbelts may sever in a crash

February 18, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario – Transport Canada

Transport Canada research engineers and investigators have uncovered a potentially dangerous defect in 2006 to 2012 Toyota RAV4 models.  

In a severe frontal crash, contact with the steel structure in the seat may cause the rear seat belt to be cut.

Nearly 150,000 RAV4s in Canada are being immediately recalled by Toyota to address the issue. The model years affected span from 2006 to 2012.

The department found the problem after reconstructing a fatal crash involving a 2011 RAV4 in Canada. The case attracted the department’s interest as the front occupants survived the frontal crash, while the rear passengers didn’t.

The replicated crash used a RAV4, crash dummies similar in weight to the actual passengers, as well as an impact speed and crash angle that aligned with the fatal crash.

During the test, both rear seatbelts severed and both crash dummies sustained potentially deadly injuries.

Transport Canada presented its findings to Toyota immediately once its investigation was complete. Toyota subsequently investigated, confirmed the problem, launched a recall yesterday, and will install seat flange covers to correct the seatbelt defect. 

It is estimated that over 2.7 million RAV4s may be affected globally by this issue.

Transport Canada will monitor this recall to ensure Toyota addresses the issue as quickly as possible.

Affected owners are asked to contact their Toyota dealers to schedule a time to have the defect repair work completed.


“This is more than just a case of Transport Canada finding a safety problem and doing a thorough investigation. These findings have a real-world impact – and it’s measured in human life. As a result of the department’s investigation into this safety issue, lives will be saved in Canada and around the world. These findings underscore the importance of our crash test and safety oversight programs, and I’m very proud of the department’s research engineers and investigators – they’ve done some tremendous work for Canadians.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau,
Minister of Transport

Quick Facts

  • Only 2006-2012 Toyota RAV4s are affected by this recall. Other models are unaffected as they use a different seat structure.
  • Transport Canada does crash testing to ensure that new vehicles and child restraint systems meet all Canadian standards.
  • Each year the department crashes (and destroys) approximately 50 vehicles at its testing facility in Blainville, QC, which is managed by PMG Technologies.
  • Toyota Canada cooperated fully with the department and was not aware of this safety issue prior to Transport Canada’s investigation.
  • Nearly 150,000 RAV4s are affected in Canada, and up to 2.7 million globally may be affected by this issue.
  • The cause of the rear seat belt sever was determined to be a sharp flange on the rear seat frame that may cut the belt in a severe crash.
  • Canadians can find out about vehicle recalls by visiting, by contacting their vehicle manufacturer, or their local dealer.

Associated Links

Associated Products

Photo of belt separation for passenger seat located behind the driver

Photo of seat structure (black sharp metal edge) responsible for causing seat belt separation.


Marc Roy
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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