U.S. safety regulators are conducting a preliminary probe into consumer complaints of side door fires in Toyota Camrys, Camry Solaras and RAV 4s. However, no recall has been issued at this time.
Over 800,000 vehicles affected
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 830,000 2007 model year Toyota Camry sedans, Camry Solara coupes and RAV4 crossover SUVs were affected in the investigation.
Six consumer complaints
The NHTSA said on its website Friday that six consumer complaints prompted the investigation:
“Based on the available information, it appears the fires are originating from the power window master switch located on the driver’s side door.”
One owner complaint said they smelled a burning odor before flames came out of the side door.
The owner elaborated:
“The police and fire department were notified and no injuries were reported. The vehicle was destroyed.”
Previous door fire issues
The NHTSA is taking the complaints very seriously. In several actions over the last two years, Honda has recalled nearly 1 million CRV and Fits globally over potential fires from a faulty master switch in the side door power window motor. One person in South Africa died as a result of the problem.
Investigation began Monday
The notice said that the probe began on Monday. There are no reports of any injuries over the issue. However, those seeking more information on the investigation are urged to call Toyota at 800-331-4331.
Toyota waiting on request from fed
Toyota says it will cooperate with the investigation, but has not as yet received a request to do so from the federal regulators.
Toyota released an email in response to the investigation:
“Toyota received the Preliminary Evaluation Opening Resume for the 2007 RAV4 and Camry on February 7. However, we have not received an information request from the NHTSA. Toyota will fully cooperate with the agency in its efforts to investigate these allegations.”
Probe timing unlucky for Toyota
The investigation comes at a bad time for the Japan-based automaker. In the past three years, recalls have affected more than 14 million Toyota vehicles globally. It is an especially hard blow for the automaker, because the Camry is the top-selling car in the U.S. The RAV 4 is also a popular model that moves easily out of dealer showrooms.
According to Autodata Corp., 473,108 Camrys were sold in the U.S. in 2007. Sales of the RAV 4 for the year totaled 172,752. Some 2007 models were also sold in 2006.
In 2012, the Camry received the NHTSA’s top five-star rating for safety.