U.S. safety regulators investigating door fires in Toyota Camry, RAV4 models

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 12, 2012

Complaints about the 2007 model year Toyota Camry sedans and RAV4 crossover SUVs have prompted safety regulators in the U.S. to open a preliminary investigation over the risk of driver's side door fires. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 830,000 vehicles could be affected.

While this isn’t a recall, it could lead to one. The NHTSA has received six complaints so far. According to the filing, the fires seem to have originated from the power window master switch found on the driver's side door. Toyota said that it is waiting for the NHTSA to provide more information before it submits its response.

On February 7, Toyota got the Preliminary Evaluation Opening Resume for the 2007 RAV4 and Camry but it has yet to receive the agency’s information request. Toyota said that it will cooperate fully with the NHTSA’s investigation.

Furthermore, documents filed with the NHTSA show that Nissan Motor Co. has issued the recall of nearly 37,000 Versa small cars with manual transmissions in the U.S. since it’s possible that they may be shifted out of park without depressing the brake pedal.

The NHTSA said that the 36,608 Versas from model year 2012 with manual transmissions may sense some interference between the shifter rod and shift knob. This may compel the driver to unintentionally shift the vehicle into gear without stepping on the brake pedal, increasing the probability of an accident.

The 6th generation Camry is significantly redesigned and is assembled at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, KY, as well as at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia in Australia, and at Toyota Manufacturing in Aichi, Japan. Camry models are assembled in China exclusively for the Chinese market. Moreover, beginning in 2007, Subaru's plant in Lafayette, IN will also be manufacturing around 100,000 Camry units per year. In this Subaru plant, Toyota will be setting up its own assembly line and machinery to produce the Camry.

Camry units manufactured in Japan will have a VIN starting with the letter "J" and will also have a small hatch on the front bumper (passenger's side). These identifying characteristics are used to secure a vehicle when shipped across oceans. Meanwhile, models made in the US carry a VIN that starts with "4".

New Camry’s length remains the same as that of its predecessor, but its wheelbase is comparably longer. It also has a 2.4-liter VVT-i I4 engine that generates 158 hp with four trim levels: CE, LE, SE, and XLE. However, you can also opt for the 3.5-liter VVT-i V6 engine that delivers 268 hp with three trim levels: LE, SE, and XLE. This V6 is available with a six-speed sequential transmission.

SE trim doesn’t have a split-folding rear seat, while heated leather seats and a navigation system equipped with a mobile phone link are available for both the SE trim and V6-powered XLE trim. Additionally, you can opt for a keyless entry and remote starter with the V6-powered XLE. Whereas the CE and LE trims feature hubcap designs that are similar to the earlier generation models.

The rear of the new Camry features the controversial "Bangle-butt" design, which was first spotted on the 2002 BMW 7 Series. It also has certain elements that were seen on recent Mazdas and Hyundais, notably elements in the grille and headlights.

Lastly, the 6th generation Camry built and sold by Toyota Motor Corporation Australia will go on sale in August 2006. For the very first time in almost two decades, the Australian-made Camry will not have a V6 engine. The Australian market will only be able to opt for a 2.4-liter I4, which delivers 117 kW of power. The V6 versions will soon be replaced by Toyota Aurion, set to be released in late 2006.

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