— A Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fuel tank class action lawsuit alleges the vehicles cannot reach the advertised mileage range of 580 miles because the tanks cannot hold the required 14.5 gallons of fuel.
Toyota markets the 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrid as capable of 41 miles per gallon for city driving, 38 mpg for highway driving and a combined city/highway rating of 40 mpg. With a 14.5 gallon fuel tank, the total city range should be 594.5 miles and the total highway range should be 551 miles.
However, the class action lawsuit alleges the RAV4 Hybrid won't accept a full tank of gas due to the shape of the tank, knocking down the true capacity of the tank by "several gallons." RAV4 Hybrid drivers complain that gas nozzles automatically shut off when trying to fill the tanks even though the tanks aren't full.
The class action alleges drivers typically say their Hybrids can travel 330-480 miles when the fuel tanks indicate they are full. This is drastically lower than the 580 miles advertised by Toyota.
Toyota allegedly knew about the fuel tank issues as early as November 5, 2019, based on Tech Tip T-TT-0581-19 issued to dealerships.
“Some 2019 model year RAV4 HV customers may be experiencing some concern related to fuel gauge reading less than full. If the vehicle matches this condition, perform active test using Techstream to confirm fuel gauge operation. If OK, no repairs recommended at this time. Concern is under investigation."
Even though the automaker informed dealers about the fuel tank problem, the class action lawsuit alleges current and potential owners and lessees of 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrids weren't warned.
Toyota previously admitted it was investigating the shape of the fuel tank because the shape could prevent a driver from fully refilling the tank by several gallons. The automaker said RAV4 Hybrid customers should immediately refuel when the low fuel light illuminates, but drivers were warned to never "top off" the fuel tanks.
The class action references a February 2019 news report where Toyota allegedly said it would replace the fuel tanks on 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrids.
"Toyota has received customer reports of certain 2019 and 2020 RAV4 Hybrid vehicle fuel gauges displaying less than full and/or total fuel dispensed is less than expected, when the fuel nozzle automatically clicks off. Some customer reports have also noted the 'Distance to Empty' shown on the multi-information display is less than expected."
The automaker went on to say that based on the ongoing internal investigation, Toyota believes the problem is primarily related to variations in the fuel tank shape.
"Until a final remedy is identified, the interim option is to install a replacement tank. Based on our ongoing investigation, replacing the fuel tank may mitigate these concerns, although it may not prevent the condition from reoccurring.”
According to Toyota, owners of 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrids who want to try out the fuel tank replacement option should call Toyota or a local dealership.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fuel tank class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California: DeLuca, et al., v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
The plaintiffs are represented by Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP.