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Seat extenders for 2011 Toyota RAV4

We recently bought a 2011 Toyota RAV4 and enjoying it, except for the driver’s legroom. Husband is 6’0 and gets really uncomfortable driving long distances. Searching the internet, we came across a site dealing with Prius & RAV4 seat extenders (www.extendmyseat.com). This seat extender will add 4 inches. No drilling on car floors, will be bolted on original holes. Not a problem reaching the steering wheel as the seat pitch would have to be adjusted making it upright. Also did a search on CarTalk discussions about seat extenders unfortunately topics had been closed. Will installing this bracket (on the driver’s side) compromise the safety features of the car (airbag deployment, crumple zone, seatbelt)? Did you know car owners who had this bracket installed? Thank you for all your help.

Well, its an iffy area in terms of safety, IMO.

There is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t design these brackets so that the brackets themselves will hold up fine in terms of safety. In that respect, I wouldn’t be worried. For the taller driver, you’re also likely reducing risk of leg injuries in a frontal impact. Even relative to the front airbag, things may be better. Here’s where I would be worried, though: Your interaction with seatbelts and the side of the car. If seat is moved farther back and you don’t maintain proper positioning of the seatbelt, will it be effective? Not likely… I understand they say that you’ll be riding more upright, rather than laid back, but I doubt you can achieve an upright enough seat back position while pushing the seat back to keep the belt properly positioned. I guess my demand would be “show me” prior to buying something like this. The other issue is for side impacts - if you move your seat relative to side airbags, you might not get the chest / head protection PLUS you might be putting the b-pillar right where your head would smack it. That could all be alleviated depending on airbag type - a good seat-mounted side airbag would move with you, and a full-length curtain airbag would help as well…

The side airbag positioning is a non-issue as the airbags are already mounted in the seats in this vehicle and not in the B pillar. I don’t think four inches will make that much difference with respect to the seat belts but that’s just an opinion. I own a 2011 RAV4 but I’m under 6’ tall so none of this a problem for me.

Can you post a link to the internet site you found?

http://www.extendmyseat.com

Note that they do waive all liability on their own product… That isn’t a sign that they’re necessarily unsafe, of course…

@AlanY - good to know on the side airbag, but what about the curtain? You want to make sure your noggin doesn’t bang that B-pillar (or anything else). Some vehicles don’t have a full-length bag, or have a split front/rear curtain, and you want to make sure that you get protection there, too…

@eraser1998. Good point. I had to check my owner’s manual. The curtain is full length for the first two rows of seats. If you have the third row of seats option, the curtain doesn’t appear to go back that far. So, not perfect but the driver at least should be reasonably well protected.

One other problem is the extender stealing back seat leg room, at least behind the driver’s seat.

Not only are they trying to waive all liability I also note they say that a Toyota dealer will have no part of this arrangement; nor should they.
I’m of the opinion that an independent shop should not touch this with a 10 foot pole either. Odds are it won’t be a problem but it only takes one case of a problem, or perceived problem, for lawsuits to start flying.
Sometimes signed disclaimers may not mean much either.

In addition to the questions regarding seat placement vis-a-vis the airbags, another question that should be answered by this company is…What type of crash testing have you performed in order to verify that the seat will actually stay anchored to the floor in the event of a collision?

Crash testing of (hopefully) multiple vehicles is a very pricey endeavor, involving not just the cost of the test vehicles, but also the test facilities and the staff of those facilities. As a result of this cost, I really doubt if this company has spent the big bucks to do this type of testing.

In the absence of actual crash testing…How do you know that these aftermarket seat mounts would work as intended, and that they would keep the seat in place in a high-speed collision? All of the airbags in the world will not save you if the mounts fail and the seat goes flying forward, or sideways, or backward–depending on the type of impact.

Unless this company can provide some kind of documentation regarding successful crash testing of their product, I would suggest that you avoid it.

I did look yesterday and today, and in both our 2010 Mazda6 and our 1998 Toyota Camry, I don’t think this could be done safely with regards to seatbelt placement - the belt simply would be too far forward. Results could vary by vehicle, of course, and some vehicles have the belts mounted on the seats, so that would be a moot point there.

As for the strength of the brackets themselves, I would want to do my own engineering analysis prior to installation. Seats are already connected by rather thin metal brackets, so it certainly wouldn’t be hard to massively overengineer something that would be orders of magnitude stronger than the existing system… but I wouldn’t trust someone else who wanted me to sign a disclaimer.

I just checked there web site. I would use these and not worry. I have put custom seats in and made brackets. The way these are made I would say the mounting of the seat is as strong as the factory mount. IMO I think you are safer if you are more comfortable when you drive. As long you feel the seat belt fits you go for it. One thing you can do before you buy is unbolt the seat and move it back 4 inch’s. Then sit in it and try the belt. I am a bigger guy and my new seats I put in my truck move back about 4-5 inch’s more than the stock seats. The seat belt sill works with the seat all the way back.

Doing it yourself is one thing; having a shop do it and possibly subject themselves to a potential bankrupting lawsuit is quite another.
There’s also one other point atht could be raised.

What if there’s an accident and serious injury or death is involved and assume for the sake of discussion that the accident was caused by another party who plowed into the car with the extenders?
The investigator comes out to examine the car and finds the seats have been modified. Whether that had anything to do at all with any injury or death may be completely irrelevant because the other party could use that modification to claim those injuries or deaths would not have happened if the seats had been in the spot where the factory crash testing said they should be.
That could turn into a huge legal push and shove matter.

The company selling these actually has little worry. Worst case scenario is they’re party to a lawsuit, go belly-up, and open up another dot.com with a different name to repeat the process.

I owned a body shop. I modified seat mounts and installed custom seats. Never had a problem. I am now an auto adjuster. I can tell you a modified seat is not a concern to us. It would most likely overlooked. This mount IMO is well made and would not cause or add to any problems in crash.

To each his own, but it only takes one collision and a lawyer to get the ball rolling. Companies have been sued for less serious infractions than seat belt extenders.

The company says that Toyota will have no part of this add-on accessory and the reason is obvious; Toyota does not want to risk being a defendant in a potential multi-million dollar lawsuit.