Solutions for horribly uncomfortable head restraints on Toyota Rav

My wife and I recently acquired a 2010 Toyota Rav. As part of their efforts to get a five star safety rating and to meet new federal requirements Toyota has implemented active head restraints in this car. Unfortunately, this also means that the headrests cant forward at a ridiculous angle and cause excruciating neck pain after about fifteen minutes of driving. We took the car into the dealer, and while all the service people agreed that the headrests look like a bad design, they are not allowed to make any modifications under federal law.

My solution has been to take the headrests out and turn them around, which reduces the chronic neck pain issue, but of course defeats the purpose of having a head restraint in the first place. Having previously had a neck injury, I would like to avoid the experience again. I’m left with the conundrum of accepting Toyota’s design and a chronic neck injury, or risking an acute neck injury.

I’ve thought of trying to build a bending jig to add about 10 degrees of back bend into the head rest posts, but I’m hesitant. I also have tried driving the car with the seats angled way back, but this doesn’t seem to be of much help either.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

sell this car, and get one you can actually be comfortable sitting in.

I have same problem with my 2010 Highlander. I thought that I might be able to switch the back seat head rests, but the distance between the posts is different. My daughter-in-law has a sienna and she had to remove the rear seat headrests to accomodate the child seats. Suprisingly, these head rests are perfect for me! I checked the wholesale price for them and unfortunately, new ones would be very expensive

There is actually a very simple solution.
Just recline the seat back a bit more than you are doing currently, and the head restraint will be further away from your head and neck.

I am not talking about a radical readjustment of the seat back, but rather just a slight increase in the angle of recline. Try it, and you just might be pleasantly surprised at the result.

I agree with VDC on this one. I had the same problem with my 2010 Cobalt and a HHR I test drove. The salesman (whom I’ve known 22 years) suggested reclining the seat an extra notch or two.

My kids bought me a seat cushion with a massage unit, once I installed the cushion my head was about 2" from the head rest. I took the cushion out because I was not comfortable being that far from the head rest.

Ed B.

In addition to reclining the seat you could add a flat cushion for back support. 5 to 10 Dollars for the cushion and you don’t have to see the chiropractor.

Remember that the design of the headrest is to prevent injury in the even of an accident, not to allow you to comfortably rest your head back as you drive down the road.

Since you have had a previous neck injury, maybe there is still an issue with your neck, that you have been ignoring. With the headrest turned around, if you have an accident, I bet that your bad neck will suffer an even worse injury.

What you should do is get yourself to either a chiropractor or to an orthopedic doctor, and have them inspect your neck and shoulders, look at how you’re sitting in your car, and make suggestions or adjustments to you in order to get you comfortable in your new car.


I recently drove a Toyota Camry hybrid and noticed the same thing. Something like this would have prevented me from buying such a vehicle since I go on extended test drives before I buy.

Any solution you find, other than getting rid of this car, is going to amount to the same thing as turning the head rests around. If you recline the seats or use a cushion, you will be putting distance between your head and the head restraint. You might as well just turn them around and be done with it.

… and oblivious to the actual purpose of head restraints.

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to @cdaquila, Hi Carolyn. The next time your web masters make an update, could they put a time stamp warning of some sort in? If the last post is over 9 months old (or 12 months or what ever your web guru’s can easily make happen) can a warning pop up that the post is old and to continue you have to click a button verifying that you are looking at an old post? This one is an example of someone stumbling across an ancient post and making an obtuse comment.

You and your team are doing a great job, appreciate all that you do.


Great idea . . .

I have another, along those same lines

How about if after a certain amount of inactivity, ONLY the op can reactivate the discussion . . . ?


But regardless how old the OP is I’m in for reversing the headrests. In a severe hit from the rear the reversed headrests will still prevent whiplash while they will be comfortable in day to day driving. I recall helping several people reverse Toyota headrest and a Toyota dealership salesman said that doing so was very common.

Hi Steve, thank you for your suggestion. Discourse has this setting already built in, whereby a poster is warned if they’re replying to a thread that’s not seen any replies in over 60 days. I checked in the admin dashboard and the setting is currently enabled. I am traveling and only have access to mobile. I tried it out and did not get a flag. Can someone please try it out on desktop and see what happens?

Alerting people that they are hitting an old thread is a good idea, but please do not kill the old stuff. Every once in a while we get some good info from an activated old thread.


Art, I tend to agree with you. We are not able to close old threads en masse anyhow. I think some threads are evergreen. And for people who post new problems in old threads, if it’s truly unrelated we can break it off into its own thread.