Headrest in Toyota RAV4

I test drove a Toyota RAV4 and everything was fine except the headrest. We want an upright driving position, but the angle of that headrest forces a sofa driving position. It's not good for the back, especially so for my wife with 30 year old whip-lash injuries. The sales guy did an internet search on headrests and was shocked that it was all about people complaining about their headrests, one was booked for surgery before the headrest was identified as the problem. Sales guy said he would look at options for us, but eventually came back and said we would need to look at post sales purchase.

For insurance purposes, does changing the headrest constitute a ‘modification’? If so, realistically that rules out any car that does not come with a headrest suited to our driving position needs.

Asked on 19 June 2015 by MikeatS41

Answered by Honest John
I did some work with Professor Mark Porter - chief Ergonomics specialist at Loughborough University - and it is generally a mistaken belief that an upright seating position is desirable in a car where you are also operating foot pedals. An upright seat concentrates the entire weight of the thorax into the coccyx. On the other hand, a slightly reclined seat pushes some of the weight of the thorax into the back of the seat.

Second point, it is not a 'headrest'. You are not supposed to 'rest' your head on it. It is a 'head restraint' designed to minimise whiplash in the event of a severe rear impact. So yes, if you replace the factory fitted head restraint with something else that constitutes a modification that needs to be declared to your insurer because it may increase the risk of a whiplash injury.
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