Petrolhead spiders prompt Mazda recall

Speed-demon arachnids are apparently making their homes in Mazda fuel tanks. Which isn't doing the manufacturer many favours...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Incey Wincey spider may have enjoyed the odd foray up the water spout, but today’s spiders are apparently more daredevil about their choice of home. That’s according to Mazda, which has been forced to recall 67,000 of its Mazda6 models, thanks to safety problems presented by eight-legged speed demons. According to the car manufacturer, yellow sac spiders are weaving webs in the cars’ fuel tank vents, causing blockages and potentially even fuel leaks. It must be all the wriggling and jiggling inside that’s causing the problem…

According to scientists, yellow sacs are particularly partial to the smell of petrol, and crawl inside the petrol fillers so they can make a nest close to it. Apparently, their tendency is to spin their webs in something called the ‘evaporative canister vent line’ (sounds important), which runs from a canister full of charcoal designed to absorb fuel vapour. When the line is blocked, it puts extra pressure on the fuel tank, potentially causing it to crack and leak.

So far, there have only been 20 reported cases of the arachnid invaders causing problems, but Mazda isn’t taking any risks: it’s recalled 52,000 cars in America and another 15,000 in Canada so that it can install special springs to ‘prohibit spider intrusion’ (if only someone could design one of those for MT’s bathroom).

It might sound like a fairly oblique reason to make such a large recall, but chances are Mazda is doing everything in its power to avoid the same fate as rival Toyota, which recalled 16m cars last year, while CEO Akio Toyoda was forced to endure an excruciating grilling from Congress to answer questions about the company’s safety record after a glitch in one of its cars was implicated in some fatal accidents.

The only mystery for Mazda is what’s attracting the spiders to its cars in particular. There have been suggestions that it’s to do with the relatively unusual design of the Mazda6’s fuel system, which has two pipes coming out of its petrol tank. But a Mazda spokesperson admitted the company is baffled. ‘Perhaps yellow sac spiders like to go zoom-zoom?’ he suggested. Erm, maybe.

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