Gas-Huffing Spider Shenanigans Force Mazda to Recall 42K Sedans


While General Motors  wrestles with some substantial recalls, Ford gets tackled by some huge foreign currency problems, and Tesla mounts a legal defense of its business model, Mazda (MZDAF.PK) is working with a problem that’s far more relatable to the average person: spiders. Only, not in the way one might expect (as if one was really expecting spiders to pose such a problem in the first place.)

Mazda has launched a recall of 42,000 Mazda6 sedans equipped with 2.5 liter inline-four engines from model years 2010 to 2012, because a particular arachnid that likes the smell of gasoline has a tendency to create a web that can block off a vent in the engine.

Odd as it sounds, this is actually Mazda’s second recall of this nature. Three years ago, 65,000 units were recalled for the same reason, covering model years 2009 and 2010, again, due to spider webs blocking evaporative canister vent lines, Reuters said. It’s the same story this time around, and bizarre as it might be, we’re a little late for April Fools’.

If you’re wondering how a feeble spiderweb can cause such carnage, “the web weaved by a spider can lead to a restriction of fuel flow, which in turn can reduce fuel tank pressure when the emission control system purges vapors from the evaporative canister,” Reuters said, citing Mazda’s filing with the NHTSA. “This can put stress on the fuel tank, which may crack and leak fuel, increasing the risk of a fire.”

No fires have yet been reported as a result as far as Mazda is aware of. Mazda tried to fix the issue before by adding a spring to the canister vent line to keep spiders from crawling inside, but then a number of reports of cracked fuel tanks in sedans equipped with the spring led Mazda engineers to try to figure out the spider’s route to the canister, Reuters said.

An auto analyst told Reuters at the time of the first recall that the Yellow Sac spider, which was responsible for the earlier recall, is drawn to the scent of gasoline.

Engineers determined, after reports of damaged fuel tanks, that a software change could help alleviate the problems even if a web has been built and a spring has been installed. “The blockage is not present on other models made by Mazda and occurs only in cars made a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan,” Reuters said, though Mazda hasn’t made any units at that facility since 2012.