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Spiders And Mazda Cars: Bad Combination That Prompted Recall

Craig McClellan

Vehicle recalls usually are attributed to a faulty part or poor engineering. What you don’t hear as often is the recall of a vehicle due to an unwanted arachnid stowaway. You read that right. There is a particular species of spider that has decided to take up residence in key vehicle components. Yellow sac spiders apparently decided their evolution as a species hinged on creating a habitat within certain Mazda vehicles in 2011. While that may sound like the opening scene of a horror film, spiders are the main reason why Mazda recalled 65,000 vehicles in North America this year. And while no serious car accidents were reported, risk of a car fire or fuel leak was a serious possibility for car owners.

Petrol-Sniffing Spiders

Mazda discovered that vehicles, specifically four-cylinder Mazda 6 cars, were infested with the yellow sac spider. These spiders were attracted to the smell of petrol and began nesting in small hoses in the fuel tank systems. Besides being unexpected and frankly, a little unsettling, this issue had the potential to cause problems with the pressurization and ventilation systems in the cars. In addition, the spiders could cause cracks in the gas tank, which could potentially start a fire.

An entomologist proposed that the spiders were in the small tubes before the vehicles were assembled. However Mazda believed that the spiders were getting into the cars after assembly line. Regardless, the car company recalled the vehicles so that each one could be inspected for spider nests. According to the NHTSA, this is the first time that a recall has been announced due to pest infestation.

Another concern that was raised was spider bites. The yellow sac spider is somewhat venomous and can be dangerous to certain people. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, and sometimes even lesions.

A Spidery Solution

To adapt to this new problem, Mazda installed a cover on the line that stopped the spiders from entering it and reprogrammed the ECU (engine control unit) to change the logic behind how the car purges the charcoal canister during normal operation. These alterations supposedly solved the problem and prevented the possibility of cracking the gas tank. Perhaps they underestimated the spiders' determination.

Updated January 2016

Fast forward 3 years later, and the spiders made a reappearance in 2014. This time, Mazda recalled 42,000 U.S. built Mazda 6 cars from the years 2010 to 2012. The solution to the recall was the same. Mazda claimed that the reason for the recall was that the ECU change was not applied to cars manufactured during these years, though the cap keeping spiders out of the fuel line had been implemented.