Zoom, zoom, eeek!: Mazda’s spider problem

Mazda is recalling its Mazda6 sedans for a really creepy reason: Gasoline-loving spiders are blocking the engine vent.

That’s right — spiders.

One variety of the eight-legged creature, the yellow sac, just loves the smell of gasoline. It loves it so much that it wants to live in car engines so it can smell gasoline all day. Unfortunately, this bug can cause the fuel tank to break.

Here’s how it happens: The spider weaves a web that blocks the vent hose, which reduces fuel tank pressure when the emission control system releases vapor. That can put stress on the fuel tank, which can crack and leak, increasing the risk of fire, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Mazda said it is not aware of any fires caused by the spiders.

The recall applies to more than 40,000 sedans with 2.5 liter engines from model years 2010 to 2012.

Mazda has sparred with these spiders before. The company recalled the fuel system for Mazda6’s in 2011 too, and tried to keep spiders from crawling inside by adding a spring to the canister vent line, Reuters reported.

Since then, there have been nine reports of cracked fuel tanks in cars equipped with the spring. After the 2011 recall, Mazda changed the sedan’s software, and the problem hasn’t appeared in any of the cars with the update.

For the current recall, Mazda will reprogram the software in the older cars free of charge and clean out any blockages in the vent hose. Though it may prevent fuel tank cracks, the software upgrade hasn’t been shown to keep the spiders out.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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Gail Sullivan · April 7