Spiders! Gas-Sniffing Arachnids Invade Fuel Lines, Force a Software Fix for Mazda Sedans

The hydrocarbon-loving, fuel-line-invading yellow sac spider forced Mazda to recall 50,000 bug-infested Mazda6 sedans three years ago.

This is a yellow sac spider. It likes to crawl into the fuel tank hose of a Mazda6. Your Mazda6 may have a serious case of arachnophobia. But Mazda has a software fix in the works that will keep those eight-legged fiends from doing damage to your car even if it can't help your fragile emotional psyche.

yellow sac spider
yellow sac spider

It seems the yellow sac spider has a fondness for the hydrocarbons in gasoline and can find its way into the fuel tank hose of Mazda's sedans. That's bad news for reasons other than the gnawing terror that you're driving a spider-infested vehicle--the spiders can weave webs that block the airflow and cause pressure to build up as the car's emission control system tries to purge vapors from the canister. That can make the fuel tank crack, which increases the risk of fire. (Mazda doesn't have reports of any fires related to its spider woes.)

Mazda attempted to correct the problem three years ago by adding a spring to the canister vent line aimed at keeping spiders from getting their gas fume fix. The automaker recalled more than 50,000 Mazda6 sedans in 2011 to implement the fix. But Mazda said it began receiving reports of cracked fuel tanks in cars equipped with the spring, meaning that the spiders were back--presumably, angrier this time around.

Now Mazda's turning to software to do battle with the spiders, or at least, to make sure their webs don't do any major damage. In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mazda says it will reprogram the Powertrain Control Module in the Mazda6 to control tank pressure so tanks won't crack, no matter what kind of webbing spiders leave behind.

Mazda is recalling around 42,000 vehicles made between 2010 and 2012 to implement the software change. Mazda6 owners can bring their cars to a Mazda dealer to have the canister vent line inspected and repaired free of charge. Trying to shake the image of spiders dwelling inside your vehicle, waiting for the moment when you let down your guard--well, that's on you.

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