Spiders in fuel tank prompt Mazda recall

Mazda has a creepy problem: a common spider species seems to have developed a hankering for making nests and weaving webs inside the engines of its sporty Mazda 6 sedan.

The Japanese automaker said Thursday it will be recalling 65,000 vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico to outfit them with special screens to keep the spiders out.

"There doesn't seem to be any particular reason why he's chosen the Mazda 6," spokesman Jeremy Barnes told AFP.

"It apparently likes to go zoom-zoom from the best we can tell," he said with a laugh in reference to Mazda's advertising tag-line.

While the spider problem sounds silly, Barnes said it can be dangerous.

The webs and nests can block air flow in the fuel tank's vent and this could cause the tank to leak or even catch fire. So far there have been no accidents or fires, but Madza isn't taking any chances.

Since the problem wasn't restricted to a particular geographic region, Mazda thought it best to recall all its affected vehicles in areas where the yellow sac spider lives, Barnes said.

The problem was first discovered in October 2009 when a dealer found a spider web in a canister vent line when a customer brought their Mazda 6 in for repairs after it started leaking fuel.

The dealer investigated further and it was determined that the web blocked up the vent and cause "excessive vacuum" in the fuel tank which "eventually resulted in a crack in the fuel tank through repetitive negative pressure stress," Mazda said in filings with safety regulators.

Some 19 other spider nests have been discovered in Mazda 6 vehicles across the United States. But only in the 4-cylinder versions, so maybe it isn't that sporty after all.

Dealers will inspect all the vehicles for cracks, clean out the vents, install a "spring to prohibit spider intrusion" and reprogram the powertrain control module to avoid a build up of pressure in the tank.

If any webs or damage are found, the canister and fuel tank will be replaced.

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