Spiders in gasoline tanks might not be a common concern among drivers, but the issue has apparently led to a massive recall of Mazda cars following fears that the spiders could spin webs inside gas tanks that in turn could cause engines to catch on fire.
The recall by Mazda Motor Corp. was issued this week for Mazda 6 Sedans across North America after concerns that a certain type of spider, attracted to the smell of gasoline, could make its way into gas tanks and spark fires with their webs.
The type of spider in question is the yellow sac spider, which is in fact a type of spider commonly found within homes and are usually found along the ceilings where they meet the walls. The yellow sac spider is well known for building webs around their bodies like a cocoon, and it is this particular characteristic that has concerned car makers the most.
There are fears that the spider, attracted to the smell of gasoline, could find its way into the Mazda gas tanks, and its web could restrict fuel flow. That would in turn reduce the tank pressure and ultimately lead to leaks due to the extra stress on the system. That would increase the risk of fire, according to the makers – although they have confirmed that there have been no known instances of a fire being reported by Mazda car owners.
The concerns in fact arose when the yellow sac spiders were spotted inside the gas tanks at the company's plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.
A theory being touted by a number of biologists have claimed that the spiders may have entered hoses at warehouses before being shipped to the assembly plant. The spiders are known to hide in tubes during the day, and then go out hunting at night.
Just three years ago, Mazda recalled nearly 65,000 Mazda6 sedans in North America for the same reason. The company attempted to fix the problem at that time by adding a spring to the vent line to stop the spiders reaching the gas tank.
Here is a video focusing on the Mazda-spider recall from 2011: