Gas-loving spider prompts Mazda recall in U.S

TOKYO Fri Mar 4, 2011 5:25am EST

Mazda Motor Corp. President and Chief Executive Hisakazu Imaki poses next to the Mazda Atenza sports at a news conference during the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 24, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN)

Mazda Motor Corp. President and Chief Executive Hisakazu Imaki poses next to the Mazda Atenza sports at a news conference during the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 24, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN)

TOKYO (Reuters) - A spider that likes the smell of gasoline so much it chooses to build its webs in car emission systems was behind the recall of thousands of Mazda cars in the United States this week.

Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) said on Thursday it was recalling 52,000 cars after the National Highway Safety Commission said the spider webs may restrict a vent line, which could cause the emissions control system to increase pressure in the fuel tank.

The build-up of webs in the emission systems could lead to fuel tank cracks and possible leaks.

The culprit is the Yellow Sac spider, which makes the Mazda6 model of Mazda cars its home because it is lured inside by the smell of the fuel. The Mazda6 is known as the Atenza in Japan.

"While it's very rare, this spider's distinguishing characteristic is that it likes the smell of gasoline, caused by the hydrogen oxide," said automotive journalist Mitsuhiro Kunisawa.

"Once it smells the gasoline from outside, it will go inside. In the United States, it's a relatively common type of spider."

The affected model, the Mazda6, has two pipes coming out from its gas tank, which is extremely rare and means that the smell of gasoline is strong enough to draw the spider in but not strong enough to kill it, Kunisawa said.

He added that there was no similar problem with any other Mazda car.

As part of the recall, dealers will install a spring to prevent spiders such as the Yellow Sac from entering the vent line.

(Reporting by Reuters Television in Tokyo and John Crawley in Washington; editing by Elaine Lies)

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