As our readers may recall, spiders have in the past been known to create safety problems at Mazda. It was reported that spiders may be able to weave webs that block the fuel tank vent lines of some Mazda Motor Corp. vehicles. This has caused the second recall in three years of Mazda6 models. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration made the “spider” announcement last month. The recall, which is intended to reduce the risk of a fuel tank fire, affects about 42,000 model year 2010-2012 year Mazda6 vehicles equipped with 2.5 liter engine built from Sept. 14, 2009, through May 2, 2011, according to documents posted by NHTSA. Mazda said in a letter to NHTSA:
On certain Mazda6 vehicles, a certain type of spider may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent line, potentially causing a restriction in the line. If this occurs, the fuel tank pressure may become excessively negative when the emission control system works to purge the vapors from the canister.
As the canister is purged repeatedly during normal operation, the stress on the fuel tank may eventually result in a crack, potentially leading to fuel leakage and an increased risk of fire. Mazda says it’s not aware of any fires related to this condition.
In February 2010, Mazda began adding a spring to the canister vent line in order to prevent a spider’s intrusion, and in March 2011, a recall campaign was launched for the vehicles not equipped with the spring. Then in May 2011, an additional countermeasure was implemented. That involved modifying the Power Control Module software to minimize negative pressure of the fuel tank. The first report in the United States describing a crack of the fuel tank on a vehicle that was equipped with the spring to prevent a spider’s intrusion was submitted in November 2011, according to Mazda. But, the company said that since the parts could not be returned, the root cause could not be identified. Mazda then decided to monitor for occurrence of the situation in the field.
In September 2013, a second report of a crack of a fuel tank arose. Mazda confirmed there was a crack, and says it found a spider web was present in the canister vent line. Ultimately, nine such cases were confirmed. Mazda said in a statement:
All of the nine cases occurred on vehicles that have only the spring to prevent spider’s intrusion. There were no defects on the vehicles which had the revised Power Control Module software to minimize negative pressure in the fuel tank.
Mazda said while the spring was effective to an extent, a unnamed species of spider could possibly intrude even with the expanding spring. The PCM software change to control the tank pressure, according to Mazda, is effective to avoid the possibility of the tank cracking. Mazda says the change works even under such a severe condition as the canister vent line being clogged by a spider web. That has resulted in cars that have PCMs without modified software being recalled for updates.
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