Mazda's Spider Problem and Other Small Things That Lead to Big Recalls

Spiders, space rays, and killer hood ornaments

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Today, Mazda announced they'd be recalling 52,000 Mazda 6 sedans because--of all things--they have a spider problem. It seems there's a certain kind of spider, the yellow sac spider, that likes to spin its web in a part of the Mazda 6 fuel system. In the worst-case scenario, this could result in the system getting clogged and the gas tank cracking, which in turn could start a fire.

There have been 20 cases of spiders turning up in Mazda 6 vehicles, and none of them resulted in fires, according to a statement Mazda made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Still, the company isn't taking any chances. It may seem odd for tens of thousands of cars to be grounded over a few little spiders, but this is hardly the first time small things have given automakers a big problem. Consider these past recalls from recent months:

In October 2010, Suzuki recalled nearly 70,000 SX4 vehicles after it was discovered that a few of its screws could effectively unscrew themselves. The side view mirrors on the SX4 were held in place by tiny screws, and over time, vibrations could loosen these and knock them out of place, meaning the mirrors could fall off.

In September 2010, Bentley Motors recalled 596 vehicles after it was discovered the hood ornament--a flying letter B--might not retract properly upon impact. As the NHTSA put it: "Such a defect may result in additional injury in the event of a pedestrian impact." In other words, if you're going to get hit by a car, the least Bentley can do is ensure that you won't get jabbed by a letter of the alphabet at the same time.

In June 2010, a bruised Toyota Motor Corporation (see below) took 17,000 Lexus hybrid sedans out of circulation when the cars failed a somewhat esoteric safety test. Per, it turns out that when the Lexus "was hit in the rear at 50 miles per hour and then mounted on a special device and spun like a turkey on a spit," some amount of fuel leaked out. Actually, it was "a very small amount" of fuel, according to a company spokesman. But better safe than sorry.

In March 2010, amid vast, ongoing recalls of various Toyota vehicles, it was seriously speculated for a while that rays from outer space might be causing Toyotas to accelerate uncontrollably. Engineers from NASA came in to investigate the possibility that stray cosmic radiation was messing up the software in certain Toyota models. Again--just good to know Toyota is trying to cover all the bases.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.