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Jim Lewis
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Toyota Says Spiders’ Webs Of Destruction Responsible For Major Auto Recall

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Oh what a tangled web spiders weave. Though it seems like an odd thing to be responsible for a massive auto recall, Toyota is announcing that an issue related to spiders is prompting the company to recall 870,000 vehicles. The story is a convoluted one and ends with a potential for faulty airbags that can deploy unnecessarily, leading to the risk of a serious accident.

According to Toyota, in certain cases spiders can get into the air conditioning condenser drainage tube on some 2012 and 2013 Camrys, Venzas and Avalons, an infestation that can set off a dangerous chain reaction. Engineers say these spiders lay down such thick webs that the condenser tubes become blocked, causing water to drip down into an airbag control module. This water then leads to electrical problems; causing the airbag warning light to come on and, in some cases, deploy the driver’s airbag. In other cases, Toyota says the problem has been linked to a loss of power steering in some vehicles.

Toyota says that consumers have reported three such cases where airbags deployed due to this defect and another 35 cases where warning lights came on but repairs were made before problems became more serious. Toyota says of all the cases the company has investigated, the only consistent cause has been spider web blockages, however, the company cannot definitively say spider webs are the sole cause of such problems.

To remedy the problem, Toyota says that dealers will fix the pipe so that any water the might backup from the condenser tube no longer drips on the airbag module. The company will begin notifying owners with affected vehicles about where they can take their cars to have the work done for free.

Though it may seem surprising, this is actually not the first major auto recall associated with meddlesome spiders. Back in 2011, Mazda recalled 52,000 of its Mazda6 sedans because yellow sac spiders had invaded a space in the vent line for the vehicle’s gas tank. The spiders’ webs then created blockages that prevented air from entering the tank which could lead to cracks in the gas tank and eventually fires. Engineers were (and still are) puzzled by why the one type of spider invaded the 2009 and 2010 Mazdas, especially given how picky the spiders appeared to be. Of the 20 reported issues caused by the spiders all occurred in cars with 4-cylinder engines rather than any with V6s.

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