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Ford Aims To Spider-Proof Its Cars

Ford hopes to avoid the spider-caused problems that sparked recalls at Toyota and Mazda.

Every new Ford vehicle will soon come equipped with a unique safety feature: a screen to prevent spiders from taking up residence under the hood.

While drivers might be more concerned about a spider sneaking inside their cars, Ford engineers hope to avoid the same spider-caused problems that eventually sparked recalls at Toyota and Mazda.

Ford developers found that the yellow sac spider, which is native to every state except Hawaii, looks for cavities in which to take shelter or lay eggs. When the spider happens upon a vehicle, that often means heading directly to its fuel vapor line.

The spider's webs can disrupt fuel vapor and cause engine damage. In extreme circumstances, the resulting pressure could cause fuel tank cracks and fires; cracks were found in at least nine Mazda 6 models prior to a recall in 2014.

Toyota, meanwhile, issued a recall in 2013 after air conditioning clogs attributed to spider webs were found to affect their airbags.

The yellow sac spider is extremely common, and initial Ford research turned up stowaways in almost every component examined in a vehicle junkyard.

"So if you let your car sit around long enough, the spider is going to find it," engineer David Gimby told USA Today.

Ford's patented spider screen is reportedly slightly shorter than a pinky finger and keeps the critters out of fuel lines while maintaining vapor flow. They will be installed on all vehicles beginning with the 2016 Focus RS.

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