- Engineers developed a spider screen to stop spiders building nests
- Screen prevents spiders from building cocoon-like webs dense enough to potentially block fuel vapour lines, which can damage engines
- Spider screen is being rolled out in Ford vehicles in North America and will go global with launch of the 2016 Ford Focus RS
Their eight rippling legs strike fear into many, but spiders scare car manufacturers too, because they can break vehicles.
Now, engineers at Ford have come up with anti-spider technology to keep creepy crawlies from nesting in its cars..
The firm’s ‘spider screen’ is being rolled out across North America and will be included in the global launch of the 2016 Ford Focus RS.
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Ford have come up with anti-spider technology to keep creepy crawlies from nesting in vehicles. The firm’s ‘spider screen’ is being rolled out in Ford vehicles in North America and will be included in the global launch of the 2016 Ford Focus RS (pictured)
The engineers are bringing their fight to Cheiracanthium mildei and Cheiracanthium inclusum – two species known as yellow sac spiders.
The arachnids have been known to nest inside vehicles for years, resulting in headaches for drivers and car manufacturers, including Toyota and Mazda, which have both had to recall car models because of spider problems.
Instead of using webs to catch prey, these spiders build cocoon-like webs for shelter and to lay eggs.
The engineers are bringing their fight to Cheiracanthium mildei and Cheiracanthium inclusum, two species known as yellow sac spiders (pictured)
YELLOW SAC SPIDERS AND THEIR LOVE OF GASOLINE
Ford has developed a ‘spider screen’ to stop yellow sac spiders nesting in car engines.
They are usually pale in colour with yellow or beige abdomens, ranging in size from five to 10mm.
Some are attracted to the smell of volatiles in gasoline, it’s thought.
The spiders cause problems because they weave dense, tunnel-like webs inside vehicle parts, resulting in blockages which can damage car engines.
Species of yellow sac spiders can be found in northern Europe, Japan, southern Africa, India and Australia.
There are only two species known to live in the New World – Cheiracanthium mildei and Cheiracanthium inclusum – which are the ones causing problems in cars.
The problem is that their home is dense enough to potentially block fuel vapour lines, which can lead to engine damage.
The yellow sac spider (pictured) which is attracted to hydrocarbons, builds webs that cause pressure to build in the fuel tank
David Gimby, Ford fuel systems engineer, first began looking into how to keep spiders out of Ford vehicles in 1999.
He researched the life and science of spiders and in 2004 Ford produced its first spider screen, which has kept spiders from nesting inside Ford vehicles for years.
‘These particular Arachnids are not sedentary – they are hunters and constantly roaming,’ he explained.
‘When it’s time to build a birthing cocoon or an over-winter cocoon, they seek a cavity or a depression, like a fuel vapour line opening, which allows them to maximize the use of their silk.’
He continued: ‘Spiders can be a nuisance for our vehicle owners.’
‘We studied these species to discern how they nest, then designed an effective device for excluding the larger, problematic spiders from nesting in our cars.’
The improved screen is being rolled out in new Ford cars across North America and will go global with the launch of the 2016 Ford Focus RS.
Keeping fuel vapour lines clear is fundamental to air and vapour circulation for a vehicle’s carbon canister, where fuel vapours are captured so they don’t enter the environment.
The spider screen keeps spiders out of the line, allowing air and vapour flow so vehicles can work properly.
THE TROUBLE WITH SPIDERS: ARACHNID PROBLEMS HAVE LED TO MAZDA AND TOYOTA RECALLS
In April 2014, Mazda was forced to recall 42,000 Mazda6 cars in the US because spiders could weave a web in a vent hose, potentially causing the fuel tank to crack.
The recall involved cars from the 2010 through 2012 model years equipped with 2.5-litre engines.
‘In the affected vehicles, spiders may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent hose, blocking it and causing the fuel tank to have an excessive amount of negative pressure,’ the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said.
In April 2014, Mazda was forced to recall 42,000 Mazda6 cars (pictured) in the US because spiders could weave a web in a vent hose, potentially causing the fuel tank to crack
‘Negative pressure could cause the fuel tank to crack, resulting in a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire.’
In October 2013, Toyota recalled 885,000 cars because spider webs could cause airbags to accidentally inflate, potentially causing drivers to lose control at the wheel.
The auto manufacturer recalled Camrys – the best-selling car in the US – as well as Venzas and Avalons that were built from 2012 onwards.
The reason the company gave was that the arachnid’s sticky webs could cause a blockage, which could in turn activate the driver-side airbags as well as cut the cars’ power steering – potentially resulting in a nasty accident.
In 2013, Toyota recalled Camrys, Venzas (pictured) and Avalons, as well as their hybrid counterparts, in the US that were built from 2012 onwards
The problem lay with the air conditioning condenser unit housing – an area of the car that can get warm and is dark and damp – ideal spider habitat.
Toyota explained the spider webs could cause a blockage in a drainage tube that comes from the cars’ air conditioning condenser.
While the result would not be immediately dramatic, the blockage could have caused water to drip down into the airbag control module, which may have short circuited and could have led to a worrying warning light to display on the dashboard, or more seriously, caused the airbag to inflate suddenly.
At the time the company warned that there is even a risk of complete loss of power steering and ‘loss of steering assist results in increased steering effort’.
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