Spiders? In my new Toyota? It's more likely than you think given Toyota's recall of nearly a million 2012 and 2013 model year Avalons (above) Camrys and Venzas, including hybrids. The spiders in question may be small but their actions can lead to BIG consequences such as the explosive deployment of the driver's side airbag.
Prior to issuing the recall notice, Toyota had been investigating a mysterious series of problems centered on their vehicles' airbags and the associated underhood electronic control module. It seemed that the modules were shorting out as a result of exposure to water, even in regions where rain and snow are rare such as the American desert southwest.
Further study turned up an unexpected source for the wayward water: blocked drainage tubes leading from the air conditioning condenser caused backed-up water to drip onto the airbag control module mounted just beneath, creating the perfect conditions for a short circuit inside the module.
How would drivers know their airbag control modules had shorted out? At the least, the dashboard airbag warning light would illuminate. At worst, the driver's side airbag would deploy and not in a gentle manner... not something you'd want to happen while side-by-side with a semi on the Interstate! If that wasn't enough, Toyota advises that in some cases drivers may experience a reduction in power-steering force.
According to Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight, there have been 35 cases of warning lights coming on and three actual airbag deployments, all of them attributable to spiders building webs inside air conditioning condenser drainage tubes.
Oddly enough this isn't the first time spiders have caused issues in motor vehicles: Mazda recalled 52,000 Mazda6 sedans in 2011 to rectify problems caused by spiders who spun webs inside gas tank vent lines. That's one of the apprehended troublemakers above, preserved for posterity in what looks like gasoline. Kill it with fire! (via CNN/Money, 6Legs2Many, AdavenAutoModified, and Quickmeme)
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