Ford Motor Co. has developed a new screen that stops spiders from crawling inside its vehicles to spin nests and lay eggs. The small, cylindrical screen will be placed in the fuel lines of all its vehicles globally, starting with the 2016 Focus RS.
Spiders aren’t just a creepy-crawly annoyance; they can cause serious damage to cars by blocking fuel vapor lines with their thick webs. The main culprits are yellow sac spiders.
“These particular Arachnids are not sedentary — they are hunters and constantly roaming,” David Gimby, Ford fuel systems engineer, said. “When it’s time to build a birthing cocoon or an over-winter cocoon, they seek a cavity or a depression, like a fuel vapor line opening, which allows them to maximize the use of their silk.”
The Dearborn automaker has been working to keep spiders out of cars since 1999, and developed its first spider screen in 2004. The new screen is designed to block the spiders from entering the fuel lines, but also allows for air and vapor flow.
“We are constantly improving and adapting, even when it comes to technologies that are already working,” said William Euliss, Ford fuel systems engineer. “There is a significant amount of engineering that goes into every detail of our vehicles, like the spider screen.”
Arachnids have caused a number of automakers to recall vehicles. In August 2014, Suzuki recalled more than 19,000 midsize cars after it found spiders could clog a fuel vapor vent hose. In April 2014, Mazda recalled 42,000 Mazda6 cars after it found the yellow sac spiders could weave a web in a vent hose and cause the fuel tank to crack.
“Spiders can be a nuisance for our vehicle owners,” Gimby said. “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.”