By on October 19, 2013

2012 Toyota Camry

One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.

 

You’re not ready to deal with the myriad of reports you have to work on when you arrive at the office, and you’re certainly not ready for your colleague to rant about how his fantasy football team lost because one of his players sustained a career-ending injury on the first snap, but at least the piling traffic ahead of you seems to be delaying the inevitable, much to your mix of relief and chagrin.

Tired of being stuck behind the Dunkin’ Donuts truck (reminding you that you really need to hit the gym someday), you edge over to the (not really) faster moving lane on your left while wishing you could use the HOV lane at times like this when suddenly your airbag explodes, causing you to bash your alleged green machine into a Greyhound bus, kicking off a chain reaction that will take hours by the state police and first responders to sort out. You also make the news when the strangely chipper real-time traffic reporter chimes in about the wreck, which then leads to how Rockin’ Robin DeCradle “got totally wrecked” at the Waffle House of Blues this weekend.

Turns out the cause of your airbag going off was spiders, which you find out later that day when the local news reports that Toyota has issued a recall (again), affecting 870,000 vehicles including the one now residing in an insurance salvage yard that you, no doubt, are going to have a hard time collecting anything upon.

According to CNN Money, the 870,000 Toyotas are Camrys, Venzas and Avalons screwed together and sold for the 2012 and 2013 model years, hybrids included. The recall notice states that the webs spiders make within the confines of a drainage tube attached to the car’s AC unit could force water to drip onto the airbag’s control module, creating a short circuit followed by the airbag warning light (and the driver’s side airbag itself) going off. To make matters worse, the same issue can lead to loss of power steering, as well.

Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight said that the company was aware of the spider issue, noting that 35 cases of the lights coming on and 3 airbag deployments have come to pass thus far, and the consistent cause of the problem were the eight-legged freaks who, for some reason, love making webs in AC drainage tubes.

The recall recommends owners take their cars in to their nearest dealer, who will then make the necessary repairs (and calls to the Orkin Man) to prevent water from causing unintended airbag deployments. The notice will be sent by mail, and the repairs will be on the house.

A similar issue affected Mazda back in 2011, when spiders set up shop in the vent lines of many a Mazda6′s gasoline tank, proving once again that nature is so fascinating.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

36 Comments on “Toyota Recalls 870,000 Units Due To Arachnophobia...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    (again) Japanese are recalling cars like there is no tomorrow. At least the US Suppliers can’t be blamed for this one like last weeks Toyota wiper switch effecting Camry and others like the ’14 Corolla. Faulty designs/engineering on a brand new car? Are these cars CAD to the production floor and no real world testing? US public the beta testers?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Well all the good engineers are over at Saab designing those 40MPG wonders

    • 0 avatar
      Instant_Karma

      Japanese recalls tend to be trivial, US recalls tend to involve fire. Then there’s crap like the evap purge solenoid that would get clogged in the GMT700 trucks. They used the same part in my 2007 Silverado. A bad design that they will sell a retrofitted part for about $150 to fix, they extend the vent tube to somewhere where it will breathe less dirt, but never issued a recall for after more than a decade and 2 generations of vehicles with the same problem.

      After all, why do the honorable thing and do a recall when the service dept can make some bucks off of it.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Not all of their recalls have been trivial – my Sienna has been recalled because the spare wheel housing can rust out and drop the spare wheel whilst driving. Also a new recall has been issued because the gear lever can be moved from park to drive – thereby allowing the car to move (if on a hill). Neither of these are completely trivial and only cover the Sienna which has had a lot less recalls than most other Toyota’s.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Accidental airbag deployment is not trivial…I can’t think an unexpected airbag whacking me in the head at 70 is going end very well….however, this is hardly a “Toyota” thing. This kind of thing happens from insects. Toyota is just unlucky that the water ends up in a bad place…

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I wouldn’t say Toyota was unlucky they put a critical electronic component under a water source. Fact is that AC drains do get plugged up, if not by spiders then by leaves, pine needles and other debris that makes it into the evaporator housing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        An airbag going off accidentally is NOT trivial.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m not sure what the answer is, are these recalls (Toyota/Mazda) specific to one region of the US and they just didn’t take it into account? Was it as you suggested where maybe the Camry underwent testing on its original launch, but no further testing is done when a new system is added or changed (ie A/C)?

      Maybe the answer is cars today are just being made to such high tolerances they cannot handle any realistic anomalies?

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> At least the US Suppliers can’t be blamed for this one

      Yeah, but these are American spiders! :P

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As someone who finds insects interesting and generally tries to preserve them (mosquitos aside), I can safely say that you have to goof up pretty badly in order for a spider to dislike a car.

    On a more serious note, sometimes I wonder how many of these silly recalls are just done to make older used models look less appealing.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      If my experience with junk/sedentary cars is any indication, bugs LOVE cars!

      Especially yellow jackets. Clearly yellow jackets are automotive enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar

        In my experience, yellow jackets and even more so; wasps, are amateur restorers rather than enthusiasts. I usually find their nest in older “project cars’ (quotes because I bring them home, tear them apart, document nothing and realize I am in over my head before junking it or pawning it onto another sucker with more talent or bigger delusions than I have).

        I find them at the most inopportune times, usually when I am on my back or under something, in low light and wearing short sleeves.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Well it’s not like wasps have the money to fix up project cars either.

          Lately the wasps are going insane because they know they’re about to die so they just sorta fly all over haphazardly.

        • 0 avatar

          Well why wouldn’t a wasp love an old pile of metal on rubber stilts? Think of how many spiders are living around there. Then again, not all wasps eat spiders.

          I find the paper wasps we have around my area (pollinators and plant pest control) especially like white/light colored vehicles, perhaps because it reflects heat a little better. Our ’87 Ranger had a few such nests.

          Colors and spiders aside, it’s a nice solid place for wasps to live in relative peace, since it’s less rickety than a bush or fragile old stump. My brother’s Samurai had one nest bigger than my hand wedged between the drivers seat and B-pillar, and another (still active) next right under the steering column– neither of which I knew were there until AFTER I was done re-parking it.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I always open junkyard car hoods with extreme caution, because the engine compartment is a great place for a wasp to live. It stays dry and relatively cool, that is, unless the engine somehow gets started again. Then again, they probably prefer wheel-wells since they’re easier to access…

        • 0 avatar

          Yellowjackets like old cars because they are looking for a Dodge Super Bee.

  • avatar
    hawox

    35/870 000=0,00004 i think all theese reacals are just marketing.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I worked on RV’s for a bit out of college. Amazing how much cost a few insects can rack up. They always seemed to be attracted to the smell of propane, especially mud-dobber hornets. They’d beuild their nest up in the furnace lines, stoves, etc.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider crawled up the A/C drain spout.
    Down came the water, and the water leaked out.
    On came the warning lights, and out came the airbag, and the little Camry went to the body shop again.

    Ok so I’m not a poet.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Cameron your intro was truly excellent, it reminds me why Abilify, Cymbalta, and Viagra are such hot sellers in the US (Abilify to keeping you from killing yourself, Cymbalta to deal with the pain of living your life, and Viagra to get it up after the realization of the reasons for the first two).

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you! My own commuting experience — back when I still had a W-4, full-time job — involved the bus. I would take one bus into downtown Louisville, then the last express bus to the east end of town, followed by a mile-long walk to the anonymous office building that housed University of Phoenix on the first floor (my former employer took up the entire third floor, where Sazerac now resides). No wacky morning DJs for me — I had NPR — and traffic was thinning out by the end of the morning run — it was only awful during evening rush hour, especially if Justin Bieber or an accident was involved — but there it was.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    You’re quite welcome. That sounds a bit less awful than what I imagine most people go through in the “big city”. I used to commute 35 minutes / 95% highway every day for four years, found later it helps having a comfortable car which I didn’t have for three of the four. I briefly did the 30+ minutes to go six miles thing and I was out, I now drive <7 minutes 2.5 miles away and I'm loving it.

    My brother has an interesting philosophy on the subject, he said time is like a currency and you must do all that you can to spend it as *you* want. The older I get the more I believe he is correct, you can't print it, you cant grow it or mine it out of the ground, you can never get enough of it, and its something you can never replenish. I'll do all that I can to cherish the time I have and spend as little as possible in an urban death maze.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      My soul was crushed just reading the words “90 minute commute” at the beginning of this story. When I was in college my dad survived a downsizing, only 3 of probably 30+ that worked in his facility got to keep their jobs, but the rub was that they had to be based out of another facility 75 miles away. He commuted 5 days a week, and worked a 12 hour day when he got there to boot. The money was probably actually worth it, but I could see what it did to him and I vowed never to have a long commute. Currently I’m just under 4 miles from my work place, and it only takes me 7 minutes or so in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening. My wife’s job is even closer. What a blessing.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        A blessing is an understatement. I leave at 5:20 am so I can get to work in an hour. Getting in my car at 5:30 pm gets me home 7:15 to 7:30. Three hours of commuting on top of almost 11 hours of work. The money makes it worth it, mostly. 6 years and 4 months to go….

        • 0 avatar
          raincoaster

          Any commute sounds painful to me. At my new job, I commute to work once every 88 days by float plane, work for 46 days, then fly back out for 42. I have a 2008 GMC 2500 to keep me company in the middle of nowhere. :) (and moose, grizzly bears, wolves, fisher martins, and the occasional hunter)

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I love short commutes. I switched from walking 5 minutes from my house. to having to drive 45 minutes to work. I would love to have that back.

        But, if someone crashes it will easily go over an hour. Going home takes even longer 1 hour usually. I would much like to work close to home again.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’re telling me – I work from home. I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep this job, even though I could probably make more elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Those dam spiders.. My 89 Mustang’s power window stopped working. Before I headed to the dealer a quick look found a crushed money spider between the switch contacts. My only Arach motoring moment 20 plus ago.

    I heard there was a fellow with a tube of bed bugs going round tossing em in open convertibles. I’ll take the pigeon poop.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Mid-90s Proteges and ’09 Mazda6s had a spider deal that affected the evaporative emission control system. It seems the little rascals love the odor is fuel fumes, and built webs/nests in some vapor hoses. The 6 had a recall, it was a common problem in the Proteges. Check engine light on was the 1st clue.
    Ive seen the same thing happen in outdoor gas grilles.

  • avatar

    Stupid and nasty American spiders. I am fighting spiders everyday – they invade my house and garage. I did not see any spiders when I was in Japan and Europe. Even if they are I think they are very good behaving and are Union members.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Must be government motors hired a bunch of American union spiders to invade Toyotas with this design flaw and set forth a revolution of failed steering systems and exploding air bags to help prop up sales of the big 2 1/2.

    • 0 avatar

      I would say that Getfinger or King or whoever runs UAW tries to increase the union membership by enrolling spiders. I wonder though why UAW does not hire a mob or even an ordinary street hooligans to destroy Toytotas and Hondas. They did it at their early years.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Interesting that Toyota would do this recall after 35 cases out of 870,000 cars. Ford has yet to issue a recall for a sudden and total loss of (electric) power steering boost that’s happened to at least 50 out of about 120,000 Ford Escape Hybrids.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States