Autos: Arthritis in the Beetle

Except for a sideswipe by Industry Critic Ralph Nader that "it is hard to find a more dangerous car than the Volkswagen," foreign-made autos generally escaped the critical blasts about safety recently directed at Detroit. Last week Volkswagen, which had vigorously denied Nader's charge, became the first foreign automaker to join Detroit in admitting to a recall campaign.

To 480,000 worldwide owners of the familiar Beetle and sporty Karmann-Ghia, including 175,000 in the U.S., went registered letters recalling models produced between last Aug. 1 and mid-January. During that time, Volkswagen switched over to new, permanently lubricated ball joints that connect...

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