Modern Living: Bearing the Blame

Mass auto recalls have become as familiar an American ritual as the Sunday outing. Last December, for example, Chevrolet whistled back 6.7 million automobiles to treat motor-mount problems. Last week it was Ford Motor Co.'s turn. Ford announced that it was recalling 423,000 '72 Torinos and Montegos—the entire production of those two lines—to correct a rear axle defect. Unusual wearing of the bearings in the rear axle assembly, Ford explained, could cause the axle to separate or disengage from the wheel, or to jam, bringing the car to an abrupt halt. Thus far, 16 such failures have occurred, causing one...

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