Volkswagen, one of Germany's largest car manufacturers, announced on Wednesday that it was recalling some 870,000 Passat and Audi models worldwide as a result of potential problems with the front axle. A statement from VW said that the company was offering owners a free diagnostic check to assess any potential damage caused to rubber components on the area identified in the safety alert. If unchecked, the problem could cause rapid wear and tear and even serious damage to the wheel supporting bearing arm. The company expects that about 1 percent of the vehicles affected by the recall will need repairs, a spokesman said. The models affected were the VW Passat built between 1996 and 1999, the Audi A4 and A8 built between 1994 and 1999, and the Audi A6 built between 1997 and 1999.