Are all Mk. III Jettas missing rub strips?

This is something that’s been bothering me for years. Below are several examples of this mysterious phenomenon that seems to overwhelmingly effect third-generation Volkswagen Jettas, introduced to the U.S. as the Jetta III in 1993 and sold here (sans “III” after the first year) until mid-1999.

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Is this why everyone thinks build quality is so much worse on Mexican-built VWs? Crappy clips?

Right now you’re probably saying, “Nathan, these are 20-odd year-old cheap cars! Of course they’re shedding minor trim bits!” But here’s the thing – it’s been happening to these cars since they were new. My mom was the one who brought this to my attention; around 1997, she joined a carpool with a woman named Michelle who drove a Mk. III Jetta that was already missing its rub strips. My mom began to notice other similarly afflicted Jettas, pointed it out to me, and I’ve been losing sleep about it ever since.

In the name of investigative journalism, I did a brief Google search to see if there’s any lore around this mystery in the online Jetta community, but I quickly got bored and decided to look at my local Craigslist offerings instead for further examples. There are a suspicious number of Jettas for sale that have only been photographed from one side. Below is a sampling of the ads from more honest sellers.

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I’ll reiterate: this has been bugging me for nearly 20 years. I need help.


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