Ford recalls 539,000 minivans, SUVs worldwide

Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:27pm EST

The Ford Motor Co's logo is seen on top of the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, October 26, 2009.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The Ford Motor Co's logo is seen on top of the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, October 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

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(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, recalled about 539,000 vehicles worldwide in two separate actions to repair flaws that may lead to fires in some SUVs and the loss of power in some Mercury and Ford minivans.

Ford will recall 286,000 Ford Escape SUVs made for the 2001 and 2002 model years. It will also recall nearly 253,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans for 2004 and 2005 model years, Ford spokesman Dan Pierce said on Wednesday.

Most of the affected vehicles are in the United States.

The Escape recall follows a similar action in 2007 to fix a flaw in the antilock brake system, according to a Ford filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But some SUVs may not have been completely inspected or received a proper fix, Ford said in Wednesday's filing.

Some of those SUVs were outfitted with a faulty brake master cylinder reservoir cap that could leak brake fluid. That could cause an electrical short in the antilock brake system leading to smoking or fire.

"There are reports of property damage as a result of fire beyond vehicle-only damage," Ford said in its report. There have been no reports of injuries due to the problem.

The defective part was built from October 1999 to July 2002 in a factory that is now closed. In some cases, parts shortages could delay the necessary repair.

"While the potential for fire is low, it is recommended that a customer park their vehicle outdoors away from structures until this recall repair is performed," Pierce told Reuters in an email.

In a separate recall, Ford told U.S. safety regulators that it would recall the Ford and Mercury minivans due to a defective torque converter. Ford discontinued the Mercury brand in 2010.

If the converter malfunctions, the vehicle could lose "motive" power, or the ability to move forward and reverse, without warning.

When a vehicle loses motive power, it can still be steered and stopped because the engine continues to run, Ford said. But the condition increases the risk of a crash.

Ford shares closed 2.3 percent higher at $12.07 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit, editing by Matthew Lewis and Mark Porter)

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