Ford to recall 539,000 SUVs, minivans

Ford Motor Co. announced the recall of SUVs Ford Motor Co. announced the recall of SUVs and minivans to repair flaws that could result in fires. Above, the 2004 Mercury Monterey, one of the recalled models, at its introduction. Photo Credit: Bloomberg News, 2002

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Ford Motor Co., the No. 2 U.S. automaker, Wednesday recalled about 539,000 vehicles worldwide to repair flaws that may lead to fires in some sport utility vehicles 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, spokesman Dan Pierce said.

Most of the affected vehicles are in the United States. There were about 1,200 of the recalled Freestars and Montereys registered on Long Island as of April, according to figures from R.L. Polk & Co., and more than 2,000 of the recalled Escapes.

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," Ford said in its report. There have been no reports of injuries due to the problem.

The defective part was built from 1999 to 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 said.

Separately, Ford recalled 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 power without warning.

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

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