Ford Motor Co recalled about 450,000 SUVs and minivans in the United States due to potential flaws that could trigger brake fluid leaks or a loss of power, U.S. safety regulators said on Wednesday.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker said the recall affects nearly 245,000 Ford Escape SUVs built for the 2001 and 2002 model years. Ford also recalled about 206,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans for 2004 and 2005 model years.

The SUVs were outfitted with a brake master cylinder reservoir cap that could leak brake fluid. If that happens, it could harm some of the wiring in the antilock brake system.

Corrosion of the wiring harness connector could lead to melting, smoke or a fire, according to a posting on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site.

Ford told regulators it recalled the minivans because of a defective torque converter. If those parts malfunction, the vehicle will lose motive power 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.


Dealers will replace the cap, and the braking system in the Escape SUVs will be modified. But Ford said there was a parts shortage that could delay the remedy for the SUVs.

If parts are not available, Ford will instruct owners to park their vehicles outside until such time as parts become available, Ford said in the NHTSA post.

Ford issued a recall in April 2007 to repair missing or misplaced seals in the wireless harness connector. Some of the vehicles repaired in that recall may not have received a complete inspection or the proper fix at that time, Ford told regulators, according to Wednesday's post.

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