WASHINGTON - Ford Motor Co is expanding its massive vehicle recall linked to faulty cruise control switches by 4.5 million vehicles, the U.S. government said on Tuesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alerted owners of more than a half-dozen truck and van models sold in the U.S. of potential fire hazards linked to the flawed part manufactured by Texas Instruments.

Safety officials investigating the switches said leaking hydraulic fluid can overheat and potentially cause vehicle fires even when the ignition is off.

I urge consumers to pay attention to this warning and bring the affected models in to have them repaired as soon as possible, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Previous recalls over the past several years related to the problem covered nearly 12 million Ford vehicles.

Models included in the newest action:

* 1995-2003 Ford Windstars.

* 2000-2003 Ford Excursion diesels.

* 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 Ford F-Super Duty diesels.

* 1992-2003 Ford Econolines.

* 1995-2002 Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.

* 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Ford Rangers.

* 1994 Ford F53 motorhomes. (Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)