DETROIT -

Ford Motor Co. is recalling nearly 500,000 vehicles to fix safety flaws that can spark fires or the loss of power.

The recall is for 205,896 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans and 244,530 Ford Escape SUVs in the U.S. and about 40,000 Escapes in other countries, according to the report on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

NHTSA said the torque converter on model year 2004 and 2005 Freestars and Monterey may fail, resulting in the sudden loss of power and control.

Ford will notify owners and dealers will replace the torque converter for free.

As for the Escapes, NHTSA said a brake cylinder reservoir cap can leak, causing corrosion in an electrical connector that could lead to smoke or a fire. Owners are expected to be notified the week of Jan. 23. However, NHTSA said there is a parts delay that may require owners to park their Escape until parts become available.

Ford owners with questions can call the automaker's relationship center at 866-436-7332.