Detroit • Ford is recalling 1.4 million SUVs and cars in North America to fix steering, rust and floor mat problems.
The recalls come as automobile safety is being watched closely by Congress, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All are investigating General Motors' delayed recall of small cars for ignition switch problems. Also, Justice recently made Toyota pay a $1.2 billion penalty for hiding information from government safety regulators.
In the largest of the Ford recalls Thursday, the company is calling back 915,000 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner small SUVs to fix a problem with a torque sensor within the steering column. The problem could cause loss of power-assisted steering, making the SUVs more difficult to control and increasing the risk of a crash, Ford says.