Ford said the recall involved 444,880 Escapes from the 2001-2004 model years in the United States and about 75,000 Escapes in Canada, Mexico and Europe. The recall does not affect hybrid versions of the SUV, the automaker said.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford said there have been about 50 engine fires connected to the problems, which had been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"There have been no reports of accidents or injuries. We have identified a repair, and owners of affected vehicles will be notified soon," said Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley.
The company said the recall would address missing or incorrectly installed seals on the wiring harness of the antilock brake connector.
Water and contaminants such as brake fluid or road salt could enter the connector and cause corrosion. That could lead to the ABS warning indicator lighting up, an open fuse or in some cases smoking, melting or burning of the electrical ABS connector.
Dealers will inspect the vehicles for corrosion and replace the connector and ABS module if necessary. Ford said it expects most vehicles will not have any corrosion concern, and will have the connector greased and reconnected.