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Ford Motor is recalling 740,878 compact SUVs and another 177,500 full-size SUVs to fix a steering defect, according to a government filing.

It was one of four recalls that Ford issued Thursday.

The biggest is the compact SUV recall, covering 2008 to 2011 Ford Escapes and its corporate sibling, Mercury Mariner, made at Ford's Kansas City plant. Ford says in its filing that it also includes those outside the U.S., for a total of 915,527.

In addition to Escape/Mariner, Ford is also recalling the full-size Explorer SUVs to fix the same issue. Besides the 177,500 in the U.S., the total is 195,500 on a worldwide basis. The recall covers 2011 to 2013 Explorers.

Ford says it is aware of five accident reports involving a total of six injuries related to the defect.

Ford says the defect involves a glitch that could result in loss of power steering in the vehicles. The issue has been under investigation within Ford since 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filing. It took on new importance with an investigation by Canadian authorities last year. In January, Ford released a repair kit.

The issue centers around an intermittent electric connection in a torque sensor in the steering gear. When it happens, the system can detect when the driver turns the wheel, and then the system defaults to manual steering mode. In other words, no power steering. Since it takes a lot of effort to turn the wheel, a crash can result.

Ford says the previous generation of Escapes, one of its most popular models, aren't affected because they had a different steering design.

The other recalls included:

2010 to 2014 Taurus. Ford is recalling the popular sedan because a light that illuminates the license plate can corrode. If it does, it can cause a short circult that can cause a fire. Some 196,639 Taurus sedans are covered by the recall.

Floor mats. Ford sold 82,576 floor mats for 2006 to 2011 Fusion sedan, Lincoln MKZ and related vehicles for all-weather floor mats purchased at dealers that potentially could jam under gas pedals. That's the same issue that Toyota says was at the heart of its unintended-acceleration recalls a few years ago.

Contributing: James R. Healey

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