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The Chevrolet Corvette is a satisfying sports car that offers excellent options in the five-digit price range. However, the Corvette’s reliability varies by generation. Consumer Reports predicts the latest-generation C8 Corvette will be one of the least dependable, though there’s nothing bad about its performance. On the other hand, the C6 Corvette has a better reputation for reliability. And the previous incarnation — the C5 Corvette — is a mixed bag: Some model years are great, others not so much. Here are the most reliable C5 Corvette model years.

A quick overview of the C5 Corvette

The C5 Corvette model years are from 1997 to 2004. According to HotCars, the first few C5-generation years were prone to expensive repair problems. Its debut model year faced seven recalls for various issues, including seatbelts, power steering, and suspension.

And the 1998 Corvette has racked up hundreds of complaints on the NHTSA website. This car is infamous among owners for dangerous parking brake malfunctions and power steering failure. It has four recalls, with the most severe problems concerning a faulty steering column lock. Over 126,000 vehicles potentially couldn’t hold the key inside the ignition, which often results in the engine shutting off without warning.

Why drivers love the 2002 Chevy Corvette

C5 Corvette logo
C5 Corvette logo | Chevrolet

HotCars reports that Chevrolet re-tuned the 2001 model significantly, but the 2002 Corvette is one of the most reliable. Most used models pack a 350-hp engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. According to Edmunds, this C5 Corvette with the optional six-speed manual gearbox can reach 60 mph in under five seconds.

Every C5 Corvette came standard with an Active Handling System. AHS works with the automatic braking system to give the car better handling and traction control. This year was also the second that you could buy the Z06 performance variant with a 405-hp V8 and racing-specced brakes.

The 2002 Corvette also offered leather seat trim and a targa top, in addition to coupe and convertible body styles. And though most sports cars today barely have 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity, this model boasts 25 cubic feet.

The 2003 model is another reliable C5 Corvette

2003 C5 Corvette
A 2003 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette C5, the official pace car of the Indy 500 in 2002 | Chevrolet

The C5 Corvette’s powertrain remained unchanged for the 2003 model year, though it received new sport seats and dual-zone climate control. Plus, the seats got additional lumbar support settings. 

The optional Magnetic Ride Control system was also debuted this model year. This special shock-absorbing system has a set of sensors that automatically adjust the suspension depending on the terrain. 

The 2004 model marked the end of the C5 Corvette

Only the Z06 models received mechanical modifications for the 2004 model, but any trim could be optioned with a Commemorative Edition package. These Corvettes featured aluminum wheels and a few exclusive exterior and interior color options. The 2004 Corvette Z06 models with this package commonly have racing stripes.

Furthermore, it was the last Corvette with pop-up headlights. Instead of always showing on the car’s exterior, these headlights hid under panels next to the hood. Because Europe banned these headlights, Chevrolet adjusted the Corvette’s design to make mass production easier. 

The latest Corvette may be the flashiest, but its poor predicted reliability calls its value into question. Later-model C5 Corvettes have proven dependable and boast attractive retro design elements. Plus, even by modern standards, those V8 engines still hold up in performance.


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