Avoid These Worst Chevrolet C6 Corvette Model Years

Although the C5 was a big step forward for the Chevrolet Corvette, the C6 was arguably an even bigger one. It not only further improved the C5’s handling and performance, but it also re-introduced the famous ZR1 trim in 205-mph style. And while C5 Z06s are still shockingly affordable, C6s are performance bargains now, too. However, if you want to buy a C6 Corvette, there are some model years you should steer clear of.

C6 Corvettes from the 2005-2007 model years have several problems but 2005 is the worst

A red 2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette on stage at NAIAS
2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s not unusual for first-year models to have some teething issues, and the C6 Corvette is no exception. Among the C6 Corvette model years (2005-2013) the 2005 cars have the most complaints on CarComplaints.

Admittedly, 2005-2007 C6 Corvettes are more problematic in general than the later cars. Chevrolet recalled these early cars multiple times for low-beam headlight wiring problems, steering column issues, and twice for roof panel failure, Corvette Blogger reports. As a result, most Corvette fans recommend giving these cars a pass.

Now, just because a car is recalled doesn’t inherently make it unreliable. It’s worth noting that a used C6 Corvette should have its recall work completed by now. However, multiple recalls aren’t the only reasons why you shouldn’t buy a 2005 Corvette. For one, it’s not just the most complained-about C6 on CarComplaints—it has the most complaints of any Corvette model year. And two, it’s essentially the worst year for C6 Corvette performance.

A 2005 C6 might have a 400-hp 6.0-liter LS2 V8, but those who couldn’t or wouldn’t row their own gears were stuck with a four-speed automatic. Furthermore, CarComplaints says that these four-speed automatics often get stuck in Park. A six-speed automatic didn’t arrive until 2006, which is also when the Z06 returned with the 505-hp 7.0-liter LS7 V8. Also, in 2008 Chevrolet swapped the LS2 out for the 436-hp 6.2-liter LS3 V8 and improved the steering system.

So, if you want a C6 Corvette, avoid the earliest model year.

2008-2011 Chevrolet Corvettes are better—not perfect—but don’t get a 2008 one

Although the 2005 C6 Corvette has the most complaints, CarComplaints doesn’t consider it the worst model year. That dubious honor belongs to the 2008 Corvette which, despite its upgrades, didn’t fully trouble-proof Chevy’s sports car.

There are two problems that plague 2008-2011 Corvettes, but 2008 models often feel the brunt of them. The first is a tendency for cracked fuel pumps, which causes strong fuel odors and even full-on tank leaks. According to technical service bulletin #15682, this problem also affected the 2007 and 2009-2013 Corvette. However, the first phase of the TSB repairs was specifically for 2008-model-year C6 Corvettes.  

The other problem is Z06-specific and covers a wide model-year range, but it often centers on the 2008 C6 Corvette. Although the LS7 is a powerful, racing-derived powerplant, like any other engine, its parts degrade over time. However, some Z06 owners found themselves replacing worn valve guides far sooner than expected. It got so bad that they issued a class-action lawsuit against GM over it, Corvette Blogger says.

Eventually, GM traced the issue back to a cylinder-head supplier that delivered flawed parts. It also claims that only some C6 Z06s have bad parts; specifically, some Z06s from the 2008-2011 model years. And by now, these Corvettes should have stronger replacement heads.

Still, if you’re at all nervous about potential recall work, you might want to give 2008 C6 Corvettes a pass.

What are the best years for the C6 Corvette?

A yellow 2010 Chevrolet C6 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible
2010 Chevrolet C6 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible | Chevrolet

If You Want to Buy a Used Chevrolet Corvette, You Need to Read This Buyer’s Guide First

2005 and 2008 might be skip years, but later C6 Corvettes are markedly less troublesome.

The 2010-2012 models, for example, have some of the fewest complaints on CarComplaints. And if you want Z06 sharpness but don’t want to deal with valve guides, try getting a C6 Grand Sport. Introduced in 2010, it has sportier suspension, Z06 brakes and wide-body kit, and a differential cooler, but not the LS7. Also, some fans consider 2009 one of the best Corvette model years, C6 or otherwise.

So, while some C6 Corvette years are best avoided, there are still plenty of these affordable sports cars to choose from. And hey, if the LS does bother you, just K24 swap it.

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