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Ford has struggled a bit over the 2023 model year. JD Power put the company’s 2023 offerings four spots from the bottom of its Vehicle Dependability rankings, just below recall-plagued Tesla. Only one Ford model, the 2023 Explorer, made the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick list.

Then, there’s the NHTSA. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, America’s top regulatory body for all things automotive, tracks customer complaints for just about every make and model on the road. Ford does fairly well among 2023 peers, with one glaring exception.

Why does the 2023 Ford Bronco have 115 – count them – 115 separate safety complaints?

The 2023 Ford Bronco has over 100 complaints

The Bronco has the 6th-highest number of NHTSA complaints of any car from the 2023 model year. That’s no small achievement in a field of 2,119 competitors. 

Is the 2023 Bronco a complete write-off, then? Maybe not.

Making sense of these findings

A blue 2023 Ford Bronco shown in left rear angle view at sunset
2023 Ford Bronco | Ford

It’s tempting to take that enormous number of complaints as the last word on the Bronco. Diving just a bit deeper, however, yields an interesting caveat.

Of those 115 NHTSA complaints, more than two-thirds were about just one problem. Clearly, if it’s worth petitioning the government over, it must be huge, right? Engine trouble? Bad transmission? Fuel leak?

Nope. Windshield wipers.

It came down to a single issue: the 2023 Bronco’s wipers don’t work. In theory, the Bronco’s wipers turn on when they’re needed and shut off when they’re not; no driver input is required. In practice, they have a bad habit of turning on when it’s dry and, worryingly, turning themselves off when it’s pouring. 

Taking that one problem out of the equation, the Bronco’s remaining NHTSA complaints are on par with its SUV peers. Well-regarded competitors like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Subaru Outback actually have more.

Should you avoid the 2023 Ford Bronco based on this information?

Given so many of the NHTSA issues came down to a single technical problem, should prospective Bronco buyers just ignore the SUV’s massive list of complaints?

Frankly? No. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, drivers complained about the Bronco’s wipers because wipers need to work. Imagine a Ford dealer pitching the Bronco with that in mind. “This car is great! Just don’t take it out if there’s any chance of rain, snow, ice, or condensation because it’ll crash.” That’s a huge problem. Per, motorists in California and Oregon are already suing over it.

Whether the 2023 Bronco is worth buying in spite of its wayward wipers is up to the customer. What’s certain is that it’s a perfect example of why organizations like the NHTSA are necessary. The Bronco’s wipers – something a salesperson wouldn’t mention and a reviewer might miss – are why NHTSA keeps a record of customer complaints and why prospective buyers should always check them.

Sources: IIHS, J.D. Power