Cars with the Most Safety Complaints

10. Scion
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 172.3
> YTD car sales: 49,743
> YTD complaints: 71
> Model complaint leader: xB

Toyota’s hip Scion brand, introduced in California in 2003, and then nationwide by 2004, has tiny U.S. market share. Roughly 0.4% of vehicles sold in the U.S. were Scions. The xB, one of the first subcompacts released by the company, has been the most complained about Scion model since 2007, with the most common complaint involving the safety of the body and glass. There were reports, for example, of windows suddenly shattering without apparent cause. Sales of both the xB and Scions in general were down by more than 60% between 2007 and 2011.

9. Chevrolet
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 179.4
> YTD car sales: 1,270,582
> YTD complaints: 2,033
> Model complaint leader: Cobalt

Since the beginning of 2007, 17,900 complaints have been filed with the NHTSA, a number that trails only Toyota for total complaints received since 2007. The Cobalt was the most complained about model, with 14% of those complaints involving steering issues. Following NHTSA complaints of sudden loss in power steering, 2005 to 2010 model Chevrolet Cobalts were recalled in 2010 as part of General Motor’s 1.3 million-vehicle recall of Chevrolet and Pontiac cars. After releasing the 2010 model, the Cobalt was discontinued. Chevrolet took another hit in June of this year when GM recalled more than 475,000 Chevrolet Cruzes — the model that replaced the Cobalt — following complaints of engine fires in two 2011 vehicles.

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8. Nissan
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 204.7
> YTD car sales: 697,426
> YTD complaints: 1,290
> Model complaint leader: Murano

Since January 2007, more than 10,000 complaints have been received by the NHTSA regarding Nissans, most frequently for the Murano. In 2009, Nissan had to recall more than 360,000 Muranos due to what the NHTSA described as “premature aging of materials used in the intake air ducts,” which could cause an engine to stall. This year, Nissan recalled 3,000 Muranos after the company discovered that the tire pressure monitoring system, which warns drivers when tires are not properly inflated, had not been activated. Sales of the Murano were down nearly 30% between 2007 to 2011. Muranos have not been the only problem model. Just this month, Nissan recalled 51,000 vehicles, including Qashqai and NV200 models, after the steering wheel in one of the company’s Finnish models detached.

7. Toyota
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 215.0
> YTD car sales: 1,199,132
> YTD complaints: 1,450
> Model complaint leader: Prius

Since the beginning of 2007, more than 20,000 complaints have been filed with the NHTSA over Toyota cars, more than any other brand. The brand’s image took a major hit between 2009 and 2011 when millions of Toyota vehicles were recalled. The biggest recall took place in early 2010, and involved more than nine million Toyota and Lexus vehicles, following concerns that loose floor mats could cause gas pedals to stick. In Feb. 2011, the automaker recalled an additional 2.17 million cars over similar concerns. Despite this, Toyota still leads all automakers in brand perception, according to, although that has dropped 17 points since 2011’s study.

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6. Volkswagen
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 221.5
> YTD car sales: 286,751
> YTD complaints: 361
> Model complaint leader: Jetta

Since the beginning of 2007, 3,184 complaints have been filed with the NHTSA about Volkswagens. The model receiving the most complaints over that period was the Jetta, with 29% complaints involving the car’s powertrain. VW announced a voluntary safety recall in Oct. 2011 on nearly 160,000 vehicles, many of them Jettas and Jetta SportWagens. Some of the Jetta’s clean diesel engines experienced vibrations that could lead to fuel line cracking, which would then result in a fuel leak. Despite these minor issues, sales of the Jetta are up 82% between 2007 and 2011, and Volkswagen sales as a whole are up 40.7% over the same period.