1. There is/are a total of five cars.
2. A total of five cars has/have been stolen.
Which verbs should I use?
Thanks in advance.
In the first sentence "a total" is a postponed subject, so the verb should be "singular" (is).
In the 2nd sentence I'd rather use (has). Some grammarians say that a subject is never part of a prepositional phrase. Thus the subject here is "A total".
A native speaker or a teacher could give you better explanation. Am just a learner like you.