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I’m a car expert – here are the six most reliable vehicles for under $10,000 in Australia – and the five things every driver needs to do to avoid costly repairs

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EXCLUSIVE 

The cost-of-living crunch has hammered Australia’s drivers, with massive upfront costs for new vehicles, ever-increasing car loan interest rates, plus skyrocketing insurance premiums, car registration and fuel costs.

But one of the new hosts of the latest series of the Top Gear Australia, Blair Joscelyne, said you can still get a reliable car for under $10,000.

He shared his top picks with Daily Mail Australia, which include the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Hilux, Subaru Forester, Suzuki Swift, VW Up and Honda Civic.

Blair Joscelyne (pictured) is one of the new hosts of Top Gear Australia

Blair Joscelyne (pictured) is one of the new hosts of Top Gear Australia

Blair Joscelyne (right) with his Top Gear Australia co-hosts Jonathan LaPaglia (left) and Beau Ryan (centre)

Blair Joscelyne (right) with his Top Gear Australia co-hosts Jonathan LaPaglia (left) and Beau Ryan (centre)

2005 Toyota Corolla 1.8L – under $5,000

‘The Toyota Corolla is probably one of the most famous, affordable and reliable cars you can buy in Australia,’ Blair said.

‘Not only are there heaps of Toyota Corollas around but you can also pick them up for around $5,000 and because they are so popular, parts are cheap.’

Blair said he recently needed a new bumper bar for a Corolla, and it only cost him $100.

‘Compare this to a more modern European car where bumpers alone can cost thousands,’ he said.

‘This car is ideal for day-to-day city driving and affordable maintenance.’

'The Toyota Corolla is probably one of the most famous, affordable and reliable cars you can buy in Australia,’ Blair said

‘The Toyota Corolla is probably one of the most famous, affordable and reliable cars you can buy in Australia,’ Blair said

Toyota Hilux (various years)

‘If you search for ‘Toyota Hilux under $10,000′ in Australia, you’ll find there are almost 200 of them for sale and the reason is, they just keep going,’ Blair said.

Blair believes they are incredibly popular for both weekend warriors and tradies and the 4×4 option means you can also use it for off-roading.

‘There are so many variants including petrol, diesel, dual cab, space cab and steel trays, so it really comes down to what features you’re looking for,’ he said.

‘But if you need a car that can work and play, then you can’t go wrong with a Hilux.’

Blair said the Toyota Hilux is incredibly popular for both weekend warriors and tradies 

Subaru Forester (2002 – 2008)

Whether you’re into snowboarding, mountain biking, or just carrying around kids and pets, the Forester is an excellent option. 

‘Subarus are known for their sure-footed driving and AWD traction. Add this to a car with a massive boot, loads of utility and aftermarket support and you’ve got a ripper of a deal,’ Blair said. 

The Forester also makes a decent tow car if you need to tow a motorbike trailer or box trailer.

‘For those looking for a bit more performance, there are multiple turbo variants available to,’ he said.

‘Just make sure you keep an eye on the oil, Subarus are known for using it.’

Blair said Foresters range in price, mostly due to the JDM STI variant which can cost upwards of $40,000, but advised you can find good, honest examples of the standard models for under $10,000.

He said the Forester is ideal for road trips, interstate travel, weekend adventures and even some light off-road work.

The Forester also makes a decent tow car if you need to tow a motorbike trailer or box trailer

The Forester also makes a decent tow car if you need to tow a motorbike trailer or box trailer

Honda Civic EK (1996-2000)

Blair said in recent years the hatch version of the Civic has become much more expensive because of enthusiasts modifying them, including engine swaps and turbo charging.

‘These are massively popular due to their decent looks and reliability,’ Blair said. 

‘But the base models are still available and if you’re after a sedan, then you can pick them up for cheap.’

He said there’s a huge aftermarket scene for these cars, so those looking for something they can drive every day but also take to the track would be impressed.

‘You can also swap in more powerful engines (like the B16B from the Civic Type R with V-TEC) and swap in adjustable suspension for track use. Overall, a reliable car that can also be a lot of fun.’

Blair said the Honda Civic is ideal for every day driving and some performance track days with light modifications.

'The base model Honda Civics are still available and if you're after a sedan, then you can pick them up for cheap'

‘The base model Honda Civics are still available and if you’re after a sedan, then you can pick them up for cheap’ 

2005 Suzuki Swift

Blair said with the smaller capacity engine, Suzuki Swift’s are good on fuel and surprisingly comfortable for a light car. 

‘These cars are loads of fun, plus they’re small and cheap which makes them perfect for city driving,’ he said.

Blair said they’re good on fuel thanks to the smaller capacity engine and surprisingly comfortable for a light car.

He said they also make amazing little track cars for weekend fun with loads of modifications available fairly cheaply.

‘I own one of these myself that I picked up for $6,000 and then spent another $20,000 adding high quality Japanese modifications to it. Yes, I added a lot of stuff.’

Blair said the Suzuki Swift is ideal for daily driving with decent boot size once the seats are folded down.

‘The Suzuki Swift is loads of fun, plus they’re small and cheap which makes them perfect for city driving,' Blair said

‘The Suzuki Swift is loads of fun, plus they’re small and cheap which makes them perfect for city driving,’ Blair said

VW up! (2012)

‘So, I had to include at least one European car on this list, and while I was initially going to add the iconic VW Golf, when I mentioned this to a group of mechanic friends, they each formed battle lines to argue about whether they were reliable or not,’ Blair said.

‘It ended up with a 50:50 split, and I needed something that would be unanimous. That’s when I mentioned the tiny little VW up! with multiple nods of approval.’

‘In my experience, the Golf is a great car and I even built one of the fastest street trimmed Golf R’s in the country (0-100 in 2.8 seconds).’

Blair said he has owned almost every year model of Golf from MK1, MK3, MK4, MK5, MK6, MK7, MK7.5 and the newest MK8.

‘But for this list of most reliable cars, I needed something that would be cheap and unanimous, and this is where the VW up! comes in,’ he said.

‘It’s a strange little microcar built by VW with a 3-cylinder, 1-litre petrol engine.

‘You can get them in 3 door, and 5 door and overseas they even made a turbo GTI version. We never got this version in Australia, but I recently built my own GTI by converting a local version with a crashed car that I imported from the UK.

‘I’m now the owner of the first (and only) GTI converted 1L turbo UP in the world.’

Blair said the cars are fun, light, reliable and a little bit different to the normal hatchback.

‘You can grab them for under $10,000 and I’ve even driven mine right across NSW into the desert.’

Blair said the VW up! is also perfect for stylish inner-city driving where tiny cars are ideal.

Blair said the VW up! is fun, light, reliable and a just a little bit different to the normal hatchback

Blair said the VW up! is fun, light, reliable and a just a little bit different to the normal hatchback 

Blair’s five tips for avoiding costly repairs 

TYRES:

The best bang for buck safety and performance option for your car is good tyres. 

They not only help with braking, but acceleration and cornering.

Your car will have a recommended tyre pressure listed – make sure you stick to it.

Your local tyre shop can check your tyres for you and rotate them to get the best wear out of them.

Also consider getting a wheel alignment if you have a second-hand car to make sure it’s set up correctly, and safely.

For day to day use I use Michelin Pilot Sport 5 tyres and on my weekend track cars I use Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

Blair Joscelyn (pictured right) with his Mighty Mods co-host Marty (left) have had over a billion views on their YouTube channel

Blair Joscelyn (pictured right) with his Mighty Mods co-host Marty (left) have had over a billion views on their YouTube channel

OIL:

Oil is the lifeblood of your car and is easy, and cheap to change.

You can learn to do it yourself or stick to your logbook servicing and make sure that it’s done regularly with your local mechanic.

As long as you check and change the oil and filter regularly, your car should keep going for years.

You can potentially save a few dollars by buying the oil and filter for your car yourself and leaving it in the car for your mechanic to use at your next service.

I use Castrol Edge exclusively in all my cars.

WASH:

Washing your car covers a lot of important areas.

Not only will it keep your car looking good, but it will also remove contaminants and bugs that can ruin your paint.

More importantly than that though, is the build-up of debris that can block drainage areas and cause your car to leak.

Remove leaves and mud from your car as you see it.

Also make sure you check and wash all your rubber seals around windows and your boot lining.

Washing your car is also a good opportunity to run your eyes over tyre wear and general maintenance.

TOOLS:

If you’re feeling handy, a decent tool kit and service manual for your car is invaluable.

A quality tool kit will last you a lifetime and could save you thousands on repairs.

Of course you can take it to your local mechanic, and often this is the best idea for larger tasks, but there are many things you can learn to fix yourself by watching YouTube videos and talking to other owners.

A proper tool kit is invaluable.

DRIVING SCHOOL:

Some of the best money you can spend is learning how to drive.

Most people never search for the limit of their car on a racetrack or skid pan.

Learning how to emergency swerve, emergency brake, and experience the feeling of ABS makes better drivers.

Being a better driver means being more aware and more likely to arrive home with you and your car, in one piece.

Check out driving training in your area and do yourself a favour and book in for a class.

It’s also lots of fun!

Blair is the co-creator of the worldwide hit YouTube Channel Mighty Car Mods with his mate Marty and a host on Top Gear Australia.

Top Gear Australia is streaming now on Paramount+, with new episodes available every Friday for the season.



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