Compare cars on a like for like basis

Buying a new car is a big investment, which is why you need to spend some time making sure you are choosing the right vehicle for your needs. With everything from fuel efficiency to safety ratings to take into consideration, this can be a time consuming process.

However, the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has indicated that all comparisons should have one thing in common - they need to be like for like. Using the same criteria to weigh up the benefits of each make and model is the only way you're likely to know you have carried out a thorough investigation.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that new motor vehicle sales increased 0.4 per cent between February and March, revealing a growing appetite for new cars.

Here are some of the areas you might want to take a closer look at before taking out new car finance.

Look at the different markets

A car that is manufactured in Australia might not necessarily have the same specification as one released for the UK market. This could be for any number of reasons, including the needs of the motorists in a particular country.

The FCAI explains that Australian cars are designed to cope with the hot climate, as well as the towing requirements many motorists tend to demand. Infotainment and satellite navigation systems have also moved higher up people's wish lists.

ANCAP ratings

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) grades vehicles from one to five stars, with a higher rating indicative of a safer car. From January 1 this year, new criteria for grading cars was introduced to further improve safety for drivers and it should be considered if you're planning on making a purchase.

"Improvements in vehicle safety design and development in the past few years have been swift and substantial - particularly in the realm of advanced safety assist collision avoidance technologies - and test programs the world over are adjusting their plans to match pace," noted ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke.

Fuel efficiency

Knowing how far you can travel on a single tank of fuel is essential when buying any new car. Make the right choice and it could save you dollars on your bills year after year.

It is a good idea to first decide whether you want a diesel or petrol powered car. Data from the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics shows that Australia has some of the lowest fuel prices out of all OECD countries, but this doesn't mean there are not still savings to be made.

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