BUY­ING THE RIGHT CAR

Whether you’re in the mar­ket for a brand new Fer­rari or a sec­ond-hand Nis­san Mi­cra, a mo­tor ve­hi­cle rep­re­sents a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment. But it’s also an in­vest­ment in the safety of your pas­sen­gers and the health of your en­vi­ron­ment.

Element - - Nutrition -

We all want to get the best bang for our buck when buy­ing a car. In the 70s, a big en­gine might have been im­por­tant. These days it is more likely to be safety, fuel econ­omy and, in­creas­ingly, air pol­lu­tion and car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

This is where right­car.govt.nz comes in. Set up by the gov­ern­ment, the web­site lists cars by make and model, and aims to get ki­wis to choose safer, cleaner and more eco­nom­i­cal cars. And the good news is that smaller doesn’t mean less safe.

Right­car.govt.nz pro­vides fuel econ­omy data for all cars since 2005, which is the year im­porters were re­quired to sup­ply this in­for­ma­tion, and pro­vides safety data for many ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tured since 2000.

Safety fea­tures are cov­ered first and fore­most by the crash tests car­ried out by Aus­tralasian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram (ANCAP) on over 400 mod­els and rated ac­cord­ing to their per­for­mance.

Used car safety rat­ings are cal­cu­lated from a sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis of po­lice crash re­ports; specif­i­cally crashes that have hap­pened over the last 20 years in New Zealand and in five states of Australia, and scored on a five star rat­ing sys­tem.

While not in­cluded in the ANCAP crash tests or po­lice crash re­ports, it is worth tak­ing into ac­count the safety fea­tures built into the car, which can be se­ri­ously im­pres­sive. They in­clude en­hanced struc­tural strength, pre-ten­sioned safety belts, airbags, child re­straint an­chor­ages, pre-crash sys­tems, head re­straints, pedes­trian pro­tec­tion sys­tems and au­to­matic emer­gency call sys­tems.

Per­for­mance safety fea­tures can in­clude elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, emer­gency brake as­sist, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion, ABS brakes, roll sta­bil­ity sys­tems, adap­tive cruise con­trol, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing and trac­tion con­trol.

Fur­ther, light­ing sys­tems have im­proved, with emer­gency brake light­ing, day­time run­ning lights, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, in­ter­sec­tion col­li­sion warn­ing, lane sup­port sys­tems, au­to­matic head­lights, night vi­sion en­hance­ment, adap­tive front light­ing sys­tems and re­vers­ing col­li­sion avoid­ance.

New cars are some­times also fit­ted with fea­tures to re­in­force good driv­ing, such as a fa­tigue de­tec­tion and re­minder sys­tem, speed alert and lim­iter, traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion, fol­low­ing dis­tance warn­ing.

Right­car.govt.nz also mon­i­tors air pol­lu­tion rat­ings all car mod­els, with rat­ings on gases such as ox­ides of ni­tro­gen, car­bon monox­ide and par­tic­u­lates. These con­trib­ute to smog and can cre­ate health prob­lems for peo­ple. The amount of pol­lu­tants your car emits de­pends on how cleanly it burns the fuel. All cars that come into New Zealand are man­u­fac­tured to an emis­sions stan­dard, but some are bet­ter than oth­ers.

Cars are, again, rated by stars. Older mod­els can be ex­pected to per­form worse than their mod­ern coun­ter­parts on this score.

All mod­els are also given a rat­ing on their CO2 emis­sions - the gas re­spon­si­ble for cli­mate change. Fuel com­bus­tion in the en­gine of your car emits this gas. And the amount of gas emit­ted is di­rectly re­lated to the amount of fuel used. So the more fuel-ef­fi­cient your car is, the less CO2 it will pro­duce.

A car’s CO2 rank­ing is ob­tained from its fuel econ­omy rank­ing. This rank­ing is then con­verted to take into ac­count the type of fuel that the car uses, e.g. petrol (in­clud­ing the oc­tane rat­ing), diesel, LPG etc. The more stars a car has for CO2 emis­sions, the more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly it is.

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