Australian motor vehicle sales dropped 9.9% in October, compared with September, interrupting a run of record monthly results that have pushed the market to new heights this year.

Figures released on Friday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) showed that 76,118 new motor vehicles were sold last month - a fall of 5,549 or 6.8% over the same month last year.

The market has set records in eight of the last 10 months and the year-to-date sales total is 825,465 - up 33,551 vehicles or 4.2% over last year.

In a statement, FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock said the Australian market is still headed for its fourth consecutive annual sales record, surpassing last year's total by "a substantial margin".

"The slight downturn in the market last month could be the result of extensive media coverage about rising petrol prices affecting consumer confidence," said Sturrock.

"Even though petrol prices have somewhat come back down, it's possible some consumers are waiting to see where prices settle before deciding what kind of motor vehicle they buy.

"The major car brands have all begun big retail pushes in the lead-up to Christmas, so we think we'll see the positive result of that in November and December's sales results."

Contrary to the general market dip last month, sales in the small and light passenger car segments were up.

Small car sales rose 10.9% compared to October 2004 while light car sales increased 2.9%.

For the year-to-date the small car segment is up 30,424 vehicles or 20.4%.

At the same time, despite higher petrol prices, sales of medium sports utility vehicles are up 22.3% year-to-date and four-wheel-drive pick-up trucks have risen 6.5%.

Toyota topped the sales charts down under in October with 15,045 vehicles for a 19.8% share of the market, ahead of GM's Holden with 13,923 (18.3%) and Ford with 9,192 (12.1%).

Mazda was fourth with 6,001 (7.9%) followed by Mitsubishi with 4,752 (6.2%).

Year-to-date, Toyota remains the top brand with 166,548 sales, followed by Holden (147,564).