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Information about used cars from Japan, JDM imports, importing, dealers, exporters and auctions in Japan

This web site is a valuable online resource about JDM car imports, Japanese auction agents and exporters of used cars.

Japanese used car Imports.
Japan's domestic automobile market (JDM) is one of the largest in the world and intense competition in the car market leads to models being constantly redesigned or upgraded and many accessories being added as regular features. Acute shortage of parking space added with strict road and vehicle registration rules like "shaken" (vehicle warrant of fitness or MOT) leads to the purchase of new cars on a frequent basis. The average Japanese motorist up dates their cars to the latest model usually after 3 or 5 years, this is when the shaken is renewed. This leads to a large pool of quality late model, low mileage and well maintained used cars. This makes Japanese imports a lucrative option.

Cars for Sale
These used cars for sale are sold directly by many dealers, and can be viewed at the car auctions in Japan. It is mandatory for these cars to have the export certificate issued by the transport ministry before they can be exported guaranteeing that the vehicle is legal and safe. Only licensed dealers are able to attend the used car auctions and they must apply for the export certificate for the vehicles they export. Hence, normal dealers or unlicensed individuals cannot export cars.

Direct Imports of Cars
Direct import of cheap Japanese cars can be done using auction agents and exporters, web sites like function as auction agents providing direct imports of used cars to private buyers and dealers across the globe. Grey import market has made export of used Japanese cars very popular. In many cases, the exported used cars form Japans prove to be significantly cheaper than the local used car and often come with much better specifications and features not available in other countries.

How to import used cars from Japan
There are many many dealers around the world and in Japan who buy used cars for resale. If you buy from a dealer in Japan you will probably have to go through some or all of the following process. Before importing check your country's rules for importing used cars to make sure you are allowed to import the car you want. Most countries have liberal laws and are mostly concerned with emissions and safety standards. The more professional Japanese car exporters can usually provide information on most countries import regulations.

If you are buying from a dealers stock then you will usually get a faster confirmation of purchase. If you request something else then the dealer will have to search for what you requested at an auction and send you details of prices and specifications. It is then up to you to confirm or ask for a different model etc. Or you can view the available vehicles in the online auction section.

Once you have decided on a car and price you will be required to pay for it. Methods and amounts vary by dealer.
Some dealers require you pay 100% upfront by bank transfer (or telegraphic transfer T.T.) Before the car is bought at auction , be wary of dealers that ask for 100% up front. Others require a less amount as a deposit and then a balance on completion of purchase at auction or when the car is ready for shipping.
You may feel nervous sending money to a foreign country and unknown company so you should be sure of the exporters trustworthiness before you enter into a contract or send any money. You can do this by checking to see if the dealer displays a company registration number and address on their web site Simply note this down and contact the Japanese embassy in your country to confirm the details. It is also recommended to select an exporter who is a member of JUMVEA (Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association) as these are generally regarded to be the most reputable.
You can also check the bank account. Japanese banking laws are strict when it comes to monetary movements and bank accounts. All registered businesses are required to have their accounts under exactly the same name that they registered their company.
If you are buying a used car online from Japan and the name on the bank account is different from the name of the trading company, or if its an individual, then you should investigate more.
You can also ask for any references that the exporter may be able to provide from former customers to verify the credibility of the exporter.

Delivery times will vary according to distance and number of ships to your country. Here is a rough guideline.
-Russia and Hong Kong: three days
-New Zealand and Australia: three weeks
-Rest of world: between four to six weeks
There may be other times to include in the delivery period such as a deregistration certificate for the Japanese owner which shows the car has been sold by him, and finding a space on a boat to your port. These extra processes can take up another four to six weeks.

Your car has arrived at your port and now you have to pick it up. Take the documentation which the dealer sent you to a shipping agent who will arrange customs clearance on your behalf. The more professional exporters can usually put you in touch with a customs clearance agent in your country to assist with clearing the car through customs etc.
Depending on your country's laws you may have to pay import tax, license the car, get car safety tests done, and insure the car.

Condition of a used Japanese cars
Used Japanese cars are virtually all low mileage and the mileage can usually be relied on. The more reliable exporters can have the mileage verified for you before export through independent organizations like JUMVEA or JEVIC. So for your own piece of mind you can request this be done. The dodgy exporters will try to discourage you from having this done, again be wary if this happens as it will normally indicate the odometer has been tampered with and the exporter is aware this has been done.
Heavy traffic, thousands of traffic lights and Japanese drivers' careful driving habits make fast driving impractical so most cars have almost certainly never been driven hard, and owners generally keep their cars very clean and well serviced as the car safety test is very strict. Generally Japanese drivers are very careful of their cars and keep both the interior and engine in good condition. Therefore cars put up for auction in Japan are not only a good deal but usually also in very good condition.

Used car auction inspection sheets
The auction houses carry out an initial inspection and make notes regarding the vehicles condition on the auction sheet and then gives the car a grade in respect to its condition. If a car is damaged either mechanically or cosmetically then the details are marked on an auction inspection sheet. These are always honest appraisal's of the car's condition as the reputation of the auctioneer, not the seller, is at risk. If you are unsure about any aspect of the car you are buying you can ask the dealer to see the inspection sheet to see for yourself.

Auction Grading

6 or higher Vehicle is as new. Usually only given to vehicles that have never been driven.

5 Vehicle is in near new condition. All original body parts. No repair needed on vehicle. Usually only given to vehicles less than 3 years old. Body work in top condition.

4.5 Vehicle is in excellent condition. If it has had repair it was done very well. Very few slight scratches or dents. Nothing major at all.

4 Vehicle in overall good condition, few scratches and dents due to normal wear and tear as you would get with any normal vehicle.

3.5 Vehicle has a few scratches or dents visible to the eye. One or 2 panels on vehicle may have been replaced but has been done to an acceptable standard. The grade is usually given to a vehicle in average condition.

3 Various scratches or dents, some paint blemishes.
RA Vehicle has been in MINOR accident. It has been repaired to an acceptable standard.

1 An auction grade 1 vehicle does NOT always mean it is a bad vehicle. Under the following circumstances it is given this grade:

1) Vehicle has been modified with performance upgrades such as after market turbo.

2) Auto transmission converted to manual transmission.

3) Flood damage.

A, 0 or R A is a vehicle which has been in an accident where some parts have been repaired or replaced.
**** Accident damaged vehicle however has not been repaired. Vehicle may have engine problems.

A Immaculate condition
B Very good condition, very little dirt.
C Slightly dirty, will need to be cleaned to bring up to a good standard.
D Dirty vehicle, some wear on interior. Cleaning needed. May be stains.

Why buy a Japanese used car?
Good quality low cost used cars are usually very difficult to find and unless you know a lot about cars its easy to make a wrong decision and buy a car which will probably fall apart quickly costing you thousands more in parts and labor.
We'll show you how to find, buy and import a quality Japanese used car, saving you thousands while getting a reliable, good condition vehicle. And its easier than you think!
Japan's cars are renowned for their quality engineering, good value and reliability.
Japanese drivers are careful to maintain their car cosmetically and mechanically so virtually all cars put up for auction are in great condition.
Japanese cars are usually equipped with many options so you'll find things like air conditioning, power steering, power windows, air bags, ABS, and more, come with the car.
The Japanese Government has a very strict car safety system which increases the cost of ownership over time. Any car over five or six years old becomes very expensive to test and service so drivers prefer to buy new cars and put the old one up for auction

Buying and importing a used car from Japan

The process you will follow is something like this:
-Find a Japanese used car dealer
-Choose a car from their stock or online auction, or you can ask for something you want
-Pay for the car
-Shipping and insurance arranged (usually part of the deal)
-Car is shipped from Japan
-Upon arrival arrange clearance through customs, pay duties etc.
-Drive the car home!

How much does it cost?
There are several costs involved in buying a used car from Japan's auctions.
Dealers' charges may vary depending on their policy but here is a general breakdown of the costs involved when you buy a car.
In general there are two types of payment.

FOB (Free on Board) or Car price + FOB charge:
The price should include the cost of the car and export & customs fees at the Japanese end. This type does not include shipping costs.

CIF (Car cost + Insurance + Freight)
This option is the most frequent when you buy cars online in Japan and should include all of the associated costs involved in importing a used car to your country, except customs duties and vehicle testing etc. at your end.

Car price
Most dealers have a stock of used cars you can buy straight away and which you know the price of. However if you want something specific you will usually have to send the dealer an e-mail and request what you are looking for together with your budget. However as so many cars get auctioned daily the dealer will usually be able to find what you are looking for at your requested price or budget.

Dealer fees
Dealers may charge fees for their search and services separately or add it into the cost of the final price. There is no set rule or standard to follow for this. Dealers may have a set fee or charge a percentage of the final price.

Customs, taxes and car registration
Finally when your car gets to your country you will have to ensure all the appropriate customs duties and taxes have been paid before your car is released. Sometimes the dealer will organize this sometimes not so again make sure what is included in the price. You will also have to pay to register your car with the vehicle authorities in your country.

Shipping fees
This is the cost to get the car to a port in your country. Again sometimes included in the price or added separately. One thing to make sure of is that marine insurance is included in the price. Marine insurance covers loss of your car while in transit on the boat and usually is included in the cost of the shipping fees. Rates are usually calculated in cubic meters (width x length x height) of your car.

Of course you have no opportunity to inspect the car so you should ask the dealer to send you the auction vehicle inspection sheet. Reliable exporters will only purchase the car once they have carried out a physical inspection of the intened purchase by one of their trained staff. Be careful that the dealer you choose will actually carry out an independent inspection and not just buy the car with out checking it. As is the case with alot of the dodgier exporters.

Prices of cars fluctuate weekly depending on various factors like holidays, season, number of cars for sale etc.
Get a rough idea of the auction price by asking for an estimate or checking sales price data for the car you want before choosing one.

The quality of the dealer is also important so you should make sure you choose a well established, reputable and experienced dealer.

Used cars from Japan
The export of used motor vehicles from Japan is a large global business. Rigorous road tests and high depreciation make such vehicles worth very little after six years, and where strict environmental laws make vehicle disposal expensive. Consequently, it is profitable to import them to other countries, such as New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, Russia, Caribbean, Cyprus and many other countries where they have proved popular with local buyers.

New Zealand
In the 1980s, New Zealand eased import restrictions, and reduced import tariffs on cars. Consequently, large volumes of used cars from Japan appeared on the local market, at a time when most cars in New Zealand were locally assembled, and expensive compared to other countries, with most used cars available being comparatively old.
Local buyers now had a much wider choice of models, not only Japanese ones, but also some European models that were traditionally considered expensive "prestige" brands.
Nevertheless, the widespread availability of used Japanese imports prompted official importers to reduce the price of brand new cars, and in 1998, New Zealand became one of the few countries in the world to lift import tariffs on motor vehicles.

used cars form Japan importing has been quite common in Ireland since the 1980s. The imported cars are significantly cheaper than local used cars due to the very low value of used cars in Japan (and to an extent, used products in general), and a much larger range of specifications are available on Japanese models compared to the very limited ranges sold locally - even in comparison to the UK, model ranges of Japanese cars were very limited.
For example, the Toyota Corollas sold in the late 1980s up until the late 1990s (E90 and E100 series) were only available in Ireland in the one XL (XLi on later models) spec, with little features outside a cassette radio (central locking was only added in the late 1990s), and only the base 1.3 litre petrol and diesel engines - in Japan, however, 1.5 and 1.6 litre engines were also available, with around 6 different trim levels, options such as sunroofs, central locking and electric windows available on many specs as early as 1989, ABS and driver's airbags optional since 1991, four-wheel drive and performance GT. models with a power output of 160 PS in later models.
Options that were often not available on Irish family cars in the 1980s and early 1990s such as air conditioning, ABS, electric windows and CD players were more easily available on imported models. Very basic saloons and diesel engined models with automatic transmissions also appealed to taxi drivers.
In more recent years, Japanese imports have become less common with typical family cars, probably due to the great change in the Irish economy over the past 20 years - people generally have larger incomes now, and sales in new cars have soared. Imports from Japan has become more of a specialty market now - importing of sports models not originally available in Europe such as the Toyota Corolla Levin/Toyota Sprinter Trueno, Toyota Starlet Glanza and Honda Integra has become quite popular, and super cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 are more easily available as imports. Also, small commercial keicar models such as the Daihatsu Midget II and Nissan S-Cargo are used by some businesses as advertising aids, as they look quite unique and eye-catching on the roads in Ireland.
No modifications are required for Japanese cars to be registered and driven on the roads in Ireland. One disadvantage is that Japan uses a different FM radio band than everywhere else, so an adapter or a replacement stereo system is required to receive the full FM band used locally.
Other used imports sold in Ireland are from the UK, the most recognizable being those from General Motors, which badges its cars in the UK as Vauxhalls, not as Opels as in Ireland. However, this may begin to decline to due it being preferable to have kilometers per hour as the predominant measurement on speedometers (metric speed limits were introduced in Ireland in 2005), something not present on UK-spec cars.

In the United Kingdom, many people have chosen to buy new cars in other EU member states, where pre tax prices are much lower than in the UK, and then import them into their own country, where they only pay the UK's rate of VAT. This is especially the case in Northern Ireland, as pre tax prices in the Republic of Ireland are kept low because of a Vehicle Registration Tax levied on top of VAT. Other UK buyers can also request a model in RHD when ordering from a dealer in continental Europe for a small supplement (although some dealers charge extra for RHD or refuse this outright).
Most warranties on new cars bought in an EU member state are valid throughout the EU, meaning that a UK resident who has bought a new car in another member state and then imports in into the UK will be covered by the same warranty. However, whereas UK warranties tend to be for three years, those in other EU countries may be only for one or two.
This does not apply to warranties on cars purchased outside the EU. In 2001, a woman who bought a new Vauxhall Astra from an importer in the UK discovered that the car was in fact an Opel Astra that had been imported from Cyprus (then outside the EU) and fitted with Vauxhall badges, and that she was not covered by the warranty. The dealer was prosecuted and fined as a result.
There are also some Japanese imported cars found in the UK, the most popular being the Toyota Estima and Mitsubishi Pajero as well as coupes such as Nissan Skylines and Mitsubishi FTOs. These cars are cheaper than official UK imports, but have better specification levels by comparison.

In Canada, cars that are older than 15 years may be legally registered and imported, which has led to the importing of many "exotic" Japanese sports cars such as the R32 Nissan Skyline.
Many (but not all) late-model vehicles manufactured for use in the US also qualify for permanent importation into Canada with restrictions. Typically, requirements to meet Transport Canada importation standards will include the provision of daytime running lights and tether anchorage's to permit secure attachment of infant car seats, documentation indicating that any repairs required in response to the original manufacturer's factory recalls are complete and registration through the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV), a private contractor.
Labeling of the vehicle to indicate its imported status, to warn that the odometer is counting in miles (as made-for-Canada odometers have used kilometers since the 1970s) and to translate safety-related warning labels (such as airbag maintenance procedures) is typically necessary. Speedometers in US and Canadian vehicles indicate both miles per hour and km/h, so may be left unmodified.
Some vehicles cannot be modified to Canadian standards, often because of the use of passive restraint systems such as motorized seatbelts.

In Australia, the commercial import of used motor vehicles is far more regulated and restricted than in New Zealand. The allowed imports are limited to sports cars and off-road vehicles, but not family cars.
For a while, cars over 15 years old could be imported, and only needed to gain a roadworthy certificate (needed for registration transfer in many states anyway), but this has been changed to vehicles only made prior to 1st January 1989. Some grey imports (especially Nissan sports coupes, like the R32-R34 Skyline (not sold in Australia, except a limited number of R32 GT-R's), or S13 Nissan Silvia/180SX's) are fairly common on Australian roads, though.

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Car Auctions from Japan

Exporters of new and used Japanese cars from Japan

Be careful of imposters, the official web site for Japanese used cars is

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