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 Japaneseusedcars.com 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
D Dirty vehicle, some wear on interior. Cleaning needed. May
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
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
-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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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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