Buying Used Cars in Japan

With the modernization and development of technology, long distances can now be traveled by driving or using cars instead of just by walking or by riding a bike. Because of how people have developed technology and machinery, the lives of people have improved through the years. These days, having a car is almost a must, especially for people who live in rural areas where public transportation is not that developed yet. However, depending on many factors, getting a car may be a challenge. Commonly, people cannot attain a car because of the price. Hence, some people opt to buy used cars. This is becoming typical in Japan wherein people are trying to save money in order to buy something else.

A Guide to Buying Used Cars in Japan for Sale or Auction 

NZ Car Freak at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There are various dealers and sellers of used cars in Japan. For people who will be buying used cars for the first time, they may be confused where to start. The first step in buying a used Japanese car is to set a budget. Used cars come at varying prices depending on a lot of factors. Some cars may be affordable while others may still be expensive despite being already used. Fixing a certain budget and actually sticking to it would help one not spend more than one’s means. It is also important to note that the selling price is only the base price; there are other costs that would be added to it in the long run.

Online can search cars which are available based on one’s budget. Sellers and dealers typically have websites where customers can browse online for convenience. Some websites even showcase as many as 20,000 used vehicles that are still of great value. A number of them are less than US$1,000.

As a general rule when buying anything at all, do not always go for the cheapest option. People on a tight budget tend to gravitate towards the cheapest items but that does not necessarily mean that one would get a good value out of it. The same thing can say for used cars. Instead of looking for the cheapest option, look for used cars that one would really want but are priced within the fixed budget. Some websites let users look for a car based on location, price, body, age, model, make, and type. Some people even post reviews and comparisons to help other buyers choose the best one.

One way of making one’s life easier when getting information about a used car is by making a shortlist. It shall contain a list of basic questions that should be asked to the seller in order to ensure that one would be getting a used car that is still of good value. One should ask how long the car has already been in stock, if there are any damages that the car attained prior, any interior or machine issues with the car, and if the car would pass a thorough inspection. If one would be buying from a person instead of a dealership, make sure that one would be able to check the car at their home.

For people who would be buying from dealers, there are two kinds of dealers that one should be aware of. The first kind of dealer is the specialist. There are certain dealers that are quite knowledgeable about model of a car. They cost more because of how well they know their products but they are also generally more reliable. Typically, these dealers also provide better support or coverage in case the car would need any early repairs upon purchase.

The second kind of dealer is the dealer that buy or pick up vehicles at auction. These dealers are typically much cheaper compared to the first kind of dealer. However, they do not necessarily have the sufficient knowledge required to let the buyer know if the car is truly still of good value. They are also more likely focused on selling it instead of thinking of the buyer’s best interest. Hence, there are some dealers that lie to buyers just to be able to sell.

Reviewing the history of the used car is also highly important. Any legal issues, outstanding debts or loans, and insurance write-off associated with the used car should be known by the buyer prior to buying to ensure that the customer knows what he or she is getting into. In Japan, simply collect the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN of the vehicle and have it run against the database of the state. Details regarding this vehicle would then show up and inform buyers of any problems.

Inspect the vehicle prior to finalizing a deal. Aside from the usual questions, buyers should be able to see the exact car to be bought. Better yet, bring an expert mechanic to check the engines and the overall condition of the car. With this, even a person who does not know a lot about cars would be informed if there are any complicated issues with the said car.

Should there be any issues with the car, list them all down. This list can be used as a bargaining chip for the seller to lower the selling price of the car. If there are more defects, they would have to lower the price to accommodate the necessary repairs. It is also important to verify the registration as well as the service history of the car. Obtain the original copies of any paperwork associated with the used car as photocopies may not be as useful. After purchasing, do not forget to get a receipt as any transaction should have one.

Things to Consider: Price, Brand like Toyota, Left Hand Drive

With all the steps locked and ready to go, there are, of course, other things to consider when buying or selling a used Japanese car. The first thing to consider is the color. The color of the car is one of the factors that actually affect the value of the vehicle. Black and white cars tend to sell at a higher price. Hence, for people selling their car, they can expect more if their car is either black or white. On the other hand, if one is buying a car, opting for other colors of the same model can help save some money. Having a preferred brand such as Toyota would also help one choose a car.

The second thing to consider is the mileage of the car. Low mileage is desired as it would mean that the car has not been used extensively. Typically, used cars with more than 100,000 kilometers are already tough to sell as they are considered as very high mileage cars. However, there are still other dealers that would be willing to take these cars “for free.” This is because these cars can be enlisted on international auctions because of the popularity of used Japanese cars in Southeast Asia. Some used cars that are deemed undesirable in Japan may still sell a lot when shipped abroad.

When selling a used car, timing is also important. It is said that the best time to sell a car in Japan is during the first few months of the year. Specifically, one should sell a car in the months of February and March. This is because it is during this time that high schools students are graduating. They are also bound to get their licenses during this time. University graduates are also moving from one place to another during this time.

In Japan, the general idea is that people often make lifestyle changes in the month of March. Hence, there is higher concentration of car sales as this time. Simultaneously, there are also high sales of real estate and school supplies to name a few. People are more likely inclined to buy during this time than any other time of the year. This is also the best time to sell a car to avoid having to pay for another year’s worth of automotive tax on the current car. This is because the auto tax is dependent on the possession of a car or any other vehicle on the 1st of April every single year.

Different Fees Aside from the Actual Car Price

Aside from the selling price of the used car, there are also other fees that one may need to pay upon purchasing a used vehicle. This is because most dealers add certain fees that would enable them to provide added services. While not all of these are necessary, some of them may be useful or actually required for the buyer. One of these fees is the Inspection Registration Proxy Processing Fee, which is a mandatory fee ranging from 20,000 yen to 25,000 yen. An optional fee is the Parking Registration Proxy Processing Fee, which ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 yen, though one can do this on his or her own for free.

Another optional fee is the delivery fee. For people who do not have time to pick up the car themselves, they can have it delivered to their place for a price ranging from 5,000 yen to 6,000 yen. However, if one is in a pinch, he or she can just pick it up from the dealer. Another mandatory fee is the Trade-in Processing Fee. As the name suggests, it is a processing fee for trade-ins, costing about 10,000 yen to 15,000 yen.

There are taxes entailed when getting a car. Because all taxes are required, one would also have to pay for car tax. The price for car tax depends on the size of the engine. There is an annual rate for personal vehicles that one can check. A fee that may be offered to buyers is for a vanity plate though this is entirely optional. Aside from the car tax, one would also need to pay for weight tax. As the name suggests, this tax is based on the weight of the vehicle. It costs 8,800 yen every two years for a kei(small) car and 12,600 yen per ton every two years for heavier vehicles.

Adding to the list of taxes is the acquisition tax. This is computed as 3 percent of the purchase price for kei cars and 5 percent for other vehicles. Then, all the fees would just be added to the final price. Another requirement for getting a car is the Compulsory Insurance. While the insurance itself does not really cover much, it is still mandatory to get one. It costs around 22,000 yen every two years for a kei car and 25,000 yen every 2 years for a regular car.

Of course, one would have to register the car. This calls for a registration fee. This is not the same as the processing fee. Costing about 3,000 yen to 6,000 yen, this fee can be more expensive if one is getting custom plates. Another registration required is parking registration. Costing about 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen, the price depends on locality. A prepay fee known as Recycle Fee would also have to be paid to recycle the vehicle. This may cost about 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen.

Top Exporters of Used Cars: Be Forward, Autorec, Etc.

By Goroku30 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are also companies in Japan that export used Japanese cars. One of the primary companies that do this is Be Forward. Established in the year 2004, its vision was to accommodate the growing demand for used Japanese cars. Based in Tokyo, the company is typically the top choice of customers when looking for luxurious SUV, pickups, and heavy-duty trucks. Currently, the company contains a stock of over 6,000 cars.

Another contender in this field is Autorec. Founded in the year 1977, it is among the pioneers in the industry of exporting used Japanese cars. Autorec is known for prioritizing quality over quantity. With over 1,000 cars in stock, Autorec sells around 500 to 550 cars each month to various countries. It even offers expanded facilities for the African market. This includes replacement of tires and battery. A registered member of the Car From Japan platform, Autorec provides great customer service to its clients from all over the world. Other top exporters include Qualitex Trading and SBT Co., Ltd.