Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 13, 2020

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Planning to buy a Japanese used vehicle, but aren’t sure where to start from? Don’t worry you aren’t all alone.

Japanese automobiles are widely known for their reliability and exceptional durability all across the world.

Especially the Honda and Toyota since both models are at the top of the list year by year for shoppers. 

These vehicles are engineered to stay forever on the roads; offering every comfort and ease to their drivers.

And with the opening of online Japanese used car trading market, hundreds of car customers have gained great interest to buy one of these affordable vehicles online.

Showing consumers buying in Walk-in or online.The chart illustrated above shows the decline in “walk-in” shopping for vehicles and the increase in online shopping. Many experts expect this trend continue.

Today, car customers around the world are making their mind of buying a second-hand vehicle from Japan. Why? You can get one a lot cheaper.

Many buyers find themselves in a difficult situation when they can’t get in touch with the right sources for assistance.

All this makes the process of buying their desired vehicle much more challenging and tricky, especially when it’s their first time buying a vehicle online.

So without any further ado, here are the five most useful tips that you can use to buy a Japanese used car online:

Take All the Necessary Car Information, No Paperwork Means Delays

Buying a second-hand vehicle may not be as simple as buying a brand new vehicle. But taking all the right information you need will make the overall process a lot simpler and hassle-free.

Most of the customers interested in purchasing used vehicle look for online sources in this regard. While researching online for a while, try to read a few top ranked automotive blogs as well for purchasing a used car.

The Japanese like to get a car when new models arrive ditching their used vehicle at a discount making a surplus therefore cheaper.

It will help you a lot in getting to know a few tips regarding online car search.

Perform a thorough research on the type of vehicle you are interested to purchase. Doing your research can help you buy a Toyota or Honda with all the right features you have been looking for.

Go through and understand all the information provided on the car dealer’s website including the vehicles current selling prices, different models and their specifications, functions, and features.

Vehicle owners in Japan are not able to dump vehicles because of environmental policies. Making it easier for them to sell it and typically at a 50% discount.

With the right information noted, evaluated and compared, it will be easier for you to pick up a suitable vehicle for yourself.

Dig Deep and Search for Credible Sources

After you have shortlisted vehicles which are close to your preferences and needs, it’s time to find credible sources to get started with the purchasing process.

Prefer reading a few top ranked automobile blogs for quickly gaining further knowledge about the various types of online automobile frauds and how to avoid such car sellers.

Cost to own a vehicle in Japan with expenses.As illustrated, A $2,000 used car in Japan cost over $10,000 in expenses approximately. The cost doesn’t outweigh the expenses. As a result there is a huge market for used automobiles coming out of Japan. Shaken is a term what a U.S. resident would call a car inspection. Older vehicles have to maintain an extremely high standard (because of shaken) and thus it has created an surplus of used vehicles in Japan. Plus, the Japanese do not like to work on vehicles. They would rather have a reliable car.

Edmond’s has an excellent article on how to spot a fraud. Normally it has to do with a cash escrow account, so beware. 

Don’t plan on buying your vehicle from a local car dealer online, as you will find multinational Japanese used car dealers that can benefit you far better than many local car dealers operating online.

You get several value-added benefits of engaging with a registered Japanese car exporter. Most of these exporters offer free vehicle inspection and testing services.

But don’t rush for quick purchase before investigating about your car dealer. Instead perform a thorough search, in order to know whether your car dealer is offering genuine services or not.

Simply check their percentage approval rate, customer reviews, number of stock vehicles, banking details, etc. before you proceed to buy your vehicle

Check and Manage Your Finances or No More than 15% of Your Income

If you don’t have enough money to pay for your Japanese used vehicle, and you have applied for a car loan, make sure you plan to not spend more than 15% of your monthly income for your loan payments.

Considering the fact that you need to make regular monthly payments including utility bills, house rents, mortgage payments etc. the loan should be taken in accordance.

If you have planned to engage with a Japanese auto auction opportunity then things might appear a bit difficult. Always try to critically assess the weekly average selling price of the make and the model that you are interested it.

It will help you a lot in aligning your purchase with your estimated budget. If you are engaged with a Japanese car exporter online representative then try to focus upon the information provided to you.

Most of them will ask you about your maximum budget which will be playing a vital role in successfully bidding and winning the car that you have chosen.

Remember, there are many initial costs that you need to cover before you start driving your vehicle.

These include car tax, registration fee, transfer fees, import duties, etc. So, it’s very crucial to manage your finances well.

Lifetime mileage of 6 popular vehicles. Wherever you go Japanese vehicles most likely will have the most longevity.  The average mileage for a BMW is 155,000 miles while for the Honda is 180,000 and Toyota is 190,000 miles. Many consumers from all over the world have driven Japanese vehicles beyond 300,000 and some over 500,000.

Plan Ahead & Go through All the Paper Work

Once you make your mind to buy a particular vehicle, contact your car dealer for all its original documents. Moreover, ask them regarding the vehicle inspection report and ownership history in order to identify whether the vehicle has any accident records.

Additionally, talk with your car dealer about the documents that will be delivered to you via an air courier, so that you can plan ahead for the vehicle clearance at your local port.

Connect with a Local & Reputable Clearing Agent to Mitigate Issues

Buying a second-hand Toyota or Nissan from Japan and start driving on your local roads will require you to take assistance of a local clearing agent.

A local clearing agent will assist you in understanding how much tax, import duties, clearing charges you will need to pay to get your vehicle out from the port.

Your local clearing agent will need all these documents to get your car cleared from the port.

It is important to clearly understand the various legalities and policies that are mandatory for automobile export in your respective country.

Most of the countries allow only a specific range of years. Sometimes, import duties vary based on the total engine displacement and even the type of the vehicle.

Such information is highly important in terms of critically summing up your final budget.

Mitigate Loses by Checking Exporter

Generally most exporters are going to deal with you in fair and “goodwill” nature. However, there are some which will try to take you to the bank.

In the case of a fraud or being scammed I have outline below some things to check if this is your first time buying an export from Japan.

 What to check for
Used car portal sitesGet details about the company, establishment, address, email, and telephone.
Verify informationAsk about verification certificate and registration. Search the company on Jetro or Jumvea.
Find a reliable exporterMake sure the company is an established exporter. A recent or new company should throw up red flags.
Contact the exporterInquire about the purchase process and payment terms. If this is clear that is a good sign.
Check InventoryCheck the inventory of the exporter. If they are active the inventory will change.
Select a car and check details Pictures from all angles, VIN, or inspection sheets.
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Final Thoughts

Buying a second-hand vehicle from Japan isn’t that difficult as it sounds at times.

You need to stay systematic in your approach and follow the right steps that will lead you to buy the most suitable vehicle according to your preferences.

Make sure to stay wise on what you actually want, and only deal with a legit dealer that offers comprehensive services under one roof.




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