Buying a Japanese used car can be a risky business
A colleague recently received an unsolicited email from the General Manager of a Japanese trading company offering him a 2013 Toyota Crown described as ‘the best ever car in my life and will be the rest of my life for sure.’
In addition to some brief details on where the company markets its vehicles and why Toyota vehicles ‘attract thousands of people at exhibitions here in Japan’, the email also contained links to a glossy Japanese website featuring the Toyota Crown Athlete and a lengthy YouTube video of Mr Otaki’s vehicle which has generated over 145,150 views and 109 comments to date.
From a marketing point of view, it raised my curiosity and encouraged me to visit the company’s website to check-out their inventories of second-hand earth moving equipment and used cars.
While the previous issue of Automotive Dealer dealt with the key reasons why consumers could be left with a vehicle that looks nothing like its internet photos (if the Government were to remove personal motor vehicle import restrictions), there are more basic reasons why a buyer should act with caution.
According to AutoSpeed.com some of the more common problems found in used Japanese imports – especially late-model performance cars, include rust caused by heavy snowfalls in northern Japanese cities such as Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Kyoto.
Snow also rusts disc brakes which may require the replacement of all four discs and pads once the vehicle has arrived in Australia.
Faded paint is another issue which is often only revealed after the vehicle has been blasted with a high-pressure hose.
Slight scuff marks and dents are expected when buying a used import, but irregular panel gaps indicate that the car has been involved in a major accident.
AutoSpeed.com also say that high end Toyotas fitted with the optional airbag suspension systems are prone to sagging and are expensive to repair with second hand systems (which tend to suffer the same problem) – that is of course, if you can find one locally.
Buyers should also be aware that many of the cheaper imported cars have sketchy service histories which are not revealed at the time of purchase.
So before you start a transaction with a faceless seller on the internet, remember that your import will arrive without: An ANCAP safety rating, ADR compliance, manufacturer’s warranty and limited protection under Australian Consumer Law.