Grey Imports Pro’s and Con’s

With the Japanese economy struggling, the opportunity to pick up low cost quality cars has never been more tempting, but it does come with its issues and procedures. In most cases a grey market car has a down sides to it. These can include access to spare parts, proper service history, or even failing to meet the standards of the destination country.

It is far safer and in the long run, more economical, to buy your next car from a local dealers or private seller, in the country you are in. You will be able to test drive it, kick the tyres and negotiate with the seller face to face. Below are some other things to consider as well.

Buying a Second Hand Car from Japan

Well, let’s first begin by saying there are several options available to you when it comes to buying and importing a second hand car from Japan.

  1. Do it yourself. Take all the risk yourself.
  2. Buy an already registered and imported car from a dealer.
  3. Choose a dealer who will work with you. Pick your own car to your own specifications. Allow the dealer to complete the process on your behalf.

Now let’s take a step back and look at item 1 a little more closely.

Believe me, this carries a big risk. It all begins with choosing what car you would like to buy. You may decide to look on the internet and check all the offers available in Japan. You are likely to be drawn in by the low prices and guarantees on offer.

Don’t forget to consider – how can you be sure that the car you are seeing, is what is going to arrive in the first place?

You have a few pictures, and documents you can’t understand, and are paying a lot of money up front to someone you don’t even know.

This option seems extremely risky from the get go. But, let’s carry on with the list of things you have to do, supposing you are comfortable with the above first step.

  • Arrange shipping and agents to handle Export and Import – can be time consuming and frustrating.
  • Contact the authorities about your importation – you can ask your agent above to do this for you
  • If you have to pay import duty and taxes, then you must do so before you can register the car
  • Getting your car approved for use on the open roads in the country you will be driving it
  • Registering and insuring your imported (and possibly modified) car

A statutory process with fees has to be followed, and it all begins with your local government – who want their fair share of your new asset too.

This process can seem daunting and stressful for newbies. Unless of course, you have a personal assistant or run a freight forwarding company.

Fees are subject to an assessment of the car and its’ real value, and much of it is in the hands of the inspectors themselves, who can apply some discretion. You never know the inner workings of their minds, but it does pay to have a friend sometimes.

This process can be a drain on you and your time. You’re venturing into a territory where you very much are in the hands of others, to ensure an end result. You will be the one chasing the various paperwork.

We certainly can suggest a better option for this as number 2 or 3 from the list above.

When considering the purchase of an import, it always pays to trust a good dealer. A dealer with a solid reputation from years of hard work in the market, your chosen car is originating from, is advisable.

It is even better if the dealer has an agent or man on the ground in Japan. In most cases, you have the extended protection written into your purchase agreement. If not, insist that it is included, just in case the car that arrives, is not what you agreed to in the first place.

It is important to protect your interests when you import a car from Japan. This should also include an independent inspection by an approved motoring organization. This will give you additional piece of mind that all is well and up to par. Your dealer may be able to arrange this on your behalf, but be sure that you receive a written appraisal.

Check what type of warranty you can buy for the car. Be sure to check the small print for exclusions or limitations. In other words, be sure the car warranty serves the purpose of protecting your car in the event of a serious mechanical breakdown.

Most imports from Japan go through smoothly and without any hassle. It always pays to choose a dealer with a good solid reputation. Knowing the dealer is going to be around for the next few years, in the event of an issue is important.

In our opinion, the risks outweigh the upside of importing a car from Japan. You may still choose to import from Japan, for your own reasons.

If you do decide to import a car, another point of guidance is to always to choose a car that has been specifically built for the conditions you are driving in every day.

There is a big difference between driving in Japan to the outback of Australia, or the rugged terrain of the Rockies. It is sometimes best to stick with the local offers for obvious reasons.

Happy Motoring!


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