PDA

View Full Version : Buying a Car in Japan



Cbill1
June 17th, 2014, 01:47
Hey everyone!

I'm a short-lister from Nashville, and I have a question. I was placed in a pretty rural area (40 minute drive to the nearest train station), so I'm assuming that I'll need some sort of vehicle. My predecessor offered to sell me his for cheap, but it's manual, and I've never driven manual in my life. I was thinking about finding something more automatic, but that means that I'll need to track down the car on my own.

Does anyone have experience with buying/renting a car in Japan? How much should I expect to pay? What do I need to look out for?

greyjoy
June 17th, 2014, 04:13
Learn how to drive manual now.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
June 17th, 2014, 07:49
Seriously- manual. If you ever want to drive a car outside of your own country, learn manual. Gives you a whole lot of options - such as the option of not walking. :)

webstaa
June 17th, 2014, 08:26
If you want to learn to drive a manual, get on it early, cause you'll need the MT endorsement on your license and take the MT test (unless your from one of the 'lucky' countries.) Once you're comfortable driving manual, start trying for the license test as quickly as possible.

word
June 17th, 2014, 08:49
I'm all for learning to drive stick. Your pred's car, though, may or may not actually be a good deal, and you may want to ask a few questions of him before you go agreeing to buy it.

How old is the car? If it's more than 10-15 years old, it's probably completely worthless unless it's a rare or special car. It's probably a piece of sh*t 1997 Suzuki Alto, tho, in which case it's worth about as much as the soft-boiled egg I'm about to eat.

How much shakken is left on the car? Just been renewed? Then, if the car is the previously-mentioned 1997 Suzuki POS, it's worth a chunk of the shakken, maybe 5-6man. Maybe.

That assumes, of course, that tires are good, no major problems, etc.

Your pred's probably not out to rip you off, but he might be making some goofy assumptions regarding the worth of the car.

Also, just as in the US, fewer than 10% of the vehicles sold here are MT cars (I think it's actually like 3%), so don't worry too much; you'll be able to find an AT without too much trouble, I'm sure.

Ini
June 17th, 2014, 08:50
manual? did I fall asleep and wake up in 1985? any half decent car these days will have an auto box with paddle shift.

anyway, buying a car.

go to car dealer. pick which car you want. dealer will give you a list of paperwork to assemble. go to city hall and get said paper work (and depending on you areas local rules you will probably need to go to the police to get your parking space certified) take paperwork to car dealer. give him some money. wait a week or so. car dealer will either deliver the car to you or you go pick it up.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
June 17th, 2014, 09:02
... any half decent car...

Problem identified.

therealwindycity
June 17th, 2014, 09:10
Does anyone have experience with buying/renting a car in Japan? How much should I expect to pay? What do I need to look out for?

Unless you're absolutely certain you'll only be here for a year, I don't recommend renting - I had a lot of issues with it. It was 20,000 yen per month (which included insurance), but the car was worthless and kept breaking down (funny enough, it was a actually one of the very same 1997 Suzuki Altos word mentioned ...) and in the end I would have saved myself money if I had just bought a car when I got here. You can usually get a used car with 1-2 years of inspection and snow tires included for about 25,000 yen, give or take a few man. I would talk to your coworkers and ask for their recommendations as to where the best dealerships are. If you're required to buy a car the BOE will help you with it, but otherwise they might just hem and haw if you ask for help.

I don't drive manual either, and like word said, your pred's car might not be worth it; I would just tell him no and plan to buy one when you get here.

Ini
June 17th, 2014, 09:13
25000 for a car with shaken and snow tyres??? I think you might of missed a few zeros off the end of that....

therealwindycity
June 17th, 2014, 09:20
Derp. 250,000

mrcharisma
June 17th, 2014, 09:24
Unless you're absolutely certain you'll only be here for a year, I don't recommend renting - I had a lot of issues with it. It was 20,000 yen per month (which included insurance), but the car was worthless and kept breaking down (funny enough, it was a actually one of the very same 1997 Suzuki Altos word mentioned ...) and in the end I would have saved myself money if I had just bought a car when I got here. You can usually get a used car with 1-2 years of inspection and snow tires included for about 25,000 yen, give or take a few man. I would talk to your coworkers and ask for their recommendations as to where the best dealerships are. If you're required to buy a car the BOE will help you with it, but otherwise they might just hem and haw if you ask for help.

I don't drive manual either, and like word said, your pred's car might not be worth it; I would just tell him no and plan to buy one when you get here.

Given how expensive shaken and general repairs are, buying an old Alto will only turn out cheaper than renting if he gets lucky. All it takes is one heavy shaken and a faulty aircon to double that 25 man.

No stress with contract renting either. Courtesy car, all problems fixed free of charge no matter how large or small, breakdown coverage etc etc.

Ini
June 17th, 2014, 09:29
i dont know why you were paying 2man a month to rent an old car. cant you get new ones for that kind of money and after a few years you have the option to buy.

webstaa
June 17th, 2014, 09:29
Given how expensive shaken and general repairs are, buying an old Alto will only turn out cheaper than renting if he gets lucky. All it takes is one heavy shaken and a faulty aircon to double that 25 man.

No stress with contract renting either. Courtesy car, all problems fixed free of charge no matter how large or small, breakdown coverage etc etc.

I guess now is a good time to mention that my 1997 Suzuki Wagon R's AC went out this week.

therealwindycity
June 17th, 2014, 09:34
i dont know why you were paying 2man a month to rent an old car. cant you get new ones for that kind of money and after a few years you have the option to buy.

Precisely.

coop52
June 17th, 2014, 09:53
Use goo-net or some other search engine, find a car you like, done. I paid 17man for my 2001ish Move. It had a year of shaken left, but no snow tires. There are definitely cars out there for under 20man that are in far better condition than the usual ALT special. Don't bother with your pred's car unless it's fairly new or a white plate.

webstaa
June 17th, 2014, 10:21
Use goo-net or some other search engine, find a car you like, done. I paid 17man for my 2001ish Move. It had a year of shaken left, but no snow tires. There are definitely cars out there for under 20man that are in far better condition than the usual ALT special. Don't bother with your pred's car unless it's fairly new or a white plate.

If it isn't free or doesn't have a bunch of shaken left, it isn't worth the hassle. Heck, even if its free, it's likely to be beat to shit and not maintained/cleaned frequently, as well as being a super cheap (when it was new) POS without basic amenities, and most of those are likely to be broken. (For example, my car's stereo is 90% function-less - the tape deck is broken and the radio picks up on station on a good clear day, as well as there only being one functional speaker in the car. The fabric seats are dirty and worn and the carpet is full of holes (covered by mats.) The paint is patchy and scratched up from where predecessors had backed into/scraped and repainted the area themselves.)

Unfortunately, my shaken will run out in March before I leave - so my successor won't get a free car (there is no way I'm paying for shaken again - I'll send it to the wreckers and rent a car if I must.) I can deal without having a stereo/radio in the car, and non-functional AC - but I wouldn't foist it off on a new JET. Sure, they'll end up paying a month's salary to get a car, but at least they'll get one that they want (if they want one.)

word
June 17th, 2014, 11:49
If I'd arrived in Japan knowing what I know now, I would've just bought a brand-new car from a dealer. It probably would've saved me money in the long run. If you're likely only to stay one year, rental of a decent newish car is probably a good option. If you wanna stay 5+ years, just save yourself a lot of hassle and money and get something good that will last you a long time.

ihatefall
June 17th, 2014, 11:59
A/C isn't that hard to fix.

Learn to drive a stick, you'll get more HP out of the engine. Its better on gas, better for climbing hills, etc.
If the OP is a girl, she'll learn in no time. If the OP is a guy, well you should already know and should be ashamed of yourself.

Gizmotech
June 18th, 2014, 13:27
I know a few ALTs around here who rent for winter months from a local dealer. 2man/month, 5 month rent.

soap
July 8th, 2014, 11:18
My pred has offered to sell me their car for around 20man. Although the prospect of having a car as soon as I get to Japan is really tempting, I really have no idea if it is a good deal or not. It's a 10+ year old car with a fair amount of km on it so I'm rather cautious.

What do you guys think? I'm willing to pay some sort of premium for getting the whole car shopping process taken care of before I arrive, but I don't want to get completely ripped off either.

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 11:23
you cant just say "a car". what make and model? a 10 year old skyline r34 GTR is going to be worth a hell of a lot more than a 10 year old honda life.

word
July 8th, 2014, 11:27
My pred has offered to sell me their car for around 20man. Although the prospect of having a car as soon as I get to Japan is really tempting, I really have no idea if it is a good deal or not. It's a 10+ year old car with a fair amount of km on it so I'm rather cautious.

What do you guys think? I'm willing to pay some sort of premium for getting the whole car shopping process taken care of before I arrive, but I don't want to get completely ripped off either.
I doubt it's worth it. As Ini said, it depends completely on the car, but the odds, I think, are not in your favor. It's probably an old piece of crap that your pred is just vastly overvaluing.

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 11:35
find out what you are getting for the 20man. if hes going to work with your supervisor and it includes the transfer of ownership, registering the parking space in your name, new plates if applicable, comes with tax and shaken etc and the car itself is in reasonable condition then it might not be too bad. if its a piece of junk and hes just intending to leave it in your parking space and bugger off with 20man in his pocket then probably not worth it.

find out:
make
model
mileage
time left on shaken
what work was done during the last shaken (if its up to 100,000km then lots of things start to need replacing)
where is it registered
does the cost include registering it in your name
get photos of interior and exterior

20man isnt a lot for a car but lots of ALTs drive around in some really dodgy deathtraps.

word
July 8th, 2014, 11:40
Also, ask about the tires. It'll probably have two sets and you should know how long they've been used.

webstaa
July 8th, 2014, 11:53
Also, ask about the tires. It'll probably have two sets and you should know how long they've been used.

Also, how they've been stored. If they just chuck them outside during the summer/winter, the tires will degrade faster.

soap
July 8th, 2014, 13:23
find out what you are getting for the 20man. if hes going to work with your supervisor and it includes the transfer of ownership, registering the parking space in your name, new plates if applicable, comes with tax and shaken etc and the car itself is in reasonable condition then it might not be too bad. if its a piece of junk and hes just intending to leave it in your parking space and bugger off with 20man in his pocket then probably not worth it.

find out:
make
model
mileage
time left on shaken
what work was done during the last shaken (if its up to 100,000km then lots of things start to need replacing)
where is it registered
does the cost include registering it in your name
get photos of interior and exterior

20man isnt a lot for a car but lots of ALTs drive around in some really dodgy deathtraps.
It's a 2001 Smart MCC
140,000 km (this seems like a bit much, though I'll admit I'm not a car expert)
Paperwork included in the price
Shaken due in April
Photos look good enough

I saw a few people in this thread mention snow tires, but my placement is pretty warm and it doesn't seem to get much snow, so I don't think I'll need them?

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 13:31
smart cars are expensive. 20man aint bad for one. looking around on the interwebs for a smart car with that mileage you are looking at around 16-40man on the window and 23-50 on the road. A japanese person would shit their pants at the thought of a car with that mileage. You should be ok but those little engines might start to go wrong around the 160000km mark (100000miles)

mrcharisma
July 8th, 2014, 13:39
It's a step upmarket from the usual "ALT Special" but at that age and mileage you could be in for a nasty shaken bill in April.

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 13:55
in the interests of full disclosure for similar cash you could get something like this....

スカイライン 2.5 250GT Sコレクション ETC HID アルミ付(茨城)の中古車詳細 | 中古車なら【カーセンサーnet】 (http://www.carsensor.net/usedcar/detail/CU2865602127/index.html?TRCD=200002)

soap
July 8th, 2014, 14:12
Thanks for the advice guys. As I expected the age and mileage of the car is a bit worrying, though I'll admit I'm still tempted.

Ini, I checked out some cars near my area on that site. There are some slightly more expensive ones with significantly less mileage. I'll have to do some more research and think about this.

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 14:22
also think of the area. a smart car is great in the middle of a city where the parking spaces are tiny but if you have to commute 30km to work everyday/drive across 2 mountain ranges to get to the nearest city on the weekends then you might want something with a bit more grunt.

Smart cars have the cool foreign car uniqueness about them and having a car all set up for you from the moment you arrive is great. for the sake of 20man I would almost be tempted to get it* then scrap the bugger in april if you decide you are going to stay longer and spend a bit of cash on getting something nicer. If you decide to leave after a year then shaken it in april and just charge your successor for the cost of the shaken when you leave.

*and then I would remember I'm a red blooded man who wouldn't be seen dead in a girly car like that.

webstaa
July 8th, 2014, 14:29
Nope - that car is going to cost you in the long run. It's a white plate with the performance and safety of a kei-car. Good for fender benders but in a real accident you're going to have issues.

Shaken will cost you another 10 man.

If you don't have to get on the expressways or drive up mountains (actual mountains, with switchbacks etc) - then forget it and get a newer car with more shaken for the same amount. Figure it out when you get here and get a car you want. The biggest part of that 20 man is paying for convenience - ask a JTE or someone from the BoE to help you get a car in August/September.

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 14:33
shaken will cost a lot more than 10 man but dont let that worry you. People who worry about shaken, road tax, fuel economy etc when buying cars are boring and you should immediately ignore their advice.

ihatefall
July 8th, 2014, 16:53
It's a white plate with the performance and safety of a kei-car. Good for fender benders but in a real accident you're going to have issues.



That isn't true. Smart cars are actually pretty safe and crash well. Much better than a lot of cars much bigger than them.


That being said, I don't like them.

word
July 8th, 2014, 18:34
That isn't true. Smart cars are actually pretty safe and crash well. Much better than a lot of cars much bigger than them. Well, to an extent. At some point, the reality of the laws of physics comes into play. If I run into one while driving my 1979 Chevy Suburban, I sure hope I don't know the occupants.

greyjoy
July 8th, 2014, 19:12
A 1979 Chevy Suburban? Guys, if you drive your smart car into my Zeppelin, you're gonna have a bad time.

word
July 8th, 2014, 19:45
Alas, I don't own it any longer. Made for an awesome vehicle for a 16-year-old to drive during high school, though.

therealwindycity
July 8th, 2014, 19:46
Should I read "drive" as "make out in?"

word
July 8th, 2014, 19:51
The rear seats were all removed, thick carpet was installed, along with a couple of bean-bag chairs, the windows were tinted opaque black, and the interior lighting was a soft red light.

I f*cking loved high school (and it loved me).

If that all sounds too good to be true, don't stress; there are more than a few embarrassing stories that came along with it.

ihatefall
July 8th, 2014, 19:52
Well, to an extent. At some point, the reality of the laws of physics comes into play. If I run into one while driving my 1979 Chevy Suburban, I sure hope I don't know the occupants.


A 1979 Chevy Suburban? Guys, if you drive your smart car into my Zeppelin, you're gonna have a bad time.

I used to feel the same but the Smart is a pretty well built car. Check out this piece top gear did on crashing them.

SMART car crash (TEST) - YouTube (http://youtu.be/9iKGfo1wmOM)

word
July 8th, 2014, 20:14
Top Gear is a TV show (a good show, but still a TV show). Crash ratings for the Smart Car are mediocre at best (http://www.thecarconnection.com/review/1086097_2014-smart-fortwo_safety_5).

Ini
July 8th, 2014, 20:19
5th gear not top gear.....

greyjoy
July 8th, 2014, 20:37
I used to feel the same but the Smart is a pretty well built car. Check out this piece top gear did on crashing them.

SMART car crash (TEST) - YouTube (http://youtu.be/9iKGfo1wmOM)

I didn't click on the link. Did they actually test crash it into a rigid airship to see how it would respond to such an everyday occurrence?

ihatefall
July 8th, 2014, 20:53
5th gear not top gear.....

Damn, you're right.

webstaa
July 9th, 2014, 08:21
Also, the big thing that saves lives isn't a strong frame - which the SMART has in spades. Its plenty of crumple room to bleed off the energy of smashing into something at a combined 100 kph. Instead,the frame stays intact and you get internal injuries from seatbelt etc.

It isn't really 'unsafe' (at least not compared with any kei-car, because they're deathtraps) - but it won't be any cheaper to own than a larger white plate, while being less efficient, less safe, and less powerful.

Ini
July 9th, 2014, 08:29
good chance it is a kei car. the majority of the 2001 japan models didnt have the 1 litre engine and were classed as kei cars.

need to know the model, smart mcc is just the make.

soap
July 9th, 2014, 08:35
From my understanding, it's a kei car. At least, since the plate is yellow and not white.

Ini
July 9th, 2014, 08:35
so in the world of kei cars its probably the safest by a long way.

Gizmotech
July 9th, 2014, 08:45
so in the world of kei cars its probably the safest by a long way.

This is certainly true.

word
July 9th, 2014, 08:46
so in the world of kei cars its probably the safest by a long way.
Well that's certainly true.

I didn't think they were kei cars, either, but if that's the case, they're probably not all that bad in comparison.

I nevar drive a kei unless I absolutely have to, though, and I definitely wouldn't own one (tried it once; nope).

Ini
July 9th, 2014, 08:50
the k model is a kei car
the fortwo model isnt
the crossblade is that freaky looking "convertible" thing.
the roadster is the baby sportscar

webstaa
July 9th, 2014, 10:34
Shit, I didn't even know they had multiple models on the market...

ihatefall
July 9th, 2014, 14:23
Well that's certainly true.

I didn't think they were kei cars, either, but if that's the case, they're probably not all that bad in comparison.

I nevar drive a kei unless I absolutely have to, though, and I definitely wouldn't own one (tried it once; nope).

This is why I will have to get a kei car when I get a car 3996

I have to fit through there.
If our shitty neighbors didn't build over their property line I would get an EVO V but nope econobox for us.

webstaa
July 9th, 2014, 15:05
The other reason kei cars are nice is that they're super cheap to maintain if you don't have to put a ton of mileage on them (aka it sits in the parking spot at home more than anywhere else - like me.)

If you're going to spend any major amount of time in it, you might as well get a nice car.

greyjoy
July 9th, 2014, 18:58
How difficult is it to rent a car for a day or a week if I want to make a road trip, but don't want to actually own a car?

Gizmotech
July 9th, 2014, 20:08
Based on the number of signs I see, not hard. not cheap though.

word
July 9th, 2014, 20:26
Not really that expensive. I've rented a big-arse moving truck for around 6000 for the day, and a kei for under 5000. Unlimited mileage. You hafta refuel it, of course. You have to have an actual J-license at my favorite rental house; I doubt anyone would rent you a car on an IDP.

Gizmotech
July 9th, 2014, 20:53
Won't rent w/ an IDP unless it's a longer term rent (3-5 months)

jacklostinred
July 10th, 2014, 11:07
We had a local ALT, American with an IDP, crash his car during his first year. He ended up paying an arm and a leg to rent a car. I think they charged him 100,000 for 14 days. It can be done but it is expensive.

Ini
July 10th, 2014, 11:09
half of that would have been insurance probably.....

ihatefall
July 10th, 2014, 11:47
We had a local ALT, American with an IDP, crash his car during his first year. He ended up paying an arm and a leg to rent a car. I think they charged him 100,000 for 14 days. It can be done but it is expensive.

I would want that much to rent my car out t some tool that just crashed his own car

word
July 10th, 2014, 11:53
I would want that much to rent my car out t some tool that just crashed his own car

My god, man; I know you struggle with autocorrect, but this is just unacceptable.

johnny
July 13th, 2014, 22:29
Hey guys, is leasing a car in Japan a viable option? I don't know that I want to be here more than a year, so a 1 year lease would be nice if it's feasible.

uthinkimlost?
July 13th, 2014, 22:55
Hey guys, is leasing a car in Japan a viable option? I don't know that I want to be here more than a year, so a 1 year lease would be nice if it's feasible.

Yes, I know a few jets that lease, but I'm not sure how much you might owe if you have an accident.

webstaa
July 14th, 2014, 08:37
Both the ALTs that lease near me pay through the nose and have 3 year minimum lease contracts signed. Although they can turn over the lease to a new ALT AFAIK.

mrcharisma
July 14th, 2014, 10:51
Most leases should cover all shaken, maintenance and repairs and as long as you're insured properly damage wont be an issue.

If you buy a decent car it will be cheaper than leasing, a lemon that needs anything more than basic maintenance or a shaken during your ownership might end up more expensive.

johnny
July 14th, 2014, 21:10
Thanks guys. I'm getting my licence tomorrow, so I'm pondering a car for year two. At the very least, I'm going to rent a car and finally explore...and maybe hit up a Costco.

ihatefall
July 14th, 2014, 21:51
My god, man; I know you struggle with autocorrect, but this is just unacceptable.

I am in the struggle everyday man.

Easy_money
July 20th, 2014, 14:11
Not really that expensive. I've rented a big-arse moving truck for around 6000 for the day, and a kei for under 5000. Unlimited mileage. You hafta refuel it, of course. You have to have an actual J-license at my favorite rental house; I doubt anyone would rent you a car on an IDP.

My mum rented a car for 2 days on an IDP when she visited me. The guy who took the details didn't bat an eyelid.


Yes, I know a few jets that lease, but I'm not sure how much you might owe if you have an accident.

Most people in my area rented cars. It was 3man/month including insurance and they were generally new models, with some even being brand new. If you had an accident (as many people did in my area) and it was your fault it cost 5man per car involved (including your own) and your insurance premium went up 2k per month. If you were involved in an accident that wasn't your fault it didn't cost you.