Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Japanese auto makers such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Subaru are known world wide for producing high quality, efficient and durable cars. Car auctions in Japan give you the chance to buy and export a used Japanese brand car to your country, usually with big savings on similar priced cars you can find in your local dealership.
But Japanese drivers also love foreign brands such as Audi, Bentley, Land Rover, BMW, Mercedez Benz, Porsche, Volvo and Volkswagon. It's possible to find these luxury cars very cheaply at Japanese car auctions and you can certainly make a very good saving on buying and exporting from Japan.
Japanese drivers take care of their vehicles and because of rigorous safety inspections, taxes and other fees it is more cost effective for a Japanese driver to change their car to a newer model regularly. This means a large pool of well maintained used cars for sale and export.
The auction and export process
Your first step to finding a cheap luxury car is to find a reputable dealer. Second hand car dealers don't have the most solid of reputations to begin with and there are cases of foreign buyers being ripped off by dodgey dealers, but these are definately in the minority.
First, check out the dealers website and see if they have full contact and bank information and are members of the JUMVEA which is the Japanese government sanctioned trade body for foreign car exporters. Membership means that members have to abide by a code of best practice.
Also, make sure that the company is registered with the local government - they should display a government trade license number.
Second, test communication with the dealer by either sending an email or calling (many dealers have Skype or similar so you can do it for free). In your initial emails look out for quality of English, timely response and level of details in the answer. Unanswered or evasive answers and poor quality English may lead to misunderstandings later on.
Once you have contacted several dealers and filtered some out you can start to browse seriously for a car. You can use this free car search tool to contact several dealers at once to save you the hassle of filling out loads of forms on different websites.
Auction and exporting process
Generally you can either buy directly from the dealers stock of cars (which they make have from spotting a bargin at auction and bought for later resale) or request they look for something for you at auctions.
You can have a very specific or very general request and the dealer will try to find something and send you deatils of the cars. All the major car auctions are online and dealers have access to national daily auctions giving a choice of upto 40,000 cars a day!
Once you get the car details you can decide to bid or not, send a maximum price you want to bid and sit back and wait for the result!
The dealer will try to get the lowest price for you so you don't pay more than you have to.
Once you have won a car then you also have to consider paying for paperwork fees, transportation, shipping, insurance and customs import taxes when the car arrives in your country.
Local auto regulation compliance
You also have to make sure the car complies with all local auto regulations. Some dealers may help you with this especially if they are in your own country, but others will probably not give much help. Therefore before you buy make sure you know what you will have to do to make the car legal in your own country.
If you're buying a European brand then these are less likely to be an issue as cars made for Europe and re-imported from Japan are the same models so it's likely that the manufacturer already has approval for that car in your country.
Japanese used car auctions are a great source of both Japanese and European/America brand quality used cars. You can get a great deal for a little research and shopping around, and although it's not the quickest or easiest way to buy a new car, it's certainly a lot of fun and can be much cheaper than buying in your own country.
Keith Taynton has been involved in the Japanese used car industry and runs a website with a complete guide to buying and exporting used cars from Japan.