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Thread: Buying a used car from a Japanese importer

  1. #1
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    Default Buying a used car from a Japanese importer

    There's a company in Whangarei that imports used Japanese vehicles. You tell them what you want - they'll import it for you.
    I have to contact them to make sure there's some sort of warranty on the vehicle - but I'd appreciate your thoughts on doing this.
    I'm thinking that I can't go wrong if I order a Toyota or Honda.

  2. #2
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    You may find this useful. you need to check that the dealer has had the radio tuned for NZ otherwise you may not be able to get all the radio stations and a lady I worked with bought a Japanese import and had to have the radio completely replaced as it would not work at all,apart from that you should be fine.

    http://www.enz.org/buying-a-used-car...w-zealand.html

  3. #3
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    The radio issue isn't at all a problem - dealers commonly use band extenders added to the stock radio. In many cases, it's cheaper to replace it with a brand new after market brand radio.

    Beware, there's quite the risk involved when importing cars 'sight unseen' from overseas. It's nothing to do with the dealer or if it's a good brand or not but rather, it all has to do with the history of the car. They may document service records etc but give no actual indication if the car runs great. Recently about last year my cousin's husband ordered a top spec BMW 3 series 2nd hand from the UK for $75K NZD. The car was impeccable upon 1st sight. However, he's convinced that the car "just doesn't go as it should" meaning, it doesn't perform as it should. When he puts the accelerator to the floor, the car hesitates just slightly and then takes off in a 'less than spectacular' manner. Would this be a warranty issue? A definite no because the car does operate as it should and it's hard to argue with the importer that the car doesn't have the acceleration as it should. Being 2nd hand, it's expected a car doesn't perform like it would off the production line and the overall key issue, it still goes and not a matter if it doesn't start or pass WOF.

  4. #4
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    I understand what you're saying. Do you have any ideas of a 'safe' way of buying a used car? If I open the bonnet, it is just to make sure the car has an engine. Guessing I can look at a used car and have a mechanic check it out?

  5. #5
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    You can get a check done through the AA. http://www.aa.co.nz/motoring/buy-sel...e-inspections/ Also, if you Google "NZ car check", you'll see various sites (as well as the AA themselves) where you can see whether or not there's any money owing on the vehicle, or if it's been a write-off.

  6. #6
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    The situation is near impossible when conducting a transaction overseas. I remember Ebay has a process where you can pay for an inspector to look at the car abroad but i've never heard of anyone using that service for the simple reason... well these garage like mechanics don't know what to look for (as the vast range of makes and models is huge, no mechanic is fluent enough to know the difference ; with exception from the guys at Top Gear).

    If you want to know the safest way to buying a car overseas, the only for sure way is to fly over yourself and 1st hand see and test the car out. From an enthusiast's point of view, when they spend a considerable sum of $ on a car - they always fly over and see 1st hand. Actually in my cousin's husband's case, the $75K price tag would easily qualify for a flight over to the UK. The $3k-$4k for an airfare is well worth the $ factoring how much $ he will lose if he had to sell the BMW today as is.

    Why is it so important to see what you're buying? Well partly because in NZ, it's not that straight forward to get imported cars registered for use on public roads. Unlike the eBay service, you really need to check if the car has been in a prior accident and that if the accident is structural. Which means no inspector is going to bother the seller in taking interior panels off to expose the framework. However, when the time comes that the car arrives in NZ and goes through the hoops of registration - taking the panels off the cars is a normal task. All too often people have gone through a lot of effort importing a car to NZ to just find out that the car is only fit for salvaging. The issue isn't that the unibody framework of a car is repairable, the issue is that land transport NZ can not guarantee with certainty that an autobody repaired car is "as safe" as the same car that hasn't been in an accident. For classic cars that are built on a chassis, the process of repair and meeting compliance in NZ is a lot simpler. Simply because the body panels are not structural. But in modern cars, even the rust on the body panel will fail WOF because it's part of the safety and design of the car.

  7. #7
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    Just make sure the price you agree includes registration and warrant, that way any headaches are with the agent rather than you. Buying a secondhand car is always something of a gamble; it just depends how much you want to pay.

  8. #8
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    I don't understand why you would need to order the car from Japan. There are many dealers in NZ that have cars available on their lots that you can look at. Unless it is something special, why not get something that has already been imported?

    And if you buy it from a dealer in NZ you are covered by the consumer guarantee act. You might not have the same coverage if you are using an agent to buy direct from overseas.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the info - and Millieandme, thanks for your post. I'd come to this conclusion too - realizing that if you place an order with an importer, you 'own' it before you have the opportunity to have it checked out by a mechanic.

    I've decided to rent a car for the first two weeks - which will give me time to find a decent used car. Thanks for everyone's advice on this.

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