Should You Import a Japanese Used Car or UK Used Car?

People often ask us what is the difference between buying from Japan, UK or Australia. The truth is, there are many differences such as car availability, specific engine sizes and price points which vary between them. We explain the differences between each market to give you a good understanding of where will be best for you to buy your car import from.

Toyota Landcruiser Case Study

Let’s look at the Toyota Landcruiser Prado to illustrate the differences between the three markets. In the UK you could buy a 2012 3L diesel turbo car and more recently a 2.8L turbo engine. The average UK car does 12,000 miles per year which is around 18,000 kilometers. So a seven year old car can easily have in excess of 70,000 miles on it which is around 120,000 kms. It is very possible to find the same car from Japan with a petrol engine with just 20,000 – 30,000 kms. This may seem remarkable but in Japan people use their cars in a very different way to the UK and often don’t drive the same amount of miles as UK residents. Looking at the differences in engines, you could source a UK diesel 3L Prado vs Japanese 2.8L petrol. Before 2015 Japan also had a 4L petrol Prado available. Neither the petrol engines are turbocharged so people often describe these engines as being a little underpowered. You can also buy the Landcruiser Prado from Australia. Here the Prados are more like the UK and are predominantly diesel with the benefit of coming with kilometres on the speedo rather than miles. Australia is a huge country and the residents cover even more miles than the UK. It is not uncommon to see cars advertised with more than 150,000 – 200,000 kms.

Differences Between Japanese Used Car and UK Used Car Imports

Key Differences Explained

Diesel vs Petrol: If you have a particular preference between a diesel or petrol car, that can be one of the biggest driving factors to steer you to a particular country. The UK is perfect for buying diesel 4x4s as most engines have been diesel. Diesel will give you greater fuel efficiency and the UK cars are typically higher powered engines than the Japanese petrol equivalent.  But it you are keen to buy petrol, then you will have more choice for your 4x4 from Japan.

Specification: European cars usually have a high standard specification than Japanese cars. They are much more likely to have a leather interior whereas Japanese cars often have cloth seats as standard.

Mileage: You will be more likely to find a lower mileage car from Japan.

Controls and Radio: Japanese cars will have Japanese controls and radio which will need attention on arrival. People who are buying higher end cars are more inclined to want to buy from Europe because they know they cars will be ready to drive when they arrive. The controls and radio will not need to be modified and so there is less to worry about and less to interfere with.  

Documentation and service history records: One the beauties of importing a car is that the information on some imports is much more extensive than the information available on cars in Kenya. For example in the UK vehicles are regularly services and their service records are regularly maintained. So when you buy a UK car you can be confident the car has had its annual service so you can see it has been maintained properly and that the mileage checks prove it is genuine. In Japan the requirements are different. Instead of keeping a record book, the Japanese put stickers on the parts of the car and date when work was done. This makes it much harder to understand, and is not considered to be a full service history even though they probably have been serviced.

Retail Standards vs Auction Standards: In the UK most cars are bought from retailers and so they are prepared to retail standards. This means that they will not have any noticeable scratches or dents and usually come with 2 keys, matts, manufacturer’s bookpack and the service history. Whereas cars from Japan come mostly from wholesale markets and this means the original retailer has traded in the car to replace it with a newer model. They are not prepared for retailing so it can often have a chip on the screen or bonnet and only have one key. The Japanese grading system does help to grade the car eg the 3.5 is going to be a lower quality than the 5.

Timings: The time it take to import from the UK or Japan is the same. Australia takes 10 days longer but in the grand scheme of things this is not a big difference.

Car Import Timings UK or Japan to Kenya

Inspections: All cars coming into Kenya must pass the QISJ inspection before being allowed to be registered. There is no QISJ inspection centre available in Australia so this can open up a small chance that you could find out there is a small issue which the car that could incur costs. The exporter from Australia is unlikely at this point to want to support you with this.

In summary, the biggest deciding factors on where to buy your car from will depend on whether you want petrol or diesel, the spec level for your car, the mileage for your car and European controls or Japanese controls. Take a look at the UK cars and Japanese cars we have to start your search or contact the team today and we will help you to start your search for your next car.

Happy Shopping!


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