The main way cars are traded in Japan is through the Japanese used car auctions. It is not a normal practice in Japan to sell a car privately, no ‘Trading Post’ culture exists here.

If an individual wants to sell their car, they take it to a dealer and trade it in for a new or second hand model. The dealer then may decide to sell the trade in or the send it to one of the over 100 auction houses throughout Japan.

The Japanese used car auctions are a huge business trading over 1 million vehicles every quarter. Auction groups include USS Auctions (like USS Tokyo, USS Yokohama etc), JAA Auction located in Kasai Tokyo – one of the oldest auctions, HAA Kobe, TAA Group, Honda Group and many more.

All the main brands are traded. Many of the European models are left hand drive (LHD) and the Japanese models are right hand drive (RHD). Japan is a RHD country, but LHD cars can be registered and driven here without any special requirements.

Brands like Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche can come in LHD while the Japanese makes like Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi all come in RHD.

The larger auctions like the USS Auctions have very sophisticated systems in place to auction up to 18,000 vehicles in one day at one auction house!

Each auction will run once per week, for example USS Tokyo is on a Thursday and is one of the largest auctions with a comprehensive range of LHD and RHD vehicles available every week.

The cars are first delivered to the auction by the seller. Every auction has their own trained inspectors that inspect and grade the car. Everything from accident history, aftermarket parts, dents and scratches and overall condition are listed on the report known as the ‘auction sheet’. It also details if the klms are genuine, oil leaks, unusual noises, power windows not working, rust and the list goes on and on.

They are a comprehensive and honest assessment of a vehicles condition. It is in the auctions own interest for these reports to be genuine, accurate and honest….otherwise they will quickly get a bad reputation in the market place and buyers will purchase from other auctions instead.

So over the week leading up to an auction, cars are inspected, photographed and listed electronically on the auction houses’ computer system. They are given a specific time to be auctioned. Each auction is very quick, typically less than 30 seconds with dealers bidding on the cars at the auction houses as well as remotely via computer linkup from right across Japan.

Only registered dealers can take part in the auctions and every dealer needs their own membership with each auction group.

On auction day, dealers can come along to the auction and inspect the cars prior to their allotted auction time.

Most Japanese used car export companies run their operations from their office relying totally on the auction sheet.

While the auction sheets are a great indication of the general condition of a car, they do not always draw an accurate picture of the real condition of a car.

Auto Access Japan not only provides the auction sheet translation for free, but also inspects the vehicles personally by qualified personal providing a detailed report of the exact condition of the car with pictures and video.

Their online system makes it easy to search the auctions, place bids, track cars and much much more.

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