Japanese Car Auction Inspection Reports Demystified

Car auctions in Japan are a great way for car importers around the world to source good quality, low mileage cars and other used vehicles at great prices.

However, in order to make the most of the opportunities these Japanese car auctions give you as a car dealer, you have to make sure that you understand the car inspection reports. As a well-informed buyer, you can make sure you sift out the gold and avoid costly mistakes.

In this article, we will look together at who makes these auction inspection reports and what you can find in them.

If you are at at serious about buying cars from car auctions in Japan, you need to read on.

Quick Primer: What are these Japanese Car Auctions?

There are about 86 different auction locations in Japan. A typical day will see anything from about 7,000 to over 40,000 used cars and other vehicles sold at these auctions all around the country.

A good Japanese car exporter will give his customers access to all these auctions through an online system. You may be a continent or two away from Japan, and yet sit down in front of your computer and tap right into this huge selection of RHD and LHD cars right away.

Enter a bid at the click of a mouse, and let the car exporter in Japan handle the rest. A few weeks later the car will be arriving at the port for you to pick up.

Used Car Inspections at Japanese Car Auctions

Car auctions in Japan employ seasoned mechanics to inspect all the vehicles they sell. These inspectors work on site in the case of most auctions, or off site at car dealerships in the exceptional case of Aucnet.

The auction inspection covers every aspect of the car, from mechanical areas and chassis, to the exterior and interior condition. The car auction inspectors are thorough in their approach, with the only caveats being that they do not drive the car at any more than parking lot speeds, and obviously they cannot dismantle the vehicle to check out really hard-to-reach places.

The Auction Inspector’s Report

The car auction inspector write his notes on the o-kushon hyo (auction sheet). He will use a combination of scoring systems, written descriptions and a diagram of the exterior to give readers a good idea of the condition of the used car.

Overall Auction Grade

Car auctions in Japan assign an overall grade to each of the cars entered in the weekly auction.

I do not recommend that you rely solely on this grade when you consider whether to enter a bid or not. You will need to check the other detailed information that the inspector has written on the auction sheet as well.

(A good Japanese car exporter will be able to give you a professional translation of these details.)

That said, the overall auction grade has a role to play in helping you narrow down the field of potential bidding candidates. Here is a quick summary of the different grades:

Grades 7, 8, 9 or S – These refer to brand new cars with only delivery mileage.

Grade 6 – This grade can sometimes be equivalent to the grades above, but cars with this auction grade will usually have a little more than just delivery mileage.

Grade 5 – These are vehicles in superb condition, very close to brand new standard, but with several thousand kilometers on the odometer.

Grade 4.5 – A car in excellent condition, but with up to a few tens of thousands of kilometers on the clock.

Grade 4 – A good, solid car usually having less than 100,000 km on the clock.

Grade 3.5 – A higher mileage vehicle or one which will need some work to clean up.

Grade 3 – Either a very high mileage car or one which is generally rough.

Grade 2 – Very rough vehicles usually with corrosion holes being the reason for this low grade.

Grade 1 – Usually a heavily modified car which has had a different engine or transmission fitted, or which has an aftermarket turbo charger. Other possibilities are used cars with flood or fire extinguisher damage.

Grade R, RA, A and 0 (zero) – These are cars that have had some kind of accident repairs. At one end of the scale the repairs will be a single panel replaced due a minor parking ding, whereas at the other extreme there are vehicles that must have rolled in an accident which have had almost every panel replaced.

Ungraded vehicles – These are sold as-is by the auction with no or almost no information about their condition. As such they are very risky and can result in escalating additional costs if they cannot drive or move.

Some of these grades are more common than others. For example, grade 3.5 and 4 used cars will make up about 50% of any given day’s auction, whereas there will only be a handful of grade 1 cars on the same day.

Interior and Exterior Grades

Japanese car auction inspectors assign letters to indicate the interior and (sometimes) exterior condition of the car. Again, these are very broad designations, just like the overall auction grading, and it is really important to read the details of the inspectors’ comments to get a full picture of the condition.

Essentially, “B” is considered “average condition, considering the age and mileage of the car”. So an interior grading of “A” means that the interior is above average, and if it is “C” then it is below average.

The “Car Map”

This is a diagram of the exterior of the car, and is usually found at the bottom right corner of the auction sheet.

The auction inspector will mark this with a combination of letters and numbers to indicate damage to the outside of the vehicle.

Here are some basic designations:

A = scratch

U = dent

S = rust (from the Japanese word sabi)

C = corrosion

W = unevenness in the panel (usually caused by panel beating)

These letters are also usually followed by a number to indicate the severity. So “1” is the least severe, and “4” is the most severe. In practice, the Japanese are so fastidious about these things that something like “A1”, which means the smallest scratch, is really barely visible to the eye.

Japanese Car Auction Inspectors’ Comments

In addition to the above, the inspector also will write comments about the used car as he reviews it. Obviously, the higher grade the car is, the less likely it is to have extra information written about it. So a grade 3 car will have many more comments than a grade 5 car.

The exception to this can be cars that have a large number of modifications and aftermarket parts fitted that the inspector then lists on the auction sheet.

Although it may seem that the overall grade, the interior and exterior grades and the car map give you enough information in order to place a bid, I strongly advise buyers to make sure that they get these comments professionally translated before they make the final decision to bid.

A grade 5 or above car may hold no surprises, but with anything below that it is possible that the inspector has written something which could influence your decision to go ahead with a bid or not. This is why it is very important to look for a Japanese car exporter who offers professional-quality translations of auction sheets.

Concluding Remarks

Car auctions in Japan offer a great selection of used cars to source at good prices, and the auction inspection regime means that you can get a good, detailed picture of the condition of any vehicle prior to bidding.

Although it may seem daunting to be buying used cars from halfway around the world, these Japanese car auction inspection reports make the process of finding good vehicles easier and more reliable.

Four Reasons Window Tint Is Great for Your Car

There are more than 250,000,000 cars in the United States today, and nearly 4,000,000 miles of road. With these numbers, it is safe to say that America has a love affair with the automobile. For many teenagers, the first time they drive a car is a major event in their lives that will be remembered for years to come. With this obsession with automobiles comes the desire to improve them, or tailor them to the owner’s specific desires. Drivers paint their cars new colors, install performance parts, new tires, and different seats. One of the easiest, and most versatile, additions that drivers can make to their auto is to add window tint. Here are four ways it can make any driving experience better.

Privacy

Having darker glass makes it harder to see into the interior of a car. The privacy that it allows is the main reason that it is used in limousines. In a private auto, the privacy allows drivers to use their car to change or take a nap without worrying about being observed. It also makes a vehicle less likely to fall victim to a break-in. If a purse, laptop, or other valuables are left on a backseat, they are attractive to would-be thieves. If the items can’t be seen from the outside due to window tint, the vehicle is much less of a target.

Keep It Cool

Along with privacy, one of the biggest positives for darkened glass is its ability to maintain a cooler temperature in the interior of a car. The right type of window tint can reduce the heat inside a vehicle significantly. This is helpful while driving, as the air conditioner does not have to be run as high or as long. Furthermore, it can keep an automobile cooler when it is parked outside, under the sun. Every driver knows how high the temperatures inside a car can rise on a hot day. Shaded glass helps to ensure that the vehicle will be as cool as possible.

Safety

Just as window tint keeps a vehicle cooler, it also keeps the interior dimmer. Less glare from the sun means less distraction for drivers. This is true in all climates, from the reflection of the sun off of snow in colder areas to the bright sun of the desert. Along with reduced glare, the film that is used to darken a vehicle’s glass also helps to prevent the glass from shattering if impacted, which will help to protect occupants.

Protect the Interior

Since buying an automobile is a major purchase for most people, they want to do everything they can to protect their investment. Well-shaded vehicle glass can give longer life to the plastics, fabrics, and leathers that make up the interior of a car. This is accomplished by reducing the levels of ultraviolet light by up to 90%. These UV rays, if left unchecked, can quickly fade the colors of the seats and the dashboard.

In conclusion, window tint is an easy and affordable modification that will instantly improve any car.

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six Sports Car

A review of The TVR Tuscan Speed Six Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this classic car from Classic to Modern.

The TVR Tuscan

In 1997, the Cerbera was the first TVR to be fitted with the Speed Six engine, but it was the TVR Tuscan that was the first sports car to be designed specifically to include this unit.

In fact, its long sweeping bonnet was very reminiscent of that icon of the 60’s and 70’s, the E-Type.

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six Mark 1 sports car was launched in 1999, and was fitted with either a 3.6 or 4 litre Speed Six engine, developing 350 bhp and 360 bhp respectively.

These were followed by the “S” (400 bhp) and “Red Rose” variants (380 bhp).

In October 2005, the Mark 2 version was introduced with minor changes to the front and rear lights, slight modification to the chassis to improve handling, and a modified rear spoiler on the S model.

At the same time, a convertible was introduced to compliment the original Targa.

The Mark 2 S and convertible were the final variants to appear, and were built up to 2007 when TVR ceased production.

The external appearance of all the variants remained virtually unchanged except the “S” model, which sported a front under tray, and a small rear spoiler to further assist aerodynamics.

In terms of engine options, there were basically five available for both the Mark 1 and 2 variants, ranging from a 3.6 litre, through to the most common 4 litre, and finally the 4.2 litre R-Series.

They were all fitted with multi-point fuel injection, a five speed gearbox, and huge 29.4 cm disc brakes at the front and 27.3 cm discs at the rear.

An interesting feature specific to the Tuscan was an exhaust system in the same setup as that found on a motorbike. The outcome was that it saved weight.

The Tuscan sports car differed from the Cerbera in that the wheelbase was shortened by 205 mm by removing the rear seats.

Moreover, it was constructed in the form of a Targa, with a rollover bar positioned behind the seats.

The Targa top was stored in top of the boot, above the luggage, whilst the rear window could be removed and placed vertically in the boot, in front of the luggage, to create a near convertible experience.

The body consisted of composite material formed in a honeycomb instead of fibreglass, as in previous models, so saving about 30 kg in weight.

The use of composite body panels allowed for the creation of a highly curved styling, not possible with steel sheets or even, to some extent, fibreglass.

The cabin was clad in leather, and leg room had been increased owing to the presence of a straight six rather than a wide V8 engine.

Powered by a 4 litre Speed Six engine, it developed 360 bhp, and produced a top speed of 180 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 secs, and a 0-100 mph time of 9.5 secs.

It used a Borg Warner five speed gearbox, and had a good weight distribution of 51:49, front to rear.

It lacked ABS, and the springs were too soft to cope with an uneven road, but produced good ride capabilities in normal surfaces.

Furthermore, at speeds exceeding 150 mph, there was a tendency for the front end to become light and begin to meander, which created a problem keeping the car in a straight line.

The TVR Tuscan S

The Tuscan S sports car used a modified 4 litre Speed Six engine incorporating wilder camshafts, lighter con rods, and a massive 12.2:1 compression ratio.

Developing 390 bhp, and weighing 30 kg less than the standard Tuscan, the “S” produced a top speed of 190 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 secs, and a 0-100 mph time of 8.9 secs.

The geometry of the front suspension was altered, larger brakes were fitted, and the springs and dampers were uprated to overcome the soft suspension on the standard variant.

The TVR Tuscan R

The creation of the Tuscan R sports car was probably a result of the failure of the Cerbera Speed 12, the 7.7 litre, V12 racer which developed 800+ bhp, but which had limited success on the track, whilst the road version was scrapped.

Peter Wheeler, the owner of TVR, wanted to build another Supercar based on the Tuscan Racer chassis, with a wider track and 200 mm longer wheelbase, to improve cornering and increase stability at high speed.

The two versions of the Tuscan R were the T400R and T440R, powered by a 4 litre and 4.2 litre Speed Six engine, developing 400 bhp and 440 bhp respectively.

The body of each was a carbon fibre composite weighing just 1060 kg, which was 400 kg lighter than its competitor, the Porsche 911 GT2.

Furthermore, with a carbon fibre reinforced transmission tunnel, and an aluminium honeycomb floor, the chassis was at least twice as firm as that of the standard Tuscan.

Fitted with a six speed semi automatic gearbox, the T440R produced a top speed of 200+ mph, and a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 secs, with a 0-100 mph time of 8.4 secs.

Finally, this was the first TVR sports car to undergo wind tunnel testing, which produced a car with a drag coefficient of only 0.32.

This marks the end of my Review of the TVR Tuscan Speed Six sports car.

I will be reviewing in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of TVR sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1946 to 2000+

I hope you join me in my Reviews.