What are the downsides of buying a Japanese import?

Buying a car directly from a Japanese auction seems cheaper. What are the snags for a private buyer, i.e. import duty, Japanese specs, dash language, Covid-19 dock delays etc?

Asked on 19 January 2021 by brian sayer

Answered by Andrew Brady
Obviously, you're buying a car unseen from the other side of the world via auction so there's an element of risk to that. The car could turn up in any kind of condition – it could be hiding dodgy bodywork, mechanical issues etc. You'll be responsible for all the fees in shipping the car across (although there are companies willing to handle this), so the costs will soon mount up. You'll have to inform HMRC, who may well charge you additional fees, and then you'll have to get the car registered with the DVLA. Ongoing costs might be expensive, too – insurance is likely to be more than a UK-market car, while parts might be expensive and difficult to source (depending on the model). And, when you come to sell it, you might struggle to find a suitable buyer willing to pay a good price.
Similar questions
I am considering buying a used Toyota Landcruiser from a UK company that buys at auction in Japan and then imports the car into the UK. Several UK companies are active in this market, they manage the import...
There are a number of dealers importing Japanese cars. What are the snags I might not have thought about? Is insurance more expensive? Are spares harder to get hold of?
I'm looking to replace our ageing Vauxhall Zafira and a local garage is selling Volkswagen models imported from Japan. Most have very low mileages but all seem to have DSG gearboxes. As they are models...
 

Value my car