The Pros and Cons of Japanese Used Cars

January 27, 2012

Japanese used cars have long been regarded as some of the most dependable and reliable cars on the road. Furthermore, Japanese used cars generally enjoy a higher resale value than their American or European counterparts. However, when considering buying a used car, there may be other potential factors to consider.

Advantages of Japanese Used Cars
Obviously, the most substantial advantage to owning a Japanese used car is the high amount of confidence placed in their dependability and reliability. Japanese cars are known for being mostly trouble-free when it comes to major issues regarding mechanical breakdown or failure. In fact, many owners of Japanese vehicles report being able to drive 200,000 or 300,000 miles before major repairs are required. This is a testament to the durability of many Japanese auto designs.

Another particular advantage of owning a Japanese car is that the resale value is relatively high. Japanese cars don't seem to depreciate nearly as fast as American or European manufactured cars. Therefore, people that purchase Japanese cars when they are new, often enjoy much better trade-in values. In addition, they can normally demand a higher asking price for their used vehicle when trying to sell it.

Another attractive feature is the design itself. Many Japanese cars are designed with an appearance that doesn't become quickly outdated or go out of style very fast. In fact, Japanese automakers tend to change the styling of their vehicles far less frequently than do American or European designers. When changes are made, the designs tend to be relevant, or sought after for many years.

Disadvantages of Japanese Used Cars
While there are definitely numerous advantages to owning a Japanese car, there are, unfortunately, a few disadvantages. For instance, because Japanese use cars generally have a higher resale value than cars manufactured in many other countries, they tend to be expensive and out of the reach of some consumers.

Another potential drawback with Japanese use vehicles is the fact that larger down payments may be required to purchase these types of vehicles. While many consumers will offer a higher price for many Japanese used cars, some banks and auto lenders are not willing to invest so much in any used car. Therefore, some consumers may be required to make larger down payments when purchasing a Japanese used car. Of course, the age and condition of the vehicle will influence a bank's willingness to potentially loan more or less on any particular vehicle.

Finally, the other potential disadvantage to owning a Japanese vehicle is that they are generally smaller in size and design than American vehicles.

Many Americans equate the size of a vehicle with the vehicle's safety rating or ability to withstand the impact of an accident. While this may indeed be unfounded, it is a common stereotype and one that many Americans believed to be true. Simply put, many people believe the bigger the vehicle the safer it is. This belief can affect the number of potential buyers of a Japanese used vehicle.

While Japanese used cars are certainly well known for their dependability and reliability, they may not always be the best choice for you. Therefore, you should take the time to evaluate your own personal needs and situation before purchasing any used car.

The Best Japanese Used Cars

Warranty Direct, an independent after market warranty provider and breakdown insurer, compiles a list of the top 20 used cars in the world every year. This list is compiled from data on what types of used cars were sold during the year versus the number of reported mechanical breakdowns and failures for a particular brand model car. For the last several years, Japanese used cars have claimed all 10 of the top 10 spots on that list--year after year.

Best Japanese Car Brands
Honda and Toyota seem to claim the most spots in the top 10 on a yearly basis; however, Japanese car manufacturers Nissan, Subaru and Mitsubishi also usually have one or two models in the top 10. Even if one of their models is not in the top 10, every major Japanese car manufacturer has one or two models listed among the top 20 used cars in the world--every year. Basically, all Japanese brand automobiles seem to be very reliable, and are usually rated as such.

The Best Japanese Car Models
While the Warranty Direct list of top 20 used cars in the world varies slightly from year to year, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry appear in the top 2 or 3, on a perennial basis. Other Japanese cars that appear on the list almost every year are the Honda Civic and the Toyota RAV4.

Related Questions and Answers

Are there any Common Problems in Used Japanese Car Engines?

One of the most common problems you will find in Japanese car engines involves the timing belt or chain. Honda, for example, calls for their engine's internal timing belt to be changed at 80,000 to 105,000 miles. The job costs about $1,300. Toyota's timing chain is external and costs about $400 to change. One other problem you are likely to find in used Japanese engines is that the owner did not have the oil pump completely removed and cleaned after the vehicle has been broken in. This leaves dangerous metal shards floating around your car's engine, waiting to do damage.

Is an Import Dealership a Good Place to find Japanese Car Spare Parts?

An import dealership is not the only place to find Japanese car spare parts. Japanese car spare parts are the only parts with full factory sanction. If you were to use a firm like AutoZone or PepBoys for spare parts, you will find that like the glass slipper of storybook fame, parts engineered for the lower cost outlets will work just as well as parts made by the manufacturer. Technically, the manufacturers could be nasty and refuse to work on these parts because they were not made by the manufacturer, but the chances are good that if you are following all recommended service intervals, there will be no problem.

What Japanese Car Manufacturers are Known for Long Lasting Used Cars?

There are many Japanese car manufacturers who have a strong history in the used cars niche. The Japanese car manufacturer known for its long-lasting cars is Toyota, whose commercials have touted the number of Camrys on the road since roughly 1990. The next long-lasting vehicle - it's almost at a toss up - is Honda, whose Civics have been on the road for 20 or more years, as have its Accords. Of the big three Japanese makers, Nissan is the next longest-lasting manufacturer. Some of its 1990 Sentras are still on the road, as are many of its 1990s Altimas, Pathfinders and other vehicles.

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