Should You Buy a Japanese Import Car through TradeCarView ?

We could source Japanese cars from Tradecarview but we don’t, for a number of very good reasons.

Tradecarview was set up a few years ago and has become popular to research prices for those who don’t know how the used car market in Japan works. Mostly this is due to their website being in English together with clever advertising and promotion which puts them at the top of many search results.

Unfortunately what most people looking to import a car from Japan don’t realise is that Tradecarview is simply a ‘dumb portal’ for anyone to list Japanese cars online. Specifically:

  • Tradecarview actively recruits for Japanese car sellers worldwide by offering free listings for Japanese cars on their website (we ourselves received an invitation to list cars on their site, yet we are in Australia !)
  • There is no active checking of sellers or of the vehicles they display
  • Any seller can list two Japanese cars for free and no action will be taken by those running the Tradecarview site to remove listings until at least two complaints have been made.

As such, Tradecarview and similar websites focussing on Japanese import cars are a constant source of frustration for those sourcing genuine quality vehicles and of disappointment for buyers, as they create a falsely low impression of real prices.

Look carefully at the Tradecarview listings and you will notice that many Japanese import cars on their website are displayed with just several auction pictures and inspection report or are listed multiple times by different sellers.

This is a good indication that the cars are not really for sale.

To be more specific, Tradecarview is rife with sellers using “tag-advertising”, that is, advertising a Japanese car that doesn’t really exist so as to generate an enquiry from you. The seller’s response to you then would be something like, “Sorry that car has been sold, send a deposit and we will find you another one for the same or similar price.”  At the same time they are telling you this, the car of course remains listed on Tradecarview to continue attracting further enquiries, and they are not telling you the price was set unrealistically low…

Now let’s assume you fell for this dirty trick and did send money to one of these Tradecarview sellers, believing they would find you a similar vehicle for the same price.

Can you trust them ?

Well, firstly if you are a one-off customer then they have no loyalty whatsoever to you as they know whatever they do is unlikely to impact on future sales.

Secondly, like every other country Japan has it’s fair share of sharks in the secondhand car import game. This has become even worse in recent years as business has become more competitive than ever before.

So we always wonder why anyone would consider sending money to a company or individual in another country they didn’t know / hadn’t been recommended through a trusted source ?

OK, so what happens after you’ve sent your money and this Tradecarview seller starts “searching for your Japanese import”. Now you’re locked in to them with your deposit (partially or fully non-refundable minus some fairly large international transfer and refund processing fees to make you think twice), they can take their time to present you with other options. These are likely to be much higher priced dealer cars or cars from auction.

The questions then are:

  • Will what’s offered match the Japanese import car you are looking for ?
  • Will they actually check the Japanese auction cars for you and provide more pictures and details of faults ?
  • What control do you have over how much you spend ?
  • Can you trust what they tell you the car sold for ?
  • Will you receive any sort of personal attention ?
  • Are you going to be paying the best price for the best quality car ?

The fact is, once they have your money they can pretty much do what they like. In the end after a lengthy period of frustration, you may have to settle for a car that is not what you wanted, just to get your money back. Of course, once the car arrives in your country (assuming it arrives at all) you may find that:

  • the condition doesn’t match what they said
  • the car is not eligible for import due to past accident repair, chassis damage, rust, water damage, adjusted odometer or simply being the wrong model

Any of these things will cause you a major import headache / wallet-ache and quickly suck the joy from your Japanese car import experience. Unfortunately over the years we have been contacted by many people asking for help to solve these sorts of problems.

As for the Tradecarview car prices, for anyone that knows the current value of vehicles at auction (you can research 3 months of REAL sale prices yourself straight from the auctions themselves using our Auction Search), many prices on Tradecarview are either too low to be genuine, or the condition simply cannot be as stated (kms, past repair etc).

The fact is that the large Japanese auctions are the cheapest place to buy cars in Japan. So if Tradecarview prices are significantly cheaper than the Japanese auction prices then why wouldn’t they be putting the car through auction ?

After all, if it was a genuine vehicle then they’d make more money and it would be a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than exporting a Japanese car to a foreign buyer, with all the extra time and effort that entails. The obvious answer is that after the car has left Japan there is nothing you can do if you’re unhappy with it.

Obviously there will be exceptions and the occasional genuine Japanese car for sale on Tradecarview, but in our experience these are few and far between and there is no way to be certain before you buy.

There is just way too much risk involved in buying from unknown online sellers such as those on the Tradecarview website with whom you have no recourse once they receive your money. Physical inspection by a reliable agent is always critical to confirm condition, as is choosing an agent you can trust with the payment and import process.

It’s for these reasons that we strongly recommend our clients NOT to source their Japanese import from Tradecarview. Sourcing directly from Japanese auctions through a good agent is the most reliable method for finding a quality Japanese import car at the lowest price.

Online Auction Search — research the REAL price of any model by browsing upcoming Japanese auction cars plus 3 months of past auction car sales