Speedo Tampering on Cars from Japan
As a car exporter, it’s always an underlying fear that a car we buy at one of the auto auctions here in Japan may have had the speedo tampered with. The last thing most exporters (this exporter) want to do is send their clients a vehicle that has had the odometer manipulated.
There was a story floating around in Japan for many years that a client from an unspecified country had asked his auction agent to give the speedo a hair cut (wind it back) in normal language. Upon opening the speedo and looking at the rear of the speedo there was some masking tape with the words written “Oh no not again” End of story.
Over the years speedo tampering had its high periods and its low periods. It was no different to any other country. The only difference was that many of the cars would be heading off to a new life in a new country and the unsuspecting buyer loved the idea that his or her new car was blessed with relatively low Klm.
In its day I believe tampering speedos in Japan was alive and well. I have little proof to substantiate this thought but why not. We can go back 20 plus years ago. It was no different from the countries that were requesting that the speedo be tampered with. The agent complied for a small fee and thought nothing more about it as changing speedos was not illegal in Japan at that time.
However, with the volume of cars leaving Japan and entering small Island nations like New Zealand, for example, things could not last. New Zealand was and still is importing about 10,000 to 15,000 cars per month. The thought of importing a car with a tampered speedo is horrifying to most people and even more so to the average New Zealander.
New Zealand subsequently forced the Japanese government to take action and control speedo tampering. All speedo readings were noted on the Shaken paper at the time the car had it’s by yearly safety check. That means if you bought a car from Japan in the past 20 years or so the chances of the speedo being manipulated are far less as it’s all documented.
Some older classic cars still floating around Japan cant be vouched for but there are still some original gems here. This article is no more than mad rambling by myself based on feedback and little fact but it’s fun to write. Take out of this what you will.
If you buy any car in any country with low mileage and little documentation to verify that low mileage you are running a risk. This is whats the story is really about.
Have your agent check the car thoroughly or get a professional involved to help.
Do your due diligence. Check the paperwork on older cars or have your agent in Japan do so. If there is not enough evidence to verify things make your choice to bid or not to bid, buy or not to buy. If you do not do so this you only have yourself to blame if things do not work out.
I have seen it so many times where my buyer will ask me if the mileage is verified, 50% of the time I will say yes and the other 50% I give a clear I don’t know. More often than not 85% of people will still proceed to bid on the car with or without documentation and more often than not when the paperwork appears from the auction there is more service history than we ever dreamed of receiving.
Japan is still a great place to buy cars from and probably a better risk than many other countries.
To end this article I have chosen an actual true story from 1990 when I worked at a Ford dealer in Auckland New Zealand.
My sales manager would go to the local Turners auction once a month to buy cars for the yard. I remember the time well as he was particularly pissed off with me for dating a hot client that he had the eye for.
My time at the car yard was limited due to this and every day was one not to look forward to as the Field Marshall was after my blood.
Anyway, he goes off to the auction this particularly sunny spring day and dually returns in the early afternoon driving what was then a very nice Holden Kingswood. The car was mint and he was chuffed. We all walked around admiring the car as he spouted off how great it was and what a bargain it was with only 24,000 kilometers on the clock.
We were impressed and I begged him for a drive which he declined stating that the mileage was too low and the car was only to be driven on test drives. Given his words and how pissed he was with me, I simply jumped into the driver’s seat to have a look. Low mileage indeed! What I saw was 124,000 Kim with a huge scratch mark going straight across the 1 in the front. He had been screwed. It was an auction and there was nothing he could do.
Relieving myself out of the car I whispered the bad news to him and promised I would not tell the greater powers that he had not done his due diligence and had paid to much for a car that was now close to worthless.
I was back in the good books and got to drive that car home after all. That’s a true story!