Grey Import Or Recon Vehicles - Valuable and Affordable?

Tips
Jesica Sendai | 22-12-2021 02:00 PM

Dear Caricarz readers, have you ever questioned where second-hand car dealers import their cars and the condition before the vehicles were exported? Well, good news to all! Caricarz might have some answers for you.

There’s a term called grey importer, which refers to dealers that import cars yet are not franchise holders of the car model and do not have a manufacturer warranty.

Simply put, a reconditioned (recon) car or, let’s say, refurbished vehicles?

To decide the vehicle details and conditions, a Japanese auction sheet, commonly known as grading reports, has all the information needed for all Japanese auction vehicles. Of course, this similar grading system is also available in countries like the United Kingdom. 

In this section, we will dive into the Used Car System Solution (USS) auction sheet.


Bear in mind that the reporting format may be varied as it is related to the listed auction house while maintaining the basic information of vehicles that covers the interior and exterior part of it.

Nevertheless, keep an open mind to find out which vehicles are worth further inspection as positive and negative points are possible to discover.

A car inspector most likely would highlight the car’s advantages, such as seat heaters, HDD navigation, and spare keys. Other cons, the car inspector would point out any obvious changes such as a drastic change in mileage or engine noises.

The report will also describe problems such as scratches, dents, and deformations. Then, the car inspector will jot down the mileage accurately, checking the odometer to the very last kilometre. Lastly, check whether odometer mileage and car registration certificates share similar details.  

In Japan, the age of a car is measured from its first registration there. The date on the auction sheet may not present the actual manufacturing date. Ensuring the exact manufacture date with car age restrictions is very important.

How do we determine the quality? Here’s how. First, we can use numerical numbers ranging from 0 to 6 to justify the overall conditions. Other than that, using grades such as A, B, C, and D can also determine a vehicle's bodywork condition.


Using grades, Grade 1 defines modifications are implied. These could be performance upgrades such as bigger turbos, a change from an automatic to a manual transmission, an engine switch, or being prepared for racing.

A vehicle in Grade 2 indicates a poor condition or water damage. Alternatively, Grade 3 and 3.5 can result from a minor damage repair.

Next, Grade 4 refers to used conditions with minimal blemishes, where 4.5 is for slightly used condition vehicles. A good as a new vehicle would be in Grade 5 and Grade 6 or S; vehicles are considered brand new.

There are three parts to determining the interior conditions using “A, B, C and D”. “A” defines virtually new for a car’s condition. At the same time, B is also good and C for average condition.

The inspector may view the grade “C” car’s interior condition as dirty and has cigarette burns or noticeable wear and tear. Usually, C is normal for older vehicles, but a 2-year-old vehicle should be more concerning.

While Grade “D” is typically rated as bad and dirty, such as cars stripped out from racing tracks.

Any repair is usually indicated by the letter “XX” on the affected panels, but it can be hidden in the auction sheet notes written in Japanese.  It is acceptable to make minor repairs to front panels where the bumpers or front panels have only been repainted, and the replacements of parts have not affected the front structure.

However, the policy is to avoid all vehicles with this issue since the compliance workshop will reject them. In general,  only source vehicles rated 4 or higher based on the Japanese auction sheet.

In some cases, a less-than-stellar vehicle could be worth considering, for example, if there are some substantial scratches or scrapes on the bodykit or bumpers.

Any vehicle that looks favourable will be physically inspected by an agent at auction to verify its condition including additional photographs will be provided.

Does the explanation help? Do leave a comment below and share with us which vehicle you guys wanted to see during the auction!


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