In the land down under, the grey imports segment of the used car market has been mercilessly pillaged by shady (but licensed) dealers trying to make a quick buck. For nearly ten years they've been banking $$$ on the lack of visibility consumers and regulators have over the import process. These dealers have taken advantage of their customers by taking poor condition, high mileage examples and selling them as low mileage, immaculate collectibles.
There are signs that things are changing, services such as ours have been spreading the word and educating Australian consumers. Dealers are under increasing pressure to provide evidence in the form of Japanese documentation to back what they sell. Consumer awareness has never been greater, and the dealers know it! But that doesn't mean you can afford to let your guard down. Here's one example as to why:
This 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 MR is currently for sale at a dealership in Australia's windback capital - Sydney's Parramatta road. With only 97,138 kms on the odometer - not bad for a car that's now more than 10 years old.
The dealer even posts a photo of the export certificate in an attempt to justify the mileage. Probably you could visit the dealership and examine the original in person to verify that the export document is indeed genuine. It's critical that you read the export certificate carefully and take note of what it is trying to tell you about the history of the car - question anything that doesn't add up. Let's take a look at what the dealer has provided:
See the number '1.' area as marked in red:
- The vehicle was registered for a two year period in June 2011 with 62,200 kms recorded
- The vehicle was registered for a two year period in June 2013 with 96,600 kms recorded
- This records the 'Date of Application' as 9th July 2015.
The 'Date of Application' is crucial in this case, this is the date the vehicle's then owner sought approval from the Japanese government to Export the vehicle from Japan. As such we know that the vehicle was in Japan right up until 9th July 2015 which is more than two years after the last dated mileage reading on the export certificate.
The last mileage reading (96,600) is not very far from the current one (97,138). The dealer is therefore asking you to believe that between June 2013 and June 2015, the owner of the vehicle only drove the car circa 500 kms. REALLY? Someone paid the expensive shaken in Japan to register the car for a period of two years and hardly drove it??
Other odometer verification services will be unable to assist you in answering this question.
As per our auction sheet service - we tracked down the auction sheet for this vehicle to see what the mileage reading was closer to the date of export:
The vehicle went to auction at USS Tokyo on 12th March 2015 with 118,465 kms showing on the odometer. Sure enough, the vehicle had driven more than 21,000 kms in the two years from June 2013, not even close to the dealer's claim of 500. Meanwhile we note the dealer has claimed "ALL DOCUMENT FROM JAPAN AVAILABLE" in the Advertisement. We'd like to examine 'all' of those documents, that's certainly an interesting claim ;).
What's the big deal, it's not a huge wind back? Relatively speaking, its fair to say this isn't a big odometer rewind. However, the odometer is not the only area in which the dealer is lying to you. "IMMACULATE CONDITION" as described by the dealer was actually considered a grade 3.5 D by the auction - a poor example. Make sure you check underneath the car also, which the auction has noted is rusty. The point is, even without a huge 6 figure windback, there are still plenty of ways for a dealer to take advantage of you, taking the maximum of your hard earned cash, and not giving you what you've paid for.