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Japanese Imports - Too good to be true?

  • 03-09-2023 8:18pm
    Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭


    I am thinking of buying a Japanese import, probably a Honda Fit. However, I have seen mixed things here on, with some people saying they can't get a garage to fix them, they don't have immobilizers etc (I don't think this is the case for the Fit?). Any information for or against would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,292 ✭✭✭KaneToad

    Definitely true that Japanese imports are less likely to have immobilisers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,261 ✭✭✭User1998

    I wouldn’t say they are ‘too good to be true’. If you buy one here they are expensive, but you get what you pay for. Low mileage, automatic, good condition.

    There are only 6 or 7 models of car out of 100’s being imported that don’t have immobilisers. Honda Fit does have one.

    I mostly deal in VW/Audi Jap imports, they are extremely easy to get parts for. Toyota/Honda etc can be a little bit harder but generally okay.

  • Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭Sarahsan

    Thanks so much. Having a really hard time finding a reliable car that won't break the bank. Would you think a 1.3 automatic would be okay for motorway trips (not every day but maybe once a week or so)? I think I'm going to go for it, just hope I'm not setting myself up for problems later..

  • Registered Users Posts: 167 ✭✭mode1990

    Bought a prius import , best car ever , its still on the same brake pads & only required 2 front tyres to pass nct , it's had 130k put on it , the fuel economy is over 25km per litre , the only part to replace was a water pump that all hybrids need replacing at 180km , it's saved me a small fortune since I don't have to deal with turbo's, flywheels etc that cost a fortune, go for it !

  • Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭Sarahsan

    Thank you! This is really helpful :) I wasn't thinking of going for the hybrid as I've read batteries need to be replaced every 5 years or so and can be very expensive. I assumed it would be a bad idea on a 10 year old car (with very little milage). I know absolutely nothing about them though, so please feel free to convince me otherwise! :)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 167 ✭✭mode1990

    Toyota are the pioneers of hybrid, as for the battery, Toronto taxis fleet with over 900kms on the battery! Honda had a class action suit in the states several or more years ago , but in the really rare event of battery failure, its now possible to replace just that cell , go on the Irish taxi forum and ask how many prius batteries have **** the bed , I'll wager probably zero , that's why they're so ubiquitous!

  • Registered Users Posts: 51,203 ✭✭✭✭bazz26

    Some things you need to be aware of before buying:

    1. While many Japanese imports come with an immobiliser, thieves and joyriders can still target them because they may think it hasn't an immobiliser. They can still damage the car breaking into it before they realise that the car cannot be taken without the key. Damage can include breaking windows or bending door frames to gain entry.
    2. Thieves also target the catalytic converter on hybrids (import or not) as the materials used in them is quite valuable. There are lots of cctv videos on youtube of thieves cutting the catalytic converter off within 5 mins.

    So if you park your car on shared space or somewhere unsecured such as on street parking then I'd seriously consider the above before buying.

  • Registered Users Posts: 731 ✭✭✭murphthesmurf

    The catalytic converter theft issue is the same for all cars. I don't think hybrid catalysts are made of anything different than any other petrol car.

  • Registered Users Posts: 167 ✭✭mode1990

    There are some hybrid models that are preferable to cat thieves, they do contain more precious metals , I disturbed a thief in the act having a go at a brand new transit , I took their reg & rang my local garda station , they didn't want his reg & said they'd send a car , it never arrived !

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,964 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    I regularly see a JDM parked up and the owner has their own clamp on it, they also use a steering wheel lock. JDMs have been targeted in that location before but this one hasn't, so far.

    Then why are some a few models cats being cut off far more regularly than any other make/model. Ease of access to the cat?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 731 ✭✭✭murphthesmurf

    Possibly, some cars the cat is underneath, some it's in the dowpipes which you'd need to get under bonnet to get at.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,777 ✭✭✭Buffman

    As long as you do your research on the particular model and are aware of any potential issues then they're the same as buying any other car. Some issues have been mentioned here already like immobilisers. After-market ones can be fitted so not a deal breaker if the cost is factored in.

    Other things to bear in mind:

    -Check that the cars electronic menu/settings can be or have been set to English as some can't or involve a lot of hassle. Unless you're Japanese is good that can be a pain to live with.

    -Check the radio works and receives all our stations, Japanese FM radio frequencies are different to ours and their radios mightn't pick up all our stations. So if you like the radio, a new radio cost or other solution might have to be factored in.

    FYI, if you move to a 'smart' meter electricity plan, you CAN'T move back to a non-smart plan.

    You don't have to take a 'smart' meter if you don't want one, opt-out is available.

    Buy drinks in 3L or bigger plastic bottles or glass bottles to avoid the DRS fee.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,644 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hellrazer

    Check the Vin on the Fit - GP5 means it has a dual clutch gearbox - dont touch it. The clutch plates are failing and as the system isnt used in Europe so you cant get parts for them- supply from Japan the part is around €3000.00 euros.

    GP1 is a CVT box - nice simple system. Oil change every 40,000 and it`ll last forever.

    The Fit is great little car - Is it a Hybrid?

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,644 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hellrazer

    The Hybrid batteries in the Fit never fail. Honda has a different set up where the electric motor is an "assist" to the petrol engine so when you put your foot down so the batteries arent used as much as some types of Hybrid . Ive never changed a battery in a Fit or Insight in all my years with Honda.Even ones 12+ years old.

    The only caveat with the Hybrids is they use a special engine oil that only Honda supply. But I just buy the oil and filter and change it myself- but a local mechanic would have nu problems doing that for you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 871 ✭✭✭BK5

    You took the words out of my mouth, I have a Honda Insight that is 13 years old, have it 7 years and have put seventy thousand kms on it and not one thing has gone wrong. Has flown through every NCT. As Hellrazer says use only the specific Honda hybrid engine oil and Honda filters and it will give no trouble.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,644 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hellrazer

    Ive a 2014 Insight and I love it - never gave me a days trouble either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,800 ✭✭✭✭_Kaiser_

    Colleague of mine has dabbled in imports and was telling me about the Japanese Audis alright on TCV so I had a look and there looks to be some great cars - mostly petrol of course but that's to be expected (and I didn't think an A8 would look good in white, but I learned something new!)

    Prices look good too but how does it work out in the end after import taxes, VRT (especially if the variant isn't sold here) and insurance? Is it really just spec you're benefitting from now, or is there still value to be had?

    The other issue of course is trade-ins. I have no interest in private selling and would need to be able to swap from the current car to a new one. Are there many non-main dealers bringing these in?

  • Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭Sarahsan

    Thank you so much. No, it's not a hybrid, as much as I would love one I think it's just too expensive at the moment, hopefully the next one! It's a 2012 1.3 petrol automatic, with about 50k miles on it, so thinking it should last a few more years at least. Its very hard to find info for the exact model but as far as I can make out it is a CVT, so sounds like that should be a good thing? I've seen a few people say that their fits have struggled to get up hills if there are four people in the car (someone even said they had to get out and push it!!). Really hoping that's not generally the case (!) and that it's a good choice anyway, and hoping it can handle motorway driving etc. Any thoughts good or bad greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    Post edited by Sarahsan on

  • Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭Sarahsan

    Under 10k, but from the research I've done it sounds like this should be a decent car for the next few years?

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  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,644 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hellrazer

    A 2012 is the CVT one. Dual clutch came in mid 2014 or there abouts.

    A 2012 Fit should be a Hybrid though. Be unusual if it is a non hybrid and it would want to be under €6000 - preferably closer to €5000 for it to be a better option than a hybrid - price on the hybrids seem to be around €7000 - €9000 depending on the specs - theres even a few around for €6000 - offer €5500 and you`d have a good deal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 79 ✭✭Sarahsan

    Thank you! Those seem to have much higher milage though, and I do worry with such an old car that I'd be really stuck if the battery did need to be changed at some point... I'm quite keen on the petrol only as I *think* it's a safer option and the milage is quite low.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,261 ✭✭✭User1998

    Buying a Honda Fit and limiting yourself to non hybrid isn’t a great idea. There are 500 Honda Fits here and only 50 are non hybrid.

    I haven’t heard of any of them giving trouble with the hybrid system. If your limiting yourself to non hybrids you’d be better off looking at something else like a Toyota Vitz or Mazda Demio or something

  • Registered Users Posts: 35 adrianegan3

    Can anyone recommend any particular company for importing cars ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 647 ✭✭✭kaahooters

    i had a fit hybryd for about 4 years, and got up to 300k km in it, super reliable, got about 5l/100km out of it, loved it, but, needed something bigger in the end.

    if you get one, service it at the intervils, the cvt oil changes are every 50k km, bit expensive, but not hard to do, every 100kkm spark plugs need to be changed, theres 8 and iridium, which is expensive.

    apart from that, most reliable car ive owned, no issues, solidly built, hybrid battery is fine, its not really a risk of theft, the toyota prius aqua / c are tho, id avoid them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,695 ✭✭✭hoodie6029

    JDM auction watch. Irish based company. A few in this forum have used them. My father imported an old VW Bettle with them a few years ago. No hassle at all.

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 731 ✭✭✭murphthesmurf

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,792 ✭✭✭✭Andy From Sligo

    do check your car insurers and shop around - my wife was looking to buy a nissan hybrid Jap import recently and her existing insurer (think it was an post insurance) wanted double what she was paying for her car that was bought in Ireland , they said its because of parts/cost of repair and security (even though the import car she was looking for had a immobilizer) - liberty insurance through Chill insurance was the cheapest quote she got for it