There is a lot of variation within the car world and many factors could lead to different results in the mileage. Many used JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars have very low mileage and it may seem too good to be true. Many think that these values can’t possibly be so low, but there are lots of reasons why this is.

Can I Trust the Mileage Advertised on A Used JDM Engine? Yes, the mileage can usually be trusted if purchased from a reliable seller. Mileage on JDM used engines are commonly low because of the serious inspection system which can cost thousands of dollars, resulting in cars commonly being traded in after a few years.

It makes more sense for most Japanese drivers to simply trade their vehicle in after 2-4 years instead of paying the hefty fee of inspection. This explains the low mileage on so many used Japanese domestic vehicles and engines. A buyer can, however, go wrong if they make the wrong buyer choice or don’t understand the different factors to consider.

Low Mileage on used JDM Engines: Explained

In Japan, they have JCI (Japan Compulsory Insurance) which requires a new car to be inspected after 2 years. Since it is required, it can cost drivers hundreds to thousands of dollars to do this every few years. But the cost can quickly add up.

Here are some other important things to know relevant to low mileage on JDM engines:

  • Japanese cars have much lower mileages when compared to other cars.
  • American cars on average have 165,000 miles on their engines.
  • Japanese cars typically have an average of 37,000 miles on theirs.

Compared to many western cars that are extremely low, Japan even has the lowest value in the world. For context, American cars on average are 11 years old and are driven 15,000 miles a year giving an average mileage of 165,000.

It can now be understood how many would think a number this low would have to be fabricated. There’s another important factor to think about when explaining low mileage in their cars: public transportation is prominent in Japan.

Public Transportation in Japan

Due to the urban nature of most of Japan, they have developed an extensive public transportation system, whereas many other countries have wide tracts of land that have yet to be developed in this fashion.

This means that many people simply take buses, trains, subways, boats, and planes wherever they need to go and avoid using a car. To many people, cars are seen as weekend vehicles and use them as such.

The Japanese people are extremely proud of their vehicles but especially their trains. Many people will drive their car to the train station because they prefer the train. All these varieties of transit add spice and options that are not overlooked by the Japanese as they take full advantage of them.

City Density

Congestion is a common problem in cities, and for many, public transit can be much faster and even cheaper than driving a car around everywhere.

Some people don’t want to drive on the way to work or elsewhere on the weekdays cause they would rather nap, work, or read, driving a car eliminates those options.

In addition, there is no responsibility to the driver if something were to happen, crashes and accidents leave liability to the transit system.

Culture of Newer Cars

The Japanese usually do things quite differently than the rest of the world and that makes them stand out. mileage on cars is no different, the culture in Japan is very into cars and they generally don’t like to have old cars for very long. New cars are a status symbol in Japanese culture that creates fervent competition to ditch the old car and get a brand new one.

Japan is one of the world’s greatest car manufacturers with such brands as

  • Nissan
  • Honda
  • Subaru

This fuels the competition and creates all sorts of brand loyalty for the Japanese people. They are very proud of all their successful car manufacturers and what better way to support them than to constantly buy new ones.

Environmental Factors

Japan is an island nation, and because of this cars are extremely susceptible to rusting and corrosion. The sea air and salt water leave all sorts of moisture in the air that travels around the country leaving damage on people’s property.

Gas Prices

It is more expensive to drive around in Japan even if you aren’t driving a gas guzzler the gas is still nearly twice as much as America.

The gas emission rules are much stricter in Japan as well run by an organization known as Shaken, inevitably this means many cars and trucks are just off limits and the pool of vehicles civilians can use and drive gets smaller. The easier option is to walk, bike or use mass transit before getting constant strict car inspections.


Drivers must pass a roadworthiness test every 2 years run by this organization, this starts when a vehicle becomes 3 years old. This may be the top reason why Japanese cars have such a short lifespan when in Japan.

Taking the Shaken test can cost as much as $1500 dollars and only goes up as the car ages. Shaken also requires registrations, renewals and extreme testing on these vehicles. One example of the type of inspection is that any exterior body damage requires immediate repair before it goes back on the road.

The whole undercarriage of the car is inspected and the durability of the suspension system is tested. The strictness goes beyond exterior dents and scratches, emissions aren’t even allowed to be 1% above the normal value.

Every light on the vehicle will be tested and made sure they function properly and aim at the correct angle. They test the speedometer of the car by running it on a dynamometer, the interior of the car is tested with scrutiny to make sure it is in accordance with Japanese transportation law.

The hassle of these tests is able to keep some people from having a car more than 3 years old if they decide to even get a car. Typically after the third inspection, the car fails the tests and is stripped and the engines and transmissions are shipped across the world. This trend has been going on since the 1980s.

Are JDM Engines Reliable?

Many consumers report that these engines sold en masse have little to no problems for there mileage and others say they are completely broken.

It’s hard to know what to expect but keep in mind that some Japanese drivers know that their engine is temporary and that they will get rid of their car before three years to avoid Shaken. Knowing this, it is probable that some will abuse their engine and despite its low mileage it will run very poorly without oil changes and maintenance

Some say this is a conspiracy and that they take care of the cars, there will be some outliers that may fall under the first case but as a whole, these engines are very reliable.


Those who sell engines that have higher mileage than what they really have will only stand to gain more money by charging more. Tropes such as the sleazy used car salesman have seeped in anywhere and the general populace feels great distrust for many car related products.

To top all of it off the fact that JDM engines are unverifiable means the consumer has no idea what to expect. It is tough to find a seller of these bundled engines that would be honest about high mileage, the profit margins would drop significantly.

There have been reports of engines that functioned perfectly fine, while others say there recently purchased JDM engine didn’t work at all. It is a game of risk just like most aspects of car buying, having extremely low mileage engines is not entirely unbelievable for JDM engines, in fact, it is very believable.

Find a Trusted Seller

The last thing I want to mention is that if you do plan on purchasing a used JDM engine, its best to stick with the reliable sellers. Shops like these below have been around for a while and have a reputation. They have solid Google Reviews, Contact emails/phone numbers, Good looking websites, etc.

You are better going off with a seller who has a good reputation because they will want repeat customers. They won’t sell you a dud engine, they will sell you the real deal because they want to keep making money of you. Better to spend the extra cash versus buying from a random person on Craigslist.