Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

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Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by A10 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:00 pm

And last post,

So in part 1 we went through an overview on the used car market here, what to expect, and some basic ins and outs of used car shopping. topic29553.html

In Part 2 (post342218.html#p342218), we listed the best sub $15k options for vehicles, and they were all small engine cars or old trucks, and of course Toyotas (except one, the Kia Morning, and I don't particularly like these cars for a number of reasons but read the post to see why).

So in Part 3, I just want to introduce a possible new thing that's coming to Cambodia (or not), and the route I chose with my personal car (after ditching a wrecked Prius).


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***Now I know I mentioned a lot of cars online are jokes or really bad vehicles that bigger dealerships don't want to touch, but if you see an online ad from a bigger dealership (say, 50-100 plus car inventory), you can probably assume it's not a total disaster trying to be flogged off by someone behind a screen.**

As mentioned, this isn't really a common option, but I'll put it in because I saw a few dealers going this route and given the tax situation is not likely to ever change downward, it might be what the future holds for budget minded motorists here.



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Introducting, left hand drive Japanese Domestic market cars. Yes, cars that are left hand drive exist in Japan and are exported to various countries around the world. But you might be wondering, why do these cars exist at all in a country with almost solely right hand drive cars (although left hand drive is legal to own and import)? The answer, because there is now an exporter (or five) that are specializing in converting right hand drive cars to left hand drive, and are exporting these cars from Japan to left drive markets.

If that sounds a bit far fetched, well, it's not. Maybe difficult to do, but there are a few very good reasons it makes financial sense.



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***The car I'll focus on is the 2005-2011 Toyota Vitz for example***

1. Japanese cars are notoriously low mileage. Japan has a great public transportation infrastructure in place and often times if you do drive, there's not a big distance to the nearest shopping mall or store, so cars rarely rack up high "miles". I wont post to the Japanese auction as it's written in Japanese, but finding sub 100,000 km cars (60,000 miles) is the norm, not the exception, whereas in the U.S., Canada for example, it's the opposite.

2. Japanese cars are plentiful in any form including well maintained, lightly used and non wrecked. This is because cars older than 10 years incur significantly higher tax rates (not due to emissions like some believe), so often times fair condition small engine cars with no mechanical faults are sold off for less than $1000 because the taxes make them financially unreasonable to own, especially regular non special edition cars like the Vitz.

3. Japanese cars often have very small engines. This is a BIG reason this might take off in Cambodia, because as the engine size goes up, the tax goes up exponentially. 2.4 liter Camrys now incur a $13,000 tax, whereas a 1.0 liter Toyota Vitz is only hit with a $3,600 tax. So...saving $10,000? Yeah, good deal no?


Now the car I personally decided on was a 2006 Vitz (also known as the Yaris), but unlike the Yaris, the Vitz comes with two different engine options that are not available in the U.S. (where most imports come from). The 1NR engine (1.3 liter) and the award winning 1KR engine (990cc).

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I decided on the 1KR 3 cylinder engine because knowing Cambodia, 68 horsepower is more than enough to make due, and even though sub 70 horsepower seems like very little in American terms, it's plenty for here. Being named "International Engine of the Year" 4 years in a row didn't hurt either.

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Also, the car had only 58,000 km on it (39,000 miles) which I confirmed via the Japanese auction it was sent to, which is WAY less than the average American car. I've seen 2 year old American cars with more miles than that frequently.

Fuel economy is great too, and at a light cruise the car does 57 mpg US, 68 mpg UK (4.1 liters per 100 km, 24 km/l). In the city it dips below 30 mpg US, 36 mpg UK (8 liters per 100 km, 12.7 km/l) but that's far better than anything else I've had minus the Prius, which did about the same in tight city traffic and slightly better on the open road.

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And the best part, this low mileage non wrecked "pristine" Toyota (really, it was a 7/10 condition wise, but that's miles better than most cars here when they arrive)...the price.

$10,000 all in, taxes paid, plated, ready to go. Spend another $250 today on complete fluid and filter exchanges.

But I also chose BY FAR, the best condition car on the lot (out of the 5 that were there), and of course it was the most expensive. So if you wanted a slightly worse but still good condition Vitz 1.0 or 1.3 liter, you could very easily be all in below $9,000, possibly the low $8k if you really found a desperate seller. But given my car had only been on the lot a week or so, I don't think these will last long here for obvious reasons.

***

So, are there any drawbacks? Of course...and in no particular order, here they are.

1. Being a left hand drive converted car, there's a few annoyances like the shifter still being backward and things the passenger is supposed to have (like a grab handle) are on the driver's side. You also lose the passenger airbag. If you're not mechanically inclined, make sure the now driver's side airbag is removed, otherwise in a wreck it could be dangerous. Mine was, but it doesn't hurt to check.

2. Everything on the car is in Japanese. If you can't read Japanese, the stereo, nav, and switches are going to be in a foreign language (except for some pictures that are probably familiar).

3. The steering controls are backwards, so the wipers are on the left and the signals on the right. Gets confusing if you're not accustomed to it.

4. Some maintenance info is hard to find, especially on the 1.0 liter car (which I have). Getting the proper oils and capacities was hard even for me (a mechanic), and it took me half of the day today ensuring I had the right stuff.

5. You also might incur an extra $400 (or more) fee for importing a "right hand drive" car. I didn't have to pay it, but the officer did try and charge me at first until proof was shown the fee was paid.

6. This only applies to the Vitz/Yaris, if you have a shop look at the car, they might think it's a Yaris and service it as such, which might be disastrous if you have a CVT transmission like I have (which does not accept the same fluid and will be destroyed if filled with automatic transmission fluid, including Toyota Prius CVT fluid, which makes things even more confusing).

7. It's still a new car to Cambodia, and although a Toyota, it's not exactly a "common" Toyota although the Yaris is a known car here with parts available locally.

****

In terms of the conversion, how would I rate it?

I can't speak for all, but my car was done particularly well. The steering is nice and tight, there's no drill marks or missing trim pieces, and the car tracks straight and true. The window swtiches were installed badly but that's it and it doesn't bother me because they still work. They just sit a little crooked, which is a non issue for most people here.


So in the end, I thought it was worth it, especially because of the ultra low mileage and the fact the car was not a crashed vehicle, and also because of the big savings in import tax. My car was $10,000, but a car in worse condition with higher miles (still low and likely not a wreck) could be as low as $8,500, which I think is a much better deal than a $7,000 Korean built Kia of the same year.

But in the end the choice is yours, I just wanted to put this info out there.

I might add more but I'm getting tired writing and am getting ready to end my shift on a slow day.

Hope this was helpful, and take care friends.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by explorer » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:28 pm

I have a similar car in Australia. I paid AU$1,300, which is approximately US$1,000. So this is still expensive.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by A10 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:34 pm

I have an LX470 I paid $5,200 for in the U.S. What's your point?
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by whatwat » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:24 pm

How do you know where it was manufactured? Wiki says they are made in a few places including Thailand.

Also, a small car is ok for city but not highway driving.


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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by logos » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:57 am

Great posts A10. Small engines, low mileage Japanese imports are bound to gain huge market share here, at long last, for all the reasons you've outlined.

I have a couple cars here including a 1999 (I think) lx470 with about 300k miles and a lpg setup, bought 2 years ago for about 19k. Last year the seller wanted to buy it back for the same price but I knew about the tax, plus the car is still great, so obviously I turned him down. Are you saying I could make an easy 10K profit on that car now?

A10 wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:34 pm
I have an LX470 I paid $5,200 for in the U.S. What's your point?
It's explorer. His main point is, he doesn't have one.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by A10 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:22 am

I honestly don't know much about bigger SUVs here as I have little to no interest in them. I saw one LX470 (04) with over 300k that I think was $43,000 (I looked at so many cars it's hard to remember), but as with vehicles here the longer it's been in the country, the less valuable it is. So as for how much you could actually get for your 99? I really don't know.

And just misc, I misstyped, I have a GX not an LX in the states, or rather had. Just sold it recently.

whatwat wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:24 pm
How do you know where it was manufactured? Wiki says they are made in a few places including Thailand.

Also, a small car is ok for city but not highway driving.
In the VIN you can usually discern which factory it comes from. It varies between manufacturers though.

And it depends what you mean being "okay" for highway driving. I know many people who use superminis on a daily basis on the motorway.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by whatwat » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:39 am

A10 wrote:I honestly don't know much about bigger SUVs here as I have little to no interest in them. I saw one LX470 (04) with over 300k that I think was $43,000 (I looked at so many cars it's hard to remember), but as with vehicles here the longer it's been in the country, the less valuable it is. So as for how much you could actually get for your 99? I really don't know.

And just misc, I misstyped, I have a GX not an LX in the states, or rather had. Just sold it recently.

whatwat wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:24 pm
How do you know where it was manufactured? Wiki says they are made in a few places including Thailand.

Also, a small car is ok for city but not highway driving.
In the VIN you can usually discern which factory it comes from. It varies between manufacturers though.

And it depends what you mean being "okay" for highway driving. I know many people who use superminis on a daily basis on the motorway.
Oh ok.
Just seems strange Japan convert to LHD when other countries probably make them LHD already, like China. Must still be profitable I guess.

On the highway you’ll be bullied by everyone apart from maybe a TukTuk and a bicycle!

My friend just bought an LX470 03 with LPG from khmer24. Private seller.
I went with him (he ambushed me in the bar) as I know a little about cars. We drove it around the block and it looked straight.
I think he paid $19k for it, which I think was a good deal.

Had it checked out by a western mechanic and all good.

He only drives around town (SR) so I’m not sure why he bothered. Plus it’s black!

I told to get a CRV or RAV4 but no. Has to get a massive beast!

I may look at those Zits, or whatever they are called, for the wife. Nice city car.


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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by A10 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:49 am

whatwat wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:39 am
Just seems strange Japan convert to LHD when other countries probably make them LHD already, like China. Must still be profitable I guess.

On the highway you’ll be bullied by everyone apart from maybe a TukTuk and a bicycle!

My friend just bought an LX470 03 with LPG from khmer24. Private seller.
I went with him (he ambushed me in the bar) as I know a little about cars. We drove it around the block and it looked straight.
I think he paid $19k for it, which I think was a good deal.

Had it checked out by a western mechanic and all good.

He only drives around town (SR) so I’m not sure why he bothered. Plus it’s black!

I told to get a CRV or RAV4 but no. Has to get a massive beast!

I may look at those Zits, or whatever they are called, for the wife. Nice city car.


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I agree that I was surprised to find companies actually doing conversions (I had to research them because I though Cambodians were doing the swap), but nonetheless they are. It's actually not too bad with an electric steering car though, as all that needs to be done is the steering rack swapped over it seems. No power steering lines to reroute, no reservoirs and pumps to relocate, and with this car, the steering column fits right under the brake booster, so even that stayed.

Dash also looks easy, just swap a few pieces over and you're good to go.

I'm very happy with the Yaris/Vitz so far. Slightly bigger than a Morning/Visto/Atoz, much better build quality and better fuel economy surprisingly. I never topped 16 km/l in a Visto but this thing does almost 25 on the open road.

I can't imagine having a 4.7 petrol engine here. I'd get 15 mpg in the states on the open highway, here I'd expect to see 10. Smooth reliable beast for sure (I had a GX470), but thirsty and unwieldy as hell.

As for bullying, that'll happen in anything that's not a new big name luxury SUV. We also picked up a Nissan Navarra for the provinces (2012), and even that gets pushed off to the side by LX570s and Range Rovers. So it's best to just go with the flow and enjoy the air conditioning.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by cptrelentless » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:02 am

It's a pity there's no love for the i10 here, I drove one as a rental a couple of months back. Seat not the greatest but ran on a thimble full of juice and would do a ton. Petrol is £1.30 now.
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Re: Buying a used car here in 2019? Part 3, another option?

Post by Bitte_Kein_Lexus » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:42 am

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
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