Japanese import car recalls – what are they?
It can be both important and informative to check whether your imported vehicle has had manufacturer’s recall work done.
Recall work involves checking, repairing or replacing parts on a car, which the manufacturer has found to be defective, potentially dangerous or subject to premature failure. The work is carried out at main dealerships, at the manufacturer’s expense.
Japanese import car recalls – why should you care?
You should care because the recall work carried out can affect your safety and the reliability / longevity of your vehicle.
I’d really like to know if some safety-critical recall work hasn’t been performed on the car I drive, and I suggest you should too! It might not be safety critical, it might just be something that could affect the longevity of the vehicle. I’d like to know about that too!
A recent safety-related example of this is the global recall of Takata airbag units, thought to affect 53 million vehicles worldwide. Sadly there have been multiple fatalities attributed to this failure.
This should be enough to convince you of the importance of checking your vehicle is up to date with recalls.
Aside from this safety-related example, there are other recalls which can have an impact on the reliability of a car. A good example of this is the Nissan Elgrand. Catalytic converter damage was found to be happening due to unburned fuel entering the exhaust. There was a recall to correct the fuelling. Buying a car that has had this recall done, or alternatively getting the recall done, is going to be better for the longevity of the car.
For UK domestic market cars, recalls are generally organised proactively by the manufacturer, using data provided by the DVSA. This is done by the equivalent authorities in Japan (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport) when the car is still in Japan, but not once the car is imported. So you’ll need to do a little digging yourself if you want to check.
An indicator of careful ownership?
If a car is up to date with all the recall work, this can indicate careful ownership. Not everyone takes their car back to the dealer to have recall work done, but those who do are likely to be more diligent and careful owners.
If the car is about to be purchased in Japan on your behalf, it may also be helpful to know whether any recall work needs to be done. It may be simpler to get the recall work done in Japan before the car leaves. Not all export agents will do this, but some will for an additional fee. Some main dealers in the UK will do recall work on imported cars, but there may be additional delays while they source parts.
How to check whether Japanese import car recalls have been done?
In short, you can look online or look at the car.
The online method
To do this, you will need Google Chrome browser, your car’s chassis number and a little patience.
Follow the link to the recalls section of the relevant manufacturer’s website, as indicated below.
Recall Information Search Pages
Imported Daihatsu recall check
Imported Honda recall check
Imported Mazda recall check
Imported Mitsubishi recall check
Imported Nissan recall check
Imported Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries) recall check
Imported Suzuki recall check
Imported Toyota recall check
For most of these websites, the next step should be fairly obvious: type in your chassis number and model code (the first part of the chassis number), then click ‘search.’
This should return a list of recalls applicable to your vehicle, with an indication of which have been done and which are outstanding. You may need to click the translate button again on each new page.
Hopefully you’ll get confirmation that they have all been done.
Each recall will come with an explanation of the problem and the work involved. Often the Google translated version is in rather broken English, but usually good enough to get a reasonable understanding of the issue.
The ‘look at the car’ method
When a car has recall work done, it is usually marked in some way to indicate that the work has been done. Stickers showing the recall number are usually applied on the B pillar on the driver’s side. Examples of these are shown at the start of this post.
You might also notice paint marker dots in the engine bay. Again these are applied when recall work has been done.
Whilst these are useful, they don’t tell you which recalls haven’t been done (unless you know all of the recall work that should have been done already).
Now you know how to check whether your Japanese import car recalls have been done, and why you should bother doing so.
How to use this information? You could:
- Ask your agent to do this before bidding, as an extra check for a careful owner.
- Check a car for sale in the UK before purchase.
- Check a car you’ve already bought.
What to do if your car needs recall work doing? This is a tricky one: I know of some people in the UK who have managed to get their local main dealer to perform recall work on a car imported from Japan. Others have been less fortunate. You could always contact the UK headquarters for the manufacturer of your vehicle for further assistance.