Imported Japanese Car Parts & Servicing

This post covers servicing and parts supply for imported Japanese cars.  Hopefully it will reassure you that parts and servicing aren’t as challenging as you might think.

Imported Japanese car servicing

If the owner’s manual is only available in Japanese (and you can’t read Japanese), how will you or your mechanic work out how often to service your imported car and know what needs to be done?  I’ve got a few suggestions:

  • Toyota Starlet GT Turbo timing belt change interval stickerToyota Starlet GT Turbo oil change interval stickerIs there an active owners’ forum for the car in question?  If so, you’ll probably be able to get some pointers by searching around on the forum.
  • Is there a similar car sold in an English-speaking country?  By similar I mean a car sharing the same engine and/or drivetrain.  If there is, you could look up the service schedule for this car and use it to guide the servicing for your car.  My  Toyota Noah was a good example of this: it shares its engine with the Toyota Avensis, which is available in the UK.  Therefore it would be reasonable to use the Avensis service schedule as a guide to servicing a Noah.
  • Can you buy a translated owner’s manual?  These exist for some of the more popular models.
  • There may be clues dotted around the car.  My Starlet GT Turbo had several examples of this.  There was a sticker on the camshaft cover over the cambelt saying 100,000 km.  Its not a huge leap to work out that the cambelt needs changing at 100,000 km.  The same goes for the sticker showing engine oil viscosity and industry quality standards along with 5000 km.

Failing all of the above, find a skilled and experienced mechanic and ask them to suggest a suitable servicing schedule.  In most cases it is more important that you are servicing the car than the exact service intervals, although obviously too often would be preferable to not often enough.

Imported Japanese car parts

Now I’ll move on to parts for Japanese import cars.  In my experience, getting parts for your imported Japanese car is fairly straightforward.

The first step is to identify the number of the part you need.  There may sometimes be a bit more work involved in this step than there would be for a UK market car.  Once this is done, actually getting the part is usually simple.  Why is this?  It makes sense for car manufacturers to have as many parts in common across multiple cars.  This means that that the majority of parts you’re likely to need for your imported Japanese car won’t be unique to that car.  There is probably a UK domestic market car that shares the same part.

If you use a mechanic to do your servicing and repairs for you, most of this section should only be of passing interest as the mechanic will be sourcing the parts for you.  However I hope it reassures you that in the vast majority of cases the parts will be available for your mechanic to source through many of their usual channels.

Finding the part number

oil filter from an imported japanese car
  • Look at the old part!  I’ll start with the simplest option:  does the old part still have a readable number on?  If it’s an oil filter you may be in luck, but if it’s a brake disc, the number probably rusted away some time ago.
  • Ask other owners in an online owners forum.  If it is a thriving forum with lots of members, part numbers may have been posted up to help other members.
  • Your mechanic may already know the part number or interchangeability with a UK market car if they work on a lot of imported cars.
  • Look online to find a parts catalogue for your vehicle. This will hopefully lead you to a part number, which you can then search for.
  • Go to your local main dealer armed with the chassis number (frame number) for your car.  They should be able to find the part number and get all the parts you need.  I have confirmed that this is the case with Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru.  Sounds expensive?  Don’t worry too much, once you’ve bought the part from the main dealer once, you have the part number.  If this is something you’re going to need again and again, you can use the part number to buy an aftermarket equivalent next time.

Buying the part

  • Local car parts suppliers.  These will be used to finding the part you need by looking it up using data held by the DVLA associated with the registration number of the car.  They won’t be able to do this with a car imported from Japan because minimal data are recorded against the registration number of an imported car by the DVLA.  However most places will respond well to being given a part number.  They will also have extensive part number cross reference tables to help find what you need.
  • Online car parts suppliers.  Searching for the part number using your favourite internet search engine will usually lead you to somewhere selling it.
  • Import the part!  If you’re really struggling to find the part you need for your car in the UK, why not import the part from Japan, just like the car itself?

I can supply a vast range of new and used parts for vehicles imported from Japan, so if you’re struggling to find something, give me a try. The first step is to complete the following form.


  1. You have a really well put together website, Andrew.
    I typed “Elgrand breaking” in to ebay, and there are a surprising number (17) that look healthy and not crashed, yet are being dismantled.
    I can only conclude that there are some show stopper parts that mean the vehicle is a write-off when they go wrong. What do you reckon?
    Toyota and Honda seem to fare better in this respect, suggesting it is definitely not down to accidents.

    • Hi John

      Thanks very much for your compliments about the website!

      The Elgrand certainly seems to have more reliability issues than most Toyotas or Hondas I’ve encountered. That is not to say cars from Toyota and Honda are completely without fault, but most things seem to be able to be fixed at reasonable cost.

      I guess the most written about Elgrand problem is the catalytic converters. It has 2 pairs of catalytic converters: the first set can break up and block the second set. This blockage can cause severe damage to the engine. In many cases I doubt it would be economical to repair or replace the engine once this has happened.

      I’ve done the same ebay search as you and as you say there are quite a few cars being broken. I’m sure they all have an interesting story to tell! Some might have experienced engine failure that isn’t economical to repair, others might have been bought at auction in Japan without prior inspection and turned out to be duffers on arrival, with so many problems that breaking is more cost effective than fixing for sale. Others still might have been imported deliberately to be sold for parts.

      In summary, based on what I’ve seen and read, the Elgrand does have more problems than its Toyota (Alphard) counterpart. A few of these problems can get very expensive. It is a bit more tricky to say for certain with the Hondas, because there are less of them about. The Stepwagon seems pretty reliable, as does the 2.4 Elysion.

      Best wishes

  2. Hi i have a toyota litace 2200cc 1996 , looking for rear door hindges cna you help thank you Mrr A Wynne

    • Hi, sorry I can’t help you with those. If I was looking for some, I’d be searching eBay on a regular basis for a Toyota Liteace being broken for spares.

      If you’re getting desperate, you could try a Toyota dealer – this assumes the hinges are still made of course.

      Another thing to do would be to find the part number as described in this post, then research whether the hinges are common to other Toyotas (it is quite likely that they are). This then gives you a wider range of cars to target when searching for cars being broken for spares.

      Hope this helps

  3. Hi Andrew
    I’m looking to replace my adjustable shock absorber and spring on the front passenger side but can’t find one. Any idea’s??
    Many Thanks

    • Hi Julie

      What sort of car is it and which shocks/springs have you got on there at the moment?


    • Hi Richard

      Have you asked at a Daihatsu dealership? The part does seem to be available so they should be able to help. If you don’t have a Daihatsu dealer nearby, you could go to Toyota instead (same part number) although it may be more expensive.

      Could also get one from here but remember the import duty and VAT.


  4. So this is what happens when a writer does the homework needed to write quality material. Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful content.

  5. Hi, I’m getting a Mitsubishi Delica L400 2004 3.0L V6, converted to a campervan and should have it very soon. I have looked on the Delica forum, but can’t find a service schedule or parts list anywhere. Do you think you could help? Is it the same as a Pajero?
    Thank you. Sam.

    • Hi Sam, I don’t have (or have a source for) a service schedule for your Delica. However if you use one for a Pajero / Shogun with the same engine then that should be fine as the Delica shares the engine and gearbox with the Pajero. There are various online sources offering Delica workshop manuals for sale but I haven’t tried any of them so am not in a position to recommend.

      I believe the engine in yours is a 6G72 and this engine has featured in lots of Mitsubishi, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles, so a manual for the engine should be fairly easy to come by online.


  6. Hi. I have a 1996 Toyota Granvia 3.0 Japanese import, which needs a new camshaft. eBay has them but not sure if it is the right kind.

    • Hi Stuart

      Thanks for your enquiry, I’ve sent you an email about the camshaft.


  7. does anyone know of a garage in the stoke on trent area that can alter the clock and pair my phone to my honda odyessy 2010 model’

  8. Hi,

    Recently purchased an Alphard Hybrid, looking to give it a full service and hybrid battery service.

    I live in Nottingham – could you kindly recommend any reputable specialist in the area or surrounding?

  9. Hello Andrew.
    My name is Jacques Nyabenda, I saw some comments here that why I decided to ask few questions. I have a car Nissan Elgrand and now it’s at one of great company Moorooka Motor Group, they are dealing with Nissan Hyundai Isuzu and Suzuki, they tried to use all their computers maybe the car can talk to computer but in vain because my car stopped to start itself , I brought it here at Moorooka Motor Group by Thinking maybe they will fix it but in vain, now I am looking for someone expert who can fix it. What can be the problem and who’s the expert for Japanese import car? Especially Nissan Elgrand.
    Thank you

    • Hi

      The garage will need diagnostic software that works to the JOBD protocol. There is plenty of it about, just a case of finding a garage with it. You could try one of the Australia-specific owners’ groups to find a recommendation.


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