Owning a car will cost you a lot of continuous expenses except for car base price such as petrol expenses, vehicle inspection fees, tax and car maintenance fees. In this article, I want you to understand how much expenses you keep paying by owning one car in Japan. I explain here annual car maintenance fees about a light car and a ordinary car.

Specifically, what kind of expenses are car maintenance fees?

The following things are specifically the breakdown of car maintenance fees that costs you on the regular basis in Japan.

  • Car tax
  • car inspection
  • Petrol
  • Parking space
  • Car maintenance
  • Car insurances

Car tax

The tax amount fluctuates depending on total engine displacement and car usage. You pay this tax once a year in every May. For example, car tax of a light car costs you uniformly 10,800 yen. In case of a ordinary car, if its total engine displacement is less than or equal to one liter the car tax will cost you 29,500 yen. If the total engine displacement is more than 1 liter, the amount of car tax will increase by every half-liter increase of the engine displacement. If the engine displacement is more than 6 liters, cat tax will be maximum, 111,000 yen.

Car tax by engine displacement amount

Car type Engine displacement amount tax amount
Light car
10,800 yen
Ordinary car 1 litter 29,500 yen (tax will increase by every half-liter)
More than 6 liters Maximum 111,000 yen

Automobile weight tax

Automobile weight tax is a Japanese unique tax that imposes to an inspected ordinary car and light car

When you newly register a new car to a district transport bureau and have a car inspection, you will pay this automobile weight tax as long as valid period of vehicle inspection certificate lasts at one go. For example, if you buy a new car, you pay 3 years’ worth of automobile weight tax in a lump and if you buy a used car, you pay about 2 years’ worth of automobile weight tax depending on the valid period when car inspection.

If 13 years passes after a new car was registered to a district transport bureau, the tax rate will go up and if 18 years passes, tax rate will go up further

Automobile weight tax rate of a light car (Less than 13 years after car registration)

Uniformly, 3300 yen per year

Automobile weight tax rate of a ordinary car (Less than 13 years after car registration)

Car weight Automobile weight tax rate
0.5t 4,100 yen / year
1t 8,200 yen / year
1.5t 12,300 yen / year
2t 16,400 yen / year
2.5t 20,500 yen / year

Car inspection fees

Car inspection (車検/Shaken) is a system to check if your buying car satisfies the standard decided by the law. All types of cars and bikes with more than 250cc except for small-sized special motor vehicles need to be inspected in accordance with the requirement of the transport bureau of Japan.

Basically, car inspection is done at an inspection area of a district tranport bureau but you have a choice to have your car inspected by a designated car dealer or car repair shop that installs the same car inspection facility equivalient to the one of a district transport bureau so you can request there car maintenance and car inspection at the same time completely. A designated car dealer or car repair shop is like the one specifically receiving endorsement from a district transport bureau as an auto inspection and repair factory. It is generally called “private inspection area (民間検査場/Minkankesajo)” that takes charge of car maintenance and inspection on behalf of a district transport bureau.

After inspection, a safety regulations conforming certificate is issued and this is substitute for a formal car inspection certificate. Valid period of a safety regulations conforming certificate is for maximum 15 days. During 15 days, this certificate becomes an actual car inspection certificate temporarily. A car inspection certificate will be issued within this period. If you receive a call that a car inspection certificate is ready, you go and pick it up at a car dealer or car repair shop that maintenances and inspects your car. If you buy a new car, you receive first car inspection after 3 years and after that, you receive the next car inspections every two year.

In terms of car inspection, there are legal expenses that you have to pay no matter what type of car you buy. Legal expenses consist of a mandatory vehicle liability insurance (自賠責保険/Jibaisekihoken), automobile weight tax (自動車重量税/Jidousha-juryouzei) and revenue stamp fee (procedure fee). If there is no change of the registered type of a car and car inspection frequency, legal expenses are uniform but there is a case that automobile weight tax may fluctuate by the car wieight and by the contents of maintenance and inspection. The more places to fix your car has, the more expensive the legal expenses become.

Generally, basic the average market price of rate and legal expenses is said to be from 70,000yen to 10,000 yen. In terms of legal expenses, the price rate is strictly managed by the government so it doesn’t fluctuate but is uniform as it is revealed on the website of the government. However, if you receive car inspection at a private designated car dealer or car repair factory, car inspection and car maintenance and agency fee can fluctuate drastically depending on the car dealer and the car repair shop. You just make sure how much cost you to receive car inspection beforehand as you talk to your budget.

Legal Car Maintenance (inspection)

Legal inspection is literally decided by the law. The Road Transport Vehicle Act clarifies that every one of car owner has obligation to receive car inspection. This inspection aims for avoidance of car accident so if there are some parts of a car that are founded to be consumed significantly after a car inspection, these are in need of exchanging for new parts. Needless to say, all the process of car inspection is done due to maintaining safe condition without any problems.

In case of a private car (including both a light car and a ordinary car), there are two types of car inspection, “legal 12 month inspection” that you receive car inspection every year and “legal 24 month inspection” that you receive car inspection every two year.

Each inspection item is different between “legal 12 month inspection” and “legal 24 month inspection”. Inspection fees are really different depending on which car dealer or car repair shop you request car inspection but generally the market price will be as follows down below.

Legal 12 month inspection

There are total 26 inspection items and a car will be checked comprehensively. Brake feel and break pad wear and engine room are selectively inspected. After car inspection of car body, undercarriage of a car will be checked. If there is no particular problem as a result of inspection, This car inspection fees costs your around 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen

Legal 24 month inspection

There are total 56 inspection items including 12 month inspection items. There are additional detailed inspection items agaist 26 inspection items of 12 month inspection. For example, the inspection item of “brake damage” is newly added to the inspection item of brake pad wear. Car inspection fees of a light car costs your around 20,000 yen and that of an ordinary car costs your around 30,000 yen.

Legal 3 month inspection

This type of inspection is applied to a bus, truck, taxi and a rental car that are used for business purpose. The number of inspection items is 47. In case of a car that has the apparatus to pull or tow another car, the number of inspection items is 20. Inspection fees are really differet depending on the type of a car.

Legal 6 month inspection

A private small and middle sized truck and rental car is applied to this type of car inspection. The number of inspection items is 22. A car for business use tends to be heavier handed and travel longer distnace than a private ordinary car.

Annual car maintenance costs

The following table is about comparison between a general light car and a general ordinary car about annual maintenane fees.

Type of a car A light car (900kg, 660cc) A ordinary car (1150kg, 1500cc)
Automobile weight tax 9,900 yen / year 37,000 yen / year
Car tax 10,800 yen / 3 year 34,500 yen / 3 year
Car inspection fees including legal inspection fees 70,000 yen 100,000 yen
Mandatory vehicle liability insurance 25,880 yen / 2 year 26,680 yen / 2 year
Petrol 60,000 yen / year 40,000 yen / year
Replacing wear parts 35,000 yen / year 55,000 yen / year
Parking space 320,000 yen / year 320,000 yen / year
Total expenses 521,680 yen / year 650,080 yen / year

This assumption example is comparison between a light car and small sized compact car. Even though the size of both types of a car is really close, total costs of both types of car have more than 100,000 yen difference. This is very big difference in terms of car maintenance fees on the regular basis. Moreover, the more engine displacement the car has, the more expenses increase.

Car maintenance expenses are one of the most important factor to choose a car. However, I think that people mostly choose a car if it fits their lifestyle. For example, if you have a family, you would like to choose a car that secures enough space for every family member to take seats comfortably. So, here is some suggestions to save car maintenance fees down below.

  • Choose a fuel efficient car
  • Take advantage of petrol discounts by applying for a membership card of a gasoline stand
  • Pay attention to idling stop
  • Parking space
  • Unload burdens as often as you reach the destination
  • Check engine oil and air pressure of tires frequently.

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