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Year of Manufacturing Vs. Year of First Registration

As would be expected, auction houses auction cars owned by sellers. Auctions do the independent grading of the car, but the seller is responsible for filling out other data about the car.

One piece of information that a seller fills out is the car's "year", but most of the time, they write down the year of registration instead of the year of manufacturing.

What's the Issue?

The problem with having the wrong date is that you're not getting what you think you're getting. This can be a problem for you if your looking for a particular year model which could have many differences from the previous model.

Even greater of a problem is that during the importing process, laws and regulations may differ for different years. You may face additional costs or even have to have the car re-exported for having a car that is different than what you thought your importing. Also, in many instances, Customs and other agencies will require the year of first registration, year of manufacturing, or both for certain parts of the process and you will be responsible to provide them.

There are a few primary cases when the year of registration may be different than year of manufacturing:

  1. Car was registered in January. It could have been manufactured the year before.
  2. Car is foreign and could have been imported as a used car well after it was manufactured.
  3. Car was a floor model that was not registered until later.

How To Avoid Possible Problems

What most buyers want to know is the year of manufacture, but this is usually not as simple as looking at the data provided by the auction house.

To find out the correct year, an agent must do an on-site inspection of the actual car at the auction before bidding. They can find the year of manufacture printed on car seat belts. Alternatively, you can decode the VIN number when available.

If not done, the agent will have to wait for delivery of the car before he/she knows the year.

This problem generally is handled by the agent in Japan and rarely affects an importer buying from Japan, but it can happen and is something to look out for.

Sometimes the auction house will offer reduced fees or take the car back. Other times, agents are stuck with the car and must either re-auction it themselves, or try to find another customer that wants it with the real model year.

The twenty seconds of time invested by your agent can save you and him/her in many ways. Always take the time to double check things before you commit/buy.