Shaken – Japan’s Car Roadworthiness Test & How it Affects Auction Prices

What is the Shaken?

In line with many countries, such as the UK, Japan requires cars and other vehicles to pass a roadworthiness test periodically to remain certified for driving on public roads. In Japan’s case, this car roadworthiness test is called the Shaken (“shah-ken”).

Cars and bikes for private use have to have their Shaken renewed 3 years after the vehicle was bought, and then subsequently every two years after that. In the case of cars owned by businesses, this has to be renewed every year.

While there may well be environmental and safety benefits to this regime, the result is often that as cars age, it is increasingly more common for the owner to consider getting rid of the car and buying a new one. This is one of the reasons that there is such a good selection of quality used cars in the Japanese car auctions.

How does this affect you as a buyer outside Japan?

You may be wondering what this has to do with you. After all, if you are reading this, you are almost certainly thinking about buying cars from auctions in Japan and importing them into your country. You’re never going to drive the car in Japan, so what do you care about the Shaken.

Well, you may not care, but remember that there are other people competing against you for these cars in the auctions. Some will be other car importers buying to export the cars out of Japan, but the majority will be car dealers in Japan looking for vehicles to sell to their local market.

Imagine you are a Japanese car dealer. You have a choice between two cars: The Shaken on one has expired. On the other hand, the other car has 17 months still remaining before it’s roadworthiness certificate expires.

Which one would you prefer?

Obviously, as a car dealer in Japan the one with more time left on the Shaken certificate is going to be worth more to you. If it is worth more to you, then you are going to be willing to bid more for that car. So you can see how the length of Shaken remaining on a car is going to be correlated with its final price at auction.

Why not have a look at the used car auctions in Japan for yourself?

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