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Tire Tread on Japanese Car Auction Reports
Most car auctions in Japan do not indicate the amount of tread on the tires of the used cars they are selling. However, some do so by writing a number in each of the circles representing the wheels on the car map. The number the auction inspector writes indicates the depth of tread remaining.
A brand new tire with full tread would be a 10. So seven and above means that there is a good amount of tread left, and three or below means that the tires are getting a bit bald and may need replacing soon.
(Now, Monday’s Honda auctions and a few other minor auctions do it a little differently: Instead of writing 7, meaning 7/10 tread remaining, you will see next to the number it says “mm” — so “7” will mean “7 mm” tread remains. Remember that this is unusual, so unless you see “mm” next to the tread number on the car map, you know that it is not depth of tread in millimeters, but rather the amount of tread remaining in 10ths).
You can see two examples below. Although the Hiace below is a grade 3.5, it has almost 360,000 KM on the odometer, and its tires show it. The Passo, on the other hand has tires that are in close to new condition:
As I mentioned above, tire tread is mentioned reasonably rarely on the car inspection reports, so you should not rely on having this information all the time.
You will also notice that sometimes you will see the letter “A” written in each of the wheels on the car map instead of a number. As you may know from reading about the car map, “A” means “scratched” so by writing this in the wheels on the map, the inspector is indicating that the wheel caps are scratched.
Unless you are buying a car that clearly indicates 7 or above for the level of tire tread, you should always be prepared for the possibility of needing to replace tires when you import it. We always recommend a full service and replacement of perishable items like oil, oil filters, brake pads etc. before selling the car on, or putting some sustained mileage on it.
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