You may often have heard car dealers associating the terms ‘GRADE’ with Japanese cars during automotive discussions. Cars imported from Japan have an auction sheet grade. Have you ever wondered what does grade mean when it comes to Japanese cars? Why do buyers emphasize on inquiring the grade of Japanese car before finalizing a car deal? On what basis is a Japanese car graded? Which grade car you should look for? How can you verify the grade of a Japanese car? Let me answer all your doubts and ambiguities in this Guide
First of all, let we explain the concept of grades for a Japanese car. A Japanese car is sent to auction houses and auction on a certain bid before the process of export commences. Auction houses grade the car mostly on the standards defined by JASO (Japanese Automotive Standards Organization). The car is graded primarily on the basis of its mileage, interior, and exterior condition. The top right corner of the auction sheet shows the auction grade. A non-fabricated grade helps you evaluate the condition of a car inside out. One of the following grades is assigned to the car after detailed inspection.
• S grade cars rarely come in for auction.
• S grade is assigned to a car less than 1-year-old from the date of first registration.
• The entire car is as good as new.
• Exterior and interior of the car are spotless.
• No signs of wear, repair or corrosion.
• The car falls in grade 6 category when it exceeds a lifespan of 1 year, and the mileage lies between 10,000 to 30,000 km.
• The car is in immaculate condition from all aspects.
• No repair work has been done with engine or body.
• These are old model cars with low mileage but immaculate condition.
• Grade 5 car has a mileage of less than 50,000 km.
• Interior or exterior of a car may contain minor scratches or dents that are quite hard to notice.
• No signs of repair with the engine or body.
• The car with the original mileage of less than 100,000 km is marked as a 4.5-grade car.
• The car may contain minute scratches or dents with a negligible amount of body repair work.
• No repair work with the engine has been done.
• One of the most desirable grades after grade 5 and 6.
• The car is less than 150,000 km in mileage.
• The body may have some little scratches and dents.
• The overall condition of the car is good.
• The dashboard, door panels or seats may contain some stains, scratches or imperfections.
• Grade 4 cars were high in demand under five years import policy of cars.
• The body of the car has few noticeable scratches, dents or repair markets.
• Some minor body repair work may be required.
• The mileage of the car is between 150,000 – 200,000 km.
• The interior may contain some stains, cigarette burn marks, color fades or scratches.
• No history of major accident or crash.
• The exterior contains some good amount of scratches, dents and repair marks.
• Interior also contains many scuffs, color fades, stains, and imperfections.
• Both the interior and exterior may require repairing or replacement.
• The engine may not be in its perfect condition as well.
• The car which has undergone some non-accidental damage or major transformation.
• The car may not have its genuine engine.
• The car may have a secondary component installed aftermarket like turbo or manual transmission converted into an automatic transmission.
• The car may have signs of corrosion or rust.
• The car may have undergone a normal accidental damage and had been repaired.
• RA grade has nothing to do with the age or mileage of the car.
• A car may be less than three months old and assigned an RA grade due to accidental damage.
• A car with grade R has undergone a major accident.
• One or more major body parts require immediate replacement.
• The engine may also not be in working condition due to accidental damage.
Preferring one grade to another is a real tough job. All grades have some pros and cons to be considered. Cars with grade 6, 5 and 4.5 are expensive but worth buying. Grade 4 cars are budget friendly but with few imperfections with the body. These cars have the highest demand due to their affordability. Generally, cars with RA grade having low mileage are preferred over cars having grade 2 or 3. They cost less due to depreciation caused by repair work.
Here is a key demonstrating all the common alphanumeric symbols and their meanings:
A1 Small Scratch
A2 Medium Scratch
A3 Large Scratch
E1 Minor Dimple
E2 Medium Dimple
E3 Large Dimple
U1 Small Dent
U2 Medium Dent
U3 Large Dent
(Bodywork not perfectly straight due to panel beating)
W1 Very Slight Wave / Repair
W2 Medium Wave / Repair
W3 Large Wave / Repair
Rust and Corrosion
(Rust means surface orange discoloration. Corrosion means orange discoloration which is flaking away.)
S1 Minor Rust
S2 Medium Rust
S3 Major Rust
C1 Light Corrosion
C2 Medium Corrosion
C3 Severe Corrosion
Replaced parts or those needing replacing
X Need to be replaced
XX Has been replaced
B1 Minor Distortion
B2 Medium Distortion
B3 Major Distortion
Y1 Small Crack
Y2 Medium Crack
Y3 Major Crack
X1 Approx 1cm crack on windscreen
R Repaired Crack
RX Repaired crack in windscreen, but in needs to be replaced
X Crack in windscreen, so it needs replacing
FW Front windscreen
P1 Minor paintwork damage
P2 Medium paintwork damage
P3 Major paintwork damage.