Friday, January 25, 2013

8 Tips For Owning a Kei Car or Kei Truck In The USA

US-spec Subaru 360. Picture from Subaru of Keane

So you are attracted to the tiny, small-engined Japanese cars and trucks known as "kei" vehicles? Here is an article about owning them in the USA.

1: The easiest to find in the US are the Subaru 360/Sambar, Suzuki LJ20/Carry and Honda 600, since they were officially imported in the early 1970s and all US models are left-hand-drive, but parts availability may be an issue.
 2: Importing a car over 25 model years of age into any state but California will be easy, kei trucks will be exempt from the 25% "chicken tax" if they are over 25 model years old, and registration will be easy unless you are registering a marque not sold in the US like Autozam. Others, like Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi and even Daihatsu, are in virtually all DMV databases. Fans of the Honda City, which is possibly the most desirable import-eligible kei car known to Americans, are in luck.

3: Anyone with large feet, broad shoulders or more than 5 feet 10 inches in height, will not fit in most kei cars.

4: Many kei cars made up to the 1980s have two-stroke engines. Those are not for areas where there are strict pollution controls, and most older ones lack oil injection, so you will have to add oil to the gasoline every time you fill up.

5: These cars are great for city driving and small parking spaces, and for experienced drivers, right-hand-drive typically takes about 20 minutes to get accustomed to.

6: In some states, kei trucks are illegal regardless of model year unless they are the Suzuki and Subaru products officially sold in the US, so if you want a Daihatsu Hijet or Midget, a Honda T360, or a Honda Acty 4x4, make sure they are legal in your state.

7: Parts are easiest to get from sources in Canada and Australia, since there is little to nothing available as parts/service in the US unless you are a Subaru 360/Sambar or Honda 600 owner.

8: Expect all kinds of attention, everything from "cute car"/"cool car" to racist or nationalist comments, when driving the car.

Happy Motoring!

1 comment:

  1. So it is easy to own all the old models of Kei cars & Trucks, Subaru Sambar but how about
    Kei truck parts and Subaru Sambar Parts. Is it easy to avail them too?


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