How Japanese Cars Are Graded For Importation

Immediately you log into the cars auction sites, you notice a Japanese written document known as the auction sheet. 

This document basically gives you a descriptive analysis of the vehicle you have chosen. It includes the physical attributes such as dents on the car date of registration and so much more.

The auction inspection system in Japan is extremely thorough and was designed so that cars in far-flung parts of Japan could be sold without inspection and purchased by buyers who may be halfway around the world.

This system has been refined and improved over the years and is trusted by global vehicle exporters worldwide. The auction houses are liable for prosecution for misrepresenting a car and will have to settle a claim if they have made a mistake. 

With car auctions in Japan accounting for thousands of car sales each week, the auction sheet has to be accurate and truthful with any faults being clearly specified.

On most auction sheets, you will see some of the following marks on the outline of the car’s body – here is what they mean:

Basic Bodywork Guidelines On The Auction Sheet

Basic Body Guidelines


This represents a scratch. A car with A1 means a very light scratch, which usually means a light graze that can be polished. A3 will mean a bad scratch that needs paint. Some auction uses up to A4. Either way, on any Japanese auction sheet, the higher the number, the worse the damage.


This represents a dent. A car may have many U1’s which are pin dents that may be very small or unrecognizable U3 will be a proper knee sized dent


W represents wavy. Wavy means showing signs of the previous repair. W1 means a qualified inspector made a good repair. W2 is a repair that is visible. W3 is a bad repair that will probably need to be redone.


X means that the panel is damaged beyond repair and needs replacement.


Double X, on the other hand, means that the Panel has been replaced.


This means damage to front or rear lights.  Y1 can mean a small chip in headlight glass. Y3 will mean you can put your hand through the hole to replace the bulb.


You shouldn’t see this much because you are not looking to import rust.  We have enough of that here already! But depending on the auction company C1-C2 or S1-S2 will mean light rust-heavy rust.


This means a chip or a crack on the windscreen. The Auction Grade is a representation of the cars overall condition, not just the bodywork. It is meant to give an indication of how much money will be required to spend on a car to make it trade saleable. 

So if you are looking at a car that appears mint but only gets a grade 3, it may have a mechanical issue and will need further inspection.

Grading System

Grading system


The car is less than 12 months old from the first registration date and under 10,000km.

As good as new. The exterior and interior are in immaculate condition.

Grade 6

The car is less than 36 months old from the first registration date and under 30,000km.

Grade 5

This basically means a car is in a new condition. The car is under 50,000km. The exterior may have some very minor scrapes and dents. A very difficult grade to obtain. The unit will be in near perfect condition with very minor imperfections

Grade 4.5

A very lightly used car. The car is under 100,000km. Again, a very high grade that you can be confident in. The car may have some very slight imperfections in the bodywork, but will not need a major repair. 

Grade 4 

The car is under 150,000km. The exterior may have some scratches and dents. It also means that the car is in above average condition. No crash history 

Grade 3

The exterior has some noticeable large scrapes or large dents. They may require some minor panel beating work or painting.

The interior may have many tears, cigarette burn marks or stains. They will require repairs. The auction sheet will explain this in more detail. Grade 3 also means that the car is in average condition taking into consideration the year and the mileage.

Grade 2

This means that the car has a poor condition and that it may have had an accident damage or corrosion.

Grade R

This means that the car has been involved in an accident damage which can be ranked MINOR but full repairs have been done.

Grade Ra

It can mean an accident car that has been repaired or heavily modified vehicle. On the other hand, it can be a car that had been involved in an accident but it has not been repaired or its engine is not working. 

In older cars, it can simply mean replacement panels, aftermarket kits, wings etc.


The purpose of the grade is to give you a quick idea of the general condition of the car or vehicle. It is also important in ensuring that there are no rogue car dealers in the market who are out there to con the customers.

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