Average travel distance of private car owners in Japan 2014-2022
Maintaining a car in Japan is not for everyoneIn recent years, consumers estimated their car maintenance costs to amount somewhere around 12,800 Japanese yen per month: fuel, and insurance, automobile taxes, and vehicle inspection were the most burdensome costs. While it is possible to mitigate some of those, ownership-inherent taxes, inspections, and insurance are unavoidable. Throughout the ownership, one has to pay per year a tonnage tax (at least 2,500 yen; weight-based) plus an automobile tax or mini-vehicle tax (at least 10,800 yen for cars; displacement-based in principle). Mandatory vehicle liability insurance might be another 10,000 yen per year, and vehicle inspections can range from anything between 10,000 yen and 60,000 yen every other year. For single-households, vehicle-related costs are more often than not unreasonable. Most families, on the other hand, invest in a car.
How to save car maintenance costs in JapanDriving economically and avoiding Japan’s expensive toll roads might be the simplest way, but the vehicle choice might be even more impactful. For example, there is a leap of 14,200 yen once automobile taxes apply instead of mini-vehicle taxes. Moreover, as kei cars are literally light vehicles, they usually result in lower tonnage taxes and superior fuel efficiency. Unsurprisingly, kei cars are quite popular in Japan.
Electric vehicles might be even more economical considering all maintenance costs since they also receive various exemptions and subsidies. The downside: their purchase price is still a reason for many to dismiss them. Yet another popular option in Japan is not to buy, but to rent, lease, or share a passenger car, reducing expenses significantly and saving worries about maintenance altogether.