Why should I buy a Japanese (JDM) engine?

If you are asking yourself this questions it’s because you’ve heard you can buy a engine imported directly from Japan.

BUT, you are asking yourself why, and what are the benefits, if any.

Good question.

Here is my two cents on why you SHOULD buy a JDM engine.

1. Lower-mileage

Because of different laws and costs to driving a vehicle in Japan, the people there do on average 3-5 thousand miles a year. Compared to North America which is close to 15-20 thousand per year. You can find engines in Japan which are 10-15 years old with less than 75,000 miles on them (less than 100,000 KM). So instead of buying an expensive rebuilt engine or a used engine from North America (with high mileage), it’s beneficial to get one which much lower mileage.

2. Better Condition

Japan has a better climate than North America (for the most part). A lot of engines come from the southern part of Japan where they don’t have cold winters or snow. So the engines tend to be cleaner and in better condition (less rust). However if you live in California or Florida you won’t really have this problem.

3. More HP

Ok so if you’ve been under a rock for the last 20 years you won’t know that kids just love to swap higher-performance engines into their cars. Just watch the movie Fast and Furious and you’ll get the picture. This applies to Honda engine specifically. For example, in North America the Acura Integra GS-R VTEC has 170HP while in Japan the same car has 180.

4. More Choice

This really applies to people looking to swap a performance (VTEC/TURBO) engine in their car. In Japan they had engines that we in North America didn’t even get to have, like the Nissan Silvia SR20DET engine or the much favored Nissan Skyline GT-R engine. So if you love speed and have a death wish, just swap a Nissan Skyline GT-R engine into a 240SX and you’re good to go.

5. Price

Ok maybe this didn’t apply a few years ago but not with the increase of engine importers (and more competition) in North America, it definitely does. Nowadays you can pick up a JDM engine for less than the cost of the same North American engine with higher mileage.

Now if you want to make sure you don’t get screwed when you do, read this article.

Posted by Hans Desjarlais

After accidentally locking himself in a scrapped '85 Renault for several hours at the age of 5 years old, Hans developed a love/hate relationship with cars which eventually became an obsession. Right out of high school Hans started his first business importing and selling Japanese engines. After selling the business in 2008, he launched Import Insider to obsessively cover the auto industry and offer advice and tips to import car enthusiasts.

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