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How to Import Engines From Japan

by Alibaster Smith

Importing engines from Japan is useful if you are trying to get your hands on what's called a "JDM spec" engine. Typically, the only reason you would want to do this is if you are trying to overhaul your car or truck with a motor from Japan that has a higher power output than its American counterpart. While importing the whole car can be problematic due to Department of Transportation rules and guidelines, you can easily import just the engine as long as you are comfortable doing an engine overhaul on your car.

Research your project. You will need to know whether the engine you are planning to import is compatible with what you plan to use it for. For example, you do not want to import an engine from a Toyota car if you have a Honda. Likewise, the engine must have compatible physical specs for your application. Some engines are too large for smaller cars. Visit related online forums and discussion boards (see Resources) for information. Talking with a knowledgeable mechanic at your local junkyard will also help you see if your project makes sense.

Research importers. There are already large companies set up that import and export engines. Some examples of reputable companies include HMO and JDM Racing Motors (see Resources).

Check to make sure the engine you are looking to buy is for on-road use and will pass EPA emissions standards. If your new engine will not, then it may qualify for off-road use. This may or may not be appropriate depending on your intended application.

Fill out Form 3520-21 if your engine does not meet EPA emissions standards. For light-duty or engines that will be incorporated into other cars, use Form 3520-1. These forms are available from the Environmental Protection Agency's website (see Resources).

Tip

  • Sometimes junkyards have contacts to importers from Japan. Not all importers sell all of the parts you will need. While you can buy individual parts, you are usually better off (unless you need replacement parts) buying the entire engine and transmission together along with the axles and shift linkage assembly. Check that your importer will offer this type of package.

Warning

  • Depending on your application, you may need to have your overhauled car reregistered.

About the Author

I am a Registered Financial Consultant with 6 years experience in the financial services industry. I am trained in the financial planning process, with an emphasis in life insurance and annuity contracts. I have written for Demand Studios since 2009.

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