Debunking Common Myths About JDM Engines

Debunking Common Myths About JDM Engines

When you're choosing a vehicle to drive or you are a mechanic or enthusiast, you naturally want to make the right choice for your purposes. A huge part of that is the type of vehicle you choose, whether you're building or repair it, or you are simply looking for a new ride to get you from point A to point B. JDM vehicles are a popular choice among some populations, but there are some engine myths that go with them that you should be aware of. This guide is here to debunk those common myths so that you can make the right choice for you.

What are JDM Cars?

Free Japanese Sports Cars on the Parking Lot at Night Stock Photo

A JDM car refers to cars created for the Japanese Domestic Market. In other words, a vehicle that is designed and marketed to be driven in Japan. This distinguishes it from a Japanese car built for other countries - these are exports. It's important to understand that Japanese cars manufactured in the USA are not JDM cars. JDM cars being driven in the USA have been imported from Japan. 

What Makes a JDM Car Different?

There are a few distinctions that you can look for when determining if a vehicle is a JDM or not. They are as follows:

  • They cost less, even when imported. 
  • Different names for car models (this may require a bit of research to be sure you're getting a JDM).
  • JDM cars often have higher power and higher performance features. 

Myths That Follow JDM Cars

the engine compartment of a car with the hood open

There are some deep-rooted myths that people tend to think of when they think of Japanese-made vehicles. If you're considering a JDM car for any reason, it's important to understand the vehicle and the common car myths that go with it, so that you know what to expect and can make the best choice for your driving needs. Here's what you should know. 

JDM Engines are All High Performance

While high performance tends to go hand in hand with JDM engines, they don't all fall into this classification. A JDM car is simply one that has been manufactured and sold in the Japanese market and is not a description solely relevant to just fast sports cars. The JDM title also encompasses saloons,  mid-size cars and vans.

JDM Engines Are of a Higher Quality

Japanese car parts do have a pretty stellar reputation for high-quality and durable car parts that last for a long time with regular maintenance. However, as with any vehicle or manufacturer, quality can vary based on age and model. Also, the maintenance record for a given second-hand JDM car influences its quality when you buy it. 

JDM Engines are Low Mileage

As with any vehicle, a JDM engine's total mileage is based on how often and how far it's driven. There's absolutely no basis in assuming one type of car has a lower mileage. This common car myth needs to be dispelled as it's misleading. There's an equal chance of a JDM car being a 300k mile mile vehicle as a Ford or Chevrolet. It is a case of checking the mileage on the clock of ANY vehicle you are considering purchasing. 

JDM Engines Will be a Direct Fit

JDM original engines can be swapped between models in some cases but that doesn't ensure a direct fit every single time. In some cases, modifications may be necessary to create the right engine fit. Considerations are mounting, wiring and ECU compatibility. 

JDM Engines are Legal Everywhere

This is a common car myth that can get you in trouble if you aren't paying attention. In some cases, there are legal requirements that go with importing a JDM vehicle to a country outside of Japan. This is due to differences in local laws, as well as differences in emissions standards, which vary from place to place. It's important to check what the regulations are where you live as you may need to make modifications to comply in your country. 

JDM Engines are More Expensive

While you may have to spend extra money to import a JDM car, the actual cost of the engine itself isn't more expensive than most comparable engines in other types of vehicles. Current market trends, rarity of the model and its condition play a bigger role in cost than does the JDM label. 

JDM Cars are Easy to Drive in the United States

Many JDM vehicles are manufactured as right-hand models. You may be under the impression that this doesn't make them any harder to drive where left-hand vehicles are the norm. While it's legal in most places, it can be difficult, especially when turning at a traffic light and when trying to pass on two-lane roads. 

JDM Engines are Unreliable

A common maintenance myth you may have heard is that JDM engines are not reliable. Many people shy away from them because they fear that they break down often, have a lower wear limit and require more maintenance on a regular basis and major repairs more often than other engines. With proper regular maintenance and upkeep, JDM engines are as reliable as other makes and have a decently long life span. 

JDM Engine Parts are Impossible to Find

The truth is that there is a pretty robust market for JDM engine parts, and that's true around the world. There's a wide-reaching JDM engine community online, and you can visit forums and marketplaces and can often find exactly what you're looking for with very little effort or time.  Some JDM engines share parts with other markets, including the United States and Europe, making it easy to interchange parts as needed.

Is It Worth Buying a JDM Vehicle?

Free A Nissan GT-R Parked in front of a Building Stock Photo

Now that we've dispelled some of the myths that are often associated with JDM engines, the question becomes whether it's worth buying one. There are many reasons why there is such a dynamic market for these cars, particularly in the United States, which includes fuel efficiency and their ease of use for both racing and irregular driving. Whether you're in the market for a manual transmission or an automatic transmission, doing your research is important. 

Consumer Stats

Currently, the JDM market sees an average of a 1.5 percent increase of imports to the United States each year, with a total import value of more than $4.5 billion, according to Trading Economics. In addition, JDM vehicles surpass General Motors, Chrysler and Ford in the United States automotive market, report the experts at Facts & Details

Benefits of JDM Cars

Common myths about cars aside, there are several reasons why you may benefit from purchasing a JDM car. Many buyers opt for Japanese-made engines for a wide variety of advantages on the road.

  • Japanese vehicles have a strong reputation for longevity with a high level of quality control for parts and engine components.
  • Because JDM cars are so popular, especially in the United States market, they have a high resale value.
  • JDM cars are well known for fuel efficiency because of the strict compliance guidelines that JDM manufacturers must adhere to, which translates to higher gas mileage.
  • In addition to quality control when it comes to the original engine, many of the components that go into JDM cars are of optimal quality so you can expect better longevity, as well as the reduced risk of unnecessary repairs. 

Why You Should Buy

Ultimately, buying a JDM vehicle has a range of benefits and can be a great choice for many consumers. If you're looking for a car you can drive day-to-day, a vehicle that insurance companies cover at an affordable price, a car that has optimal fuel economy and a vehicle that looks great and drives fast, you could do well by choosing a JDM car. 

Keep in mind that there are regulations regarding importing JDM cars out of Japan and into other countries, so you need to be aware of them before you go ahead with a purchase. Making connections in the JDM engine community can help you navigate the rules and legalities so that you can get the car of your dreams without any hassle. 

JDM West Coast in Santa Fe Springs is a premier supplier of engines and parts for Japanese domestic market motors.

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