Tuesday, November 6, 2012


You may wonder why there are no beat-up jalopies on the streets of Tokyo. The reason is the law requires that every two years a car must undergo shaken, a very thorough inspection to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy. Even if everything's OK shaken can be expensive, so it just makes sense to keep your car in good shape and to consider trading it in when its mileage has a number of zeros after it, before it has to undergo shaken again.

We recently took our six-year-old Nissan MARCH in for shaken to the dealer we bought it from, and this is what happened.

We called the dealer for an appointment. If we hadn't he would have called us to remind us that our car was due for shaken. We brought the car to him and for the couple of days it would take him to go over the car against the 60-point shaken checklist, he lent us the latest model of MARCH, which was fun to drive because it was subtly upgraded over our own car (slightly larger steering wheel, easier-to-grasp door handles, posher seats, slightly sexier grill) so we could not help but think about trading in and moving up. 

Two days later, Nissan calls us to say shaken has been performed and we can come in and pick our car up. When we pull into the dealership, they are waiting for us outside. We are graciously shown inside to a table and asked if we would like anything to drink from a long list. A young lady brings us tea on a tray. For the next twenty minutes we are run through the results of the inspection, being guided with a series of charts dissecting the automobile. 

"Headlights properly aligned--OK. Wheel alignment OK.  Tires with adequate rubber but in six months may have to be replaced. Speedometer accurate. The radio's speakers are fuzzy, as perhaps you know,  but to remedy this you should take your car to the nearest representative of the radio manufacturer, whose address and telephone number are on this card. We have replaced your battery and the wiper on your rear window. Your car doesn't emit more than 1% carbon monoxide and not more than 300 ppm of unburned hydrocarbons, so that's OK. The exhaust noise is within the limit…"

We are presented with a bill for 140,000 yen ($1,800), which causes us to gulp and think about trading the car in, as a new car would not be subject to shaken for three years. The dealer notes our raised eyebrows at the bill. We ask for details on the new MARCH and are given an envelope with a well-printed brochure and it is suggested that we might like to take a look at the new MOCO, ROOX, and OTTI mini cars sitting outside in the lot, as the shaken on mini cars is significantly less expensive and their gas mileage is impressive.

We are graciously shown outside to our sturdy old MARCH, which has been polished until it glistens, its wheel covers gleaming, and wished well on our way by three bowing members of the staff.

Do we really need a car? We have bicycles and the trains are very good.

- Rick Kennedy     

No comments:

Post a Comment