Tuesday, December 6, 2011


So, you've gone out and done the dirty dance with the devil. You've wheedled, bargained, stormed out, and finally settled on a price for your soul. Congratulations! You are a new car owner.

Just wait - there's another whammy coming!

After 3 years of ownership, it's time to get your safety inspection, or sha-ken. "No big deal," you think, "my car's still in good shape." It's only 3-years old, no major faults. Change out the engine and transmission oils, put in new filters while you're at it, check the brake pads and spark plugs. "What can it cost? Maybe $50 bucks?"

Ehh-hh-hh-hh! (insert raucous buzzer noise here)

Nope. Mine was an ass-biting $1500 US. No, I didn't type an extra zero, didn't make a conversion mistake. And at today's exchange of less than ¥80/$1, my 5-yr check just cost me a coronary-inducing $2000.

Back when Colorado still had a safety inspection, it cost $25/year. The emissions inspection used now runs less than a hundred. WTF?

Do the math. I managed to talk a salesman with a rapidly-approaching quota down to $22,000 for a black 1st-gen Alphard, a true beast on Japan's little roads with mini-cars zipping all about. But with sha-ken at 3-, 5-, 7-, 9- and 11-yrs, and every year thereafter, I will be spending an additional $9000 over the first 11 years. That's 41% of the purchase price, and only if there are no problems. And if I try to keep the car running for 20 years, I'll pay more than the purchase price of the car...

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