Almost Less Than Worthless

We are taking over our in-laws’ automobile and have to get rid of our old one. It’s not worth much but it’s worth more than simply dumping it, even though that option is quite tempting.

Every now and then, here in Japan you see news about illegal garbage dumps. Usually the dumps consist of cars and large appliances.

This is partly a problem because the government now charges you for getting rid of old stuff. Because of this used-goods stores will offer pathetic amounts for your electronics and electrical goods. You may only make a few hundred yen for your refrigerator–which will be sold for 8,000-10,000 yen depending on its size–but it saves you money because you don’t have to pay the recycling tax. On the other hand, if you live in an area with no used-goods stores, the only way to avoid the tax is to use your stuff until it dies once and for all forever and then illegally dump your stuff in the woods somewhere.

In the case of automobiles it’s worse. The government has mandatory inspections that get more frequent the older the car gets. Because of this, the car depreciates quickly. Once a car reaches age ten it is almost worthless and you can’t even coax college kids into buying it as the maintenance will be more than the car is worth. (Note: the primary market for decade old cars in Japan seems to be foreign teachers living in rural areas.) The only selling points of a car that old are the condition of the car, if the car has a low-powered (aka, a more “fuel efficient”) engine and the length of time left before the mandatory inspection.

In our case, our car has a couple strikes: 1) it is a 2004 model which means several sales companies wouldn’t even give us a price; and 2) it only has a couple months left before its mandatory inspection which mean it will soon require a few hundred dollars in expenses. As such, it is almost worthless (unless we can find an English teacher in a rural area and want to pay tax on the sale). That said, because we live in a suburbanish area (long story) it’s not worth our energy to drive to a rural area and dump it.

We will sell it though, because we need to get the new car before the next mandatory inspection. If we miss that deadline, then we probably will dump it somewhere.

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