How to Read Auction Condition Reports
What is an Auction Sheet?
Auction Sheets are the most important point of buying a car in Japan. This is where you get the information on a vehicle's condition. All vehicles at Japanese auctions will have an Auction Sheet.
Pacific Coast Auto translates auction sheets into English for all customers.
It takes time to be an expert with auction sheets so this page is very important and you should come back frequently to polish up on your skills.
This is a typical Auction Sheet
This is our translation
1992 NISSAN SKYLINE GTS-T TYPE M
5sp, AC, AW, PS, PW
Purchased from user
Blitz full bucket seat
Aftermarket steering wheel wear
Driver seat ripped
Dashboard comes up
Engine oil leak
Door mirror case faded
Front bumper, hood, trunk, right side paint peeling
Windshield rock chip
Roof dents (many)
Left and right side skirt scuffed
Left front fender W2 uneven
What do the grades mean?
Every auction has an "Auction Grade". This is a number representing the overall vehicle condition.
Auction Grades can be used to narrow down your search to a general condition.
Note that auction grades have some variance from one auction to the next and from one inspector to the next.
Never bid without a full translation. Even highly rated cars like grade 4.5 can have a serious problem on an otherwise excellent car.
This is an excellent or near-perfect car. It is very rare to have a grade 5 car older than 10 years old.
This is an excellent car for its age. These should be few defects and those that is has will be small or easy to fix. It is rare to see grade 4.5 on cars older than 15 years old.
Grade 4 cars are in above-average condition for their age. Though they might have some slight paint fade, medium sized dents, and mileage around 100,000 km or lower.
Grade 3.5 is the most common grade. These cars can be in good condition but you have to check the condition notes carefully. there may be cigarette burns, larger dents, peeling paint, large scrapes, etc. Mileage is usually 100,000 - 200,000 km.
Grade 3 can be one of a few things. It can be a car with overall poor condition, a car with some serious problem like rust or mechanical failure, or it can be a car that was in a small accident, which doesn't qualify for "R Grade" because no frame repair was done to it.
Grade 2 cars are very poor condition. Usually they are only good for parts. Grade 2 commonly has severe rust holes in the floorboards, body panels, and frame sections. We typically don't recommend people buy these cars unless they have experience with poor condition cars.
There is a lot of confusion about R grade cars. These are cars that have been repaired from an accident. This is not a "salvage title car" or a "written off car". An R grade car was repaired from an accident. It might have been small or it might have been large. Some R grade cars are excellent and some are terrible. The auction sheet notes will list any repaired or damaged areas so that each customer can to make up their own mind which vehicles are good and which are bad.
Triple star or "0" grade cars are ungraded with no inspection. These are usually accident cars that were not fixed, or cars with other serious problems. Usually they are not running.
What about the interior and exterior grade?
Interior and exterior grades are simple.
Like the number grade above, this letter is a good starting place, but it is not enough information to know if the car is good to bid on. For that, you need to read the report and diagram sections which are explained further down.
Top notch condition. This is quite rare on vehicle older than 10 years old unless they are extremely well kept.
B interior is very nice. The vehicle might be dirty, it might have a worn steering wheel and shift knob, but there shouldn't be much seriously wrong or in need of repair.
A lot of cars 15 years and older will be grade C. This is a mixed bag. For some auctions, this is the lowest grade and for some it's not that bed. I have seen excellent and poor condition grade C interiors. Check the report section to see the damage.
D and E are not used by the larger auctions and are exactly what you would expect. Usually these cars have cracked dashboards, saggy headliners, ripped seats, interior stains, removed sections of the interior, etc.
Auction Sheet Map
Click on the yellow text for more information
This shows the mileage of the car. It also shows if the mileage is authentic or not. Check if there is a *, $, or # sign next to the mileage. These marks mean the mileage is not correct.
This is a space for the seller to mention important notes. An example of this would be mentioning why the car has unknown mileage, or if something is broken. Most sellers use this as an extension of the Sales Points field.
This is the most important part of the sheet. This is where the auction inspector writes a list of damage to the car. Note that more writing here means more damage. We will fully translate this and we encourage you to be very careful reading our translation.
This is the vehicle's grade. It is given by the auction inspector after the vehicle is finished being inspected.
Written by the seller. This is translated in full for you. This is where the seller mentions the good points of the car.
Check this carefully. This shows the condition of the body far better than pictures can. It is up to you to understand the marking A1, U2, P3, etc. The key is listed below. Anything written in Japan will be translated for you.
The information on the auction sheet is extremely important. That is why we translate the sheet is full and don't miss any points, no matter how subtle.
Be careful! You won't find many exporters that translate all the notes. Some intentionally miss important notes to up the chances you will win a car through them.
Translating takes a long time to do right and has to be done by qualified people. Make sure you know everything possible before bidding and feel free to ask if anything is unclear.
The Body Diagram section shows all the defects on the vehicle body.
This section is very important because you will need to determine the condition before bidding.
The basics -
Each type of damage has a letter.
For example, A means scratch or chip.
Each letter may include a number after it.
This number shows the severity.
For example, A3 means a large scratch.
Scratch or chip
Broken or needs to be Replaced
Repaired or repainted
Heavy Rust or Corrosion
This is super important.
You might want to take a picture of this on your phone to refer to later.
Less common Letters
These are used at some smaller auctions.
You won't see them as often as the main ones.
Dent or bent
Paint damage (Peeling, drips, etc.)
Cloudy, commonly on headlights
Tiny dents like hail damage
Not as common but you might want a picture just in case.
These are small scratches. They are usually able to be polished out and are nearly invisible. These are not of much concern.
These are small dents. Like A1, they are usually too small to see unless you are specifically looking for them.
For many auctions, the number 3 is the largest damage. A3 is a scratch that can be anywhere from 10cm - 50cm and sometimes larger or across multiple panels.
U3 is a dented panel. It often comes along with a scratch as in AU3. Sizes vary from baseball sized dents to watermelon sized dents.
W2 means repainted or repaired. This is usually a good repair. For the trained eye, you will be able to tell a difference in the paint but the general buyer is less likely to be able to tell.
W3 is a poor quality repaint. It might have bubbles, drips, colour mismatch, blend lines, wrinkles, or other nastiness. W3 is considered fairly heavy damage.
Although it is only the number 2, this is usually a rather large crack. Typically 5-10 cm and commonly on bumpers.
P2 is large paint damage. It usually needs a repaint. It is common on the hood and roof of cars older than 20 years old. Note that P2 on the roof is hard to repaint since most cars would need paint blending into the rear fenders.
Sometimes you will see two letters together with a single number.
= Medium scratch and crack
= Large scratch, Large dent
Auction Sheet FAQ
You probably have a lot of questions still. Don't worry, it takes time to get a hang of this. Feel free to email us any questions you have but in the mean time, have a look at these commonly asked questions.
Can I trust the mileage
The simple answer is yes. Several cars that go through auction will have unknown mileage though. This will always be mentioned on the auction sheet. Check on the auction sheet beside the mileage for these marks - *, #, $. Our translation will always clearly state it as well.
I can't read Japanese
Once your account is active, we will translate the sheets for you. This includes the sales points, notes, report, and and Japanese on the diagram notes. Note that Pacific Coast Auto does full translations of the auction sheets. Most exporters only partially translate the sheets and some don't at all.
Who writes the auction sheets?
The seller writes half of the sheet and the auction inspector writes the other half. The seller writes the car info, sales points, and notes. The inspector writes the condition report and diagram notes. The inspector also checks the info written by the seller to make sure it's correct.
Are all auction sheets the same?
Different auctions have slight differences, but for the most part, this is not necessary to pay attention to in order to buy a car. The same basic formula is shared between all the major auctions.
Auction sheet vs pictures
Be careful looking at the pictures of the car. The true vehicle condition is not accurately shown in the pictures. Get in the habit of reviewing the auction sheet body diagram in detail instead of looking at the pictures to gauge the quality of the vehicle.
Can I trust auction sheets?
The auction is a third party. That means they are not affiliated with the seller. In fact, the auction gets paid whether the car sells or not. There are over 100 auctions across Japan. They are in competition with one another. If the inspections were not trust worthy at that auction, buyers would stop buying from them.
Should I buy low grade cars?
You can buy any grade car that you like. Some people want pristine cars, some want project cars, and there are customers everywhere in between. What I have seen however is that most people buying lower grade cars end up not satisfied. Unless you are an expert in building cars, it's easy to fall into the trap of not realizing how much is involved in brining life back into a car.
What if something is wrong on the auction sheet?
It happens from time to time when the inspector misses something on the auction report. If this happens, we can claim to the auction. Providing the auction allows for the claim, we can either be awarded a monetary refund, or the option to return the vehicle. Note that cars over 10 years old usually don't qualify for claims on the condition of the vehicle, or the vehicle's mechanical condition.