Mini Truck FAQs

We are passionate about our work and happy you found us!
We're here to get you the best JDM vehicle to meet your requirements!
Please register and let’s get started


DIFF LOCK AND AXLE LOCK
Recently a customer who bought a pre-1989 4WD Suzuki Carry to import to Australia asked us:
“What’s all this about Diff Lock” and “Axle Lock” on the Carry?” What do they do?

Suzuki Carry Diff Lock Axle Lock Buttons

Since he’s not the only customer looking for a Japanese minitruck to ask us that question, we’ve decided to put the answer up here in this section of our website. (And we’ll put up other technical info as the questions come in from our customers and as time permits.)

So here’s the answer we gave to him:

The diff lock acts on the rear differential and makes both left and right rear axles turn together even if one wheel is not in contact with the ground and cannot find traction.

The axle lock button locks the front wheels to the front axle. It’s basically a free-wheeling hub system that you lock and unlock using the axle lock button in the cab, rather than having to get out of the vehicle to turn the front hub locks manually (as you had to do on the old JA11 Jimnys).

So, if you put the truck in 4WD but do not select axle lock to lock the front hubs, you will still have only 2WD.

Cheers,  Japan Car Direct

IS A TURBO WORTH IT ON A MINITRUCK?
Recently a customer from Canada asked us if the turbo option on a minitruck is worth having. Does is give much of a useful power increase? Does it suck gas? Is it reliable?

We would say that, for minitrucks that will be primarily off road or on the farm, the N/A units are more than fine due to their low gearing. Town to town and for a dash on the highway, the turbo is good to have. Here is what we wrote to our customer:

Hi,

On the turbo side: Yes, the upgrade is well worth it and you get quite a power boost. You’ll manage loaded hill climbs better and town to town and highway runs will not be times when you feel that you’ve got a small engine.

These Suzuki turbos are not too heavily boosted, so the engine still remains a service engine and not a performance oriented unit. (Although we would say that, in terms of strength and very long term reliability, the earlier, iron-block, F6A 660cc engine is better than the later K6A 660cc. But the K6A has the advantage that it uses a timing chain and not a timing belt, so replacement is kind of not necessary. The K6A in the Kei trucks in also higher output in stock form. It’s six of one and a half dozen of the other.)

Gas mileage is not much affected with a turbo; a bit, yes, but surprisingly little (measured in tenths of a km per liter, not whole kms per liter worse mileage).

Down sides are that you must give the engine time to warm up before driving off or asking it to do hard work. Same with cool down: after a hard run or hard pull, do not just shut it down, let it cool for a minute or two.

Change the oil after 5,000 to 6,000 kms and change the filter every second oil change. Do not run old oil in it. And used a decent quality of oil. Don’t worry that you have to use an expensive synthetic oil. Nope. Just a decent mineral oil, changed frequently, is all that is required.

If you do all these things, the turbo engine will give long life.
So there’s the lowdown on my experience with turbos. Yep, they are worth it. Just warm/cool/oil and you’re set.

Cheers, Japan Car Direct

 

DAIHATSU HIJET JUMBO OPTION. ANY GOOD?
Another good query from a Canadian who just bought a minitruck from us here in Japan: “What about the Jumbo cab option on the Daihatsu HiJet? I hear that hunters go for it.”

This is what we told him:

Hi,

The Jumbo idea for the HiJet came out way back in 1983. Left to right is no bigger in a Jumbo. But the driver’s seat has 4cm more forward/backward slide that the passenger’s seat or the driver’s seat in a regular HiJet.

And, unlike in a regular HiJet, both seats recline backward a bit.

We think that the reason the hunters go for it (which they certainly do up in the mountains here in Japan where you will see a number of the Jumbos when the deer hunters get together) is that behind the seats you’ve got space for a rifle, coils of rope, radio tracker set for the dogs, and other items that you need to keep dry and cannot store in the load bed. In the non-jumbos, interior dry storage space for equipment is at a premium.

The load bed, front to rear, is smaller, though.

Here is a link from Daihatsu’s site that show you some pictures of the interior of a Jumbo, as well as other pics. //www.daihatsu.co.jp/lineup/truck/detail.htm

Cheers, Japan Car Direct>With the addition of Electronic Fuel Injection to the Daihatsu 660cc motor you’ll get a boost up in power of about 5% over the carbureted unit. Gas mileage goes up a touch, too, but we don’t have any figures.

Both carb and EFI are reliable systems. Carb is easier to fix and tends to give early warning signs when it is starting to have trouble (rough idling, hesitation, etc.). Electronic fuel injection systems can suddenly cut out without warning or can suddenly rev up if a sensor goes wonky but such problems are amazingly rare on a Japanese-built EFI system built anytime after the early to mid 1980s. They are very reliable, but when the time for servicing comes, if it ever comes, you’ll need to ask a proper garage to help you. Home service of a carburetor is more possible as it is a less technology intensive system by its very nature. (Not less complex, though.)

Either of these two systems, carb or EFI, are fine.

The Twin Cam arrangement does not add any more power, interestingly enough, but I suspect it gives better top end power at the expense of a slight loss in low end torque. The Twin Cam engines have 4-valves per cylinder whereas the Single Over Head Cam engines have 2-valves per cylinder. Again, I don’t have solid figures, just going on basic principles of piston engines, 2-valve vs 4-valve systems.

The Distributor Less Ignition (DLI), is a fully electronic ignition system. Similar to EFI in its use of higher technology, it will be less easy to service yourself with just a screwdriver and wrench, but it is also more reliable, gives better gas mileage, and has a longer service life.

Really, it’s a matter of choice as to do you want simple, old school stuff, carbs and distributors and a minimum number of cam shafts, or do you want the more high tech stuff. Of course, the simple type of engines are not being made by many (or any) makers today, so at some point in the far future parts will not be available. Of course the same could happen to high tech systems that get superseded by other, newer high tech systems. But whichever way you go, these minitrucks are all solid characters and will last well and do their job for you fully and we won’t be facing parts issues for years and years yet.

Cheers, Japan Car Direct

Japan Car Direct provides friendly, honest, efficient service. Get the vehicles you want today at a price you can afford!!

We accept refundable deposits by PayPal to ([email protected]). Log into your account, and lets start working together today!

paypal-logo3
google-review
  • review rating 5  This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!! 11/7/19 Still have my MR2 and loving it everyday!! I'm going to Japan next month and hopefully I can find something fun for my car to bring back! Just re-read my review and I can still say my car has been nothing but great along with my experience with Yoshi and his team! Thanks again!

    thumb Kevin Heidari
    11/07/2019

    review rating 5  You made the purchase and export of my 1998 Rover Mini to Vancouver Canada so easy Thank you and I"ll be back

    thumb Scott Brunning
    10/17/2019

    review rating 5  A few months ago I set out on my goal of importing a vehicle from Japan through an auction. After tons and TONs of research and countless emails, I decided to use Japan Car Direct as my exporter in Japan. From the beginning of my interactions with JCD, I was thoroughly impressed. My contact, Yoshi, was amazing...definitely a huge asset to the JCD team. He answered all of my questions promptly, translated dozens of auction sheets for me, and advised me of what to watch out for when looking for a vehicle. He was beyond helpful! I picked up my Kei truck at the port in Newport News a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Since then, the truck has made it to its final home in Charlottesville, VA on my farm. Yoshi and the other guys at JCD are now my go to team for more of these soon. Thanks again JCD and keep doing what you guys do! You all are the real deal.

    thumb N W
    10/15/2019
  • review rating 5  Since a kid the FD RX7 has always been a dream car but i didn't pursue it till i graduated high school but the prices just for the shell over here in california was over 15k!! I kept looking around until I decided i would just import one. I found JCD while looking for the top 5 importers you could trust and they stood out more than all the other ones, and for a couple months of more research on their page until I ultimately decided I would go through them. Although this was my first time getting a car from Japan and having an endless amount questions spanning a couple hundred emails until it would freeze up and i had to make a new email thread .. Mathew always answered every question and helped me though every step. I didn't have all the funds in the beginning but they were very patient with it until i was fully ready, then after a month of having Matt give his thought on some of the FDs i was looking at we finally won the auction for a 94 Efini type R Fd3s. As we picked it up from Long Beach till the drive home I couldn't believe that it was here and soo much better just looking at the picture but i defiantly would recommend JCD to anyone looking to import their dream car too and and want to thank matt and the whole team with getting me my RX7.

    thumb Erwin Contreras
    10/10/2019

    review rating 5  I'd been looking to buy an RF series Honda Stepwagon to convert into a mini camper for a while but the UK prices always seemed too high. I had joined a few JDM import sites to get an idea of auction prices and costs (including Japan Car Direct) but just couldn't bring myself to take the next step, it seemed such a risk ! Finally after reading so many good reviews for JCD (and Mathew in particular) I took the plunge and contacted Mathew. After he answered my many questions regarding costs, fees etc I felt confident enough to pay the deposit and start hunting the Japanese auctions for my Steppy. My budget for the Steppy was pretty low (pathetic even !) but I felt Mat still put the same effort into replying to my questions and queries as he would have done if my budget had been into the tens of thousands. The result was I now have a very tidy Stepwagon with lower mileage than any vehicle I've ever owned, I've paid far less for it then I would have done buying in the UK and I've got a bigger budget now for the camper conversion. I wouldn't hesitate to buy through them again, and hope to do so soon.

    thumb Matt B
    9/30/2019

    review rating 5  5 star experience from start to finish. Transparent and easy process, and Mat was very patient to answer plenty of questions I had during the purchase! Can’t wait to do it again because the Japanese cars from this era are pure automotive art and these guys hold the keys to the museum!

    thumb Ross C
    9/13/2019
  • review rating 5  After an initial inquiry several years ago, I still wanted to get a Japanese Delica or Hiace. Matthew was immediately in contact and helped with all the details. His videos were perfect for my search. Matthew was able to answer all of my questions and my wife and I were able to make decisions based on the great information he provided. I would recommend Japan Car Direct to anyone interested in getting the right car at the best price.

    thumb Zach Matheson
    8/27/2019

    review rating 5  The staff at Japan Car Direct made what I thought would a a difficult process very easy. Matt explained every step thoroughly and his advice on details of cars was spot on.

    thumb nick creece
    8/20/2019

    review rating 5  I imported a van though JCD and they made the process super straightforward. They were amazing at communicating and quick to answer any of my questions. If you are looking to import a car I would highly recommended them.

    thumb William Bender
    8/02/2019
  • review rating 5  Awesome experience !! Their service was extremely good and efficient. Yoshiro was soo patient with my many requests for information and translations. The vehicle purchased was better than expected. I would definitely consider using their services again.

    thumb Rafael Cuadros
    5/20/2019

    review rating 5  All I can say about the experience is AMAZING! I worked with Matthew and he was helpful through the whole process of bidding, purchasing, and shipping the car to me. He had an answer for every question, and was always quick to respond. Enjoying my new Mercedes and I will be using them again!

    thumb chris casali
    5/15/2019

    review rating 5  All around exceptional experience! Matt was great to work with and guided me through the entire process with ease. As a first timer, importing was a bit nerve racking but JCD did a great job providing a cool little truck I can enjoy here in Delaware. I look forward to picking up the next toy/vehicle through them.

    thumb Jesse Wencius
    5/14/2019
  • review rating 5  The experienced, grizzled veterans of the import scene. They were very accommodating with all my questions and concerns. It was my first time importing, so everything was confusing and intimidating, but I'm happy to report everything went as planned! I'm definitely calling them back when I finally come up with an excuse to import another!

    thumb Joey Rodriguez
    4/12/2019

    review rating 5  Mathew was great to work with and made what could be a scary daunting experience very easy. I am super happy with my car and am sure I will be importing with them again!

    thumb Kayla D'Ambrosi
    3/18/2019

    review rating 5  Working with Mathew and his team was an absolute pleasure. I went from never knowing you could import your own vehicle to owning my own Suzuki Cara within 6 months. Mathew was so helpful and completely transparent with me during the entire process. We spoke on the phone and via email and he helped me pick the perfect car exactly within my requirements. He dealt with my excitement and inexperience with patience and understanding. I couldn't be happier with my experience and will absolutely use Japan Car Direct again when it's time for another project. I highly recommend Mathew and Japan Car Direct.

    thumb Tristan Gilbert
    3/05/2019
Back to top
JCD Menu logo