The Cost of Owning a Car in Japan

The Cost of Owning a Car in Japan Car

The car is very expensive. From an economic point of view, it would be better not to buy a car, except for buying one at the company’s expenses. In Japan, public transportation is well developed, so it is possible to get around without a car. However, It’s more convenient to have a car. I love cars, because you are free to move around whenever you want. I’m going to write about the cost of owning my Mazda RX-8. In addition, I will write about the cost of owning a car in Japan. By the way, I bought the RX-8 on an auction site for about 300,000 yen ($2725).

In conclusion, the annual cost of my RX-8 is about 400,000 yen ($3633).


I don’t think there’s a single person in the world who likes taxes. If you own a car in Japan, you have to pay a tax every year based on engine displacement. Below is the table of engine displacement and taxes. New cars released on Oct. 10, 2019 or later.

Engine Displacement*Less than 13 years*More than 13 yearsNew car (Oct.10, 2019~)
660cc or less10,800 yen  ($98)12,900 yen  ($117)10,800 yen  ($98)
661cc ~ 1000cc29,500 yen  ($260)33,900 yen  ($309)25,000 yen  ($228)
1001cc ~ 1500cc34,500 yen  ($314)39,600 yen  ($360)30,500 yen  ($278)
1501cc ~ 2000cc39,500 yen  ($360)45,400 yen  ($413)36,000 yen  ($328)
2001cc ~ 2500cc45,000 yen  ($410)51,700 yen  ($470)43,500 yen  ($396)
2501cc ~ 3000cc51,000 yen  ($464)58,600 yen  ($533)50,000 yen  ($455)
3001cc ~ 3500cc58,000 yen  ($528)66,700 yen  ($607)57,000 yen  ($519)
3501cc ~ 4000cc66,500 yen  ($605)76,400 yen  ($696)65,500 yen  ($596)
4001cc ~ 4500cc76,500 yen  ($696)87,900 yen  ($800)75,500 yen  ($687)
4501cc ~ 6000cc88,000 yen  ($801) 101,200 yen  ($921)87,000 yen  ($792)
6000cc ~111,000 yen  ($1010)127,600 yen  ($1162)110,000 yen  ($1001)
*Number of years since the vehicle was first registered

My RX-8 was first registered in 2004. Engine displacement is 1308cc. Here’s a question for you. How much taxes do I pay in my RX-8? Maybe your answer will be 39,600 yen ($360). It’s incorrect.

The correct answer is 45,400 yen ($413).

What? I think so, too. Rotary engine taxes are at 1.5 times engine displacement. The reason is that the rotary engine can produce 1.5 times the output of a reciprocating engine of the same engine displacement. However, I’m not convinced about this. Because this tax is determined by engine displacement only!! I want to complain this with the my country…

In addition to this tax, there is also a weight tax. Weight tax needs to be paid every two years. Below is the table of weights and taxes. 

Total WeightEco-Friendly CarLess than 13 yearsMore than 13 yearsMore than 18 years
500kg or less0 yen8,200 yen  ($75)11,400 yen  ($104)12,600 yen  ($115)
~1000kg0 yen16,400 yen  ($150)22,800 yen  ($208)25,200 yen  ($230)
~1500kg0 yen24,600 yen  ($225)34,200 yen  ($312)37,800 yen  ($345)
~2000kg0 yen32,800 yen  ($300)45,600 yen  ($416)50,400 yen  ($460)
~2500kg0 yen41,000 yen  ($375)57,000 yen  ($520)63,000 yen  ($575)
~3000kg0 yen49,200 yen  ($450)68,400 yen  ($624)75600 yen  ($690)

My RX-8 weighs is 1310kg. Therefore, weight tax is 34,200 yen ($312).

Eco-friendly cars are not weight-taxed. Eco-friendly cars are mainly CEV (Clean Energy Vehicle). E.g. HV, PHEV, FCV, EV, BEV, HEV

The weight tax must be paid at the time of Shaken (car inspection).

Shaken (car inspection)

Shaken is the dreaded biennial car safety inspection required by law to drive a car on public roads in Japan. Neglecting daily maintenance can cost you a lot of money at this time. There are three costs associated with Shaken.

  • Weight tax
  • Compulsory insurance
  • Necessary repairs to pass the test (Technical fee included)

The weight tax was explained in Chapter 1. Compulsory insurance payment is 20010 yen ($182). Repair costs will vary depending on the location of the repair shop. Shaken can be done mainly at car dealers, gas stations, and maintenance shops. Those who can repair the car by themselves use User Shaken. User Shaken is cheap, but not recommended. Because User Shaken has many steps and if you do not pass, you have to fix it by yourself. 

The cost of my RX-8 inspection was about 80,000 yen ($726). Weight tax 34,200 yen ($311) + Compulsory insurance 20010 yen ($182) + Necessary repairs to pass the test 25790 yen ($234).

If I use a User Shaken, it will cost me 54210 yen ($492).

Fuel & Parking

When you go to a gas station, there are basically three types of gasoline available. Gasoline prices as of May 2021 are as follows.

  • 軽油 (Green: Diesel Fuel)  136 yen / l ($4.68 / gallon)
  • レギュラー (Red: Unleaded)  155 yen / l ($5.33 / gallon)
  • ハイオク (Yellow: Premium Unleaded)  164 yen / l ($5.64 / gallon)

My RX-8 is 6km per liter (14.1 MPG) and uses premium unleaded. The annual mileage is about 8,000 km, so the cost is about 218,000 yen ($1980). When I calculated it this way, I found out that it costs a lot of money. 

Parking fees vary depending on where you live. In my town, there are no parking fees. However, big cities like Tokyo charge for parking. Tokyo parking fees about 30,000 yen ($272) for a month. Therefore, it is difficult to own a car in a big city unless you have a good income!


Insurance here refers to voluntary insurance. About 75% of people have voluntary insurance. Since compulsory insurance alone does not provide sufficient coverage, it is better to contract it. Contract rates vary greatly depending on the contract and the type of vehicle. My RX-8 costs about 6,000 yen per month. My insurance covers personal injury and property damage to the vehicle. CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) is not included, so if my car breaks down, I will have to pay for it. 


This section also varies considerably from model to model. Daily maintenance is very important, especially for the RX-8 (rotary engine). Below is the maintenance cost of my RX-8.

  1. Engine oil: Every 4000km, 11000 yen ($100)
  2. Oil filter: Every 4000km, 1000 yen ($9)
  3. Spark plug: Every 20000km, 14000 yen ($127)
  4. Transmission fluid: 30000km, 4000 yen ($36)
  5. Differential fluid: 30000km, 3000 yen ($27)
  6. Brake pads: Every 30000~40000km, 6000 yen ($54)
  7. Brake fluid: Every 2 years, 3000 yen ($27)
  8. Radiator fluid: Every 2 years, 3000 yen ($27)
  9. Cabin air filter: Every 2 years, 3000 yen ($27)
  10. Windshield wipers: Every 2 years, 2000 yen ($28)
  11. Batteries: Every 3 years, 15000 yen ($136)
  12. Tire: Every 4 years, 40000 yen ($363)
  13. Snow tire: Every 4 years, 40000 yen ($363)

There are other maintenance costs involved as well. Engine oil (SYNTHE-RENESIS) is expensive because it is made specifically for the RX-8. This oil improves the engine’s blow-up performance. This oil also stabilizes the idling. By the way, I change the engine oil and oil filter by myself. If you have a light car, the maintenance cost will be less than half of this.