Understanding Technical Information for Car Models

When you’re investing money in buying a used vehicle from Japan, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting. You will find a great deal of important technical information on a vehicle’s auction page. This will allow you to determine the country of manufacture, transmission type, mileage traveled and more.


Here you will find identifying information on the model of vehicle you are looking at. This code represents the first section of the vehicle’s chassis number, or VIN. The “Type” usually includes the WMI and VDS portions of the chassis number. It excludes the third and final section, which is the VIS that identifies the number unique to the specific vehicle.


When looking at a vehicle’s transmission type, you will see the following terms listed:

  • “FA” means the vehicle has a fully automatic transmission. In automatic transmissions, the vehicle’s gear ratio automatically changes while driving.
  • “AT” means the vehicle has a fully automatic transmission. The numbers behind “AT” refer to the generation, or version of the automatic transmission – with a higher number indicating a more recent offering.
  • “MT” means the vehicle has a manual transmission. In manual transmissions, the driver shifts gears manually with the gearshift. The numbers behind “MT” refer to the number of forward gearshifts available (ex. MT5 indicates the transmission has 5 forward gearshifts).


The color of the vehicle’s exterior paint.


The vehicle’s year of production.

Mileage (km)

Mileage is given in kilometers, indicating how far a vehicle has traveled since rolling off the production line.


Vehicle displacement is given in cubic centimeters (cc). Generally speaking, a higher cc rating correlates with greater engine power, while a lower cc rating correlates with greater fuel efficiency.


Additional equipment offered by the vehicle. See the “Equipment” definition list given in the Advanced Search section of “Chapter 2: How to Search for a Vehicle”


Auction grade score of the vehicle given by auction house inspectors.
For information on the grading system, see the “Grade” definition list given in the “Chapter 2: How to Search for a Vehicle” – “Advanced Search”

Interior Grade

Auction grade score for the vehicle’s interior, including upholstery, equipment and general condition. The interior grading system ranges from: A (excellent), B (average) and C (below average).

Exterior Grade

Auction grade score for the vehicle’s exterior, including paint, windshield, body, etc. The exterior grading system ranges from: A (excellent), B (average) and C (below average).

Chassis Number

Usually, a vehicle’s auction page will provide information on its chassis number, also known as a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The chassis number includes the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) and vehicle descriptor section (VDS) seen above in the vehicle’s “Type”, as well as the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS).


Position: Digits 1 – 3

The WMI is found in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd digit positions. It can be either 2 digits long (1st to 2nd digits) or 3 digits long (1st to 3rd digits).


Position: Digits 4 – 8

The VDS is found in the 4th to 8th digit positions. The exact content of the description varies according to manufacturer and region, but it generally includes information on chassis type, model and body type. The 8th digit usually refers to engine type.


Position: Digits 10 – 17

The VIS is a unique serial number for the specific vehicle, a string of numbers that no other vehicle on earth has. While the WMI is found in positions 1-3 and the VDS is found in positions 4-9, the VIS is found in positions 10-17 of the chassis number.

The VIS doesn’t give any significant information in and of itself, but it does tell us when the vehicle came off the production line at the time of a production run. It is not standardized between manufacturers however, and each manufacturer has its own system.

Auto Catalog

If you would like to look up the technical specs for a specific vehicle, you can click on “Auto Catalog” on the top toolbar of the AA Japan auction system. The auto catalog provides a useful information database for most of the vehicles being sold at auction.

Vehicle makers are listed by country. You also have the option to search for a specific model. Here you can see technical specs for individual models and their average sale price at auction.