Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting ready for Shaken (last belated post) and changing out my wheels

Anyone who's owned a car in Japan knows about the bi-annual (every two years) Shaken (車検)(mandatory safety inspection)process. What a farce, and a pain.

At its core, you have to pay various taxes, based on the size of the car and its engine size. Then, mandatory insurance in case you hit someone. Then, the car has to be in "safe operating condition" - which really is a chance for dealerships and repairshops to get rich doing minor work that normally would not cause a car to blow up on the road. Like mis-aimed headlights or old wiper blades. Or wheels and tires that stick out past the fenderwells (this is illegal in Japan).

So I found myself at the Camp Zama auto shop on Saturday, with my good friend DCD. Apparently he's somewhat known in the rice rocket world for his work taking photos of certain flashy J-cars. Whatever. Talk about exploiting a niche! Lucky bastard!

Anyway DCD had offered to come with me to change out the wheels and tires of my car, back to the standard 17in alloys, with new tires (the superb Dunlop Star Specs). As Alex had already taken the tires off for his son to use (my donation), all we had to do was to install the new tires and balance the wheels!

Here is my car in the shop, right before we changed the wheels.

Once we had the car up, I started cleaning the underside (phone call to Nissan and they told me that they do this for the Shaken!). Meanwhile, DCD and Alex decreed that, the rubber strip I had added to the front spoiler was a hazard as it was hanging off a bit, so they proceeded to remove it.

I next decided to wash the car - what the heck. After I pulled the car back inside and started to towel dry it off, it hit me - why not use compressed air to PROPERLY dry the car?

Then DCD discovered the air hose was good for cleaning interiors, too! Here he is, hard at work...

On Saturday, took my car to a local shaken specialist. Unfortunately, they decreed that my front pipe was too big - the ground clearance was LESS than the required 9cm... so on Sunday, went to Yokota base to borrow a standard front pipe from my friend James, and drove back to the shop in the Toyota Cresta they lent to me so they could install the standard pipe. Talk about a real hassle. The shop also said the left front CV boot was torn, necessitating replacement (which they did).

Picked up the car last night - all in all, a relatively good experience, as I'm pretty sure I saved lots of $$$$ in the process! But this weekend, I'll have to put the Mine's front pipe back on...

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