Kei Trucks in Winter

Having Kei Trucks in Winter can be a challenge. With the cold weather, there are things which should be addressed. Careful consideration should be made to ensure that the vehicle’s engine, battery, and fluids are properly maintained. Before the winter weather sets in, ensure that you know the areas which will require maintenance. If you want to know the areas to address for Kei Trucks in Winter, read on.

Kei Trucks in Winter need to be maintained to run properly. Image of a Kei truck in snow.

Reduce ice damage

The first thing that you will need to do for your Kei truck is to reduce the likelihood of ice damage to your vehicle. One way in which you can do this is by using a car tarp or cover. Because of the small size of the Kei truck, you may use an ATV cover for the winter months.

Ensure that the cover that you choose covers your vehicle completely and that there are no loose edges. Should you find that you have loose corners, you will need to secure those loose edges to prevent any water and ice accumulation. If possible, store your Kei Truck in a warm and dry environment when not in use during winter.

Check your coolant and other fluids

Kei trucks are susceptible to freezing liquids. It is paramount that you check the fluids in the Kei truck before freezing weather sets in. Specifically, you will need to check the coolant in the Kei truck. The coolant should be at the proper level. You will want to ensure that the antifreeze to water ratio is correct. Should you have too much water in the antifreeze, it could lead to freezing within the radiator.

Should you find that the combination of antifreeze to water is not ideal, it is advised that you flush the system and add in new coolant. Kei trucks are small and so this process is not too expensive. If you do not know how to flush the system, take your Kei truck to any major mechanic.

Apart from checking the coolant, you should also check the other fluids in your Kei. Take note to change out the oil if it has been a while. Fresh oil is less likely to have grime and debris which can clog up the engine in the winter months.

Change your wiper blades for better drivability

If you will drive your Kei in the winter months, it is critical that you have ideal drivability. Consider using water deterring coatings on your windshield. Have new wiper blades put onto your Kei to help with visibility. You should not use the blades to clear ice from your windshield. Check your defrost on your Kei (if that option is available) to ensure that it works properly.

Depending upon the generation of Kei truck, you may also have the option of heated side mirrors. Any device which is heated or provides relief from the cold should be checked prior to any freezing weather.

Consider lifting your Kei

Because of the proximity to the ground, if you live in an area which receives snow, lift your Kei Truck. Lift Kits allow for you to raise the vehicle anywhere between 2 and 6”. The kits are relatively easy to install and can allow you to gain the extra clearance that you need to prevent the underbody of the vehicle from scrubbing the snow.

Besides the higher clearance from the ground, lifted Kei trucks can have thicker tires. The larger tires provide better traction in snow and inclement weather than the standard thin trucks. Also, because of the lift, when combined with the larger tires, the Kei increases the safety of the drive. This is done through better visibility, easier steering, and lower risk of snow/debris accumulation under the vehicle.

Check the tires

Winter months cause fluctuations in the tire pressure of your Kei Truck. Ensure that you have the proper air pressure in your tires. Regardless of whether you use larger tires during winter, you should have the proper pressure. If you do not use larger tires, consider using chains or other methods of winterizing your tires.

Check all of your tires treads before operating your vehicle during the winter. Treads should not be smooth. Smooth treads may cause drifting and sliding on ice and snow. Also, there should be no bulging or bubbles on the side of the tire. This is an indicator that the tire is weak. Tires should be in pristine condition to avoid collisions and blowouts and to maximize drivability.

Have the battery tested

Perhaps one of the biggest precautions that you can take is with the battery. Batteries are fickle with the cold. Check the battery to ensure that there is ample power and life left within it for the winter. Change out the battery or re-charge it. Kei truck batteries are not expensive, so any signs that your battery may be weak should be taken as an indicator that a new one is needed.

Regardless of the power that you have, take precautions for your Kei Truck battery. Have jumper cables in the truck to provide power with an emergency.

Warm up your engine

Many of the Kei trucks are from older generations where the technology to start and drive a vehicle was just not present. Therefore, give your engine time to warm up. You do not want to operate the vehicle if the engine is cold. This could cause for the engine to seize up and for major problems to occur. Usually, you only need about ten minutes for the engine to be ready to drive. However, check your oil temperature gauge to know. The gauge should read in the middle (neither hot nor cold) before you drive.

Kei Trucks in Winter like this camo kei in snow

Kei Trucks in Winter

Kei trucks can provide you with the transportation that you need during the winter months. Ensure that you adhere to proper safety and maintenance before the cold weather sets in. As with any vehicle, should you have concerns about the safety or the functioning of your vehicle, bring the Kei Truck to a licensed mechanic.

Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles – Which is better

Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles can both be considered when looking for a small economical car. Both vehicles are similar in their aesthetic. But does this mean that both are the same? They are not. Fundamental differences between the two affect the drivability and functionality of the car or truck chosen. Before you purchase your small automobile, it is important that you know some of the key differences between the two. If you are considering purchasing a Kei Truck or Mini Vehicle, read on.

Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles which is best? Orange Kei truck shown.

Where is the power?

The first thing to consider when looking at your next vehicle is the power source. Specifically, know where the engine is placed within the vehicle. On Mini Vehicles, meaning the small vehicles which are on the market domestically, the engine is always in the front. Small vehicles adhere to the layout of full-size vehicles. You have the engine in the center front and the battery against the framework.

Kei trucks are different with the engine placement. Depending upon the generation that you choose and the brand that you consider, the engine could be in various places. Most common is in the front, under the driver’s seat. Access to the engine is conducted by lifting the seat in which it is under.

Some models have the engine in the rear. Other vehicles, mainly the newer generations, have the engine at the front. It is important that you know where the engine is on the Kei truck, as this will save you from frustrations when trying to find the battery. The battery is always within proximity of the engine against the framework.

Power options

Once you have located the engine, the next consideration between the Kei Trucks of Mini Vehicles is the power that the engine produces. Small vehicles have more power, providing about 134 to 189hp. This allows for higher speeds when on the road. The Kei trucks do not produce the same amount of power. Again, depending on the generation and the model, the power will fluctuate.

The small engines of the Kei are primarily a 668cc to 698cc engine. This allows for speeds of up to 89mph. But if you choose an older model, you will have lower power options. For example, first-generation models have a 356cc engine which only allows speeds of up to 45mph. Choose the Kei truck, which best suits your needs. If you are looking for a more modern engine with substantial power, a Suzuki Carry or the Subaru Sambar may be the best option for you, as both have upgraded their engines recently.

Transmissions

There is a big difference in the Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles when it comes to the transmission options. Most of the mini trucks and cars on the market have an automatic transmission. This allows you to have various options, usually 6 speeds. Manual may be offered, but there is no loss of the transmission options, meaning you get a 5 or 6-speed manual shift transmission.

Kei vehicles have variables between the manual and the automatic transmission. For the manual transmission, the speeds are usually 4 to 5-speed. Automatic transmissions are 3 to 4 speed on most of the models available.

Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles? Kei trucks have less seating options like this white Kei Truck.

Seating differences of the Kei Truck and Mini Vehicles

While both vehicles look similar, there are differences in how they drive and the comfort of the drive. For the mini-vehicle, the seating is usually 2 to 4 persons. Some of the larger mini vehicles have storage in the back. Access to this storage is typically through a hatchback door. Where it may be labeled as a mini-vehicle, the size of the cars and trucks tends to be larger than the Kei, being labeled mini only because they are smaller than their full-size counterparts.

Kei trucks, and vans are small for a reason. They are specifically designed for the functionality of getting from point A to point B. All the extra stuff that you find in larger vehicles has been cut out. The seating in a Kei is 2 person, unless the vehicle has been converted to a van or camper. Where the vehicle has been converted, you may seat up to 6 people. Kei trucks do not have storage space because the trucks have a bed that can be used for such. If the vehicle has been converted to a van or camper, the same hatchback access as the small vehicle comes into play.

Drivability differences

Mini vehicles are designed for the street and city. As stated earlier, they are the smaller counterpart of the larger vehicles in their class. Therefore, you can expect the performance of the drive to be like that of the full-size option. Most of the vehicles are not designed for off-road use, making it hard to navigate in smaller spaces or on terrain. And while there is an ability to handle some hills, you may find that there is a bit of strain when you come to steep inclines when operating a mini vehicle.

Kei trucks are different in their drivability. Because of their small design and how the vehicle’s weight is distributed, the Kei truck is suitable for off-road and in-city use. The small design makes it great for navigating alleyways and small streets. But the design also allows for terrain navigation. Most Kei trucks can handle inclines of up to 20ᵒ.

Which is better Kei Trucks or Mini Vehicles?

It depends on what you need. If you need to have a fast vehicle for the highways and byways of the city, then a mini vehicle is the best option for you. However, if you wish to have a cheaper vehicle (usually a few thousand dollars cheaper) that is great for in the city and off-road use, the Kei truck may be the best option for you.

Check with the local taxation and importation authority to find out more about any state ordinances for Kei trucks before purchasing.

Kei Truck Engines

When looking at the various mini truck brands, you note the engines vary over the generations. The locations change. Knowing a bit about Kei Truck Engines will help you with the overall maintenance and repair of your vehicle over the years. Should you wish to find out more about Kei Truck Engines, read on.

Kei Truck Engines vary depending upon the generaion.

The early standard

Kei Trucks are limited as to the power and the size of the overall truck. Therefore, the engines of the first generation Kei trucks are far lower than that of the current generations. Standard for the first generation were 356cc 2-stroke engines. There were a few models, such as the Mitsubishi Minicab, which had a 359cc and the Subaru Sambar, which has a 365cc engine. However, these are still rather small, providing about 21hp.

It is important to understand that the former models of the Kei truck were intended for in city driving, primarily for short runs. As the models were produced in the early 60s to 70s, the speeds and the technology which we have today were not present.

Current Engines

Current engines for most models are 658cc. This produces a substantially greater hp than that of prior generations. Models such as the Daihatsu Hijet have a 659cc and a 998cc engine currently available. Honda Acty has a 545cc engine. The Mitsubishi Minicab has a full electric model known as the Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV. New engines allow for various transmission set ups. While the early generations were primarily 3 speed manuals, the new models allow for 4 or 5-speed manual with the automatic transmission reaching 4 speeds.

The overall power produced by the modern engines allows for speeds up to 60 mph. This should be considered the high end of the spectrum. In most instances, the speeds remain in the mid-40s to 50s. Considering that these vehicles are primarily for off-road and agricultural uses, this speed is sufficient.

Engine location

There are three locations where the engine can be located. First and the most popular location is the middle of the vehicle underneath the driver or the passenger’s seat. This is the location for most of the older models, such as the Subaru Sambar and the Suzuki Carry. You find that as the generations for the models have progressed, the engine location has changed. Specifically, in the 70s, Kei trucks sought to mimic the style of full-sized vehicles such as the Volkswagen. Therefore, the engines moved to the rear of the vehicle. Modern generations have put the engine back under the passenger seat or at the front of the vehicle, keeping the bed of the truck a separate entity from the cab.

Purchasing a Kei Truck

Even though the engines in the Kei trucks are less powerful than that of a full-sized truck or SUV, they still have the performance and the functionality of a truck. What makes this better is that the trucks are offered at a fraction of the cost as that of a new full-sized. When buying a used mini Japanese van or truck, even if you have to replace the engine, you can do so for cheap. But don’t worry, the engines of the Kei trucks last for a long time, about 150,000 miles or more.

Mini Truck Batteries – All you need to know

Where are Mini Truck Batteries? All vehicles rely upon some form of battery power. Kei trucks are no different. The batteries, however, do differ from the full-sized vehicles. If you have a Kei truck, then you will eventually have to replace or service it. If you have ever wondered about your battery for your Kei truck, here are a few things that you should know.

Mini Truck Batteries come in all shapes and forms. This is a battery showing the positive and negitives.

Where is the battery?

The first consideration when it comes to your battery is where it is located. First generation models tend to have the battery located under the driver’s side seat alongside the framework. Depending upon where the engine is located, the battery may change. Rear powered engines, such as those found on the Daihatsu Hijet may have the battery located in the rear of the vehicle. If the battery is at the rear of the bed, there will be a housing box for the battery. Modern vehicles use such boxes as Holt or metal encasements to secure the battery.

On Suzuki Carry models from 1999 and before, the battery will be in the middle of the cabin under the seat. This is standard for other brands as well. Newer models which have the engine housed in the front will have the battery located alongside the interior. This is much like a standard-sized vehicle.

What is the power of the battery?

If you are looking to replace your Mini Truck Batteries, then you need to know the voltage that is acceptable for the Kei truck or van. Most of the models on the market require a 12-volt battery. However, 8-volt batteries have been used successfully. Check the specifics of your battery prior to purchasing the domestic equivalent. Getting too much power from your battery may cause strain on the starter. Small car batteries are generally too powerful for a Kei truck and should be avoided unless specifically recommended by the Kei truck brand.

Battery power will vary dependent upon the model that you have. However, some of the popular batteries for mini trucks include the Durastart 8 volt, the Yuassa NP18-12B 12 volt, and the Earth ETX12A High performance battery.

While it has been suggested that an ATV or a lawn mower battery is sufficient power for a Kei truck, these should be avoided. The batteries for ATVs and Lawn Mowers are specifically designed for those vehicles and are not intended for Kei Trucks of vehicles which will be used continuously. Only use such batteries if they are approved by the Kei manufacturer.

A note about Mini Truck Batteries

 Japan and US vehicles and batteries differ. If you are purchasing a U.S. brand of the battery, you will need to change out the connectors to the positive and negative. Japanese battery connectors have the pencil holes which are not common on domestic batteries. Some newer models do adhere to the most batteries on the market. Check your Kei battery before performing any changes.

 If you are not familiar with how to change these, have a mechanic perform the work. As with any maintenance and alterations to your vehicle, ensure that you adhere to all of the safety protocols.

Mini truck brands

Mini truck brands are numerous, with each major manufacturer contributing to the market. Located primarily out of Japan, these cars have become synonymous with automotive efficiency. But which brand is the best? Each brand has several generations and variations. You have lifts, dump beds, campers, and vans, just to name a few. Then you have the actual brands to consider. These brands are the Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu Hijet, Mitsubishi Minicab, Honda Acty, Mazda Porter, and the Subaru Sambar.

If you have ever wondered about the different mini truck brands available, this article is for you.

Mini truck brands include vehicles such as this brown mini truck.

A note about mini trucks

Mini trucks are limited in their size and in their power. They are not the same as the smaller vehicles that you see in today’s market. For that reason, you should know the differences between the brands, as well as weigh the intended use of the vehicle to what is available. Kei trucks offer a diverse range of functions for a fraction of the cost. These brands solve purchasing some of the more modern full-size or small standard-sized vehicles on the market.

The Suzuki Carry

Introduced in the early 60s, the Suzuki Carry is one of the more popular Kei bands in the market. The first-generation model (1961) had the engine under the seat. This engine was a 356cc 21Hp. However, the changes to the model over time have moved the engine to the rear and to the front of the vehicle. When looking at the progress of the Suzuki carry, you see that most of the changes occurred after 1982. The reason for this is that the Carry was renamed in 1982 to the Suzuki Every and underwent a re-visioning. From 1982 to the present, the mini-truck brand has undergone 7 more generations. Currently, in the eleventh generation, the vehicle now houses a 657cc engine and features many modern technologies for safety and driveability.

Daihatsu Hijet

A year older than the Suzuki Carry, the Daihatsu Hijet is another one of the top mini truck brands on the market. The brand is available in Microvan and a Kei Truck. While the vehicle has some unique features, such as the 356cc engine, there are other qualities that are reminiscent of the Daihatsu Midget. The reason for this is that this Kei truck is the replacement for the Midget. That being stated, the generational changes which this vehicle has seen have taken it a long way from the first generation. Specifically, the later generations have yielded a sleeker, more powerful automobile. The Daihatsu is in its tenth generation and offers an engine in 658, 659, or 998cc.

It should be noted that the Daihatsu vans have had less popularity than the Kei trucks of this brand. The trucks have been highly successful, becoming a standard from which other brands are based.

Mini truck brands such as this one have a few different generations.

Mitsubishi Minicab

Sold since ’Sold since 1966, the Mitsubishi Minicab is this company’s Kei option. First-generation vehicle from the mini truck brand was a bit more powerful than some of the other competitors’ first generation. While most engines had a 356, the Mitsubishi Minicab had a slightly higher 359cc engine. This is not to say that the engine has not been improved. Changes in the fourth generation onward have consistently seen engine and transmission upgrades.

The biggest change which has occurred in the Mitsubishi MiniCab solves the demand for greener technology. The latest generation offers an all-electric option known as the Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV. This is one of the few brands to have a fully electric vehicle, making it stand out from other mini truck brands.

Subaru Sambar

One of the most popular Kei mini truck brands on the market, the Subaru Sambar, stands apart from other Kei trucks. Why is this? First, the truck has years of being on the market. The first Subaru Sambars were introduced in 1961. Second, the truck takes the design of the Daihatsu Hijet and has improved upon it. While this is a statement to the Daihatsu, it also shows that the Sambar goes beyond what the other brand offers. Third, from the first generation onwards, the Subaru Sambar has pushed the envelope. First-generation models were the only Kei trucks to have 4-wheel suspension. Engines in the first generation were substantially higher than the 356cc standard. Subaru Sambars started with a 365cc engine and have come up from there.

Adhering to the standards of most full-sized vehicles, the Subaru Sambar has attempted to mimic some features of such automobiles in the Kei trucks and vans they offer. This means that there is side collision assist, LED lighting, back up assist, and front engine placement in the latest generation. Depending upon the year and generation, some of these features may change.

Honda Acty

The Honda Acty is the youngest of all the brands mentioned. Introduced in 1977, this Kei was a replacement for the Honda TN360 and the HondaT360. These were older Kei vehicles that did not have the same success as other mini truck brands. The Honda Acty’s first-generation Kei trucks had a 545cc 2-cylinder engine. This engine was the standard in the models until the second generation launched ten years later in 1988. During this time, the engine was updated. Other generations, which occurred about every ten years, have upgraded the aesthetics and the engine as well.

While there is a Kei Van for the Honda Acty, it should be noted that the Honda Acty van has been discontinued for the Honda Street. The Kei truck remains in production with the current generation.

Which mini truck brands should you purchase from?

The above brands are the top on the market. There are other brands available, such as the Mazda Porter and the Nissan Pao. The best brand depends upon the needs and the aesthetics which you wish to have. If you seek to have a more classic look, seek a Kei truck or van that is 25 years old or older. You should keep in mind that when purchasing a Kei Truck, that those are classic can be driven on-road in most instances. Newer mini truck brands may be limited to off-road or agricultural uses. Check the state ordinances.

Check with your local importation, tax, and title authority to find out the regulations regarding the importation and driving of your desired mini truck brands.

State ordinances for Kei Trucks

State ordinances for Kei Trucks vary from state to state. Because of this, it is important that those wishing to purchase a Kei truck become familiar with the state laws before purchasing a Kei vehicle. For the most part, they can declare vehicles which are over 25 years old or older as being classic vehicle. Classic Vehicles typically do not have to follow the same regulations and stipulations that new vehicles must adhere to. If you are considering purchasing a Kei Truck, here are the regulations by state to help you get started.

Please note that in instances where there are no laws dictated by the state, those states should be considered as illegal for on-road usage. However, this may not be the case with all states. Again,reach out to your local state importation and driving authority to find the specifics pertaining to your Kei truck.

State ordinances for Kei Trucks should be looked carefully at. This is a gavel and the word ordinance.

Kei truck or mini truck

You should know that there is a difference between a Kei Truck, Kei Van, and a mini vehicle. Typically, Mini Vehicles are similar to the full-size counterpart. Kei trucks are imports from Japan, which are primarily made as in city or agricultural vehicles. Because of the construction of the vehicles differs from United States automobile manufacturing, the standards and safety regulations for use must be adhered to. Even if a state allows for use of the vehicle on their roads, you may still need to bring the vehicle up to standard road safety conditions prior to operating the vehicle.

There are benefits for owning a Kei vehicle. Primarily, the ease of access as well as the price point is to be considered. Kei trucks can navigate slopes of up to 20ᵒ with ease. Because the truck is lower to the ground, the weight distribution tends to yield safer drivability than an ATV or other small vehicle.

State ordinances for Kei Trucks

Regulations vary from state to state. Below is a list of the known regulations pertaining to each state. The regulations are as follows:

Alabama

They make Kei trucks allowances on any road except for interstate highways. Additionally, trucks must be able to reach a minimum of 25 mph.

Alaska

There are no recorded laws for Alaska. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Arizona

There are no recorded laws for Arizona. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Arkansas

They make Kei trucks allowances on roads that have a speed limit not exceeding 55 mph. This excludes highways and controlled access highways. Also, all vehicles must be registered exclusively for farm and agricultural purposes.

California

They can use any Kei vehicle on natural islands with an area in excess of 20,000 acres with the county having a population in excess of 4 million persons. Most generations of Kei trucks gain access within these parameters. However, autoette vehicles (those with 3 wheels) are not allowed within the state of California.

Colorado

There are no laws present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Connecticut

There are no recorded laws for Connecticut. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Delaware

There are no laws present for this state. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common.As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Florida

Kei trucks are allowed on some roads. However, the speed limitations must be 35mph or less. They must register vehicles as a mini truck. So, check with the county you wish to use the truck to see if the mini truck needs to register as an off road vehicle or as a recreational vehicle.

Georgia

They can use Kei trucks in Georgia for agricultural and farm purposes only. With older vehicles, being those which are over 25 years old, they can be registered as a classic vehicle and used on road. Additionally, there may still be limitations based upon speed regulations. Check with local zoning for requirements and restrictions.

Hawaii

They recorded no state laws for Hawaii. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Idaho

Idaho allows for Kei vehicles based upon the options of the local authorities. This means that you will need to check with the county in which you wish to operate the vehicle prior to purchase and operation. However, there is a statewide limit on the vehicle limiting Kei Trucks that are utility type vehicles. No UTVs.

Illinois

They can use Kei trucks on roads with speed limits of 35mph unless local ordinances restrict such use. Also, when operated in a residential neighborhood the speed limit cannot exceed 25 mph. Typically, older generation kei trucks are ideal for Illinois as the engines for the vehicles tend to have a 356cc engine. These engines produce less hp than that of newer vehicles. Additionally, there may be exemptions to the older vehicles.

Indiana

There are no laws present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Iowa

There are no recorded laws for Kei Trucks for Iowa. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Kansas

They can use Kei trucks on public roads and within corporate city limits if local ordinances do not restrict the use of your vehicle. However, there are roads which are not permitted including interstates and any major highways controlled by either the state or federal government. Throughout the state, there is a no UTV ordinance on Kei Trucks.

Kentucky

They base Kei truck usage for Kentucky solely upon local ordinances. As such, check with the county in which you wish to operate the vehicle to obtain the regulations and stipulations of use.

Louisiana

Roads that have a speed limit of 55mph or less allow mini vehicles. Yet, this does not include federal or state highways where the use is prohibited. Use of mini-trucks is prohibited. They do not allow use on divided highways or partially controlled roadways.

Maine

They make allowances for Kei trucks on main roads if the speed limit is less than 35 mph and the overall speed of the vehicle is less than 25mph. This limits the use of the vehicle to primarily residential areas. The use of your Kei is not permitted on highways or interstates.

Maryland

No recorded state ordinances for Kei trucks available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Massachusetts

There are no laws recorded for the state of Massachusetts. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Michigan

No state law is present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Minnesota

They based use of a Kei vehicle in this state upon the local ordinances. The type of Kei trucks which are allowed are also determined by local ordinances. Check your local regulations to see where and how you can use your Kei truck.

Mississippi

They currently list no laws for this state. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Missouri

Local ordinances dictate where the truck can be used. However, the state ordinances limit the speed of the Kei truck to vehicles which are no more than 45mph. They permitted no miniature utility vehicles in the state of Missouri. This may limit the use of modern generation Kei vehicles. Check the overall hp output of your intended import before purchase.

Montana

There are no accessible laws for Kei trucks. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Nebraska

Miniature vehicles are permitted but Kei trucks are not. They can use miniature vehicles on all roads except for major highways, interstates, freeways and expressways. If you have questions as to whether your miniature vehicle would qualify as a Kei truck or as a mini vehicle, check with your local authorities. Allowances are premitted for Kei vans and campers if they are not conversions from a Kei truck to such.

New Hampshire

They limit Kei trucks to their use in New Hampshire. Apart from having a restriction of access to roads that are 35mph or less, the use of the vehicle must be within 25 miles of the residence’s house. Business use is permitted but cannot be used outside of a radius of 25 miles from the place of business. There are no permitted low-speed utility vehicles in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

No state law available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

New Mexico

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

New York

No state laws are available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

North Carolina

There are no laws available for this state. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

North Dakota

They permit Kei trucks on most paved roads within the state. Exemptions to this are highways and any roadway where the speed limit is in excess of 65mph. The Kei trucks cannot have a speed of over 55 mph. They must register North Dakota Kei trucks as an off-highway vehicle, meaning that it is primarily used for off-road or agricultural use.

Ohio

Roads that have speed limits of 35mph or less allow Kei trucks. However, the local ordinances take precedence over this. Check with local zoning for Kei truck accessibility. Throughout the state, Kei vehicles cannot have a speed of over 35mph.

Oklahoma

They permit Kei trucks on all roads apart from highways and interstates.

Oregon

No state laws are available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Pennsylvania

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Rhode Island

There is no available state law. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

South Carolina

There is no available state law present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

South Dakota

No state law is present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Tennessee

They permit Kei trucks if the street’s speed limit is 40mph or less. County and municipally roads may allow for Kei trucks within their jurisdiction. They limit the trucks throughout the state to vehicles which have a top speed of 35mph or less. Highways, interstates, and byways are prohibited for access throughout the state.

Texas

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Utah

They permit Kei trucks on all roads apart from highways, interstates, and byways. There can be limitations to the accessed based upon local ordinances. Throughout the state the law prohibits the use of Kei Vehicles whose top speed exceeds that of 45mph.

Vermont

No state law is present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Virginia

There is no state law present. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Washington

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

West Virginia

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Wisconsin

No state law is available. Prohibited use of Kei trucks should is common. As such, check with local state laws for details on Kei Truck Use.

Wyoming

Kei vehicles must be able to reach the speed limit of the roadway in which they are accessing. They make allowances on all roads, but must keep to the right hand lane and on the edge of the roadway. They must list Kei trucks as a multipurpose vehicle. Local ordinances may limit access.

A note about State ordinances for Kei Trucks

Use the above State ordinances for Kei Trucks as a guide only. It is the responsibility of the Kei truck owner to contact the proper authorities to determine the regulations and stipulations in place.

State ordinances for Kei Trucks vary. Keep them in mind when purchasing your Kei truck.

What year should you purchase

Depending upon the regulations of the county or state in which you wish to operate your Kei Truck, you may want to pick an older vehicle. This is a loophole for the regulations. Most State ordinances for Kei Trucks allow you to register Kei Vehicles as a classic automobile if the vehicle is 25 years old or older.

Newer Kei trucks may have the ability to be used on roadways where they would otherwise restrict it if they bring the vehicle up to the same standard as other vehicles of their size and class. This may mean that you need to have a lift kit, light changed, seatbelt/airbag installation, etc.

Used Mini Japanese Vans

Used Mini Japanese vans are available in several brands and generations. Most of the top vehicle manufacturers have used Japanese manufacturers to create Kei trucks and vans. Knowing about these various vehicles may help you save money and provide you with a unique solution to your driving needs. But are they worth the purchase and how do they compare to the standard sized vehicle? And what exactly is a mini Japanese van? If you have ever wondered about using Mini Japanese Vans, this article is for you.

Used Mini Japanese Vans like this red and white one are great for in city use.

Used Mini Japanese Vans explained

The Kei van, as it is commonly referred to is a small vehicle which has limitations to the overall height, length, and width of the vehicle. Currently, that standard places the overall length at 11 ft, the width at 4.9 feet, and the height at 6.6 ft. The most notable difference between a standard van and the used mini Japanese van is the width. But this should not deter you from a purchase. There is still room for several passengers within the vehicle. Kei vans just remove the superfluous space, focusing more on the function of the vehicle rather than the additives.

Equipping most of the Kei vans is a 660cc engine. This adheres to the Kei standards. Most of the vans are known as a one box car model, meaning that the entire design is constructed as one piece. The one box car is a small commercial design, similar to that of the passenger vehicle. These designs have a bonnet allowing for taller passengers to ride comfortably. The Kei van one box car is usually referred to by its synonymous name, the wagon.

Engine placement and drive functions

Because of the smaller size of the used mini Japanese vans, the engine could be in one of several locations. The older vehicles will usually have the engine in the vehicle’s rear. This is similar to the placement of engines in larger vans, such as the Volkswagen. Mid generation models are apt to have the engine in the mid-ship. This means that the engine would be located in the passenger or in the middle of the vehicle and accessed by lifting a panel within the cabin or the floorboard of the van. Typically, when this is the case, the engine is located under the front passenger seat. If the Kei van is of a modern generation, then the engine may be in the front.

All the engine placements are in the same category. While this makes it easy for manufacturing classification, it poses a bit of an issue to those wanting to know how and where to access the engine. You will need to have pictures or visually inspect the vehicle to get the precise location of the engine on the Kei van you are importing.

Driving functions of the Van are usually rear wheel and 4WD. Transmissions on the Kei van differ from 3 to 4-speed manual to 5-speed automatic. This too depends on the generation and the make and model that you wish to import.

Brands of Used Mini Japanese Vans

There are several different brands of Kei vans on the market. However, there are some which are considered being the standard amongst the Kei providers. Here are three of the most popular brands of used mini Japanese Vans available.

The first is the Daihatsu Atrai. This Kei van was introduced in 1981 and is known for its boxy white design. Based on the Heisette, the overall design has remained the same for most of the generations. However, the more modern look has adjusted to the needs of the market going to a high 7 person seater van.

Next, the Honda Acty Van is available. This was introduced in 1979 under the name of the Honda Street. The Honda Street has remained as the main Kei van for Honda from 1979 to 2018. In 2018, the vehicle was replaced by the N-Van. Those seeking a used mini Japanese van may wish to seek out an older generation, as the aesthetics are substantially different from the Honda Street to the N-Van.

Last is the Suzuki Carry. Based upon the Kei truck, the Suzuki carry is one of the oldest and most trusted of Kei brands on the market. First introduced in 1962 as a panel van, the Suzuki Carry has continued throughout the various generations of the brand. The most common Suzuki Carry is the fourth generation onward and has the chamfered frond and back. Fundamental changes occurred in the 8th generation, giving the overall vehicle a facelift. This new design corresponds to the newer van look. Currently, the Suzuki Carry van has been discontinued, with the Suzuki Every Plus taking its place.

Used Mini Japanese Vans mimic the larger vans. This one has sliding doors.

Why should you purchase used mini Japanese Vans?

Used mini Japanese vans provide you with the smaller vehicle for navigation within a city. They are not as cumbersome or as expensive as a full-sized van. This does not mean that they do not offer the same features as the modern vehicle. You can purchase a used current generation which has similar features to that of base package full-sized vehicles. For those wishing to have a classic on-road vehicle, choosing a Kei van which is over 25 years can provide you with the look and function of a classic car.

Apart from the smaller size and the navigation benefits, many of the Kei vans can be, or have been, converted for camping use. Because of the side and rear access to the van, you can adjust the overall interior layout to meet your needs. Whether you are camping, driving, or just want to have something a bit more original than a domestic van, a Kei Van is a great option.

Importation of used vehicles which are over 25 years of age usually is easier than purchasing a new Kei truck or van. Check with your local and state authority to understand the regulations and stipulations for importation and on-road use of your used mini Japanese van.

Tiny Japanese Trucks and Vans

Tiny Trucks and vans are growing in popularity. Many brands are available on the market, including the Subaru Sambar, Nissan Pao, and Mitsubishi Minicab. But what makes these brands a tiny truck and van? Is it just the size or is there something more to the overall design and aesthetics which defines the vehicle? If you want to know more about tiny Japanese trucks and vans, read on.

Tiny Japanese Trucks and Vans like this are great for the road.

What is a Tiny Truck or Van?

When you think of a tiny truck or van, you may think that it is just a small vehicle. This would be right. But it is more than just the size. Tiny trucks and vans are referred to as Kei vans or trucks. The reason for this is that they must adhere to the Japanese standards of the Kei in order to be tiny. These standards regulate the overall size of the power that the van or truck can have. Currently, the standard for the length is 11.2 ft, the height is 6.6ft and the overall width is 4.9 ft. As you can see, this is substantially different from a full-size truck or van.

Power limitations for a tiny truck or van are limited to 660cc engine displacement. The fastest that a Kei is allowed in the current generation is 84mph. That competes with many full-size vehicles on the market. However, this is not the norm. Most Kei trucks and vans can reach a speed of around 45 to 50mph. While this is a lower speed than some other vehicles, it suffices to navigate most roadways. As Japanese tiny trucks and vans are not intended for highway or interstate use, this regulation ensures an eco-friendliness and functionality not common in other types of automobiles.

Are Tiny Japanese Trucks and Vans new?

No. Japanese tiny trucks and vans have been around since the 1940s. Most of the major brands on the market have had a mini truck or van at some point. In Japan, the truck has been around since introducing the motorized vehicle. This is because of the mentality of how vehicles are made in Japan. While there are a few which are designed for aesthetic purposes, most of the vehicles produced are for functionality. They should get the driver from point A to point B. Alot of the extras are stripped away. This has been the case for Japanese cars for generations.

Though the tiny Japanese Trucks and Vans are not new, it does not mean that there are not new vehicles being added to the market. As the standards for Kei trucks and vans change every so often, the market changes as well. Some tiny vans and trucks have seen over ten generations of developments. Usually, these developments include upgrades to the engine, an increase in the cabin height, changing the engine placement, etc. When looking for your tiny Japanese truck or van, compare the features of the generations offered to find the best fit for your needs.

Are tiny trucks and vans safe?

Yes. There is a misconception that just because the trucks are small, that they are not safe to drive. YouTube and other media have shown a few instances where there has been tipping of the vehicle. What these videos do not explain is that the vehicle was not being used properly and that the weight of the vehicle was not distributed as it should be. As with any vehicle, large or tiny, if you drive it with the weight shifted to the front, it will make it more prone to front tipping. If you take a curb too fast, it is liable to tilt. Such are the things that you will see propagated on these channels.

Tiny trucks and vans are very safe. A low distance to the ground makes for easy navigation without the wind resistance that you get from other full-sized vehicles. The stripped-down cabins make it to where the driver can focus on the road without distractions. The bed of the truck is large enough for most uses, but it is small enough not to be cumbersome for the driver. Tiny trucks and vans can have additional packages, like full-sized trucks and vans, to further increase safety. Such features could include side collision, back up notifications, and LED lighting.

Various Tiny Japanese Trucks and Vans

How much space is in a tiny truck or van?

A tiny truck of van is not limited in the way most people think. The truck can house two passengers, a standard in most small to mid-sized trucks. Seats can recline, and the top of the cabin allows for taller individuals to sit comfortably. Vans typically allow for 4 to 6 passenger seating, depending upon how the van’s layout is arranged. The major difference in the space is that the extra space has been eliminated. This may cause for a smaller foot space in the van, so check to see how the overall design has been designed prior to purchasing.

Vans may also be designed as tiny campers. This would mean that you have 4 seats (two in the cabin and two in the back of the van) with the remaining space for the camper. Tiny vans have access from two sliding doors and the back hatch.

Where can you use your tiny truck or van?

Because the regulations in Japan differ from the United States, there are limitations to where you can drive a Kei truck or van. Most states allow for off-road use of the tiny truck or van. Other states require that you make the van or truck up to the driving standards of a standard vehicle. In all instances, there are placed within each state that you can drive. It is important that you check with the state you wish to have your vehicle imported to.

For the best results, choose a vehicle which is 25 years old or older. This will allow you to claim a classic car status and have the vehicle on-road in most states.

Japanese Farm Trucks – A better way to farm

Japanese Farm Trucks are one of the easiest Kei trucks to import. Because the vehicle will be used for agricultural purposes, most states allow for newer Kei trucks to be imported. This means that you can have a new Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu Hijet, or Subaru Sambar. Many other brands are also available with packages specifically for farming and off-roading. If you have ever wondered what Japanese Farm Trucks can do for you, read on.

Japanese Farm Trucks can go between rows of a farm. Like this farm shown.

The size benefits

Many look at a Kei truck and think that it is too small to be an effective working truck for a farm. However, this is not the case. The Kei truck allows you to have, on average, 1500 lbs of supplies, hay, or other cargo in the bed. They can accomplish security of the load with the liftable sides of the bed. On most Kei trucks, the sides fold down all around, allowing you quick access, regardless of the position of the truck. The size of the truck makes positioning the vehicle easy, allowing you to have better control over the bed’s contents. Unlike the full-sized vehicle, the small size of the Japanese Farm Truck is intentionally designed for off-road agricultural purposes.

Two big advantages

Besides the versatility of the bed of the truck, there are full-size considerations. First, the small size allows for you to navigate areas where a full-sized farm truck could not go. For example, you could not get a fully loaded F-150 onto some trails without major damage to the truck’s exterior. A Kei truck can navigate most passages without having to worry about scratching up the sides, scraping the top against limbs, etc.

Second, the small truck allows for a lighter overall weight. This allows you to travel with minimal drag. It also allows you to have a higher weight load than an ATV or other small off-road vehicle. Last, the small size makes the truck portable. This means that they are small enough to tow with ease. Why would this be a benefit? It is a benefit because it allows the truck to be carried on-road to various farming locations where its small size can be used.

Japanese Farm Truck Navigation

While the navigation of the Kei truck is suitable for farming, you might have your Kei truck lifted. A lifted Japanese Kei Truck can give you a bit more space for the dips and hills common to farmland. Lifting your Kei truck also gives you a bit more room for thicker tiers. This is not a necessity, though. The build of the Japanese Farm Truck allows you ample navigation functions. Most Kei trucks can climb 20ᵒ inclines with ease. But, if you have a lifted Japanese truck, there is an increase in the safety of your crop.

Most lifts are only 2 inches to 6 inches. This does not sound like much, but when you consider how low to the ground crops grow, you can see the benefit. The Kei truck, though already up high enough to clear most crops, can be lifted to fully clear them. This allows for the truck to navigate between crop rows damaging none of the harvests.

Full-sized trucks may navigate between rows. However, the larger size and weight damage the harvest area. Because the full-size vehicle is larger and more cumbersome, turn radiuses are increased, making it a hassle and a threat to end row harvests. Most times, the vehicle cannot go into the field safely, making the farmers walk to the location. Depending upon the spacing of the rows, a Kei truck may drive the rows safely.

This Japanese Farm Trucks has many uses and can be a helper for any farmer. White Japanese Farm Truck shown.

Uses for a Japanese Farm Truck

Primarily, the Japanese farm truck will be used for harvesting crops and for hauling the tools and supplies to a location. There are other uses for the Japanese Mini truck. A few of these uses include:

Livestock transport

Kei trucks can quickly be converted into vehicles that can transport small to medium-sized livestock. Because the sides fold down, kennels and cages can be loaded with ease. This means that if you have, for example, chickens that you need to carry, you can do so with the truck without the need to retrofit the bed. Simply load them up and go.

Land Clearing

Farming will require that you have land cleared in order to plant crops. If you are clearing a plot of land, you could have the Kei truck fitted with a dump bed. This turns the truck into a dump truck and allows you to quickly carry and dispose of debris. Full-sized dump beds are expensive and can damage the land. Fitting your Japanese farm truck for a dump bed keeps the land safe and the costs to clear low.

Feeding and maintenance

There are several tasks that are performed on a farm. These range from feeding the animals to ensuring that the pens are cleaned daily. Using a Kei truck to haul the supplies and perform these tasks is essential to keeping the maintenance and the cost of operations low. The fuel efficiency of the Kei truck ensures that you can perform feeding and maintenance at a low cost. The size of the Kei truck allows you to access these areas without disturbing the animals or damaging the ground.

These are just a few of the many tasks that a Japanese Farm truck can perform. If a full-size truck can do the task, a Kei truck can also perform it.

Getting a Japanese Farm Truck

Because you will use the truck for agricultural purposes, you can import most Kei trucks on the market. If you intend to use the vehicle for both farming and on-road use, ensure that you get a Kei truck that is 25 years old or older so that you can claim classic vehicle status. Check with your local and state registration for specific standards and regulations concerning the importation of your Kei farming vehicle. Japanese farm trucks are an efficient and cheap way in which to add to your farming.

Lifted Japanese Kei Truck

A lifted Japanese Kei Truck is one way in which you can increase the functionality of your Kei. If you have a Kei truck, then you know that there is little clearance between the body and the road. Because of this, drivability may be affected. To reduce the amount of scuffs and rub on the body, you may wish to lift your truck. If you have ever wondered about how and why you should use a lift kit on a Kei truck, read on to find out more.

Lifted Japanese Kei Truck blue. Shows how well a kit can rise the overall height.

A smoother ride

One of the biggest advantages to having a lift kit is a smoother ride. Regularly, Kei trucks have drivability issues. Because of the low clearance, the driver usually feels the bumps and the dips in the road. Increasing the distance between the road and the chassis helps to give a bit more stability to the ride. It also allows you to use larger shock absorbing tires to increase the comfort of the ride. This is especially true for off-road Kei vehicles like the Suzuki Carry.

Better Stability

With a lift kit, you have the option to use wider tires. The wider tires can sometimes be double the size of the standard Kei tire. This increases the overall stability of the truck. This is especially true if the truck is to be loaded or when you are using the truck for off-road purposes. Essentially, you are turning the truck into an ATV type of vehicle while retaining the look and the functionality of the mini truck.

Safer driving on a lifted Japanese Kei Truck

The higher truck allows for better visibility. Because of the increase in the visibility, you have clearer driving conditions. This affects the overall safety of the vehicle. We should note that where there is an increase in the visibility, you have a bit of a decrease in the incline stability depending on how high the truck is lifted. As many of the Kei trucks are front end heavy, focus on balancing the lift to the overall weight. That being stated, the higher body allows for some clearances from debris and scrubbing, which would not be available on the standard packaging. Choose the lift kit which best suits your needs.

Lift Kits available

Like most vehicles, there are several kits which are available to lift your Japanese Kei Truck. The best kits are those which lift anywhere between 2” and 6”. Anything more than this will cause issues with the chassis and the framework of the Kei. When picking your kit, look for lift kits specifically designed for the make and model of your Kei. Adhere to the instructions and the suggestions of the manufacturer and the lift kit provider for best results.

Full body lift kits should not be used on Kei trucks. The body and the overall framework are different. Tires which are added to the body should clear the framework when the chassis is lowered. Scrubbing of tires on the framework should be fixed immediately, as this could cause tire damage and decrease the safety of use.

Installing a lift kit – rear tires

While you can purchase a lift kit already installed on your Kei truck, most people purchase kits. Lift kits for Japanese Kei trucks are 2 to 3 inches. Overall, you may increase the height to about six feet from the top of the cabin to the road. To install your lift kit, follow these general instructions.

First, remove the rear tires after securing the vehicle with the proper jacks and safety equipment. Once the tire is removed, you will want to replace the existing plates with the new lift plates. There should be only two bolts per plate which need to be removed. Keep in mind that you should not have to bend the framework of the car. Everything should go together smoothly. When the back two tires are added back, lower the vehicle into place. Tires should not touch the framework of the vehicle but have plenty of clearance to allow for loading and driving.

Installing a lift kit – front tires

Front tires will require a bit more work. Remove the front tire. Then, remove the coil from the font of the vehicle. You will need to add the base plate to the coil and the camber plate to the top of the base plate. When this is completed, you can add the coil back to where it was before. The base plate acts as a spacer and will be the equivalent of the pates that you just installed on the back of the Kei truck.

Be mindful of the overall look and settlement of the Kei truck once you have added the coils back and lowered the truck. There are a few issues which should be noted. First, the tow may need to be adjusted. Second, you may have to cut the framework to avoid rubbing. If you do not wish to cut the framework, you may need to have larger spacers. Finally, the camber of Kei lift kits bends outward. However, this is common on full-size and on mini trucks and Kei trucks.

A lifted Japanese Kei Truck of a white kei truck.

A general note about a lifted Japanese Kei Truck

It is highly recommended that you have a mechanic install the lift kit for you. As you will adjust the tires and how the tires interact with the overall vehicle, it is critical that the kit is installed properly. If you are importing a Kei Truck which already has a lift kit, have the vehicle inspected to ensure that the kit was attached properly. You do not want to have issues with the struts in the future.

Before installing your kit, check with the local licensing authority to find out if the lift kit will affect your Kei truck’s ability to drive on-road. Most Kei trucks must be 25 years old or older to gain access to roadways. However, if you have the proper street legalization kits, you may drive on-road, if the lift kit adheres to the proper safety regulations.