Living with a Right Hand Drive in North America
Ian McEwen February 11, 2021

Right hand drives are coming to North America. Nissan Skyline. Civic Type R. Autozam AZ-1. These are a few of the many interesting and exciting Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) vehicles legal (or coming legal soon) for import in the USA that were never available in North America or came in a different variation. To legally import these cars, they must be twenty five years old down to the year for USA and fifteen years old for Canada. The lower prices are appealing. The prices are low because the value of older vehicles in Japan plummets due to the high cost of inspections and ongoing maintenance. Many have already been imported to the USA and are available now for purchase on AutoTempest.

So, you decided you are ready to buy your own RHD JDM vehicle. But what is ownership like in North America? What are the pros and cons? Let’s explore further.

Driving on the Wrong Side

The first thing you notice is you are sitting on the right side of the vehicle. There will be times when this is inconvenient and other times where you need to adjust your driving habits. For example, drive-throughs, toll booths and paid parking lots become an annoyance. Making a left turn in an uncontrolled busy intersection makes it difficult to see when an opposing driver is doing the same. It can also be challenging to see past that large semi-truck on a two-lane highway when you want to pass. With a manual transmission, you will also need to get used to shifting with your left hand and come to terms with hitting the windshield wipers when you meant to signal. These can be overcome with practice and become more natural with seat time.

Parts and Service

Where I live the local dealers will not perform service on a RHD imported car. Part of the reason is the challenge of getting parts. You may find some local enthusiast friendly shops that will work on your vehicle along with sources on the internet to hunt down parts. Local shops may offer the option of you bringing your own parts in. Speak to a few repair shops before making your vehicle choice. Powertrain parts can be shared between LHD and RHD models, but interior and trim pieces are often different. You will want to find out if your dream vehicle can be serviced locally and verify what sources are available for parts by checking Facebook groups. Hunting down JDM parts will become a way of life.

Attracting Attention

When you take your vehicle out for a drive you may or not want to engage with the people around you. Sometimes you are just trying to run an errand. It may depend on your mood that day. Know that a RHD vehicle tends to attract comments and invite conversations. If you are the type that enjoys some conversation and banter, then this may be a positive point. These special cars tend to draw a crowd wherever you park.


The idea of buying a vehicle never sold here in North America is exciting. You understand that you will be driving on the “wrong side”, that parts and service can be a challenge and that you may attract some attention. You know the pros and cons and now you are ready to find your preferred Japanese Domestic Market right hand drive vehicle.

The good news is AutoTempest is here to help. The easiest way to search for RHD cars is to use our advanced search keywords, allowing you to search multiple terms at once. Try this in the keywords field (under advanced search options): “Right hand drive” | RHD | JDM

Your first JDM RHD vehicle might be just a few clicks away.

Find used cars on all the top used car sites -, eBay, CarsDirect, craigslist*, AutoTrader* and more - with the AutoTempest used car search tool:

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Ian McEwen Marketing and Social Media Manager

Resident of Victoria, British Columbia Canada and an avid car enthusiast. He has a background in the high tech sector, automotive repair, and property management. When he is not working or spending time with family, he enjoys exercising, track days and back road drives. He is the proud owner of a 1998 Acura Integra Type R.