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Complete Guide To Mini Trucks

man driving mini truck

Mini trucksMini trucks are fun little vehicles that you may have seen around without even realizing what they were. Landscaping companies, delivery companies, sellers at farmers markets, and many others sometimes use these small utility vehicles. You still may not know much about these little imports, though, so let’s take a closer look.

What Is Considered A Mini Truck?

When a vehicle is considered a mini truck, what it typically means is that it falls under the Japanese kei truck classification for size and engine displacement. This means trucks must be under 134 inches long, no wider than 58 inches, and no more than 79 inches high. The engines can be no more than 660cc.

These little trucks usually come in under 1500 pounds, which works well in the tight areas in Japanese cities. While it isn’t usually necessary in a tight urban environment, many of these mini trucks can reach upwards of 75mph. Typically, they can carry around a maximum of about 800lbs on the back. This makes them great little delivery or work vehicles, and very flexible in their uses.

You will usually see these trucks manufactured by companies like Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Suzuki, and Subaru. While there are several other brands, these are some of the companies you’ll likely recognize.

Manufacturers design most of these little trucks for cargo, and many have beds with flip-down sides and a tailgate. There are also van versions, used for both cargo or for passengers. Almost all of these are cab-over designs, no matter the style you find. With this design, the driver and front passenger sit above the engine, nearly directly above the front wheels. This saves space, leaving more room in the back. That can be important because of the strict limits to the length of these vehicles.

man waving from mini truck van version

What Is The Most Reliable Mini Truck?

Tiny trucks have a reputation of being relatively reliable, in general, and you shouldn’t worry about buying a used one for your own use. However, as with all things, some are more reliable than others.

So which is the most reliable mini truck? It really comes down to sticking to one of the top manufacturers, because they are all very reliable. While each have their own pluses and minuses, the most reliable brands you’re likely to find are:

  • Suzuki
  • Mitsubish
  • Daihatsu
  • Subaru

Any of these brands will serve you well. And if none of these four work for you, you can’t go wrong with the Honda models. While they don’t have quite the reputation of those above, they are well known for their reliability.

All of these mini trucks will need the typical maintenance. That includes things like brakes, tires, batteries, etc. If you take care of all of that, do your oil changes on time, and get the necessary service as parts age, your mini truck can last a very long time.

One thing to keep in mind is that it will be harder to find some parts for a mini truck than for the common vehicles you see on the street. If you’re trying to decide between different models of mini truck, you may consider this before making your choice.

Some of these vehicles have parts that you may not find the exact replacement for, but you might find a suitable part that will work. Owners have reported good luck with things like air filters. While the auto stores may not sell the exact part for their car, they can take the current filter in and the staff at the auto store can measure it and find a part from another vehicle that is similar enough to work.

If you do have to order parts, you can purchase from Japan and have them ship the parts to you. That may add some shipping charges to the cost of your parts. This is why it is very important to make sure you look over any mini truck well before purchase to make sure it won’t need any major repairs.

How Long Do Mini Trucks Last?

One thing a lot of people may wonder is how long mini trucks last. Usually, you can expect these vehicles to last around 90,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) or more. There are many reports from people who have imported used mini trucks into North America and pushed their trucks beyond 155,000 miles (250,000 kilometers), and sometimes even past 215,000 miles (350,000 kilometers).

When you buy a used mini truck, how long it will last you is going to depend on how the previous owner treated it. It’s pretty easy to find a well-maintained mini truck, so you shouldn’t have an issue with this.

Like all vehicles, if you don’t change the oil, fail to check your fluid levels, or over-rev your engine regularly, you’re going to reduce its lifespan. Treat your mini truck right and it’ll last you a very long time.

parked japanese mini truck

How Much Is A Japanese Mini Truck?

How much a Japanese mini truck costs is going to depend somewhat on its condition and the age. It also depends on whether you buy one already imported, or need to have it imported yourself.

Some of the mini trucks cost $20,000 or more when new, but their price drops off quickly. Because of this quick drop, it’s common to find mini trucks under $5,000, and often as low as $2,000 if you want to get a model from the 1990s.

If importing for use on the road in the United States you’ll likely want a vehicle at least 25 years old or older, because of US laws on importing vehicles. This means most of the vehicles you see imported are going to fall in that $2,000 to $5,000 range. That makes it fairly easy to find a low-cost, relatively low-mile vehicle that you can rely on for a long time to come.

are mini trucks legal in nys

Are Mini Trucks Legal In New York State?

While the laws vary from state to state, whether a mini truck is legal in New York is a question many people have. While many websites say that New York has no specific state laws regarding mini trucks, their Department of Motor Vehicle Site specifically states the following:

“The DMV will not register or title any Kei-class vehicle unless the applicant provides proof the vehicle has been brought into compliance with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission requirements.”

This suggests that they will register mini trucks for use on the road. Keep in mind, they also state that all imported vehicles have to clear US Customs and comply with New York safety and emissions standards.

If you can meet all these requirements, you should be able to legally drive your mini truck in New York.

A mini truck can make a great utilitarian vehicle for many small businesses, or just a fun little vehicle to drive around town for any individual. While they may not be the flashiest, most feature-laden vehicles available, they are certainly unique, and will provide a lot of entertainment and attention wherever you go.

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