There are a lot of places that can provide this service. A lot of them advertise right outside their shop with huge banners reading 車検！ But which one is best? Which is the cheapest? Is there any difference at all?
A general business that performs maintenance on vehicles is formally called a 自動車整備工場 (jidousha seibi koujyou). Among such businesses, the Japanese MLIT has two designations for garages that wish to provide shaken renewal services to customers.
A garage that can renew your shaken has applied for the right to handle such requests and been designated as a 認証工場 (ninshou koujyou). This means that the mechanics can review your car and perform service on it in preparation for an official shaken vehicle inspection. However, they cannot perform the official inspection on site. Instead, an employee from the shop will take the car to the regional Land Transport Bureau where it will undergo the official inspection. He or she will have to abide by the usual operating hours of the bureau and will submit all the required paperwork by hand, just like a private individual taking their car in for a user shaken. Most gas stations and small shops advertising shaken renewal services are only 認証工場 certified.
Above and beyond the 認証工場 designation, however, a garage can also apply to be certified as a 指定工場 (shitei koujyou). This means that they can perform the official shaken vehicle inspection within their own facility and simply send all relevant documents to the Land Transport Bureau by post. After reviewing all documentation, the bureau will mail back the shaken sticker (車検標章, shaken hyoushou) and vehicle registration document (車検証, shakenshou), which the shop then passes on to the vehicle owner. Designation as a 指定工場 requires a certain size of maintenance facility (50m² or more); at least five employees, among which mechanics with appropriate certifications; and all of the same equipment in the bureau's official shaken inspection facility, ideally organized in a "line" that cars can be run through. Because having 指定工場 certification is a big deal, most shops that have it will use that term in their advertisements and on their storefronts.
In general, a 指定工場 is going to save you time and money if one is conveniently located to your home. Though not without exception, the differences between the two are:
- They will need to hold on to your car for several days, including at least one weekday
- They will usually provide a rental car for the duration, at cost
- Cost will be more expensive, as more legwork is involved on the shop's end
- The shop may be more flexible about shaken reservation dates
- By strategically delaying submission of paperwork to the last minute, a car can effectively be renewed before or after the usual shaken renewal window, letting you get the job done early or adding a few days to your next shaken renewal
- Shaken can be completed on a weekend, in as little as a few hours
- If the job takes more than a few hours, a rental car will usually be provided at cost
- Cost will be cheaper, as everything is done in-house
- The shop will want your car in and out of their lot as soon as possible to make way for other customers (so they probably won't facilitate requests to bend the renewal window)
Finding a Place Near You
If you don't mind using a big chain store, check the Yellowhat and Autobacs websites for locations near you. These stores offer shaken renewal services as part of their general lineup, and often there will be at least one in the area that is 指定工場 certified. However, if you'd prefer working with a more experienced, local mechanic, the Japan Automobile Coop keeps a list of their certified members on their website.
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