Dealerships and importers selling Japanese import cars must be mandated to fit them with immobilisers

28 February 2024

Limerick Labour Councillor Conor Sheehan has said that car importers and dealerships who import and sell Japanese import cars need to be mandated to fit them with immobilisers.

The Limerick Labour Councillor was speaking after a spate of thefts of Japanese import cars which are not fitted with an immobiliser which is a safety measure compulsory on all new cars sold in Ireland since the early 2000s which prevents cars being started by so-called hotwiring.

Cllr Sheehan said:

“Since Brexit it has become virtually uneconomical to import a second hand used car from the U.K and as a result many importers and dealers have pivoted back towards importing cars from Japan especially with the advent in popularity of hybrid and electric cars.

“While these cars represent excellent value for money many of them are not fitted with immobilisers which are a basic safety device to prevent a car being started without a key meaning they are being targeted by thieves who are aware of this.

“Car related theft is low enough in Japan to make the fitting of an immobiliser unnecessary.

“It is very unfair on unwitting customers who may be unaware of what an immobiliser does to sell them a car that can be so easily stolen from outside their property. Car importers and manufacturers should be mandates to fit a car with an immobiliser before selling the vehicle in Ireland.

“A car not having an immobiliser may also unwittingly affect a customers insurance premium because a more secure car is less likely to be stolen. Therefore, if your car has an immobiliser, insurers may deem your vehicle to be at a lower risk of being stolen, which is likely to result in a lower insurance premium.

“If your car is not fitted with an immobiliser as standard, it is possible have one fitted by a professional as an aftermarket device which car importers and dealerships should have to fit to Japanese import cars before selling them on. The Toyota Aqua, Toyota Vitz, and Mazda Demio models are particularly at risk, with a spike in reports of thefts or attempted thefts of these models. Criminals know this and are targeting these models as a result.

“I would ask anyone considering a Japanese import to check with the dealer to ask them to fit their car with an immobiliser and if the car doesn’t have one fitted to invest in a steering wheel lock until they can get the car fitted with on. This should be mandatory before any imported car is sold on the Irish market.”

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