Car Care

Get the most out of your Japanese import’s entertainment system

At the AA, we sometimes receive calls from confused Members who have found themselves behind the wheel of a used import, unable to get their Japanese entertainment system to work.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the equipment you have:

AM/FM radio

By pressing seek on AM and FM radio , you might be able to pick up one or two good radio stations to keep you entertained, but if you want a full selection of local radio stations then you’ll most likely need to buy a band expander. This is a cheap $20 accessory, which, with a little wiring, can enable your vehicle to pick up some more frequencies. It might not be able to reach some of the higher frequencies but it will be sufficient for most radio listeners.

Most dealers will have someone who can fit a band expander so you may wish to negotiate this into the deal when buying the car.

Digital TV and Navigation

Although uncommon in New Zealand-new cars, many Japanese imports include aftermarket systems that are capable of displaying digital TV, as well as satellite navigation.

Without spending a small fortune, however, there sadly isn’t much that can be done to make these systems fully operational in New Zealand. In reality you’re faced with a few choices – and many people simply use a separate device like a smartphone or portable GPS unit for navigation.

DVD player

Japanese entertainment systems can often play DVDs, but only discs from ‘Region 2’ or those that are ‘zone free’ (Region 0, 9 or ‘ALL’) DVDs. These can be useful for keeping the kids entertained on a long trip but unfortunately, NZ’s Region 4 discs are unlikely to work.

CD/HDD player

If you listen to CDs, then you’ll be happy to know that there are no restrictions between Japanese and New Zealand CDs; you might also be lucky enough to find a CD stacker in the glovebox or boot.

If the words HDD or Music Jukebox are found anywhere, this usually means that the unit has the ability to store and record music from your CDs. You may even be able to access the music library recorded by the previous owner!


A little bit of Google research can help shed some light on your vehicle and its connectivity. This can really expand the possibilities of the system in your car, allowing you to listen to music through streaming services like Spotify and Apple music, as well as your own personal collection of music by harnessing the power of your smartphone.

If you see ‘AUX’, ‘iPod’ or ‘USB’ written on the entertainment unit, the chances are that there’s an audio connection point somewhere within in the car, and it’s normally just a case of locating it.

If you’ve searched high and low and cannot locate a connection, they may not be present or an extra cable is required. In this case, look at online listings for cables for the vehicle model you have. The chances are you’ll find something relatively affordable on an online listings site, or from an overseas shop.   

There are still plenty of people driving around New Zealand in Japanese import vehicles that are fitted with their original entertainment systems, and often without even a band expander. If you’re tired of listening to the same CD or radio station, look into how you can make the most out of your vehicle’s entertainment system to help make your car journeys more enjoyable.

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