Contact Us and Tips For Buying A Used Minitruck


Phones: 517.206.1885 and 517.750.9330                 Email:

Why you should consider buying your truck from us.

RSM & Associates Company is an established commercial business with a history of honorable public dealings and open six days a week since May of 1990.  We are a licensed and bonded dealership in full accordance of all Michigan laws.  RSM & Associates is also authorized and capable of initiating and closing all titled transactions needed for your purchase.

We completely understand that buying over the Internet from someone you don’t know can sometimes seem scary, but the benefits are many.  First, we provide a two year power-train warranty on all vehicles four or less years old.  Second, RSM was the first company to EPA certify new mini trucks for import, and is the only company in the U.S. with all requirements met for 2016.  Third we also service almost any make or model mini vehicle made in Japan.  We also offer a testimony page which gives our customers a chance to share their shopping experiences.

RSM values and appreciates our clients, and we do everything necessary to create a positive buying experience.  Our photo gallery shows over 500 photos of the types of trucks we offer.  We are the only minitruck vendor that provides customers an owner’s manual written in English.  Lastly, we offer nationwide delivery, and a translated parts manual for a nominal fee.

Over many years we have seen numerous minitruck businesses cease operations for one reason or another.  Some failed because they were selling trucks from their home or farm when new environmental and import  rules meant new investments in testing and compliance procedures.  Some gave up selling rather than making the required commitment to meet the new requirements.  Still others failed simply because they were good people caught in bad circumstances.

At RSM, our extensive product knowledge and selection gives you a wide choice of vehicles to fit your operational needs.   Our customers know that they are making a wise purchase decision when buying from us.  Our customers also know we do not sell marginal trucks and that they receive only the best quality product backed by a full two years of warranty protection.

Thank you for considering RSM & Associates Co.

What is the most important item to check before buying your minitruck?

The first item to check is whether the truck was lawfully imported.

How do you check for that?

If the truck was lawfully imported it will have two labels on it.  It will have an emissions label and an EPA “hang tag”.

Here is what they look like.


Why are these two labels important?

First, the emissions label and hang tags indicate that the product was legally imported and that by purchasing it, your motor will not later be subject to forfeiture.  The emission label is made out of a very thin piece of metal and should not have a clear covering.  The lable should not have any discoloration on it and it should not be easily removed without damaging the label.   If the labels seem suspicious you should report your findings to

Second, the labels also mean that the truck is covered by the mandatory emissions warranty.  The EPA requires an emissions warranty on all products no matter what the mileage or year is.  If you are buying it then it should have a warranty.  The dealer should be happy to show you the warranty that comes with the product.

If the truck was imported before 12-31-08, then it is not required to have a warranty but you might wonder why it has been sitting around for so long.  If the dealer does not show you the emissions label and the truck is not labeled, then you are taking a risk by buying an illegally imported vehicle. The EPA has full authority to confiscate motors that have not been certified for entry into the US.   Your risk is limited to forfeiture of the truck and the “dealer” is subject to fines.

The hang tag is also required and shows the efficiency ratings of the vehicle along with the manufacturers name.  This tag allows you to compare similar vehicles emissions and see how the minitruck compares.

What should I look at after the labels?

The first thing to check is the miles or kilometers.  The truck odometer displays kilometers.  To change back to miles just multiply by .62.  So if you have 80,000 kilometers (80000 times .62) it would be 49,600 miles.

Now check the odometer on the truck you are interested in.  The average miles driven per year in Japan are 6000.  That works out to about 10,000 kilometers a year.  If the truck is six years old it should have about 60,000 kilometers on it.  Does the truck you are looking at have less miles than average or more miles than average?

If the truck has less miles than average then it should be in better than average condition.  If it is in worse than average condition, then most likely the truck received a low level of care.

What is average condition?

Appraising anything is always subjective.

Some buyers think a scratch or dent is critical others think the miles are the most important.  Actually, the appraisal comprises the whole vehicle; the miles, the paint, the overall condition, it all adds up.  Does it run well?  Will it clean up?  Will some of the scratches buff out?  An experience car dealer can look at a car and tell what the car will spiff up to be just by looking it over.   This type of experience comes from years of looking at vehicles and seeing what happens to them in the cleaning process.

Now, if you haven’t looked at thousands of cars in your lifetime how are you going to look at one truck sitting by itself and make an informed decision?  If you do not know what it should look like you will not be able to tell it doesn’t look like it should.

What should you do?

Well, let’s go back to the odometer.  Let’s say your truck has average miles on the odometer.  Let’s look at the interior.  Is the steering wheel trim worn smooth, like glass?  Is the upholstery cracked or torn?  Is the brake/clutch petal new or worn?  Is the paint worn to bare metal in the sill area where people drag their feet to get in?  Any fresh paint or new undercoating?

If any of the above answers is yes, I would say to use caution as you further investigate this vehicles history.  If the odometer is very high then you should expect “yes” answers to the above questions.  If not, you should not have excessive wear on the steering wheel, seats or entry area.

Undercoating is a material (usually black) that is sprayed under the body rails to keep the vehicle from rusting.  What it also does is cover up previous repairs and makes it harder to spot defects.   Undercoating does make the vehicles underside look nice because it becomes a uniform color, clean and sharp, but you do not know what it looked like before they painted it.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is done to camouflage previous repair efforts.

The outside and the inside look good.  What’s next?

The next thing to do is look at the coolant reservoir.  The color should be a solid color like green, red or yellow.  It should not be black or brackish.  There should not be any sediment in the reservoir.   If you see sediment, use caution.  Particles in the coolant reservoir are not a good sign.  It usually means that someone has tried to fix a leaking gasket with metal particles.

Sometimes the particles work for a long time and sometimes they do not work at all.  Either way, you might want to move on to the next truck  if you discover metal particles in the reservoir unless you are planning to learn how to repair motors .

The reservoir is clean.  What is next?

Look the motor over for fluid leaks.  You should check again after the motor runs a bit.  It is common for all motors that are 5-6 years and older to begin to seep oil.  If it is a slow leak, all you will see is a brown/black stain on the motor.  If it is a quick leak then the oil on the surface of the motor will be clean because it is leaking so fast it doesn’t have time to collect dirt.  The seeping leak is something you should check to make sure it doesn’t get worse.  The quick leak will demand your immediate attention and repair.

The next thing to do is to start the truck.  The truck should turn over quickly and start within a few seconds.  It is impossible to describe how a proper good running vehicle should sound.  You should not hear any clicking, tapping or knocking.  Any clicking noise should not go away or come back when you rev the motor.

The truck motor should have a smooth whirring rhythmic sound.  Any vibrations should be small, steady and uniform.  If you feel the engine sputter, or stall it could be carburetor, fuel injection, fuel filter, bad plugs, timing, sensors, contaminated fuel or any other number of problems.

If the truck just turns over and over without starting and you smell gas, use caution so that you do not wash the pistons with the gas that is being pumped into the cylinder.  Once the gas has washed the pistons they will scratch the cylinder walls and seize up.  Then the vehicle won’t turn over at all and you probably won’t get to the test drive. The trucks typically start out at a high rev and slow down as they warm up.  This is expected.

The truck started.  What should I look for next?

There should not be any visible exhaust smoke coming from the tail-pipe.  You should not smell gas or oil.  If you see black sooty smoke, then the truck is running “rich” or the fuel supply systems are putting too much fuel in the cylinders and it is not getting completely burned.

Sometimes this is just bad injectors or the carburetor is in need of rebuilding.  It is hard to tell if there are other problems because this issue may block you from seeing the other problems.

If you see blue smoke it usually indicates that you are burning oil.  The oil for lubrication is getting past the rings and into the combustion chamber with the gas.  This is not a good sign and usually means substantial repairs are in the near future.

If you see a white smoke it means that water is getting into the combustion chamber by a breach in the head gasket.  If you catch the leak early enough the fix is not too bad, but engine coolant is very corrosive and can cause substantial damages if allowed to continue.  Head gasket failure can also be noticed by a loss in coolant without the smoke when it leaks out the side of the motor as you drive down the road.

The motor does not smoke.  What should I do next?

Look at the motor and under the motor area to see if there is a fluid leak while stationary.   Rev the motor gently and then quickly.  The engine should rev smoothly and drop back to idle speed.

Press the brake.  It should feel firm.  Press hard.  The petal should stop before reaching the floor.  If it is a manual transmission put the clutch in and listen for the throwout  bearing to engage.  The noise should be slightly audible.  If the bearing noise does not stop then its about time for a new clutch, pressure plate and throwout bearing.  Put the truck in gear and slowly let the clutch out.  The clutch should engage the gears when the petal is let out about half way.  Put the truck into first and reverse gear while pressing the clutch to get the feel if the gears are properly synchronizing.

The shift linkage allows the gears to mesh.  What next?

Start out by driving slowly in a tight circle.  Go in a tight circle turning right then a tight circle turning left.  Listen for clicking or clunking noise when you are turning.  If you hear noise it is probably the constant velocity (CV)  shafts that turn the front wheels that are bad.   If you do not hear any clicking or clunking the CV shafts are not noticeably bad.  Now engage the four wheel drive.

While you have it in four wheel drive and you are turning a tight circle you should hear the tires squeak and hop just a bit as you turn.  This means the four wheel drive is working.

Take it out of four wheel drive and proceed on smooth pavement, then later on rough pavement.  If you have gotten this far and the motor is still running you are doing well.

The steering should be reasonably tight which means there should not be much play in the steering.  The wheels should move at the same time you move the steering wheel and there shouldn’t be a time where the steering wheel will move before the front wheels move.  If you can move the steering-wheel without changing the direction of the vehicle, then the steering guidance parts are worn and the front end should be serviced.

The thing to remember when buying used vehicles is that an issue or defect is a preview of a problem.  If you see a leak, it is not going to go away.  It will get worse until it demands your attention and money.  So if you look at a used vehicle and you see a bunch of issues, God has rewarded you with discernment.  If you ignore the insight that has been bestowed upon you, so be it.   When your machine fails, remember to blame the person you see in the mirror and contact us for parts at:

We also service almost any make or model mini vehicle made in Japan.  Go ahead and buy the truck that isn’t running, bring it to us and we will get it going.