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How To Sell A Car In Michigan – What The Secretary of State Needs From Sellers!

How To Sell A Car In Michigan – What The Secretary of State Needs From Sellers!

Michigan is home of the “Motor City” So, selling a vehicle here is one of the things residents do all of the time. Check out what the Michigan Secretary of State needs from sellers, ensuring a smooth and easy vehicle sale!

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

How to Sell a Car in Michigan – Responsibilities of Seller

Once you decide to sell your vehicle, the State of Michigan asks that you accompany the purchaser of the vehicle to a local Michigan Secretary of State Branch.

When you go with the buyer to the SOS office, this will validate that the title is transferred into your buyer’s name.

“ A ‘record of the sale’ ( or sometimes called the bill of sale) can be either a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the year, make, vehicle identification number, name, address, driver license number, and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold and the purchase price and date of sale of the vehicle,” according to the State of Michigan.

A vehicle seller is not liable for any damages or a violation of law that consequently results from the use of ownership of the vehicle by the buyer.  But it is important that the vehicle owner maintains proof of sale. Click here to read more!

You the seller, must complete your portion of the title assignment with the following information:

  • Date of sale
  • Your signature
  • The vehicle mileage
  • The selling price of the car or vehicle

Additional Information

For a vehicle with more than one owner named on the front of the title, all of the vehicle owners must sign.

Additionally, the State of Michigan asks sellers to thoroughly inspect the title for any liens or bank loans on the car.

For a vehicle with a lien on it, that lien must be released by the lien holder. Michigan needs to see this in the appropriate signature space. You also have the option of attaching a lien termination statement from the financial institution.

You are also asked to instruct the buyer to write his/her name and address in the buyer’s area of the document. The buyer must also sign the document.

Michigan also asks sellers not to make any changes on the title. If there are any alterations, Michigan will void them! “This includes erasing, scratching out, use of white-out, etc.,” according to the State of Michigan. Click here to read more!


  • Do not lose or surrender your license plate! You can keep it! Don’t leave it on the vehicle once sold. And never let the buyer borrow it!  You can transfer the plate to another vehicle that you purchase or already own.
  • The State of Michigan allows the buyer to drive the newly purchased vehicle home without a license plate. But that buyer must use the most fast and efficient route, if he or she carries the assigned title from the seller.
  • Don’t forget to cancel your insurance coverage on the vehicle once it is sold.
  • Need additional information? Click here!

how to sell a car in michigan

Understanding Michigan Title and Registration – How to Sell a Car in Michigan

Title and Registration

According to the State of Michigan, a title is defined as a “legal document that shows who owns certain property. In Michigan, motor vehicles, trailer coaches, trailers weighing 2,500 pounds or more empty, off-road vehicles, pickup campers, and watercraft 20 feet and over or with a permanently affixed engine must be titled.”

Michigan also requires that all trailers as well as motor vehicles in Michigan be registered and display current and valid license plates.

“A registration shows the plate number and what vehicle that plate is registered to.  To register a motor vehicle, provide either the previous registration or proof of insurance and ownership documents,” according to the State of Michigan.

License Plate Costs and How Fees are Calculated

Michigan states that the license plate fees for vehicles that were manufactured in 1984 and newer are using a portion of the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) at the time the vehicle is initially titled. Also known as base price or window sticker price, this appears before any options, designation charges or taxes,

The State of Michigan also adds: “The plate fee decreases by 10% each year for the first three annual plate renewals, after which the fee no longer changes as the vehicle continues to age.”

The Michigan State Law establishes all license plate fees. Additionally, those license plate fees are subject to change based upon decisions

If the vehicle is older than 1984, the fee is based on the weight of the vehicle. You may contact the Department of State Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) and someone will help you figure the fee for your particular vehicle, or visit a Secretary of State branch office for assistance.

You may visit the “License Plate Store” to view the types of Michigan plates that are available.

For an existing license plate…

Michigan residents with an existing license plate, are allowed to transfer license plates already in your name at any Secretary of State branch office.

Persons wishing to do this will need a current registration or your license plate number will work if the Secretary of State branch office can verify the information in their system.

Persons will also need the vehicle title, to which that person wants to transfer the license plate. Michigan’s SOS will also allow a copy of the title application There is an $8 fee as well as additional fees that may be due. Click here to read more!

But I Lost my Car Title!

“If selling your vehicle and you cannot find its title, you will need to request a duplicate title using the Department's online ExpressSOS or process a duplicate title application at a Secretary of State branch office,” states the State of Michigan.

If you decide to process your transaction at a branch office, you must have your identification with you. Michigan also requires that you sign the title application.

“If you cannot visit a branch office, you may complete and sign an Appointment of Agent form designating another individual to sign the duplicate title application on your behalf”, adds the State of Michigan. “You will also need to provide a photocopy of your valid driver license or state ID card to the person appointed as your agent.”

You must also pay the current fee of $15 for the duplicate title fee. Your duplicate title will arrive in the mail in 7-10 days. If you need your title sooner, all Secretary of State branch offices provide instant (same-day) title service for an additional $5 fee. More information is available.

Under certain circumstances, Michigan allows for the sale of a vehicle without replacing a lost title. Your circumstance must fall within these three categories:

  1. … “the seller and buyer appear together at a Secretary of State branch office with proof of the Vehicle Identification Number (usually the vehicle's current registration will suffice).”
  2. “there are no liens (bank loans) on the title record, or, if the record shows a lien, the seller brings a lien termination statement, and…”
  3. “a record of the current title is on the Secretary of State's computer system,” according to Michigan. Click here to read more!

how to sell a car in michigan

Selling Your Car on Michigan Craigslist or Another Online Marketplace?

You have all of the information you need to sell your car. Now, it’s time to sell it! From cities such as Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Craigslist may prove to be a viable option to sell your car. You may even find that a local Michigan selling group is pretty good on Facebook.

Regardless as to where you choose to sell your car, check out some important tips:

  1. Photos Please! Be sure to take good photos of your car. Don’t forget to get under the hood as well as capture each angle of your car. Michigan is home to the motor capital of the world! So, Michiganders know a “thing or two” about cars!
  2. Remove all personal items! Be sure to take out all books, lip balms, cologne bottles and other personal belongings out of your car. You don’t want anyone driving away with money you left in the console!
  3. Obtain the value of your car. Once you have an estimate on the value of your car, you can price it competitively. So, get that information from either Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds!
  4. Get a vehicle inspection! If you have a friend or a family member who is a mechanic, have him or her check your vehicle. You want to know what shape your car is in. With this information you can price your car better.
  5. Create a detailed description of your car. You want to have a great ad with lots of details about your car! . You want to think like a car buyer. So, be sure to answer all questions in your ad. Does you car have a bad starter? Let car buyers know. Did you install a new air conditioning system in it? let buyers know that too!
  6. Obtain a vehicle history report for your buyers. You want to be the most honest and trustworthy Michigan car seller ever. So, have a vehicle history report ready to hand to perspective buyers. They’ll thank you for it, and be more inclined to buy your car if really interested! Click here to get your vehicle history report!

Having the knowledge, you need as a vehicle seller in Michigan ensures a successful sale of your car. Having a game plan, ensures a fast sale! You have both here and we know that your car will sell!