FAQ
Vehicles and Titles
How do I file a complaint against a dealership, repair facility or mechanic?

A complaint form must be filled out by the consumer and submitted to the Lansing Inspections Section, along with all supporting documentation. You may obtain this complaint form by using the online automotive complaint form or by calling 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424). If a complaint kit is mailed to you, you may submit the completed form and all supporting documents via fax (517) 373-7419 or by mail to:

Michigan Department of State
Regulatory Monitoring Division
PO Box 30046
Lansing, MI 48909-7546

 

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Can I return a newly bought vehicle within a certain time period?

No. There is no such thing as a "three-day cooling off period" or any other time period during which you can return the vehicle. Your sales contract is binding.

When should I receive the new title for the vehicle I bought?

  • You should receive an original title in the mail in about 14 days. Make sure the information on the title is accurate and report errors to your local Secretary of State office.
  • Keep your title in a safe place. Do not store it in your vehicle.

 

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What should I do if I have a complaint about a car dealer or manager?

If you have a complaint, try to work it out with the dealership owner or manager.  If the problem isn't resolved, contact the Department of State's Regulatory Monitoring Division at 1-888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).  An automotive complaint form is available on the Department of State Web site. The bureau investigates issues within its authority.

> More detailed information regarding purchasing a vehicle from a dealership PDF

 

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What do I need to sell my car by myself?

If you are selling your vehicle and cannot find its title, you will need to get a duplicate title at a Secretary of State branch office. 

As seller, complete your part on the title assignment by signing it and adding the:

  • Vehicle mileage
  • Selling date
  • Selling price

Note: If there is more than one owner named on the front of the title, all owners must sign.

  • Check if any liens (such as bank loans) against the vehicle that are noted on the title.  If there is a lien, it must be released by the lienholder in the appropriate signature space.  You also may attach a lien termination statement from the financial institution to the title.
  • Have the buyer enter their name, address and signature in the buyer's section on the title document.
  • If possible, the buyer and seller should go together to a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer.

If you are unable to accompany the buyer, maintain a record of the sale for at least 18 months. The record can be a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the vehicle's year, make, and Vehicle Identification Number, as well as the name, address, driver's license number and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold along with its purchase price and date of sale.

Under Michigan law, a seller is not liable for any damages or a violation of the law caused by the buyer if the seller maintains proof of sale.

  • Keep the license plate that was on the vehicle you sold.  You may transfer that plate to another vehicle.
  • Remember to cancel your insurance on the vehicle that you sold.

 

 

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Should I expect the used car I'm buying to have a warranty?

No. Don't assume a used vehicle has a manufacturer's or dealer's warranty. Most used vehicles are not under warranty for any period of time. Any vehicle sold "as is" carries no warranty. You must pay for any repairs on a vehicle not covered by a warranty.

If the seller promises to make repairs to get you to buy a vehicle, make sure you get the promise in writing.

 

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What should I do before buying a vehicle from a dealership?
  • Test-drive the vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
  • Check the odometer's mileage accuracy. The mileage for most vehicles must be provided when ownership changes. Vehicles older than 10 years are exempt.

> More detailed information regarding purchasing a vehicle from a dealership PDF

 

 

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If I just bought a vehicle, can I drive it home without it being registered?

Yes, but only if you drive the vehicle directly to the first place of storage (usually your home) within three days of the sale. You must have the properly assigned title and proof of insurance with you.

Do not use the seller's license plate on the vehicle while driving it home. The seller should keep the license plate.

> More detailed information about buying a vehicle from an individual

 

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What should I do before buying a vehicle from an individual?
  • Test-drive the vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
  • Check the odometer's mileage accuracy. The mileage for most vehicles must be provided when ownership changes. Vehicles older than 10 years are exempt.
  • Make sure the vehicle has a valid title and that the owner named on the front of the title is the same person signing it over to you.
  • Match the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the title with the number on the vehicle's dashboard. The VIN should be visible through the windshield.
  • Check the title to be sure that there are no liens (such as bank loans) against the vehicle. If there is a lien, it must be released by the lienholder in the appropriate signature space or by attaching a lien termination statement from the financial institution to the title.
  • Never take possession of a vehicle without the title signed by the owner or owners named on the front of the title. If more than one person is buying the vehicle, you all need to sign the new title application.
  • If possible, the buyer and seller should go together to a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer. The transfer must be filed with the Secretary of State within 15 days from the date of the sale to avoid a late fee. Unless exempt, tax is due when you apply for the title.

 

 

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How do I verify whether a motor vehicle repair facility is properly licensed or registered by the Department of State?

A list of currently licensed or registered dealers and repair facilities can be found on the Secretary of State's Web site at Vehicle Dealer and Repair Facility Lists. The lists are organized by county in alphabetical order by name and are updated on a daily basis.

If you are unable to locate the motor vehicle dealer or repair facility you are searching for, please call the Customer Support Section at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) for assistance.

 

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What do I need to know about leasing a vehicle?

Consumers should be aware that leasing may involve costs for excess mileage, early termination, or excess wear and tear. When you lease a vehicle, make sure all the terms of the lease are in writing, that you understand the terms of the lease and that you agree with the terms. More information about leasing may be found by reading the Secretary of State's Consumers Guide to Leasing.

 

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What is the fee for a disability license plate or parking placard?

There is no fee for an original temporary or permanent disability parking placard or for renewing a permanent placard.

If your disability placard is lost or stolen, it may be replaced for $10 at a Secretary of State office or by submitting a request by mail or fax. The FAQ about lost or stolen placards provides complete details.

Applicants for a disability license plate pay only the standard annual vehicle registration fee. A van owned by a wheelchair user or by a person who transports a member of his or her household who uses a wheelchair is eligible for a 50 percent reduction in the standard annual registration fee (additional service fees, such as those for personalizing the plate or for purchasing and renewing a fundraising version, are excluded from the discount). The van is not required to have wheelchair lift equipment. It can be a full-size window van, such as a Ford Econoline or Chevy Express, or a minivan, such as a Dodge Caravan or Toyota Sienna.

Vans used for commercial purposes are not eligible for the reduction.

Disability Parking Placard Application
Disability License Plate Application
Disability Parking Brochure

 

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If I need to title my vehicle in Michigan, where should I apply for my title?

Apply for title at any Secretary of State branch office. To find the branch office nearest you, visit the branch office locator.

 

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My spouse and I just purchased a vehicle from a private party, do we both need to visit a Secretary of State branch office to transfer the title?

All persons who will be shown as owner on a vehicle's new title must sign the title application. If you or your spouse cannot appear together at a Secretary of State branch office to sign, either may appoint the other to sign on their behalf by completing the Department's Appointment of Agent form. The person who cannot appear completes the form appointing another person to sign on their behalf. The completed form is submitted with the title application.


 >Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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Where can I get an instant title?

In addition to the $15 title fee, there is an extra $5 fee for instant title service. The vehicle owner must appear in person for instant title service.  The owner cannot appoint an agent for an instant title transaction.  If there are two owners of a vehicle, both owners must appear in person for instant title service.

NOTE:  For duplicate title transactions when there are two owners on the title record, only one owner needs to appear and sign the title application.  An appointment of agent is not needed from the other owner.  Both owner names will appear on the duplicate title. 

Every instant title application is unique, but all persons processing a title application must present a Michigan or out-of-state photo driver license or ID card. Also, the vehicle identification number or hull identification number (for watercraft) is required for every instant title application.

Please check with our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH  (1-888-767-6424) to make sure you have all the correct paperwork before traveling to an instant title branch office.

Most title transactions involving a Michigan title are eligible for instant title service at many Secretary of State branch offices (listed below). Certain title transactions are NOT eligible for instant title service:

 

Instant Title Information and Instant Title Branch Office Locations 
Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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I sold the vehicle; how do I get the title out of my name?

Upon sale of a vehicle, the title record for the vehicle will remain in the seller's name until the buyer submits the seller's assigned title and applies for title in their (the buyer's) name. The best way to ensure this happens is for the seller to accompany the buyer to a Secretary of State branch office and process a title transfer application into the buyer's name.

Sellers run a risk if they do not ensure the buyer applies for title. The Michigan Department of State cannot change the name on a title record until a new title application from the purchaser is processed. If you cannot accompany your purchaser to a branch office to ensure the title is transferred, make a copy of the front and back of the title after assigning it to your buyer. This will protect you against negligent use of the vehicle after delivering it to the buyer as provided in Section 257.240 of the Michigan Vehicle Code:

1) The owner of a motor vehicle who has made a bona fide sale by transfer of his or her title or interest and who has delivered possession of the vehicle and the certificate of title to that vehicle properly endorsed to the purchaser or transferee is not liable for any damages or a violation of law that subsequently results from the use or ownership of the vehicle by another, if the owner, other than a licensed dealer, satisfies the conditions prescribed under subsection (2).

(2) The owner of a motor vehicle, other than a licensed dealer, shall satisfy 1 of the following conditions:

(a) Accompany the purchaser of the vehicle to a secretary of state branch office to assure that the title of the vehicle being sold is transferred.

(b) Maintain a record of the sale for not less than 18 months. As used in this subdivision, "record of the sale" means either a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the 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.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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The person I'm selling my vehicle to is asking that I leave my plate on it so he can drive it home. Should I do this?

No - immediately remove your plate upon selling the vehicle. You can transfer the plate to another vehicle you own or purchase. Do not let a buyer "borrow" your plate, as any violations (including parking tickets) issued to the buyer with your plate on the vehicle will be your responsibility.

Under Michigan law, a person who buys a vehicle through a private sale may drive the vehicle home using the most direct route without a license plate. The buyer must do so within three days of purchase and carry the assigned title and proof of insurance during transit.


> Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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If I sell a vehicle to someone and I don't accompany the purchaser to a Secretary of State office or maintain a record of the sale, and the purchaser does not transfer the vehicle title into their name, am I liable for actions of the purchaser?

Yes. A person who cannot prove they sold their vehicle as required by Section 257.240 is responsible for a civil infraction and subject to a civil fine of $15.00. The person is also presumed to be the last titled owner and is liable for towing fees and daily storage fees if the vehicle is abandoned.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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If I lost the previous title before transferring the vehicle into my name and I can't find the previous owner, how can I get a title for my vehicle?

If you cannot locate the previous owner, it will be necessary to get:

  1. A Court Order.  A court order awarding ownership of a vehicle can be used if the order includes the year, make, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle; or
     

  2.  A Surety Bond.  Without a court order, you must obtain a surety bond.  A surety bond is like an insurance policy, and is purchased by the applicant from an insurance company or bonding agency.  It must be for twice the fair market value of the vehicle ("fair market value" can be established by a dealer appraisal or a recognized vehicle appraisal guide).  The bond is posted for three years and is returned if no claims are filed during the three-year period, or
     

  3. As a last resort when a Michigan vehicle title has been lost, destroyed, or stolen and the purchaser is unable to contact the previous owner for a duplicate title, a Michigan resident can self-certify ownership at a Secretary of State branch office if the vehicle is ten or more years old and valued at $2,500 or less.  The self-certification procedure cannot be used for vehicles titled in another state or by nonresidents.

              You will need to submit:

  1. A completed TR-205 Certification of Ownership (available on-line at all Secretary of State offices) stating you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and including the vehicle description, the true value of the vehicle, and a complete explanation of how, when, where, and from whom the vehicle was acquired; and
     

  2.  Either of the following:

  • A vehicle value appraisal completed by a licensed Michigan dealer, or
     

  • A page printed from an on-line appraisal service such as Kelly Blue Book, N.A.D.A. Guides, Edmunds, etc.  (www.kbb.com, www.nadaguides.com, www.edmunds.com).

On-line appraisal sites may provide multiple vehicle values (wholesale value, trade-in value, and retail value).  Any of these values showing a value of $2,500 or less may be accepted.

 


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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I'm purchasing a vehicle from my uncle (my father's brother). Will I have to pay tax when transferring the title into my name?

Yes - under Michigan tax law, relationships which qualify for tax exempt status are limited to vehicles purchased from a spouse, father, mother, child, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, grandparent, grandchild, legal ward, or legally-appointed guardian. Included are stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters, stepchildren, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent-in-law, and grandchild-in-law.  All other relationships (cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, step-grandparents, great-grandchildren, etc.) are not tax exempt.

Owners may elect to follow a two-step title transfer process in which a tax exempt relationship applies. For example, your uncle could transfer the vehicle to his brother (your father), which would be tax exempt. Once the vehicle is re-titled in your father's name, he can transfer the title to you which would be tax exempt.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

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How do I convert my out-of-state title to a Michigan title?

Submit your out-of-state title at a Secretary of State branch office. If more than one owner shows on the out-of- state title, all owners must be present, or the one present must have an Appointment of Agent form to sign for the other owner. Proof of valid Michigan no-fault insurance must be presented to purchase a Michigan license plate. 

If your out-of-state title is being held by a lien holder, you may take your out-of-state registration (it can be recently expired) or proof of the out-of-state title to any Secretary of State branch office along with proof of Michigan no-fault insurance for the vehicle. Michigan will issue a "FOREIGN OWNERSHIP-REGISTRATION ONLY" registration for the vehicle. A Michigan title is not issued. The out-of-state title remains the ownership document.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information
New Michigan Resident

 

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How do I register my vehicle if the lien holder is holding the title out-of-state?

Take your out-of-state registration (it can be recently expired) or proof of the out-of-state title to any Secretary of State branch office along with proof of Michigan no-fault insurance for the vehicle.  Proof of your out-of-state title can be a fax copy or photocopy of the title, a memo title, a recently validated title application, or a vehicle record printed on the issuing state's Department of Motor Vehicles letterhead verifying the vehicle is titled in that state.

 Michigan will issue a "FOREIGN OWNERSHIP-REGISTRATION ONLY" registration for the vehicle. A Michigan title is not issued. The out-of-state title remains the ownership document.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information
New Michigan Resident

 

 

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Can the Michigan title application form be faxed to a customer out-of-state?

Only under extenuating circumstances can the application be faxed to an out-of-state customer. This is because original documents with original signatures are needed. If the application is faxed to the customer, the application still needs to be returned by mail so that original signatures are on the application.

Vehicles and Titles FAQ
Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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My spouse died, how do I transfer the vehicle into my name?

If the deceased owner's estate is not probated, the surviving spouse may transfer that vehicle into their name. Present the title, the current registration or license plate number (if there is one), and a certified copy of the death certificate to a Secretary of State branch office. The surviving spouse will complete a TR-29 Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle form.

 

If the estate is being probated, the personal representative appointed by Probate Court must assign the title to the surviving spouse. The spouse presents the assigned title and a copy of the personal representative's Letter of Authority document to apply for a title in their name at a Secretary of State branch office.

 

If the current title is in both your name and the deceased's name with the legend "Full Rights To Survivor" printed on it, then all that is needed to transfer the vehicle into just your name is the title and a copy of the death certificate.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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The mileage on my title is incorrect, how do I get it corrected?

The mileage on a title may be corrected by obtaining an amended odometer statement from the seller who incorrectly reported the mileage in the first place. A corrected title application can then be processed at any Secretary of State branch office. If the Department of State made the error, the title and a certification of what the error is can be taken to any Secretary of State branch office. The branch will mail in the title with the certification for correction.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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How do I verify a lien holder?

You may request this information from the Michigan Department of State, Record Lookup Unit. There is a $8.00 fee for each record verified. All fees must be prepaid. You may download a Michigan Department of State Record Lookup Request form or request a form by telephone at (517) 322-1624.  Mail the request with a check or money order made payable to the "State of Michigan" to:

Michigan Department of State
Record Lookup Unit
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI  48918-1540


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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Where can I find a recertification inspector to inspect my salvage vehicle?

The Department of State has a list of Salvage Inspectors by County. You may contact the our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) for the names of inspectors in your county.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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Can I import a vehicle to Michigan from a foreign country?

If the vehicle was manufactured for sale in the United States, you will need the proper ownership documents, a stamped U.S. Customs and Border Protection "Entry Summary" CPB 7501 form, proof of Michigan no-fault insurance, and identification to title and register the vehicle in Michigan.

If the vehicle was not manufactured for sale in the United States, you will then need the following compliance documents:

The Registered importer ensures the vehicle has proper ownership documents, meets all federal EPA emission standards and DOT safety standards, converts the odometer reading to miles, and ensures any custom duties are paid

 


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

 

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What vehicles are exempt from Michigan's titling and registering requirements?

Every motor vehicle, trailer coach, and trailer driven or moved on public roads must be title and registered. Under Michigan law the following vehicles are exempt from titling and registering:

  1. Passenger vehicles registered in another state operated by a nonresident for up to 90 days (new residents must title and register their vehicles immediately).
  2. An implement of husbandry (farm tractors and equipment).
  3. Any vehicle owned by the United States government.
  4. A trailer weighing less than 2,500 pounds is exempt from titling but must be registered (a title may be issued on request). All trailer coaches must be titled and registered.
  5. A vehicle driven or moved upon the highway using the most direct route (round trip) for the purpose of:
  • obtaining a weight receipt from a weigh master,
  • obtaining a physical inspection from a law enforcement agency, or
  • obtaining a salvage recertification inspection.
  1. A moped is exempt from titling, but must be registered.


 > Additional Vehicle Title Related Information

 

 

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What is a salvage vehicle agent?
Salvage vehicle agents licensed by the Michigan Department of State are the only persons authorized to buy or sell salvage or scrap-titled vehicles or major component parts at salvage pools or auctions in Michigan. A Salvage Vehicle Agent may represent only his/her dealership of employment when dealing in salvage or scrap-titled vehicles or salvageable parts.

 

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