How to Sell a Salvage Car in Michigan is an independent publisher. You will find affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you purchase through these links. It doesn't cost you anything & it helps us keep the site running.

So, you made the tough decision to sell your salvage car. Selling a salvage car in the Great Lakes State isn’t too complicated (if you have the necessary paperwork). We’re here to make the process of selling your salvage car as effortless as possible. There are different forms you will be required to submit to the Michigan Secretary of State (MI SOS). Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the entire process.

What is a Salvaged Car in Michigan?

First, let’s make sure you understand what a salvaged car is. In Michigan, a salvaged car is a car that has sustained extensive damage due to the following:

  • Flood damage
  • Hail damage
  • Car accident damage
  • Theft recovery
  • Vandalism

In Michigan, salvaged vehicles are also known as distressed vehicles. These vehicles have damage that exceeds 75% but less than 91% of their cash value (the amount the car is worth) to repair. The vehicle’s owner is responsible for obtaining a salvage or scrap title.

A scrap car is a car that has damage that would cost at least 91% of the car’s fair market value (the average price people have paid for the vehicle) to repair. If your car meets this criterion, the only choice you have is to get a scrap title.

It is up to your auto insurance company to estimate the cost of repairs for your vehicle. The next step you take depends on whether you or your auto insurance company retains ownership of the vehicle.

How Do You Sell a Salvage Car in Michigan?

As we previously stated, selling your salvage car isn’t rocket science, but you will need the car’s title and registration card. We’ve created a guideline to help you on your selling journey below.

Is Your Car a “Total Loss”?

Regardless of how beat up or damaged your car is, the car is not considered a “total” or a “total loss” until your auto insurance company says so. If you have not received confirmation from your auto insurance company stating that the car is totaled, then the car is not a salvage. Once you have a letter from your auto insurance provider telling you that your car is totaled, you can proceed to the next step.

Get a Salvage Certificate

To apply for a Michigan salvage title, you need a completed Application for an Original Michigan Title (Form TR-12). You will also need to provide estimates of your car’s value BEFORE the damage, as well as the cost of repairs that are listed on the invoice(s) you received from your auto insurance company and/or repair shop. You must keep the invoice(s) throughout the salvage title process.

Another document you need is the car’s original title and payment for the $15 salvage title fee and all applicable taxes. If you pay with a check, make the check payable to the “State of Michigan”. You can refer to the title form for the specifics of the taxes you may owe.

You can submit the above items in person at your local MI SOS branch or by mail to the following address:

Michigan Department of State
Internal Service Section
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

If you have questions regarding salvage cars in Michigan, you can contact the Internal Services Section at (517) 636-5872.

Repairing and Retitling a Salvage Car

One cool thing about salvage cars is they can be repaired and rebuilt to operate on roads and highways again, which is the perfect solution if you have a salvage car that has sentimental value. If you decide to repair the salvage car, you must retitle it with the Michigan SOS.

You can make the required repairs or hire a mechanic to make the repairs. As you may have guessed, a repaired salvage car is worth more than an unrepaired salvage car, so if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, you’ll want to repair the salvage car before selling it.

Selling a Salvage Car

Selling a salvage car is not illegal in Michigan. It is, however, illegal to sell a salvage car and neglect to disclose ALL damages and other information about the car to potential buyers. You can sell your salvage car to an individual in a private sale or to a dealership as long as you disclose the car’s history. It’s also a good idea to keep all receipts and information about the parts that were used to repair the car.

What is a Total Loss Settlement?

When your car is severely damaged, the first step you need to take is to file a total loss claim with your auto insurance company. Remember that your auto insurance company has the final say about your car being a total loss. If and when your auto insurance company determines your car is a total loss, you can accept a full settlement or a partial settlement.

In a full settlement, your auto insurance company pays you in full for damages, less any deductibles or financial reductions per the company’s policies and your auto insurance plan. You will sign over the car’s title to your auto insurance company (after you satisfy any liens) and the vehicle will be your auto provider’s responsibility.

In a partial settlement, you will retain ownership of the vehicle and can decide whether you would like to apply for a salvage title, repair the vehicle, have it inspected, and obtain a reconstructed title, so you can legally drive the car.

How is a Salvage Title Different from a Junk Title?

To make a long story short, cars with a salvage title can be rebuilt and cars with a junk title do not have the option to be rebuilt. Although cars with either of these titles have extensive damage, only a salvage title car can be repaired and driven on roads and highways once more. Cars with junk titles can’t be legally operated on roads and highways and must be junked.

Who Buys Salvage Cars In Michigan?

You have options when it comes to salvage yards in Michigan. Although we can’t list every salvage yard in Michigan, we will list some of the salvage yards we found that have excellent reviews.

Auto Ranch Towing and Salvage
2377 N US Highway 31
Scottville, MI 49454
(231) 425-6206
Open 24 hours

Walters Auto Salvage
2629 Prairie St SW
Wyoming, MI 49519
(616) 862-0233
Open 24 hours

The Salvage Yard Antiques
208 S. Bridge St.
Grand Ledge, MI 48837
(517) 622-2001
Tuesday – Thursday (10 AM – 5:30 PM)
Saturday (10 AM – 5 PM)
Sunday and Monday (Closed)

Avery’s Auto Salvage
12930 Avery Rd
Two Rivers, WI 54241
(920) 755-2848
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 12 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Can You Insure a Salvage Title Car in Michigan?

No. You can’t insure a car that has a salvage title in Michigan. You can, however, insure a car that has a rebuilt title. To obtain a rebuilt title in Michigan, the salvage car must pass a vehicle safety inspection.

Salvage Car Inspections in Michigan

As we previously mentioned, to receive a rebuilt title, you must repair your salvage vehicle. You will also need an Application for Salvage Vehicle Inspection form (Form TR-13A) that must be completed by you or the mechanic that performs the repairs.

After the necessary repairs have been made, you can have the car inspected at one of the MI SOS’s approved inspection stations. You must provide the following paperwork during the time of inspection:

  • An Application for Salvage Vehicle Inspection (Form TR-13A)
  • All repair invoices and/or receipts for major parts you purchased to repair the vehicle
  • Payment for the inspection fee

During the inspection, the individual performing the inspection will make sure the repaired vehicle meets Michigan’s equipment and safety requirements. The inspector will also check the following:

  • Titles
  • Bill of Sale
  • Repair invoices
  • Receipts for the repair parts

If everything goes according to plan, the inspector will complete their portion of the application and provide you with a Salvage Recertification Form (Form TR-13B). This is an important document that you need to keep up with. You will need the salvage vehicle inspection application and salvage recertification form to apply for a rebuilt title.

Can I Salvage My Car Without a Title in Michigan?

You can salvage your car without the car’s title. However, since you don’t have the car’s title, you will need to car’s registration card. As long as you can prove that you are the legal owner of the car, by providing the car’s registration for the vehicle and your driver’s license, you shouldn’t have any problems but check with the junkyard to be sure as junkyards set most of their rules and regulations, including the documents they accept. Be advised that the following things do NOT count as proof of ownership documentation:

  • A bill of sale
  • Proof of auto insurance
  • Cash and bribery (scrap yards are required to report every car they obtain and scrap)

How Do You Apply for a Reconstructed Car Title in Michigan?

Once the inspection is complete, you can apply for a rebuilt/reconstructed title by providing the following at your local MI SOS office:

  • The vehicle’s MI salvaged title
  • A completed Application for Salvage Vehicle Inspection (Form TR-13A)
  • Salvage Recertification Form (Form TR-13B) – This form is provided by the vehicle inspector
  • Proof of no-fault auto insurance
  • Payment for the applicable fees:
    • Rebuilt title: $15
    • Required taxes IF there is a change of ownership
    • Registration fees (based on the age of your vehicle)

If it is necessary, you can purchase a temporary registration permit that is valid for 30 days or 60 days instead of an MI license plate. You can ask a representative at your local MI SOS office about this option.

Once you complete these steps, the MI SOS will issue your new Michigan title that will be stamped “Rebuilt Salvage”, and you will be ready to hit the road!

That’s it! You now know how to sell a salvage car in Michigan. Congratulations!