Salvaged Vehicles in Michigan

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With Michigan’s winter roads wreaking havoc on motorists each year, there’s a chance your car may one day be considered a “distressed vehicle,” which is the MI Secretary of State’s (SOS) term for a salvaged or scrap-worthy vehicle. 

When you end up with a distressed vehicle, you might decide—depending on the amount of damage—to let your insurance company have it, or to keep it for yourself and apply for a scrap or salvaged title. Keep reading for more information about each scenario.

What Is a Salvaged Car in Michigan?

The Michigan SOS defines damaged vehicles in the following ways:

  • Salvaged vehicle (also known as a distressed vehicle or total loss): A car with damage that would cost at least 75% but under 91% of its cash value to repair.
    • Whomever retains or obtains ownership of a salvaged car MUST apply for a salvage title or scrap title.
  • Scrap car: The vehicle’s damage would cost at least 91% of the car’s fair market value to repair.
    • If your car meets this criterion, you MUST obtain a scrap title.

It will largely be up to your insurance company to estimate the cost of repairs to your vehicle. What happens to your salvaged car next depends on whether you or your insurance provider retains ownership of the vehicle. 

Deciding on a Settlement

Generally, the first step after your car becomes salvaged is filing a total loss claim, in which you and your insurance provider will reach:

  • A full settlement where your insurance company keeps the vehicle.
    OR
  • A partial settlement, in which you keep your vehicle.

Full Settlement

If you decide to accept a full settlement, typically you sign over the car title to your insurance carrier. Your provider then pays you full damages for the vehicle and is responsible for obtaining the appropriate title.

You might have additional obligations, like satisfying liens on the car, if applicable. Your insurance company will explain your requirements.

Apply for a Michigan Salvaged Title

To apply for a Michigan salvage title, you will need:

  • A completed Application for an Original Michigan Title (Form TR-12).
    • You’ll need to provide estimates of your car’s value (before the damage) AND the costs for repairs listed on the invoice(s) you received from your insurance company and/or repair shop—keep these invoice(s) on-hand throughout the salvage title process.
  • The original car title.
  • A check for the $15 salvage title fee and any applicable taxes made payable to “State of Michigan”.
    • Refer to the application for details on the taxes you may owe. 

You can submit the above items in person at your local SOS office, or by mail to:

Michigan Department of State
The Special Services Branch
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918 

Once you have your salvage title, you can start thinking about repairing your car to apply for a rebuilt title—remember, it’ll need to pass an inspection first.  On the other hand, if you’d rather not deal with repairing the car, you can apply for a scrap title and maybe earn some money back.

If you have questions while putting together your salvage title application, give the MI Secretary of State a call at (517) 322-1473.

Michigan Salvaged Car Inspections

If you want to apply for a Michigan rebuilt title, you’ll need to repair your salvage vehicle. While fixing your car, keep an Application for Salvage Vehicle Inspection (Form TR-13A) handy—you (or the mechanic) will need to complete certain sections regarding the repairs being made.

Once all the necessary repairs have been made, you can bring the car in for an inspection at one of the Secretary of State’s approved inspection stations. You’ll need to provide the following at the inspection:

The inspector will:

  • Check the titles, bills of sale, repair invoices, and receipts, and for the repair parts.
  • Make sure the repaired vehicle is up to the Michigan’s equipment and safety requirements.

If everything checks out, the inspector will complete their potion of the application and provide you with a Salvage Recertification (Form TR-13B)—do not lose this! You must have both the application AND recertification form to apply for a rebuilt title.

Turn Your Salvage Title to a Rebuilt Title

With your inspection complete, you can apply for a rebuilt title by providing the following at your local SOS office branch:

  • The vehicle’s MI salvaged title.
  • A completed:
  • Proof of no-fault insurance.
  • Payment for the applicable fees:
    • Rebuilt title: $15.
    • Required taxes IF there’s an ownership change.
    • Registration fees, which are based on the age of your vehicle.
  • If necessary, you can purchase a temporary registration permit valid for 30 days or 60 days in lieu of a license plate—ask the SOS representative about this option.

After it’s all said and done, the SOS will issue a new Michigan title stamped “Rebuilt Salvage” and you’ll be ready to take that once-distressed vehicle out on the road!

Apply for a Scrap Title in MI

To apply for a Michigan scrap title, provide:

You can submit the items above in person at your local SOS branch office OR by mail to:

Michigan Department of State
The Special Services Branch
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

Once you have a scrap title you CANNOT retitle or rebuild the vehicle—it can only be dismantled for parts or scraps.

If you have additional questions about applying for a scrap title in Michigan, call the Secretary of State at (517) 322-1473.

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