Buying a Car in Michigan

Michigan has one of the most complicated auto insurance requirements of any state and, at the same time, no emissions standards. This can make for a confusing situation when you’re trying to purchase a vehicle in the state; thankfully, however, we have information here, as well as links to additional useful details, to help make things clearer for you.

1. Title Information

Michigan requires all vehicles to be titled within 15 days of purchase. If you are buying your vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of the paperwork for you. You should receive your title in the mail within 30 days, even if there is a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from an individual, you will need the previous title signed over to you. The owner must also fill in the odometer disclosure statement. You can then take the documentation into a Michigan Secretary of State office or mail it to that same office. Michigan’s government suggests having both the previous owner and the new owner go to the office together, as the title and auto registration can be handled together immediately there.

2. Insurance Information

Michigan requires insurance on all vehicles under the idea of no-fault insurance. The state has created a system where people injured in a vehicle accident get medical benefits and help with bills quickly, in return for not being able to sue for accidents that did not end up in serious injury or death.

First, you will have to buy personal injury protection insurance, which covers your medical costs if you are in an injury. You then have to buy property protection insurance, which pays up to $1,000,000 on property damage you do within the state. Finally, there is liability insurance, with the minimum requirements of $20,000 per person bodily injury ($40,000 per accident) and $10,000 for property damage in another state (as in-state damage is already covered under the no-fault scenario).

Yes, this means insurance can be expensive in the state, and you are required to have all of the aforementioned coverage before you drive your vehicle off the dealer’s lot or the previous owner’s driveway. Fines for not having this insurance get very steep, very quickly.

3. Emission Information

Michigan does not currently have any emission standards or testing on vehicles.

4. Lemon Law Information

Michigan’s Lemon Law covers new and leased vehicles for one year or the manufacturer’s warranty period, whichever is shorter.

In order for the law to come into effect for a particular vehicle, the vehicle must either have a problem that has not been repaired after four attempts or have been out of service for repairs for at least 30 days. If either of these situations occurs, the owner can write to the manufacturer and request a refund or repair. The manufacturer may require the owner to go to arbitration.

5. Special Information

Michigan’s insurance laws are the most stringent aspect of the vehicle buying regulations in the state. If you are planning to purchase a vehicle in Michigan, make certain you understand the rules before you do so.