How To Sell a Used Car in Michigan

By: Rainbow Motor Sales   |   15 Nov 2023

Whether you’re in need of some fast cash or just ready to upgrade your current vehicle to something better, when it's time to say goodbye to your ride, selling it can be an excellent option for Michigan drivers. When it comes to selling your car, you have two main options to choose from: Selling it privately on your own or either selling or trading it in at a reputable dealership. While we recommend working with a dealership for numerous reasons (more on that later!), going through a private sale could be a better option for you, especially if you have a bit more time on your hands to work with. In this blog, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide so you can make sure to have all your ducks in a row as you proceed to find your current ride a new home!

Step 1: Determine the Car's Value:

Before you list your vehicle online (or put up that “Car For Sale” sign on the windshield, you’ll want to get a fair idea of how much your car is worth. Online valuation tools like Kelley Blue Book (KBB), Edmunds, or other reliable sources can accurately estimate your car's value based on its make, model, year, mileage, condition, local market factors, and comparable listings. Be open to negotiation, but avoid undervaluing your car.

Step 2: Prepare Your Car:

In order to make your vehicle more appealing to potential buyers, it's important to get it looking its best. This is often referred to as deconditioning.  Wash and thoroughly clean both the interior and exterior of your car. You can even consider professional detailing for a more polished appearance. Be sure also to gather and organize maintenance and repair records to demonstrate the car's upkeep and maintenance history.

Step 3: Advertise Your Car:

This is where a lot of the grunt work comes in when it comes to selling a car yourself. The first way to advertise your car is through online listings. Create detailed and attractive listings on online marketplaces such as Autotrader,, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or local classifieds. Make sure to include high-quality photos and a comprehensive description highlighting the car's features and its current condition. You can also use social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook or specialized car-selling groups to reach potential buyers. Consider this a sort of digital word of mouth – try to get friends and family members to repost to help you reach a wider audience. Additionally, if permitted, place a good ol’ "For Sale" sign on the car when parked in visible locations.

Step 4: Arrange Test Drives:

Once you begin getting bites from potential buyers, start scheduling convenient appointments for potential buyers to view and test drive the car in a safe and secure location. We can stress enough the importance of accompanying the buyer during the test drive. For extra safety measures, consider having a friend ride along in the back!

Step 5: Negotiate the Sale:

Be prepared to negotiate the selling price with potential buyers. After all, everyone wants a good deal! Be firm but flexible and willing to consider reasonable offers.

Step 6: Complete Necessary Paperwork:

Once you’ve found a serious buyer, be sure to have all your necessary documents on hand. These include:

  • Title Transfer: Complete the required paperwork for the title transfer. Ensure you have a clear title to transfer ownership.
  • Bill of Sale: Prepare a bill of sale stating the terms of the sale, including the final price, date, buyer and seller information, and vehicle details.
  • Release of Liability: File a release of liability with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure you're not responsible for the car after it's sold.

Step 7. Determine Payment Method:

Agree upon a secure payment method for the vehicle purchase. Cash, cashier's checks, or bank transfers are common. Avoid personal cheques if possible. Make sure to verify funds before handing over the title.

Step 8. Finalize the Sale:

Sign and notarize the title transfer. Provide the buyer with all necessary documents and keys. Before handing over the keys, be sure to remove all your personal items from the car. Additionally, make sure you’ve understood and complied with local Michigan laws and regulations regarding car sales, including emissions testing, smog checks, or any other necessary inspections.

Benefits of Selling to a Dealer Like Rainbow Motors

As you can probably tell, from advertising to paperwork, the process of selling your vehicle privately requires a lot of time and effort. While some dealers will try to lowball you, when you sell your vehicle here at Rainbow Motor Sales in Coldwater, MI, we’ll not only handle everything on your behalf, but we’ll also work hard to get you the best, fair-market value for your vehicle. Not to mention, depending on your state’s sales tax rate and your trade-in value, you may be eligible to pay less in sales tax by trading in at a dealership.

The team at Rainbow Motors Sales is here to help you understand your options every step of the way and make sure you get a fair payout for your current vehicle. If you’d like to sell or make a trade, get an instant online appraisal or give us a call, and we’ll provide more insights on your options!


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