What’s the Difference Between Car Make and Model?

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

When someone asks about your car, they might want to know the make and model.

Your vehicle’s ‘make’ is the brand of the vehicle (like Honda, Ford, or Toyota, for example). Your vehicle’s ‘model’ is the name for that specific vehicle (like a Civic, F-150, or Camry).

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about vehicle make and model – and why the make and model of your car matter.

About Car Make

difference between car make and modelWhat is your car’s make? The car’s make is the company, brand, or manufacturer that creates the car. Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan are all considered makes. They make your vehicle.

Common examples of car makes include:

  • Honda
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Ford
  • Chevrolet
  • Nissan

You could have two different cars with the same make. A Honda Civic and a Honda CR-V, for example, are two different models of vehicles from the same manufacturer. They have the same make – but they are two different models.

Generally, makes are global companies that sell vehicles in multiple countries. Honda and Volkswagen, for example, are two car makes that sell vehicles all over the world.

About Car Model

A car’s model is the specific brand or type of vehicle. A CR-V, Camry, or Passat are all considered car models.

Once you’ve identified the make of your vehicle, the model of the vehicle can narrow it down even more.

Telling someone you drive a Nissan, for example, doesn’t give the person much information about your vehicle. Telling someone you drive a Nissan Altima, however, gives them more information.

BMW, for example, uses initials and numbers to identify different car models. BMW’s SUVs have model names like X1 through X7, for example. Companies like Honda have branded names like Civic, Accord, CR-V. Subaru has model names like Forrester and Outback, while Toyota has model names like Tundra and Camry.

How to Find your Car Make and Model

You can find your car’s make and model on your vehicle registration certificate.

Alternatively, look for logos, emblems, badges, and other marks around the exterior or interior of your vehicle. Many car companies put their name on the steering wheel, for example.

You can also search the vehicle’s VIN to identify the make and model. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is located where the dashboard meets the windshield on the driver’s side. It’s a 17-digit number. That number is unique to your vehicle and identifies the model year, manufacturing location, equipment specs, and other information about your vehicle.

Make and Model Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Make and model reveal important information about your car. However, they don’t tell the whole story.

You might have a Honda Civic, for example, and your friend might have a Honda Civic. However, because you have a 1993 model and your friend has a 2021 model, your vehicles will look much different. You have the same make and model of vehicle, but there are substantial differences between the two.

Some of the differences that go beyond make and model include:

  • Model Year: You might have the same make and model of vehicle – but in different years. Finding the model year of a vehicle can be tricky. Your vehicle might have been made in 2020, for example, even though it’s a 2021 model year vehicle. Model years also cover multiple generations. Ford’s F-150 might look the same for five years in a row, for example, before changing the design for a new generation. That’s why a 2012 Ford F-150 might look the same as a 2014 Ford F-150 – even though a 2015 Ford F-150 looks different from either model.
  • Body Style: The body style is the build of the vehicle. Even if you have a vehicle with the same make, model, and year, you might have different body styles. Some vehicles have sedan, coupe, and convertible body styles, for example, that can significantly change the appearance of the car.
  • Trim: Most vehicles also have multiple trim levels within the same make and model. Most car companies use identifying letters like L, S, or EX to distinguish between different trim levels. Or, some companies use branded terms: Jeep uses Sahara, Sport, and Freedom, for example, to differentiate between trim levels. Most makes and models have basic trim levels by default. Then, you can add sport or luxury trim based on your preferences.

Reasons to Check the Make and Model

You may need to check the make and model for a variety of reasons.

If you’re checking into a hotel, for example, the hotel may ask for the make and model of your vehicle. The hotel needs to verify your car is parked in the hotel parking lot legitimately. The hotel doesn’t need to know identifying information about your vehicle: they only need to know the make and model number.

Alternatively, you may need to check the make and model of your vehicle when requesting a car insurance quote. Most insurance quote request forms will also ask for the model year, basic driver information, and other data before processing your quote request.

You may also need to know the make and model of your vehicle when requesting service for your vehicle, buying parts, getting repairs, or doing other types of work.

Make and model also change the value of your vehicle. As you change trim and body style, you could have tens of thousands of dollars of difference even within the same make and model.

Final Word on Car Make and Model

There’s a big difference between the make and model of your vehicle. The make of the vehicle is the company that manufactures your vehicle – like Honda, Toyota, or Ford. The model of your vehicle, meanwhile, is the specific type of vehicle – like a Civic, Corolla, or F-350.

Check your vehicle registration documentation to determine the make and model of your vehicle. Or, look for identifying features around your vehicle if unsure about the make and model.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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