What’s the difference between make and model?

The make and model are the two most common identifiers for cars. The manufacturer, make, and model of a car are not all the same. Both the make and the model can typically be found on the vehicle's exterior. It is important to know the make and model of your car, as well as the trim package and year. These factors all contribute to the rates you will get for car insurance.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2022

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Things to Know

  • A car’s make can be thought of as the brand of a car
  • The model is the specific type of car under the make
  • Sometimes the manufacturer and make are the same but not always

When shopping for car insurance, it is crucial to know the make and model of your vehicle, along with other identifying information. Different models, premium trim packages, optional add-ons, and the year are all factors that go into determining the rates you will get on car insurance.

Finding the make and model of your car is very simple as these are usually emblems on the rear of a vehicle. Sometimes you are unable to see these on the exterior of your car. In that case, all documentation, including the title, registration, and owner’s manual, will have this information. Regardless of your vehicle’s make and model, the best way to find affordable car insurance is by comparing quotes from top insurance companies.

What is the difference between make, model, and manufacturer?

The make and model of a car are different identifying labels. The make can be thought of as the brand of the vehicle, while the model is the car’s type.

Sometimes a car’s make and manufacturer can be the same but not always. A prime example of this is the relationship between Chevrolet and GMC. GMC is a prominent manufacturer of vehicles that owns the Chevrolet brand. For a GMC Sierra truck, GMC is both the make and manufacturer. GMC manufactures the Silverado, but you would not call it a GMC Silverado. In this case, while the manufacturer is GMC, the make is actually Chevrolet. Thus, it is called a Chevrolet Silverado.

The make can be thought of as the brand of the vehicle, while the model is the car’s type.

Another commonly confused label is the body style, which is not the same as the model. Many makes and models share the same body style. For instance, a hatchback is a type of body style. The Subaru Outback and the Ford Fiesta are both hatchbacks, but they are very different makes and models.

Another identifier for different types of cars is the trim package. Like the make, model, and year, the trim package can also impact car insurance rates. Two cars with the same make, model, and year with different trim levels might get very different insurance rates based on their innate safety.

Trim packages can be considered special versions of a car’s model. Premium trim packages come with a host of extra features such as smart safety technology and vehicle theft protection. These additional features communicate to a car insurance company that this vehicle is less of a financial risk to insure. Anything that reduces the chance of filing a claim will inevitably be less expensive to insure. Having special add-ons that help maintain safe driving practices and deter theft minimizes the risk of filing a claim.

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Where can you find the make and model of a car?

In most cases, finding the make and model of your car is straightforward. As long as the exterior remains undamaged, you can usually find both the make and model on the rear of the vehicle as emblems. The make will typically be a logo on the back of the car. The make might also show up on the front of the vehicle as a hood ornament. The model typically appears in the same rear area as the make. Models are usually a word or string of letters and numbers instead of a logo.

Suppose the vehicle’s exterior got damaged to the extent that the make and model emblems are no longer visible. In that case, there are other ways to find this information. If you have the car’s documentation on hand, then you can find the make, model, year, and more on this paperwork.

Which types of documents have a car’s make and model? Most records associated with your vehicle will have the make and model, including your car’s registration, title, service records, and owner’s manual.
There are certain circumstances where both the car’s exterior is damaged and important documents are also missing. You may think that you are unable to determine the make and model in a situation like this, but there are still other ways to find this information.

Every car comes with a unique 17-digit string of letters and numbers called the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can find the VIN in a few different areas depending on the specific car you are investigating. Often the VIN is etched into a small metal plate near the driver’s side door, passenger’s side door, or front windshield. Using a free VIN lookup tool online lets you get information like the make, model, year, trim, and more. Some VIN lookup tools like Carfax will provide you with even more detailed information like service records, accident history, and title status.

Why do you need to know the make and model of your car?

When shopping for car insurance, every application will ask you for your vehicle’s make, model, and year. These are important questions that serve a real purpose. Every car is unique and comes with its own challenges regarding car insurance. Some vehicles are renowned for their safety ratings and technology features that make them extremely safe for drivers. These technology features can include lane change awareness sensors, roll bars, automatic braking systems, and more.

Each of these extra safety add-ons provides an extra layer of protection for safe driving. Car insurance companies want to minimize the risk of insuring a driver. They are likely to offer reduced rates for cars that already come standard with equipment and features that make them significantly less risky.

Every car is unique and comes with its own challenges regarding car insurance.

On the other side of the coin are vehicles that are innately a little less safe than others. A fast sports car might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an unsafe vehicle. Cars that are likely to be used for less safe purposes like a fast sports car are inherently riskier to insure than a safe family sedan.

Expensive vehicles also cost more to insure. The reason here is pretty straightforward: a more expensive vehicle is more costly to repair. By insuring a pricey car, the car insurance company takes a greater financial risk.

By knowing specifics like the make, model, trim package, and year of your vehicle, you can get more accurate insight into the monthly rates you will pay for car insurance. When shopping for a car, understanding the make and model can help you find a less expensive car to insure.

What’s the difference between make and model for cars?

Whether you’re searching for a new car or shopping for insurance for your current car, it’s essential to know the make and model. The make and model of a vehicle influence the rates you’ll get for car insurance. Knowing the make, model, and year can also help you understand if your car is a lemon or subject to any recalls.

Regardless of why you need to know the make and model, after reading this article, you should better understand what these terms mean. If you are ready to shop for car insurance, you need to have your car’s make and model handy. Once you have this information, then it’s time to compare quotes. The only way to get the best deal on the right car insurance for you is by comparing quotes from top car insurance companies.

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