How to Find Your Car’s Make and Model

The make and model of a car indicate the manufacturer and type of vehicle. The make, model, and trim impact auto insurance rates. Learning how to find your car's make and model is easy and essential. Once you discover the make and model of your car, you can learn more about the specifics, such as trim. Make, model, and trim indicate features and functions such as advanced safety technology. Some unique features can increase or decrease your auto insurance rates.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Feb 23, 2022

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What You Should Know

  • You can find your car’s make and model using various methods
  • A car’s manufacturer, make, model, and trim are different indicators that can tell you a lot about the vehicle
  • Some vehicles may have similar body styles, but insurance rates can vary significantly across makes, models, and trim

When you are searching for a new car or auto insurance, you will often see questions about the make and model of your vehicle. What does car make mean? What is a make vs. model? Is make another word for the manufacturer, or is it something different? What’s the difference between the model and trim? How do make and model of a car affect auto insurance rates?

Many things can impact auto insurance rates, and the make and model of your car are significant factors. There are a few different ways to find out the make and model of a car. This article will help answer your questions about how to find your car’s make and model and how they impact your auto insurance rates. To find the best deal on auto insurance for your vehicle, enter your ZIP code to compare quotes from top auto insurance companies.

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

There are a few places where you can find the make and model of your car. The most straightforward way to find the make and model is by examining the exterior of your vehicle. The make and model are frequently present as emblems attached to the rear body. You can usually tell make vs. model based on the appearance of these emblems. The make is typically a logo, while the model may be a word or string of letters and numbers. Additionally, you can find the make displayed as a hood ornament or a logo embedded in the front grill on some cars.

Sometimes, a vehicle’s exterior could be worn or damaged, thus making it difficult to determine the make and model based on the body alone. In these cases, if the owner’s manual or other paperwork from the car is available, the make and model should be listed on these types of documents. The owner’s manual will be specific to the make and model of the car, so this information is often present both on the cover and multiple times within the guide itself. There will be fields that state the make and model in documents like registration, titles, and service records.

Of course, there are certain circumstances when the car’s exterior is damaged, and pertinent paperwork is missing. You may be thinking it is impossible to determine the actual make and model of a vehicle in this case. Fortunately, there is an additional trick to finding the make and model of your car. Near the driver-side door is a metal plate with a 17-character string of letters and numbers. This number is called the VIN or vehicle identification number. Many free websites are available that let you input your car’s VIN and receive detailed information about your vehicle. These websites can provide the make and model, along with the year, trim, and sometimes the vehicle’s history. It is even possible to locate a stolen car with a VIN lookup.

So, what is a make and model? Let’s break it down.

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What is the make of a car?

The make of a car differs from the manufacturer in some circumstances. You can think of the make as the car’s brand. Toyota, Ford, GMC, and Nissan are examples of makes. These terms can also refer to the manufacturer, so it is essential to understand the difference between make and manufacturer.

If you can specify the make and manufacturer, you can be sure you are identifying your car correctly. GMC is a great example to illustrate this difference. GMC is a popular car make that is also a manufacturer. GMC’s core brands or makes include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. Even though GMC owns the Chevrolet brand, you would not call your Corvette a GMC Corvette. The manufacturer may be GMC, but the make is Chevrolet.

What is the model of a car?

The model of the car refers to the specific type of car. In the example above, the model would be Corvette, while the make is Chevrolet. Different vehicle models can share the same make, but insurance costs may differ significantly. A difference in rates could be due to the demographic associated with the car, safety features, or other attributes that make a car more or less likely to be involved in a collision.

What does a car’s trim refer to?

In addition to the make and model, there are other unique identifying factors for different cars. One of the most prominent is the trim. Trim does not just refer to special external features like dual-tone finishes. A vehicle’s trim differentiates between multiple versions of the same model. Each trim level may include unique features and additions beyond the base model. You can think of the base model as the basic version and trim levels as upgrades. Trim types come with various options and may indicate significant differences in a car’s features and functionality.

A car’s trim can tell you quite a few things. Different trims could indicate the number of doors, horsepower and torque, engine size, and drivetrain. For an example of the differences between trims, let’s look at the 2022 Ford Expedition.  

The base model 2022 Ford Expedition is the 2022 Expedition XL STX, while the highest level premium trim is the 2022 Expedition Platinum MAX. The Expedition Platinum MAX has quite a few additional safety and technology features. These features include lane-centering assistance, a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, and a 360-degree camera with trailer reverse guidance.

The trim can also indicate how much a vehicle can tow. It can be somewhat counterintuitive to learn that some higher-end trims can actually tow less weight. The difference in towing capacity can be due to an increase in the vehicle’s gross curb weight.

Maximum Towing Capacity  

  • Expedition 4×2 — 9,300 lbs.
  • Expedition 4×4 — 9,200 lbs.
  • Expedition MAX 4×2 — 9,000 lbs.
  • Expedition MAX 4×4 — 9,000 lbs.

A vehicle’s trim can also impact the rates you will get for auto insurance. More safety features, such as the lane-centering assistance mentioned above, can decrease a collision risk. Anything that reduces the chances of filing a claim can lead to lower rates. The safer the vehicle is, the less of a risk it is to insure. Understanding the factors that go into rates can help you understand how to compare auto insurance quotes.

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What is a body style?

The manufacturer, make, model, and trim can help you narrow down a specific vehicle type. The body style of a car can be the same across multiple manufacturers, makes, and models. A good example is a standard four-door sedan. There are many different four-door sedans available from popular car manufacturers. Sometimes, completely different manufacturers and makes can produce cars with remarkably similar body styles. Despite the similarities, different makes and models of the same body style can still significantly affect the cost of auto insurance.

More expensive vehicles are more costly to repair, and thus they are insured at a higher rate. The risk of paying out a higher claim exists because repairs are typically more expensive for pricey vehicles. For example, a Ford Taurus four-door sedan is likely less costly to repair than a Volkswagen Jetta four-door sedan. For the Volkswagen Jetta, the parts will be more expensive, and it might even need to go to a specialty shop for certain repairs.

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

There are so many factors that go into auto insurance rates that it can be confusing to determine the best policy for you. After reading this guide to makes and models, you should feel confident understanding how to find the make and model of a car and how they affect auto insurance rates. Insurance is essential no matter what vehicle you own or are looking to purchase. To find the best rates for your car, enter your ZIP code to compare quotes from top auto insurance companies.

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