December 30, 2019

Car Make and Model


Cars are often identified by their make and model. Read on to learn what those terms mean and why your car's make and model matters.

What Is the Make of a Car?

The make of a car is the name of the manufacturer. These include companies like Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet.

Numerous manufacturers build cars around the world. In the U.S., consumers can choose from vehicles by domestic, Japanese, Korean, and European car manufacturers.

Some auto manufacturers produce two lines of vehicles: standard and luxury. Acura, for example, is the luxury line owned by Honda. Despite being manufactured by Honda, they are sold at separate car dealerships.

As the car's owner, you'll be asked for the vehicle's make and model when you:
  • Purchase car insurance or change auto insurers
  • Service your vehicle
  • Need roadside assistance
  • Call the police to report it stolen
  • Plan to park it in a hotel lot when checking in
  • Want to sell your car

What Is the Model of a Car?

The model of a car is its brand. A Corvette is a model made by Chevrolet while an Accord is manufactured by Honda. Not all models are words. They could be a letter, number, or a combination of the two, like Audi's Q3.

Each model of a car comes equipped with standard equipment and features. This is called the trim level. Keep reading to learn more.

Domestic vehicles (those made in the U.S.) are the most popular cars in the nation, followed by Asian imports.

What to Know About a Car's Trim

In any vehicle, the base model is the trim level with the least equipment and features. A fully loaded model will offer the most equipment and features. There are also models in between.

Trim levels are generally designated by letters, numbers, or both after the model name. Some common ones are: DX, LS, or a series, like 300 or 500.

Some elements that affect the trim levels are:

  • Body style: convertible, hatchback, two-door, four-door, etc.

  • Transmission: automatic, automated manual, or all-wheel drive

  • Type of engine: powertrain and suspension

  • Safety options: blind spot monitoring, backup camera

  • Interior features: material on the seats, navigation and entertainment systems, etc.

How trim level affects pricing
Car model trim levels significantly impact the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). A base model vehicle can cost thousands less than those with numerous features.

Here are some examples using the 2018 Honda Civic:

  • LX (a basic, 4-door sedan): $20,635
  • EX-L (a well-equipped, 4-door sedan): $24,895
  • Touring (a loaded, 4-door sedan): $27,695

How to Find My Car's Make and Model

A vehicle's make and model is listed in several places. Keep reading to learn a few ways to find the make and model of your vehicle.

The Outside of Your Vehicle
The back of your car should have the manufacturer's name on one side and the model on the other side. Plus, the car maker's logo is usually displayed in the center of the front and back of your car's exterior.

The Owner's Manual
The make and model of the vehicle is usually located on the cover of the owner's manual, or within its first few pages.

Title or Registration
Your vehicle's make and model is prominently displayed on both documents.

Use the Car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
You can enter your VIN into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's VIN Decoder web page to reveal your car's make, model, and other pertinent details.

The VIN is a 17-digit code made up of letters and numbers that can be found:

  • Displayed on the driver's side of the dashboard where it meets the windshield

  • Inside of the driver's side door

  • Printed on your vehicle's registration

How to decipher a VIN?
The VIN digits identify various information about the make and model of your specific vehicle. Here's what each number represents when reading the VIN from left to right:
  • First number: The country of manufacture

  • Second letter: Identifies the vehicle's manufacturer

  • Third number: The vehicle's type

  • Fourth through eighth letters/number: The vehicle's brand, body style, model, and series

  • Ninth digit: Security check number

  • Tenth letter: The model year

  • Eleventh letter: The assembly plant

  • Last six digits: The vehicle's serial number

Your Car's History Report
If your car was preowned, you can obtain its make and model by requesting a vehicle history report from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will need the vehicle's title, VIN, and proof of identification.

The car history report contains:

  • A record of past ownership
  • Vehicle's title
  • Odometer settings
  • Existing liens on the vehicle
  • Maintenance performed

How Make and Model Affect the Price of Car Insurance

The make and model of a vehicle help determine your premiums when buying car insurance. Be sure to provide the entire model when requesting an insurance quote, including all letters, numbers, and trim level indicators. You don't want to pay insurance on a higher-priced model when you have a lower one.

Here are some related factors that will affect your rates:

Instances when you'll pay more:

  • The make and model has a high value with higher costs for comprehensive and collision coverages.

  • Many claims are filed for that specific make and model.

  • The vehicle does not contain advanced safety features.

Instances when you'll pay less:

  • Vehicle has a high safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • Advanced safety features are equipped on the vehicle

  • The make and model is equipped with a number of anti-theft features

Using the Toyota Camry as an example, the MSRP is more for the Hybrid LE than the LE. However, the Hybrid LE owner pays less for car insurance than the LE owner because the Hybrid LE has more safety and collision prevention features.

Which car makes and models cost more to insure?
  • Performance or sports cars
  • Convertibles
  • High-end luxury cars
  • Exotic vehicles
  • Vintage or antique cars

Here is a comparison of the estimated annual auto insurance rates for a 2019 Toyota Camry:

Camry L, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $24,095: $1,944

Camry LE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $24,600: $2,405

Camry Hybrid LE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $28,400: $2,355

Camry SE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $25,800: $2,395

Camry Hybrid SE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $30,100: $2,365

Camry XLE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $29,175: $2,403

Camry Hybrid XLE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $32,975: $2,380

Camry XLE, 4-door sedan, V6 (cylinders): MSRP: $34,300: $2,403

Camry XSE, 4-door sedan: MSRP: $29,725: $2,405

Camry XSE, 4-door sedan, V6 (cylinders): MSRP: $34,850: $2,406

If you can't decide between two types of vehicles, get auto insurance quotes for their make and model. The cost difference just might be the deciding car buying factor.

How to Buy Car Insurance for Your Make and Model Car

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To purchase insurance, you'll need to start by getting a quote for your specific make and model. You can do this online, through an agent or by calling an insurance company directly.

But remember, an auto insurance quote is only an estimate based on the initial information you provide. You'll receive the final cost of your auto insurance policy after you submit a complete application.

Keep reading to get started.

Requesting an Auto Insurance Quote

When applying for an auto insurance quote, you'll need to provide the following information:

  • Make, model, and year of your car, including its trim level designation and body style
  • VIN
  • Your age and gender
  • Driver's license number of anyone who will be listed on the policy
  • Vehicle registration
  • Driving history
  • Credit history

An auto insurance policy only covers personal driving. It does not cover the use of your car for commercial purposes, like delivering pizza, a ride-sharing service, or a package delivery service. Some auto insurance companies offer extended coverage for these purposes.

Customizing Your Quote with Coverages

You'll be asked to pick your insurance coverages and coverage amounts when requesting a quote.

Most U.S. states require certain coverage minimums. But you can purchase higher amounts. Your decision should be based on whether your state's coverage minimums are enough to cover the costs of a serious accident.

Read on to learn the coverages you should consider for your auto insurance policy.

Mandatory Coverages (in most states)

  • Bodily injury liability pays for the costs of injuries and death caused by you or another driver while driving your vehicle.

  • Property damage liability pays for damages that you or another driver of your vehicle caused to another vehicle or someone else's property, like a utility pole, fence, or building.

  • Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) pays your and your passengers' medical expenses in the event of a car accident. The coverage also reimburses for lost wages and other expenses.

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage covers you if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist or in a hit-and-run situation.

Optional Coverages

  • Collision coverage is based on the market value of your car, not what you paid for it. It covers damage to your vehicle caused by a collision that's your fault. The coverage applies whether you collide with another vehicle or an object, like a guardrail.

  • Comprehensive covers the market value of your car, not what you paid for it. If you lease or finance your car, most lenders require you to purchase comprehensive coverage.

    It covers theft and any damage caused by something other than an accident. Some damage examples are:

    • Tree falling on your car
    • Flood
    • Fire
    • Falling rocks
    • Hail
    • Vandalism

  • Glass coverage deals with damage to your windshield, side and rear windows, and sunroofs.

  • Gap coverage handles the gap between what you owe on your vehicle and what your insurance coverage amount provides if your car is stolen or totaled in an accident. Usually, this coverage is included in the lease amount of a car.

Auto insurance covers you and other household members listed on your policy when driving your car or someone else's with permission. It also covers someone not listed on your policy who has your consent to drive your car.

Applying for an Auto Insurance Policy

Once you receive quotes from at least 3 auto insurers, compare the:

  • Coverages in terms of deductibles, limitations, and exclusions

  • Coverage amounts

  • Discounts that are available and their amounts

  • Financial stability of the company based on insurance company rating agencies, such as Moody's or AM Best

  • Customer service and claims ratings based on customer satisfaction rating agencies like J.D. Power

  • Price in relation to the above factors

Next, select the best auto insurance company for your car insurance needs and complete its auto insurance application. The auto insurer will review your application and provide you with the final price for your car insurance policy.

Bottom Line

Cars are identified by make and model. The make identifies which auto manufacturer built it, while the model identifies the product line.

Some car models have several versions, each with added features or trim levels. A model of the same make might be a hybrid, a coupe vs a sedan, or a 6-cylinder vs a 4-cylinder.

The make and model is used for various purposes throughout your car's life. You'll need the information to register it, insure it, identify it, or sell it.

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