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What is a vehicle make and model?

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Make and model explained

As a car owner, you’ll hear one question all the time: “What’s your vehicle’s make and model?”

It’s just a fancy way of asking you about the type of car you have. The answer to the question is important when you’re buying car insurance, going to a mechanic or even getting your car towed.

So what’s the difference between a make and a model? Let’s clear it up.

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Make vs. model

Let’s say you have a shiny red Toyota Camry.

The make

The make of your car is your vehicle’s manufacturer. In this case, your car’s make is Toyota: It’s the company who makes your car. Other vehicle makes include Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Jeep and Volkswagen.

The model

The model of your car is Camry. It’s what identifies a specific car made by the manufacturer. If you have a Ford Fiesta, the model is Fiesta. If you have a BMW M3, the model is M3.

If you’re not sure which model you drive, you can often find out by looking at the back of your car. Or read your car’s instruction manual or vehicle registration certificate.


Why should you know your car’s make and model?

Knowing your vehicle’s make and model is especially useful when you need help with your car.

For example, you may need to:

  • Buy auto insurance. To calculate your premium, your insurer needs to know the type of car you drive.
  • Take your car in for maintenance or repairs. If you know the type of car you have, you can ask various mechanics whether they specialize in working on vehicles like yours. Your make and model may help with more accurate quotes or narrow down car parts.
  • Get your car towed. Tow companies ask for your vehicle’s make and model so they can find your car when they arrive.

How your car’s make and model affects your insurance premium

Your vehicle’s make and model affects how much you’ll pay for insurance, as do:

  • Vehicle MSRP. Because they tend to be more expensive to repair, pricier vehicles generally result in higher insurance premiums.
  • Safety ratings. Safer cars get into accidents less frequently and cost less to repair. That means fewer claims on average — and more savings for you.
  • Likelihood of theft. Some cars, like the Honda Accord and Chevy Impala, are frequently targeted by thieves. This drives up the price of insurance.

To learn more about how much you’ll pay to cover your car, check out our comprehensive guide to auto insurance.

What is an MSRP?

MSRP is shorthand for manufacturer’s suggested retail price — also called the “sticker price” for your car. It’s simply the price an automaker suggests a dealer should sell your car for new.

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