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  • Nicholas Hinrichsen

What is the Make of a Car: What does it Mean?

Understanding the difference between a vehicle’s make and model is important when conducting auto-related services such as purchasing a new car, registering a vehicle, or even purchasing auto insurance. This article will help distinguish the meaning of a car’s make and model and answer the following questions:

  • How is a car’s make different from its model?

  • How do I find my vehicle’s make and model?

  • How many makes of a vehicle are there?

Car Make and Model - What do these terms mean?


A car’s make and model are two terms used to describe the vehicle. The make refers to the brand name of the car, or what company manufactured the vehicle. Model is simply a term to distinguish between a product or range of products produced by a company.


Car manufacturers Cadillac, GMC, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen are all examples of a vehicle make. Specific car models for each of these makes are the Escalade, Yukon, G-Class, Camry, and Jetta, respectively.

What’s the difference between a Make and a Model?


Automakers are typically large corporations that are based out of their home country. The following are notable car makers from Europe, Japan, Korea, and North America.

  • European automakers: BMW, Fiat, Ferrari, and Porsche

  • Japanese automakers: Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, and Subaru

  • Korean automakers: Hyundai and Kia

  • North American automakers: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, and Tesla

Some car makes also fall under a parent company that is a make as well. For instance, General Motor Company (GMC) is its own make, and it is also the parent company to makes like Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC.


Once you grasp the meaning of a make or car brand, the model name can help you narrow down a vehicle. Models are often discernible by unique initials or names. Audi is a manufacturer of luxury cars that typically only uses initials to distinguish between car models. For 2020, they offer sedan models A3 through A8 and SUV models Q3, Q5, Q7, and Q8. On the other hand, companies like Honda will name each of their models, such as the Honda Civic, Pilot, or Ridgeline. If you know the model year, then you have the complete name of a vehicle -- like a 2020 Dodge Charger.

Sometimes knowing the make, model, and year of a vehicle may not be enough to describe a car fully. You can have two vehicles parked next to each other with the identical make, model, and year, though they may physically look or perform differently. The reason for this is due to different body styles and trim levels. Examples of different body styles might be a coupe, sedan, or hatchback. The body style will typically describe how many doors a vehicle has, or specify certain mechanical features like the drivetrain. Almost every vehicle model and body style are offered in a handful of trim levels.


A trim level is a version of a car model equipped with a predetermined combination of features. Different trim levels allow buyers to add certain styling options or performance and technology features that aren’t available as a standard option. Common trim levels are standard, sport and luxury. Often each trim level will have similar safety features but differ in performance or interior features. A sport trim likely has upgraded engine performance, and luxury trim will have a premium interior with heated seats and leather upholstery.

The bottom line is, once you know the make, model, year, body type, and trim level, you will then have a complete picture of what a vehicle looks like and how it performs.

Where do I find the Make and Model


Most of the time, the make and model can easily be determined by looking at the exterior logos or badges. If for some reason, it is not clear or you don’t have the vehicle in front of you, you can likely find the make and model in the following places:

  • Vehicle registration certificate

  • Use WithClutch’s window sticker tool to decipher your VIN (vehicle identification number) and receive your vehicle’s specs

  • Your VIN may be located on the driver’s side door or where the windshield meets the dashboard on the driver’s side

  • Car insurance policy papers

What are all the makes of a car?


There are reported to be over 300 different carmakers, though it’s hard to know the exact number of car makes there are between discontinued manufacturers, general consumer manufacturers, and niche sports car manufacturers. Super Cars and carlogos.org have done a wonderful job of compiling a list of popular car makers, including those that are long gone. Use either of those websites to browse through an alphabetically organized database to locate or research any carmaker you desire.


Refinancing with WithClutch


Your vehicle’s make and model can greatly impact how much you pay every month towards your auto loan. If you feel like you’re overpaying, see if you can reduce your car payment by refinancing your auto loan through WithClutch!


WithClutch can help save you money and time by allowing you to refinance from the comfort of your home in less than 20 seconds. WithClutch offers its services for several makes; BMW, Chevy, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Subaru, just to name a few. If this is something that appeals to you, follow these simple steps to begin your refinance journey!

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