Understanding car makes and models

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

When car-shopping, you’ll likely come across terms like “make” and “model” quite a bit. Understanding what they mean and how they differ is crucial. Here is a rundown.

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What is the make and model of a car?

A car make refers to the manufacturer or company that makes the vehicle, while the model represents the specific version or design. For example, take the Honda Civic. Honda is the manufacturer and Civic is a specific version of the car. Honda also has other models such as the CRV and Odyssey. For one manufacturer there are usually multiple models.

Why do car makes and models matter?

Finding the right make and model is essential in helping to ensure that your car will suit your lifestyle and budget. The make and model can heavily impact every aspect of car ownership. When researching options, potential buyers will want to take stock of their needs for their car and ensure that the car they purchase has the features they need, such as the number of seats, whether it’s two wheel or four-wheel drive, etc. These will influence the make of vehicle that best suit your driving needs.

The make can also influence the cost of replacement parts, where and how it’s maintained and what services the manufacturer provides.

Additionally, car make and model information is vital for vehicle identification and registration. Accurate classification and documentation of your car's make and model by government agencies and insurance providers is vital in determining your insurance rate and figuring out specifics in the event of an accident or theft.

Is it better to buy a new or used car?

The decision between buying a new or used car depends on various factors and your specific circumstances. Owning a new vehicle with the latest bells and whistles has it’s perks but will likely cost you more than owning a used vehicle. But one isn’t objectively better than the other. Here are some pros and cons worth considering for each.

Pros of buying a new car

  1. Latest features and technology: Buying a new car means getting access to the latest advancements in automotive technology, including safety features, infotainment systems and fuel efficiency enhancements. You'll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having the most up-to-date features available.
  2. Warranty coverage: New cars typically come with manufacturer warranties that provide coverage for a specific period or mileage. This warranty can offer protection against unexpected repairs and give you added confidence in your purchase.
  3. Customization options: When buying new, you have the opportunity to customize your car with specific features, colors and accessories to suit your preferences. This personalization can make your driving experience more enjoyable and tailored to your needs.

Cons of buying a new car

  1. Higher cost: New cars come with a higher price tag compared to their used counterparts. Additionally, new vehicles experience their most significant depreciation within the first few years, causing their value to decrease rapidly. Our cost calculator can help you better understand your costs if you purchase a new car vs a used car.
  2. Higher insurance premiums: Since new cars have a higher value, they often result in higher insurance premiums. The increased replacement cost and repair expenses associated with new vehicles contribute to this higher insurance cost.
  3. Initial depreciation: As soon as you drive a new car off the dealership lot, it begins to depreciate in value. This depreciation can be substantial in the first few years, leading to a significant loss in your investment.

Pros of buying a used car

  1. Lower purchase price: Used cars generally have a lower upfront cost compared to new cars. This affordability allows you to get a higher-quality vehicle or a model with more features at a lower price point.
  2. Slower depreciation: Used cars have already experienced their most substantial depreciation, so you won't face the same rapid loss in value as with a new car. This slower depreciation curve can result in a more stable investment.
  3. Lower insurance costs: Due to the lower value of used cars, insurance premiums are often more affordable. This can save you money in the long run-on insurance expenses.

Cons of buying a used car

  1. Potential maintenance and repair costs: Used cars may require more frequent maintenance and repairs, depending on their age and condition. It's important to consider these potential expenses when budgeting for a used vehicle.
  2. Limited warranty coverage: Used cars typically have limited or no warranty coverage, which means you may be responsible for repair costs once you drive off the lot. Conducting a thorough inspection and obtaining a vehicle history report can help mitigate this risk.
  3. Limited availability and options: Finding the exact make, model and features you desire in the used car market can sometimes be challenging. You may need to compromise on certain preferences or wait to find the right car.

FAQs about car makes and models