Vehicle APIs vs Vehicle Databases

Should your application maintain it's own vehicle database or use an API provider?

Maintaining an application that relies on up-to-date vehicle information requires some careful considerations. Let's examine the pro's and con's of maintaining a local vehicle database versus offloading that concern to an API.

Databases are more expensive

A full vehicle database can be costly, we've seen prices anywhere from $200 to nearly $1,000 USD. This of course depends on the data needs of your business. For more information such as engine and mileage specs you can expect that to be on the higher side. To keep up with the latest makes and models you'll need to purchase a new database each year so expect to pay that price again and again.

Databases can be a maintenance hassle

Most vehicle database providers only provide Excel or CSVs. So expect additional time parsing that data into your desired database. If the format changes from year-to-year you'll need to modify your import code to compensate for this.

When they do provide databases, at best they don't fit your desired schema and at worst are not well-designed relational data.

What about performance

Once you have your data, expect to spend additional time optimizing SQL queries, indexes and tuning your database settings for optimal performance. In general, once you have your schema optimized a local database can't be beat in terms of speed. However, you can always cache data from CAR API in memory (or directly to your database) to get around this.

The Verdict

While it may seem appealing to house your data locally, the up front cost and maintenance quickly add up. CarAPI is the low-cost, no-hassle solution to your data needs.

If your use-case requires your vehicle data to be stored locally, you can always use Car API as your source data and import directly into your database. You can rely on CarAPIs versioned API to never break your import process and our subscription plans come in cheaper than most vehicle database providers. If you want a more traditional ETL process based on data-feeds check out our CSV datafeed.

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