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Gross Vehicle Weight ( GVWR ) is the weight of the vehicle at full capacity. It includes the curb weight, or empty weight, plus the weight of the driver, all passengers, engine, engine fluids, fuel, and the cargo that the vehicle is carrying. It does NOT include the weight the vehicle may be towing.  The gross vehicle weight is important to know so that you do not overload your vehicle.

Manufacturers of automobiles and trucks have charts that specify the maximum safe weight for each vehicle. These specifications include the GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, which, for safety reasons, should not be exceeded. An overloaded vehicle is a dangerous, and causes extra stress on systems such as the brakes, causing them to have to work harder, on tires, which might blow due to the excessive weight, and also on the suspension. The per axle rating of a truck is also important to know. This means that your cargo should be evenly distributed to avoid steering problems.

For trucks, load capacity also includes the towing capacity of the vehicle. The general rule for trucks are as follows:

  • Half-Ton Pickups
    These are “light duty” trucks, designed for general purpose driving, hauling trash or moving furniture.
  • Three-Quarter-Ton Trucks
    Also used for general purpose driving, but can carry increased loads and towing light fifth-wheel trailers.
  • One-Ton Trucks
    Able to carry larger, heavier loads, large campers and heavy trailers, such as horse trailers.

The GVWR of individual vehicles can be found:

  • in the operators manual
  • on the drivers door jamb or the door frame
  • on the manufacturer’s website.

Remember that the GVWR is not the weight of your automobile, it the safe weight limit.

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Other Vehicle Weight References

Gross combined weight rating
“Total mass of a vehicle, including all trailers. GVWR and GCWR both describe a vehicle that is in operation and are used to specify weight limitations and restrictions”. (Wikipedia)

Curb weight
“Describes a vehicle which is “parked at the curb” and excludes the weight of any occupants or cargo”. (Wikipedia)

Dry weight
“Further excludes the weight of all consumables, such as fuel and oils”. (Wikipedia)

Gross trailer weight rating
“Specifies the maximum weight of a trailer and the gross axle weight rating specifies the maximum weight on any particular axle”. (Wikipedia)

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