What Is GVWR?

GVWR Stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, and it refers to the maximum weight that your vehicle can safely carry, including its own weight. The GVWR of your vehicle is a very important specification that you need to know about, especially if you plan to use it to carry a significant amount of cargo along with your passengers.

It does not matter much if you are driving a two-door car, a full ton pickup or anything in between – you need to know your gross vehicle weight rating since exceeding this weight limit means overloading your vehicle.

You should never load your vehicle beyond its gross vehicle weight rating since doing so will cause a number of potentially serious issues for your vehicle and even for the other drivers on the road.

To start with, just what is considered by the manufacturer when they set the GVWR of your car or truck? As we’ve mentioned, the GVWR is a weight rating that already takes into account the actual weight of the vehicle itself.

What Does The GVWR Include?

To be specific, the GVWR usually includes the curb weight of your car or truck, which is the mass of your vehicle without any passengers, cargo, payload, and any sort of accessories or extra components other than those that come as standard components that have been installed in the factory.

The curb weight, then, excludes things like luggage, roof racks, and other things that did not already come with the vehicle when it rolled out of the factory. On the other hand, the curb weight does include the things that your vehicle needs to run: fuel, engine oil, brake fluid, steering fluid, antifreeze and other liquids.

Since the gross vehicle weight rating already includes the weight of the vehicle, then you may immediately notice that the stated GVWR for your car or truck is already much heavier than the amount of cargo and passengers that you could feasibly fit inside it. GVWR is usually expressed in pounds, and most trucks will have a GVWR ranging in the 6,000 pound range or more. 

The 2019 Ford F-150, for example, has a GVWR of around 6,100 to 7,050 pounds – easily more than what you can imagine would fit inside its cabin and its payload bed. It may be difficult to refer to your GVWR and determine the most amount of luggage and payload that you can safely load into your vehicle.

How To Get The Payload Capacity Of A Vehicle:

If you do have your GVWR and the curb weight of your vehicle, however, then you can easily figure out the maximum amount of additional weight you can safely put on it. To get that number, all you need to do is to subtract the curb weight of your vehicle from its gross vehicle weight rating. The number that results is what is known as the payload capacity of your vehicle – the maximum additional mass that it can carry safely on the road.

Without the curb weight taking up most of that number, it’s easier to understand how much cargo you can load on your car or truck. To give you an example, the 2019 Ford F-150 has a payload capacity ranging from 1,485 to 2,311 pounds, depending on the options, trim level and packages present in the vehicle.

How The GVWR Relates To Towing...

You may have a truck or a vehicle that you plan to use as a tow vehicle for pulling trailers. One thing you need to note is that the gross vehicle weight rating is only partly related to the business of towing, since the GVWR is just the weight of everything carried by the vehicle itself, and it does not take into account the weight of the trailer at all.

The GVWR is the maximum weight capacity of a car or truck without a trailer linked to it, and it is unrelated to the towing capacity of the vehicle. Even though the GVWR is not related to the towing capacity of your vehicle, the tongue weight of your trailer is still a factor that you need to factor into your GVWR.

Trailers have a tongue weight, which is a portion of its mass that the trailer coupler imparts on to the tow hitch receiver of the tow vehicle, and is in turn mostly borne by the rear axle. In a properly balanced trailer, the tongue weight is somewhere around 10 to 15 percent of the trailer weight. This weight, the tongue weight, also takes up some of the payload capacity of your vehicle as well.

For example, a 2,000 pound trailer may have a tongue weight of 200 pounds that the hitch receiver of your vehicle needs to carry. That’s 200 pounds less capacity for the rest of your passengers and cargo, so if you have a truck that has a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds, then you only have an allowance of 1,800 pounds left for the rest of the stuff that you want to load into your vehicle if you are to stay below the GVWR.

What Can Happen If You Exceed The Suggested GVWR:

Staying the gross vehicle weight rating is a matter of safety, whether you are driving a small car or you are a tow driver doing heavy duty towing and hauling. Exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating of your vehicle means you are now driving an overloaded vehicle, and it’s a situation that can result in a lot of issues for you and your vehicle, for a variety of different reasons.

The first, and probably the most important, is the way overloading affects the ability of your vehicle to stop. A vehicle that is too heavy will have a significantly longer stopping distance, since the brakes may not have the capability to quickly bring it the vehicle a stop, or slow it down, in its overloaded state. As you can easily imagine, this can result in a situation where you can lose control of your vehicle.

A close second to braking issues that come with overloading is the steering issues that can result from exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating of your car or truck. Steering and handling are affected by several components of your vehicle – it’s steering components, suspension, axles, wheels, and other parts.

Suspension components, in particular, can become ineffective if the vehicle is overloaded. They do a worse job of dampening the shocks on the road, and the handling of your car or truck suffers. Your suspension components can even possibly break down under the added load as well.

Tires, and worn-out ones in particular, are more like to blow out under the additional pressure and heat generated by supporting an overloaded vehicle.

How Do I Find the GVWR of My Vehicle?

There are several ways for you to find information on the gross vehicle weight rating of your car or truck. Since the GVWR is a specification that the car manufacturer has already determined for the particular make and model of your vehicle, it’s a number that will not change for the most part – once you find the GVWR of your vehicle, then all you need to do is to note it down for your purposes. 

The only time that you may need to reconsider the GVWR of your vehicle is if has undergone some sort of upgrade or downgrade that affects its carrying capabilities. An older vehicle, or one that has developed issues with some of its components, may have a lower payload capacity than what the GVWR originally indicates, as well.

One of the best ways to find information on the GVWR of your car or truck is by consulting your owner’s manual. You will find the GVWR in there in all likelihood, plus you may also get various notes and additional information that will be useful for you as well, such as the payload capacity of your vehicle or other important figures such as its gross combined weight rating (GCWR) or its gross axle weight rating (GAWR).

You can also find some information on the gross vehicle weight rating of your vehicle by looking it up on the manufacturer’s website. Your dealer may also be able to supply you with the information that you need as well.

One quick way to look for the gross vehicle weight rating of your vehicle is by checking the information plate on one of the door pillars of your vehicle. This information plate is usually located on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and it also includes other important figures such as the payload capacity and tire air pressure for your particular vehicle as well.

GVWR on a Trailer

Your vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating, but if you are a tow driver, then chances are you already know that your trailers also have their own GVWR as well. Just like the GVWR for your vehicle, the gross vehicle weight rating of your trailer includes its own weight, as well as all the accessories and fluids needed to tow it safely.

Unlike the GVWR of cars and trucks, the GVWR for trailers has a wider variety of definitions depending on the manufacturer as well as the region that the trailer was built in. Some trailer makers specify a GVWR based on the lowest component rating on their product. Others determine a GVWR per trailer axle – for example, a trailer with two axles may have a GVWR per axle rating of 6,000 pounds, for a total of 12,000 pounds GVWR.

If you are planning to tow a commercial grade trailer, you will also have to factor in a few other things aside from the weight of your payload. You may have to take into account your pallet fork holders, parking jacks, winches, grapple buckets and other things that you need to haul commercial grade cargo.

What is the difference between GVWR and GVW?

The difference between the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and the gross vehicle weight (GVW, without the R) of your vehicle is that the former (GVWR) is a specification, and the latter (GVW) is an actual measurable quantity. 

The GVWR is the manufacturer’s maximum rated weight that it recommends for your particular vehicle, including its own weight and the load that it carries. The GVW, on the other hand, is the actual weight of your car and truck with passengers, luggage and payload in it.

You can learn about the GVWR of your vehicle by looking up the information in your owner’s manual, or by consulting the website of your car maker online. You can also check the information listed on the plate installed in the driver’s side door pillar.

The GVW, on the other hand, is something that you will have to measure directly. One way to do it is by using a weighing scale designed for vehicles and use that to measure the gross vehicle weight of your vehicle in its current state, as it is loaded with the passengers, cargo and additional accessories.


The gross combined weight rating is another important rating you need to look up for your vehicle if you plan to tow a trailer. While the GVWR is the maximum weight capacity of the vehicle loaded with people, luggage and attachments, it’s a figure that does not usually take a trailer into account.

The gross combined weight rating or GCWR, on the other hand, does take into account the weight of a hitched up trailer. It includes the mass of the vehicle, the weight of passengers and cargo in it, and then combines it with the mass of the trailer itself combined with the weight of the passengers and cargo that the latter carries.

The GCWR is also referred to as the gross combination mass (GCM), gross train weight (GTW) or maximum authorized mass (MAM).



The Gross Axle Weight Rating or GAWR is the maximum weight that can be safely supported by an axle of your vehicle. Since your vehicle usually has two axles, most GAWR information is usually followed by the axle it is meant for. GAWR FR is the rating for the front axle, while the GAWR RR is the rating for the rear axle.

GVWR is a figure that looks at the overall capabilities of the vehicle. The GAWR, on the other hand, is more focused on the capabilities of the axles of your car or truck. You will usually see the GAWR listed alongside the GCWR in the owner’s manual, or in the information plate on the driver’s side door frame.

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