What Is a Curb Weight and What Does It Mean?

If you’re getting ready to tow a heavy load or preparing for a cross-country road trip, you need to know your vehicle’s curb weight. Many people haven’t heard of this term and are unfamiliar with what it means.

Understanding curb weight and other terms surrounding towing capacity will help you stay safe on the roads and prevent damage to your vehicle. We’ll explain what a curb weight is and how to find it so you can safely manage your towing and travel needs.

What Does Curb Weight Mean?

Your vehicle’s curb weight is the complete weight of the vehicle without any people, cargo, or accessories. The curb weight includes all the standard equipment of the vehicle and the weight of necessary operating fluids, such as fuel, oil, and brake fluid. 

Knowing your vehicle’s curb weight is more important than you may think. Models with lower curb weights can generally accelerate faster and have better fuel efficiency. Higher curb weights boost traction and make driving in inclement weather more manageable.

Curb Weight and Towing 

It’s crucial to understand curb weight when you plan to tow your vehicle. Your tow hitch can only handle a certain amount of weight. When assessing how much you can safely pull, it’s vital to factor in the curb weight of your own vehicle and what you’ll be towing to ensure it’s within the capacity. 

If the total weight of the cargo you’re towing is above the limits of the hitch, it could break or not function properly. This could severely damage your vehicle and lead to accidents on the road. Additionally, towing loads that exceed the capacity puts extra strain on your vehicle and can damage the engine and other vital components.

How to Determine Curb Weight

For most vehicles, you won’t have to calculate the curb weight on your own. The owner’s manual will usually provide this information, or you may be able to find it on a sticker located within the driver’s door.

However, if you can’t find the curb weight, you can always take the vehicle to a truck stop. These locations have large scales, often used for measuring 18-wheelers, but they can measure any vehicle’s weight. Remove cargo and people from the vehicle to get an accurate weight.

How to Calculate Curb Weight With GVWR

You can do some math if you still need another option to find the curb weight. Start with the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), your vehicle’s maximum payload capacity. You can find this in the owner’s manual, the driver’s side door sticker, or the manufacturer’s website. 

Take the payload capacity and subtract it from the GVWR, giving you the curb weight. 

Tongue Weight vs. Curb Weight

Another question that often comes up pertains to the tongue weight in relation to the curb weight. Tongue weight refers to the downward force applied by what’s being towed to the hitch to which it’s attached. Finding the tongue weight is possible, although it often requires complex math or the use of a scale. 

Failing to measure the tongue weight could put your vehicle at risk. Low pressure can cause the trailer to lift, while too much pressure may result in vehicle sagging, which can impact braking ability and driver visibility.

Tow Safe With Weigh Safe

Never underestimate the importance of knowing your vehicle’s curb weight and the weight of what you plan to tow. Knowing what curb weight is and how it factors into towing are the keys to ensuring you can pull a heavy load while driving safely on any road. 

Simplify the towing process with a high-quality trailer hitch designed to help you get the job done. Weigh Safe offers a range of hitch styles that provide an instant weight measurement for safer towing. Easily measure your tongue weight with Weigh Safe’s hitch inventory—find the perfect addition to your vehicle.