GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): What Is It and What’s Included

Understanding GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and other Important Towing/Hauling Terms


Whether you’re packing up the bed of your truck or towing a trailer, there are a handful of weight ratings and terms that you should be familiar with so that you can have the safest towing experience.

GVWR is a term that you might have heard of but maybe don’t truly know what it means. It stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and it represents the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can handle safely which includes your payload capacity. Your GVWR can be found on the placard attached to the driver’s side door.

Curb Weight is the weight of your vehicle that is generally given by the manufacturer and it refers to how much your vehicle weighs when it’s resting on the curb and not in use. It does not include passengers, cargo, vehicle accessories (toolboxes, etc), tongue weight or any other separately loaded items.

Curb weight is easy to determine and all you have to do is take your vehicle with all your normal, everyday gear to a weigh station, that way you get closest to the most accurate curb weight of your vehicle. Once you know both your GVWR and curb weight, subtract the curb weight from the GVWR to find how much extra “stuff” you can take with you. 


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what is gvwr
What is GVWR?

This extra “stuff” is called “payload” and your Payload Capacity refers to all the add-on weight that you can safely add to your vehicle’s curb weight, including cargo, passengers, fuel, etc. Tongue weight is also included in that payload capacity weight so be sure to take that into account as well. Your payload capacity is generally calculated by the manufacturer and can usually be found in the owner’s manual, but it is most accurately determined by the calculations previously mentioned. 

Payload Capacity = GVWR – Curb Weight

Here’s an example with numbers. Let’s say you have a Ford F350 with a custom light bar, toolbox, and a spare tire in the back. You take it to the weigh station and determine it has a curb weight of 6,800 pounds and you look on your drivers side door to find a GVWR of 14,000 pounds. To find your payload capacity, you would need to subtract 6,800 from 14,000 and the difference is the maximum amount of “stuff” you can add to your vehicle. 

14,000 – 6,800 = 7,200

So in this situation, you can add up to 7,200 pounds of cargo, passengers, luggage, tongue weight, etc and still be within a safe weight and within your GVWR.

It’s very important to know information like this prior to hitting the road. If you aren’t aware of your vehicle’s GVWR, your curb weight and payload capacity, there’s a chance that you could potentially overload your tow vehicle and experience an unsafe journey to your next destination. Always know before you tow and help keep our roads safe.