What Does GVWR Mean? GVWR Explained for Trucks and Trailers

GVWR stands for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and is a value that helps determine the amount of weight that can be carried by a specific vehicle.

It is used to determine how much weight can be carried in your vehicle either in the cab or the trunk/truck bed.

It can be used to determine the weight capacity for either a truck, car, or trailer.

truck gvwr meaning

GVWR Explained

GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. It is a value provided by a manufacturer that determines the maximum amount of weight that a particular vehicle can weigh.

This means that all weight on the truck, including gas, passengers, cargo, additions, etc cannot exceed the GVWR.

The GVWR cannot be changed for a vehicle. It is determined to be the safe additional value for which a vehicle can handle.

Exceeding the GVWR can lead to damage to the vehicle, unsafe operation, and voiding warranties.

What is Payload Capacity?

The maximum weight that can be carried on a vehicle is also known as the payload capacity. It is determined by the GVWR.

Payload Capacity refers to the amount of weight that can be added to a trailer or vehicle in either passenger or cargo weight.

It is calculated by taking the GVWR and subtracting the curb weight.

payload capacity calculation

The curb weight refers to the weight of a vehicle (with a full tank of gas if applicable). It is the weight of the vehicle once it leaves manufacturing. If any changes are made to it, you must take this into account.

The payload capacity will be a total of all weight that can be carried. You will always want to check whether your vehicle can handle any additional weight. You can use the calculator below to test it out.

Payload by itself refers to the total amount of weight that is put on the truck by passengers, custom parts, cargo, and tongue weight (weight exerted on a truck through a hitch by a trailer).

So to make sure your payload never exceeds your GVWR, you need to add up the curb weight, cargo weight, passenger weight, and tongue weight and ensure it does not exceed the GVWR.

what is payload capacity visual

This calculator below makes it very simple of whether or not your car has exceeded its carrying capacity.

The calculation above is based on the equation below.

GVWR – Curb Weight – Passenger Weight – Custmoization/Addition Weight – Tongue Weight

If the value above is greater than zero then you can carry everything listed, otherwise, you will need to reduce the weight.

Payload capacity helps to categorize trucks as half-ton, quarter-ton, and one-ton trucks. READ HERE for more details and examples.

What is Trailer GVWR

Trailers also have GVWR. This acts similarly to ruck GVWR. The difference here is that trailer GVWR is only dependent on the weight of the trailer along with its cargo.

The weight of a trailer with cargo can’t exceed the GVWR.

What is Truck GVWR

Truck GVWR refers to the amount of weight that can be totally loaded onto a truck at a single point in time.

This means that the scale weight of a truck cannot exceed the GVWR at any point.

truck gvwr meaning

How is GVWR Calculated?

GVWR is a value that is determined by manufacturers. This cannot be calculated on your own.

When you receive a truck, you should have information printed on the inside of the driver’s door on a sticker.

The GVWR is dependent on some factors such as engine, shock, brakes, and body. Stronger components will be able to carry more weight, therefore, increasing the GVWR.

Any changes you make to a truck in these key components may affect the GVWR of the vehicle. When in doubt, err on the side of caution when making any changes.

GVWR could go down after lifting a truck due to changing the suspension.

If you plan to use your car to tow or carry heavy loads, you are better off just leaving your car in the stock build so that you do not mess with the specifications.

Some manufacturers offer additional packages such as the heavy-duty payload package offered by Ford for the F150 which improves the axle, springs, wheels, and tires.


You may be familiar with the term GCWR as well. This term is used for towing and refers to the gross combined weight rating.

This is the maximum value that a truck can weigh in with a trailer, passengers, and cargo.

GCWR relates to towing and GVWR relates to payload capacity.

For a more detailed explanation check out the entire article on GVWR vs GCWR.


GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating and refers to the maximum amount of weight of a vehicle. This means that the weight of the truck plus passengers, cargo, and tongue weight must never exceed the GVWR.

GVWR is determined by manufacturers and must be followed for safety and warranty reasons.

The GVWR is used to calculate the payload capacity of a truck to determine the amount of weight that can be carried on a truck.

This calculator will help you determine whether or not you are exceeding your truck’s GVWR.

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I, Joey, am the owner and primary writer for Tailored Trucks. When I'm not writing, I enjoy taking my RAM pickup to the White Mountains for skiing, camping, or ATVing. Thanks for reading!

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