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Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight RatingOne of the most commonly misunderstood terms in the trailer world is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or (GVWR). When buying any sort of trailer it is very important to understand the GVWR or Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR) of both your tow vehicle and trailer.

The GVWR of your tow vehicle will be listed on a sticker on the inside of the drivers door. This is the maximum weight the vehicle can safely transport and includes the weight of the vehicle, options, accessories, passengers. The GVWR also includes the tongue weight of any trailer that you may want to tow. Always include the trailers tongue weight in your GVWR.

The GVWR is constant and never changes no matter what you are towing. The rating is set by the vehicle manufacturer and is there to ensure that you operate the vehicle safely and do not overload the vehicle. Staying a bit under the vehicles GVWR is generally a good idea and you should never exceed the rating.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GTWR)

Before you buy a new trailer, you should determine the total weight of everything you plan to haul including accessories, chains, ramps, etc. Be sure that your new trailer has a GTWR that is higher than the total weight of everything that you will be hauling. You will also need to know the tongue weight of the trailer so you can include it in your GVWR calculation.

Please keep in mind that GVWR laws can vary from state to state. Following these guidelines will keep you, your tow vehicle, trailer and payload safe and help prevent damage. You can find out the GVWR of your vehicle at the NADA website.

GVWR & GTWR Math

Determining your payload capacity will take a little math, but it will be time well spent to endure that you are able to tow your trailer safely without damaging the trailer, your cargo, or your tow vehicle. Below is an example to help you determine your GVWR and GTWR:

Let’s say that you have a 5,000 pound truck that has a GVWR of 6,200 pounds. This means that you can safely carry up to 1,200 pounds in your vehicle. This 1,200 pounds should include any cargo in the vehicle, passengers, and the tongue weight of your trailer.

What About Trailer Capacity?

Your trailer should have a metal plate that shows the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) for a set tire size and pressure and capacity.

You can multiply the GAWR by the number of axles to determine the GVWR. If your trailer has one axle then the GVWR and the GAWR will be the same. The max capacity of your trailer will be the GVWR minus the weight of the trailer. In the example above the trailer weight is 1,100 pounds with a capacity of 4,000 pounds.

The experts at USA Trailer Sales are always here to help you negotiate the many options when it comes to your new trailer. Please contact us with any questions you may have or stop by one of our six Michigan locations to speak with a local trailer expert today.