Begin RV


What Does GVWR Mean? 

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum amount of weight that a vehicle can safely operate inclusive of the payload. Essentially, it is a weight limit set by the manufacturer.

Pickup Truck In Desert

Included in the GVWR calculation is: (1) the weight of the vehicle (2) weight of cargo (passengers, fuel, accessories) and (3) the “Tongue Weight” of a tow trailer. GVWR excludes any weight towed behind the vehicle on a trailer.


  • A weight limit set by the manufacturer inclusive of payload.
  • GVWR = Total Safe Weight of Vehicle + Cargo + “Tongue Weight” of Tow Trailer.
  • A vehicle should never exceed GVWR, loaded or unloaded.
  • Exceeding GVWR may not only be dangerous, it can dramatically shorten the life of the vehicle.


Understanding GVWR

The GVWR is designated by the vehicle’s manufacturer and is all about safety. At no point in time should your vehicle weigh, loaded or unloaded, more than the manufacturer GVWR. The GVWR number takes into consideration the suspension system, frame, axles, wheels and other load-bearing components of the vehicle. 

To understand GVWR, it is helpful to understand a few related terms:  

Curb WeightThe weight of the vehicle without any passengers, fuel or cargo.
Tongue Weight (TW)Total weight at the trailer coupling point
PayloadThe weight of a vehicle’s load which may include passengers, fuel, attachments, cargo, etc.
Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)Maximum towing weight of a vehicle

Here’s an example calculation using the terminology above: 

Your truck has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds. It has a curb weight of 4,000 pounds. You are towing a trailer and it is exerting 500 pounds of tongue weight. You can safely have a payload of 5,500 pounds – before exceeding GVWR. 

What Happens If You Exceed GVWR? 

Exceeding GVWR may not only be dangerous, it can dramatically shorten the life of the vehicle. The brakes, transmission and suspension systems are all designed to handle the manufacturer’s GVWR and exceeding this limit is a hazard to the driver and others on the road.

Driving in rain

Here are a few of the safety dangers of exceeding the manufacturer GVWR: 

  • The brakes may not be substantial enough to brake or slow down effectively; 
  • Overloaded tires can generate more heat causing a potential blowout; 
  • Tires will get less traction in inclement weather; 
  • Handling will become increasingly difficult; 
  • Suspension components can become stress or break under additional weight; 

Other impacts of exceeding GVWR: 

  • Fines and Tickets; 
  • Insurance Increases; 
  • Potential criminal charges, including manslaughter, if operating vehicle over GVWR leads to a death; 

How to Find the GVWR of my Vehicle?

It’s fairly simple to find the GVWR of your vehicle. Almost all vehicles have a sticker on the inside of the driver side door with both the GVWR and the curb weight. If you cannot locate the sticker, check your owner’s manual or call your dealership. 

Related RV Terms

For related RV terminology, please reference the RV definitions below:

  • Dry Weight: Total weight of a vehicle without fluids. 
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): Maximum weight on each vehicle axle.
  • Trailer Hitch: The primary connector between a tow vehicle and trailer.
  • Travel Trailer: A non-motorized compact home on wheels that you can tow behind your personal vehicle.

Like It? Go ahead and share!