Chevy Truck Names: What the Heck Do They Mean?

Last Wednesday, we talked about Curb Weight, GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, payload capacity and how “tonnage” slang terminology is not reality.  Now, let’s put all of that great knowledge to use by deciphering the name’s of Ford, Chevy, and GMC trucks.  The automotive slang is in quotes for your reference.  To determine which truck you have, just look at the 5th digit of the VIN number.  This is the digit of the VIN that tells you the series of the vehicle.  For Chevy and GMC full size trucks built after 1980, it will be C, K, R or V.  Oooooh, a secret code? Read on….

Chevy C/K Trucks

C-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1960-2002)

K-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1960-2000)

C10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1960-1987)
C20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1960-1988)
C30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1960-1988)

K10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1960-1987)
K20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1960-1988)
K30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1960-1988)

C1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
C2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
C3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2002)

K1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
K2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
K3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2000)

Chevy R/V Trucks

R-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

V-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

R10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)

V10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)

R1500 = “1/2 Ton” ( Didn’t Exist!?)
R2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
R3500 = “1 Ton” (1989-1991)

V1500 = “1/2 Ton” (Didn’t Exist!?)
V2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
V3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-1991)

Let’s see examples!

Imagine you have a truck with VIN #:

1GCDC14H3G……. = 1986 Chevy C10 (2wd, 1/2 ton)

2GCEK19K0J……. = 1988 Chevy K1500 (4wd, 1/2 ton)

1GCHR33N7J……. = 1988 Chevy R3500 (2wd, 1 ton)

Fun Stuff Right?

6 comments to Chevy Truck Names: What the Heck Do They Mean?

  • jwberry

    I can’t wait for when you do 1980s Toyotas…
    Toyota Pickup= 1/4 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 1/2 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 3/4 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 1 ton

  • Yeah, Toyota trucks will be a bit less complicated. Sadly, the majority of them have already disintegrated back into the earth again. EEEK!

  • joshua murtha

    I have an 87 Chevy R10 short bed that has been giving me some issues with the instrument panel. Mainly the oil pressure gauge and the volt meter. I went to a salvage yard and got two some what new ones, but neither one of them work either. Could it be an issue instrument panel itself or just those two gauges. Also, is there any way to get my speedo to quit jumping up and down at certain speeds other than buying a new one? Thank you for your time and help. I’ll send some pics next time I get on this site to show how far I am in the work I’m doing, which 90% of it has been done by myself, but when it comes to the electrical stuff, that’s another nightmare on its own.

  • Bob

    The speedometer jumps because the cable is damaged or the wires that make up the cable itself are fraying. The easy fix is to unclip the cable behind the speedometer. Then inspect the ends, if it is frayed just grind off the protruding price and reinstall. To lube it use dry granite speedometer lubricant.

  • Cheryelle

    So what about the S-10? What does the S mean?

    • Hi Cheryelle!
      The Chevy S-10′s, GMC S-15′s, and GMC Sonomas were all known as “S/T Light Duty Trucks”. If the truck is 2 wheel drive, the 5th VIN digit will be an “S”, and if the truck is 4 wheel drive, the 5th digit will be a “T”. That’s where the “S/T” comes from. What is strange though, is that all the 4 wheel drive trucks were still called S10′s when really in General Motors lingo it should have been called a T10. If you were to buy a factory service manual for one of these trucks, it would likely say “S/T Light Duty Truck” on it. The next time you are standing next to a S10, peek at the VIN and see what the 5th digit is. You will instantly be able to impress your friends with 2wd vs. 4wd knowledge!

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