Totally Gross: Vehicle Weight Ratings 101.


Half ton, one ton, three quarter ton, etc…  The funny thing about tonnage ratings is that they are still thrown around today but were only really accurate up into the 1960’s.  Since then, “tonnage” has become a slang way of separating the light, medium, and heavy duty truck models. Back when tonnage was accurate, it was a measurement of the truck’s Payload Capacity.

Payload Capacity = Passengers + Cargo weight. This means the weight of the people, gas, beverages, rocks, mud, and yes even the pet raccoon that lives under the seat. This does not include the weight of the vehicle or any sort of towing number nonsense.   In a perfect world……

1/2 ton truck = Safely carry 1000 lbs of people and cargo

3/4 ton truck = Safely carry 1500 lbs of people and cargo

1 ton truck = Safely carry 2000 lbs of people and cargo

Unfortunately, those ratings have become vague guidelines on all trucks newer than the 1960’s. Accurate tonnage ratings on modern trucks are typically stamped and printed onto a metal plate / sticker found in the vehicle’s door jamb. On that, you will find a variety of acronyms, such as…

Curb Weight = Weight of the vehicle only. No passengers, no cargo, no beer cans, and absolutely no dogs.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) = Total of Curb Weight + Full Payload Capacity.

GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) = Total Curb Weight + Full Payload Capacity + Full Fuel Tank + Full Trailer.

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) = (Total Curb Weight + Full Payload Capacity + Full Fuel + Full Trailer) / Axle distribution. It is the limit of how much weight the axles can handle.

Jeremy Nutt

Hi, I'm Jeremy.

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