How To Calculate GVW of Truck and Trailer

If you are in the trucking business, you know how important it is to stay within the GVW limits of your vehicle. But do you know how to calculate the GVW of a truck and trailer? It’s not as difficult as you might think!


GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The trucking industry has its language, and one of the essential terms for drivers to know is “GVWR.” GVWR stands for “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.” The GVWR is the maximum weight of a vehicle when fully loaded with cargo, passengers, and fuel. The GVWR is different for every truck and is usually found on a sticker inside the driver’s door.

Tare Weight and Rated Payload

The other two weights related to the GVWR are the tare weight and the rated payload. The tare weight is the weight of the empty truck, while the rated payload is the weight that your vehicle can safely carry. It is calculated by subtracting the tare weight from the GVWR.

For example, if your truck has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds and a tare weight of 4,000 pounds, your rated payload would be 6,000. Remember that these weights can vary depending on how your truck is configured, so always check with your manufacturer or dealer before you start driving.

GVWR and Towing Capacity

GVWR is the maximum weight capacity of a vehicle without a trailer attached while towing capacity is the maximum weight capacity of the vehicle in terms of how heavy of a trailer it can tow. GVWR and towing capacity are sometimes different. It is essential to consult your owner’s manual or dealer when determining how much weight your vehicle can safely carry or tow.

Determining a Truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight GVW

A truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle itself, plus its maximum payload for passengers, cargo, and accessories within the cab or bed. It excludes any weight towed behind the vehicle on a trailer. The manufacturer determines the GVWR, which is usually prominently displayed on the truck’s door placard or sticker.

Weight of a Truck and Trailer

The weight of an empty semi-truck and trailer can exceed 35,000 pounds. When fully loaded, these trucks can weigh up to 20% more. Large trucks like these are more likely to be involved in serious accidents than passenger vehicles due to their size and weight. A fully loaded tractor-trailer typically weighs about 80,000 pounds, while a semi-pulling empty trailer only weighs around 35,000 pounds. When a tractor-trailer is carrying a load, it can take 20% – 40% more distance to stop than cars do.

Understanding GVWR on a Trailer

GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, is the maximum weight a vehicle is designed to carry, including the weight of the vehicle itself and any passengers or cargo. Exceeding the GVWR can cause serious damage to the vehicle and put occupants at risk. The vehicle manufacturer determines the GVWR, taking into account the weight of the vehicle itself and the maximum weight capacity of the axles and tires.

Understanding the Difference Between GVW and GVWR

Regarding trucks, knowing the difference between Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is essential. In this article, we’ll explain what each term means and why paying attention to them is necessary.

GVWR: The Maximum Weight Rating

The GVWR is the maximum weight rating established by the chassis manufacturer. This weight rating includes the weight of the truck itself, any passengers, cargo, and fuel. Staying within the GVWR is crucial, as doing so can damage your vehicle and compromise your safety.

GVW: The Truck’s Total Weight and Payload

On the other hand, GVW refers to the total weight of the truck and its payload at a particular point in time. This weight includes everything loaded onto the truck, including cargo, passengers, and aftermarket additions. It’s important to note that GVW can fluctuate, whereas GVWR remains constant.

Calculating GVW and Sticking to the GVWR

When calculating your truck’s GVW, it’s crucial to consider all factors, including the weight of passengers, fuel, and aftermarket additions. Although it may be tempting to overload your truck to maximize its hauling capacity, it’s not worth the risk of damaging your vehicle or putting yourself and others in danger.


To ensure your safety on the road and prevent damage to your vehicle, always consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer to confirm your truck’s GVWR. Always err on the side of caution and avoid exceeding either the GVW or GVWR. Doing so will keep your vehicle in optimal condition and safe on the road.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.