Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Last Updated: March 25, 2019

Definition - What does Gross Vehicle Weight Rating mean?

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the cumulative amount of weight a vehicle can safely transport on public highways. The amount is set by the manufacturer and covers the curb weight, or the basic frame and mechanical components and features independent of, but also including the payload (additional poundage comprised of freight, fuel grade, passengers, and miscellaneous items used for traveling). Individuals can identify their vehicle’s GVWR label on the inside of the door frame or inside the owner’s manual for easy reference.

WorkplaceTesting explains Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Gross vehicle weight rating represents a safety guideline that highlights the maximum weight different vehicles can carry without posing an immediate danger to other motorists on federal highways and state roads. Gross vehicle weight (GVW) is a fluctuating value that reflects weight differentials based on loading/unloading cargo and the number of passengers occupying a vehicle on any given occasion. Tongue weight is a variable that relates to connecting trailers factoring into the GVWR measurement scale based on a percentage (usually 10-20%) of the trailer’s actual weight to facilitate maneuvering (i.e., turning, braking) while in transit.

An equal distribution of weight on the trailer can offset the GVW allowable limit, but the extra weight of haulage can influence a driver’s capability to manipulate a vehicle safely on the road. The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is the standard used to measure the weight of a vehicle and its contents along with the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW), or the weight of the trailer, reflecting the GVWR threshold. For instance, many vehicles can draw heavy loads exceeding regulatory standards, but the surplus weight bearing down a trailer can adversely impact the brakes, chassis, and suspension, making handling on the road difficult.

A commercial motor vehicle that exceeds 26,000 pounds represents the GVWR standard for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which covers the conveyance of hazardous materials and public transportation services with an occupancy of 16 or more passengers. Commercial motor vehicle operators are required to comply to GVWR statutes that vary by state law, carrying legal ramifications that can result in fines or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense.

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