Pickup Trucks 101: What You Need To Know About Weight Ratings

Pickup Trucks 101: Truck Weight Ratings

Because pickup trucks are frequently used to tow and haul, there’s perhaps no more important or confusing statistic to consider when purchasing one than its weight ratings. Accidentally overloading a truck can lead to a dangerous situation, not just for you but for others on the road. It can also lead to premature wear and tear, or damage to the truck’s powertrain, frame and running gear.

Here are the terms you need to know.

Curb weight: The weight of the pickup, including a full tank of fuel, engine fluids (coolant, oil) and all standard equipment. It does not include passengers, cargo or optional equipment.

Cargo weight: Cargo weight is any weight added to the curb weight, including cargo placed in the cab or bed, optional equipment and trailer tongue weight if you’re towing.

Tongue weight: Tongue weight refers to the amount of trailer weight pressing down on the trailer hitch. It's expressed in percent of total trailer weight, so when you see 10 percent tongue weight that means 10 percent of the weight of the trailer you're going to pull. Too much tongue load can push the vehicle down in back, potentially damaging or decreasing the effectiveness of the rear suspension and causing the front wheels to lift to the point where traction, steering response and braking can be severely decreased. Too little tongue weight can reduce rear-wheel traction and cause instability, leading to trailer sway or jackknifing.

Gross vehicle weight rating: The maximum allowable weight for a fully loaded pickup, including passengers, cargo and trailer tongue weight. A truck’s gross vehicle weight (measured by driving a loaded truck onto a scale) must never exceed the GVWR.

Ford F-450 Towing a Triple Axle 20,000-pound Trailer

Gross combined weight rating: The maximum allowable weight for a pickup pulling a trailer, including cargo and passengers, that the truck can handle without risking damage. A truck’s gross combined weight (measured by driving a loaded truck and trailer onto a scale) must never exceed the GCWR. In some states, you may be required to have a commercial driver's license if you tow more than 10,000 pounds.

It’s important to know that a truck’s brake system is typically rated for operation only at the GVWR, not the maximum GCWR. Most states mandate trailers more than 1,500 pounds be equipped with separate brake systems that can be integrated with the truck, so the driver can control both the truck’s and the trailer’s brakes simultaneously or separately (see our story on trailer-brake controllers).

If you’re wondering where you can find these specs for the truck you’re considering, you should be able to find a truck’s GVWR and GCWR on the safety compliance certification label in the driver’s-side door area and in the owner’s manual.

Quick formulas to remember:

Curb weight + cargo weight + passengers = gross vehicle weight

Gross vehicle weight + loaded trailer weight = gross combined weight

Dodge Ram 2500 on a CAT scale to measure gross weight


I had 4300lbs in the back of my 07 tundra double cab. Is that bad for it?

Yes, that's very overweight. Most half ton trucks aren't rated for more than 2000lbs of bed weight. You will have the same issues mentioned above for too much tongue weight, most notably fried suspension.

They call it a 1/2 ton truck. They usually mean it. Even the maximum rated payload is unsafe at speed. Braking distance is almost doubled.

here in 'sunny' pennsylvania (i can say that for now, this is the 1 month a year we have sunshine) PennDOT likes to play little 'games' with the GVWR on our registrations. I went to get 1/2 ton of limestone in my 1/2 ton pickup truck. I got pre-weighed at the scale, and the lady running the scale insisted on seeing my registration. After looking at it, she told me she couldn't sell me anything because my truck was already overloaded. On my registration, it lists my GVWR as 5000 lbs (to the best of my memory), and my truck sitting on the scale with nothing in it but a half tank of gas, weighed 5200 lbs. She asked me if I 'modified' the truck at all, to which I said, "Well, I don't think my brushguard and tow hitch weight 1200 lbs." Either way I was SOL and she said I had to take it up with the state, cause the cops would fine her if she sold me anything and they pulled me over. I just found a place that didn't ask, cause I know how well fighting with the commonwealth works; very little.

Your registration issue would be solved if you got the truck registered as being weight class 2, which covers 5001 to 7000lbs. The kicker is its $81/yr to register and not the $58.50 you are paying now. And as a note in PA, when they figure out your weight for registration proposes it includes passengers at 150 lbs per seat. So if you have a normal cab with a bench they add 450lbs, crew with two benches 900lbs.

Warning Fred is a idiot, he carried 4700 in a tundra, id liek to know what he actually fit in the 5 ' box double cab, hes just lieing, or it was only 2000 pounds, I carry 5000 pounds with my truck dont believe me Fordman06777 on you tube, GVWR dont mean a thing when u got a ford, my breaks are fine, cause i know how to haul a load.

these are sick trucks. thanks for posting this it is useful to know

Warning. Nick is a idiot. I did carry not 4700lbs, but 4300lbs like my post said. it is a 6.5' bed. It had firestone air bags at 100lbs and it was 4300lbs of stone. I too know how to haul a load. I am a Contractor and are one of the few men who use my truck like a truck. I am acutally impressed with the toy. I had 3000lbs in it the other day, and it did fine.

Before bashing someone else, maybee you should get some Prolixus so you can feel better about you inadequate manhood. Ya sissy!

no you are, I use my truck look it up you tube, tundras are garbage, and you are going to find out sooner or later.


I looked at your Youtube vids. You have a busted old Hooptie. lol. I am happy for you that it works. For my money, the F150 is a better truck. I just so happend to get a great deal on the tundra. When the 2010 f150 hits with the 6.2L, I am all over it. I am getting a platinum with a 6.5' bed.

However, the tundra is not garbage. It will out accelerate any Ford, except the mustang GT and above. It can obviously carry a big load, and tow well. I would hardly say it is garbage. The best thing about it is that It is new! Everything works, there is no rust, or dents like your old busted truck! It looks good sitting in the garage of my nice 4500sq ft home, with the rocky mountains in the background.

I am sure your Ford looks right at home out in front of your trailer! The cool thing is, when you are ready to move, your F150 can tow your home to the new location!

tundras are garbage, and whatever its not tougher than any ford.

Have you owned both? I have. I have had a 95 f350 reg cab, with plow. 350 and a 3 speed. 98 silverado 1500 xcab. 5.0l. 2001 GMC 2500 x cab with 6.0l. 2004 dodge ram 1500 5.7. 2005 f150 fx4 super crew 6.5. 2006 dodge ram 1500 quad laramie. 5.7 and 2007 tundra 5.7.

I think I have a lot of experience with trucks. I have a tendancy to know em.

Trust me, the tundra has its strong points. It has it's weak points as well.

Put more HP into the f150, and I will buy one.

It however is not garbage.

I would rather have my tundra than your old Ford!

BTW, my ram was better than all of em.

You guys shouldn't complain about the cost to register your truck with a heavier weight rating. It costs over 200.00 to register my 1999 Dodge 1500, and, thanks to our idiot government here in California, that will double this year. Be grateful you only have to pay that puny amount!

In colorado, it costs about $800 the first year $650 the second and just under $500.00 the third!

I would just like to point out that if yo are trying to insult someone you probably are going to want to chek yoor spelyng.

And like the dumb ass i am, i forgot a letter in the word 'you' when trying to make a point about spelling.

I'm looking to put a ton of wood pellets that are on a pallet in my 03 GMC Seirra extended cab short bed. Should I have an concerns?

Joe, it really depends on how many you have. How much do they weigh? I assume its not an actual ton, so it really depends on the weight. I think you'll be fine, though, unless its an insane amount.


Scott, Joe means a ton, 2000 lbs of wood pellets, I also am trying to figure if my truck is capable of hauling a ton.

Yes, folks a half ton truck will haul 2000#'s. The thing to remember here is that it's not designed for this in continuous duty. They call it a half ton because it is capable of carrying that much it's entire life.

I have a 2005 f-150 crew cab ( full sive 4 door) It has a 5'7" bed. I'm wanting to buy a in the bed camper. How much weight can I put in my bed?

The 2005 Ford Towing & RV guide doesn't list a maximum slide-in camper payload weight for the F-150 crew cab. It does however say "All Styleside pickups that qualify for slide-in camper bodies have camper center-of-gravity included on the Consumer Information Sheet in the glovebox." and "If vehicle does not qualify for camper use, the Consumer Information Sheet states that the vehicle
is not recommended for camper use"

I doubt you'd find a camper to fit that bed anyway.


I just bought a used F350 powerstroke deisel and have two Q's. One does the banks exhaust system make a big diff in hp and two can you regestier it at a lower weight class. I live in pa and the weight class it is now is 4B

how much weight is need in a back of a pickup to avoid hydroplaning ?

I have a 1/2 ton z-71, I've been pulling a 31 ft. bumper pull travel trailer that weighs around 9000 lbs. Believe it or not it actually pulls good. Is it going to damage anything.

@Rodney: Yes, you are exceeding the towing capacity for your truck. The powertrain, suspension, and brakes are being used past what their intended capacities are. For VERY short periods of time, like under 5 miles at low speeds, you will be OK, but for extended trips you will be unsafe, as will the other motorists on the road. The Z-71 package is not the same as the Z-85 package with the MaxTow.

I have a 1995 F150 4x4 super cab with a towing package with a 351 Windsor automatic. I am considering purchasing a26 foot Hideout trailer with a shipping weight of 6430. This is more than my GVWR which is 6250. Will my pick up handle this?

Can someone tell me the tongue weight of a 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 4WD truck. Want to haul a horse trailer with 1800 lb. tongue weight.

Funny, I have hauled a lot of shtuff over the years, in many kinds of trucks. Many times, way over the weight rating of the truck. As of late I have been averaging #1800 in a 2000 S-10, with no problems. Sensible driving makes a big difference, I don't feel I am any more "unsafe" than half the idiots on the road any given day. Weight ratings are big brother looking out for those idiots, just like many laws in this country. FWIW.

I have a GMC 2500HD truck. A label in the glove box says the cargo weight rating is 1844 lbs. I also have a 8-1/2 ft camper on the truck, and the camper's wet weight is 2275 lbs. So I am 431 lbs over the rated cargo weight, yet I hear of other individuals hauling 10 and even 11 foot campers on their 3/4 ton pickups. Ten and eleven foot campers must weight much more than my 8-1/2 foot Lance. Am I not understanding the cargo weight rating correctly?

I have a 1988 chevy v30 4x4 dump. It weighs 8,100lbs empty on the scale and I been using it to haul alot of scrap metal. I have had up to 8,500lbs in it. Do you know if i can register it any higher than 11,000lbs. My 86 2wd weighed 5,500lb empty and couldnt handle a load like my 88. Both are registered at 11,000lbs. I live in Pa btw

I have an '89 1500 Chevy I bought 2nd to do yardwork with. I would like to buy a small camper or camp trailer but although I've searched all over for load rating info; can't seem to find any. Would a vin# look up from a dealer be able to tell me.

I have a motorcycle carrier and motorcycle that weight about 450lbs together, I drive 2009 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab. Can I use a step bumper or do I require a full trailer hitch?

My Nissan Xterra takes them all. I built a box on top for hauling sand. It holds 4000 lbs of sand. when I get to where I'm going there is an opening on the back with a chute attached so all the sand runs out instead of shoveling. But most the time I have it half full so when I travel my kids and dogs can ride on top and play in the sand.

I have an '09 1500 Silverado, extended cab. I want to haul my Dyna Low Ryder. It's about 7 ft long. The bed is too short so will have to leave the tail gate down. I'm concerned about the additional weight on the tailgate. Will this be a problem?

I forgot to add - the bike weighs about 640 pds and the truck is a 4x4. (if that even matters...i don't know)

No should not be a problem i have a 2008 harley f150 and i put my 2008 arctic cat m8 sled in the back the sled hangs over the tail gate like 2 feet maybe more. i drove like that for 2 seasons no problem with the tail gate! And the sled weighs 500 plus with the snow and ice and gas in the thing

i have a 1500 silverado extended cab can i haul a 37 foot travel trailer weighing 10,000 pounds

We are looking into buying a small truck and would like to have an idea of how much it can haul because we might buy the trailer first. We have a big truck but because of gas costs want to go with a smaller one. Can you help? thanks so much!

I am trying to find out what the gross combined weight rating for a 2007 chevy 3500hd dump truck that is a 4 wheel drive and has a duramax diesel. The gvw of the truck is 12k. Is there a chart available for determining GCWR? Can not find anything. I would appreciate your help. The state of Pa has been hammering on the dump truck guys about this.
Thank you,

we have a ford f150 and are looking to purchase a trailer. does anyone know the maximum tungue weight it could hold?

i have a Dodge Dakota SRT-10 so i can pull quite a bit. i recently purchased a 42' spread axle mac covered wagon so i can start hauling coils out of the mills. where can i find a 70,000 pound rated fifth wheel and air brake conversion kit for a '07 Dakota?

what is the gvw of a 1995 ford super duty dump

2002 dodge ram 2500 diesel pick up.
is is possible load 3,500lbs on my rear pick bed?
I know they say 3/4 ton load.

My silverado HD 1500 says it has a payload cap of 3,620 pounds. WTF "ton" do you call that? Never heard the term "1 3/4 ton" before.

What is the maximum weight a 3/4 ton can haul? I want to haul I trailer

how do manufactures obtain or formula used to obtain GVW ratings, like 2011 3500hd chevy 21,700 lbs, dodge just raised there 1 ton to 22,000

How much weight can I haul in the bed of my 2000 3/4 ton silverado?

After reading these comments, it does seem that the larger the engine ( horse power etc.) and the heavier the truck, coupled with quality tires/ many other factors..it's a matter of physics and chemistry/ torque and other scientific data. Personally, if you do more independant research...and actually test drive, compare etc. one can get the " feel" of a truck much better than we can here.
For sure, if you are going to pull a small motor home, airstream, etc. the truck must be a BFT. Figure it out.
As for the insults to each other..comparing trucks, insults to each other about your trucks...this obviously is not constructive.
I own an Avalanche. It can pull a small camper,but I don't consider it a BFT. It's not equipped for a fifth wheel adaptation.
I do believe that, as far as truck sales...if you can, buy " american"..eventhough most all truck parts are manufactured overseas. GMC makes a good truck.
Go to Edmonds.com and or KBB.com or independantly research this online. Don't overload any vehicle..and also consider the size/ weight of the driver...because even this can impact the performace of any vehicle.
The article was pretty good. We all get attached to our vehicles...and sometimes take it very personally when someone attacks us..as we feel that our vehicle is a part of us.
If this is the case...I would like to be a Lamborghini.
Lastly,since we only go around once in this life...get what you can afford..for the BFT's really do use a lot of fuel.

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