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What Does GVWR Mean? (Travel Trailer FAQs)

What Does GVWR Mean? (Travel Trailer FAQs)

If you want to tow a trailer, then you need to know what your GVWR is and how it will affect you. It’s that number that you may not understand at first glance.

You’ve probably seen it on a sticker on the side door of the driver’s side, or maybe you saw it in the vehicle specs. If you don’t know what it is, you need to, because it’ll influence the kind of trailers you can tow.

To make sure that you get a proper understanding, we’ll be looking at what GVWR is, how it works, what it means for you, and some of the steps that you can take to make sure you’re protecting yourself and avoiding legal challenges.

So, what is GVWR meaning? GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This number refers to the maximum weight that you can safely tow or have on a vehicle at any one time.

This number is calculated using the curb weight of your vehicle, which is what it weighs when empty, plus the weight of any passengers, accessories inside the vehicle, the fuel, and then the “tongue” weight of your tow trailer. This last figure is usually anywhere from 10 – 20% of the combined weight of the trailer and the tow load.

Why It’s Important To Know Your Travel Trailer’s GVWR

It is important to know what the GVWR is for your trailer because you need to count it in with the existing weight already on the vehicle.

Your total gross vehicle weight rating can’t exceed the number on the sticker or in the manual – if it does, you can face pretty severe consequences. It isn’t safe to be towing a vehicle with a weight that exceeds the GVWR.

You need to know how much the trailer weighs specifically because that will need to be added onto the curb weight of your vehicle to figure out what you can safely tow.

Ultimately, it’s all about safety. If you’re carrying something that is too heavy, and you have exceeded the weight rating for the vehicle, then there is a chance that something could break, or you could lose control of the vehicle, or the vehicle isn’t fast enough to safely navigate traffic.

In any situation, an accident is far more likely to happen, so to prevent this from occurring, you have to remain within the boundaries of your vehicle weight rating.

What Does 7000 GVWR Mean on a Trailer?

So, let’s take a look at a specific example to make GVWR easier to understand. If you have a 7000 gross vehicle weight rating, that means that you can’t have more than 7000 pounds of weight in the vehicle.

The thing that a lot of people stumble on is the fact that this weight includes the curb weight of the vehicle. So, if your vehicle weighed 4000 pounds, then the collective weight of the trailer, it’s load, the fuel and the passengers of the vehicle can’t weigh more than 3000 pounds altogether.

Thankfully, you will only have to calculate about 10 to 20% of the tow weight, but it’s still important to know, because if you exceed these ratings, then you could be in for handling issues.

How Do You Calculate the GVWR of a Travel Trailer?

So, as the operator of the vehicle, remaining compliant with GVWR is your responsibility.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to do this, because you can do rough calculations to determine the GVWR. The basic formula looks like this:

GVWR = Trailer Weight + Trailer Capacity

So, let’s take it from the top and work out what each part of the formula means. The trailer capacity is the total combined weight of all of the items that you want to haul in the trailer.

The other end of this is the trailer weight. This number is something you have no control over – it is the capacity that the manufacturer has rated the trailer as being safely able to hold. This will be printed and stated on the trailer, as it is required by law.

Generally speaking, this formula is where a lot of people make mistakes. Finding the weight of the load isn’t difficult, but the part of the equation that often gets missed are all the additional accessories stored onboard that influence the weight of the load.

So, as a manufacturer of truck trailers, the provider will have a responsibility to make sure that you can easily identify the overall size of the load that you want to use in advance.

GAWR vs GVWR – What is the Difference?

We already know that it is possible to overload a trailer and cause it damage, but did you know that there are two different types of weight ratings to consider? These are GAWR and GVWR.

To make sure you understand, we’ll do a quick recap of GVWR, and then compare it with GAWR.

So, we know that the gross vehicle weight rating is an important consideration for making sure that said vehicle is safe to use. That much is a given, and we know how to calculate it as per the formula above. However, there’s another factor to consider, and that is GAWR.

GAWR is an acronym just the same as before, but this time, we’re dealing with the Gross Axle Weight Rating. This is a unit of measurement which applies to any vehicle which has multiple axles, with a car being the basic option.

GAWR is a unit which is stipulated by a manufacturer, like the GVWR, and it pertains to the largest amount of weight which can be put onto each of the axles in question.

This specific rating will vary between the front and the rear axles, and it’s important to know the two have a clear difference. This is because the different ends of the vehicle are going to be capable of supporting different amounts of weight.

You’ll find the GAWR listed with other important information, either in the manual or printed on the card in the vehicle where you’d find the GVWR.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the GVWR is important for making safe decisions pertaining to your vehicle. It’s important to be able to safely tow weight, but the rating in question will determine whether or not you can safely haul the weight without any kind of issue.

As the operator of the vehicle, it will be your job to keep track of the weight rating for your specific vehicle, and you could be subject to a fine if you don’t get it right. This means that you need to make a sensible decision with your vehicle every time you try to tow.

For best results, plan ahead, and try to make sure that you’re not going to overload it. You can check the rating easily using the manual, or by looking at the printed card, so it isn’t difficult to work out.

It’s also going to be important to match up the trailer with your capacity. Not every trailer is created equal after all, and you’ll find that some trailers can’t hold as much weight.

GVWR is a vital component of a successful towing experience, so you’d be wise to keep it in mind. It can sometimes take a little while to figure out exactly how much weight you have to deal with, but it can be worth it in the long run to get the best results. You’ll need to know how much weight to worry about, after all.


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