Gross Vehicle Weight Confusion?

It’s gross alright… GVW, GVWR, GCW, GCWR, GAW, GAWR…?  Really? All you want to know is, “can I tow this trailer with my Mini Cooper or Ford Super Duty?  Does it really have to be this complicated? Is it even important? Relax. It’s not really that complicated, and, YES, it is that important.We willl help you sort this out. Let’s start by breaking down some acronyms.

GVW–Gross Vehicle Weight.  It’s the weight of your car or truck–including the weight of standard amount of people, fuel , and luggage.  Also known as the curb weight. You’ll find it on the sticker on the jamb of the driver’s door.

GVWR–Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.  Plain and simple: if you exceed this weight, your vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and/or suspension are being taxed beyond what they were designed to take.

Actual weight > GVWR, NO BUENO.

Use this handy calculator to see what your vehicle can do.

Can My Truck Tow This?

GVW–Gross Combination Weight.  The combined weight of your vehicle, your trailer, and what you have loaded on that trailer.

GCW = Weight of vehicle + weight of trailer + weight of trailer cargo

GCWR–Gross Combination Weight Rating.  It’s the weight of the whole enchilada: vehicle, people, luggage, fuel, trailer, trailer cargo. Exceed this and you are asking for trouble. What kind of trouble?  Take your pick: engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, vehicle axles, trailer axles, etc…


GAW–Gross Axle Weight.  This refers to the axles of your truck.    It specifically shows the weight that your vehicle’s front and rear axles can bear. They are likely to be different because the front axle bears more of the engine’s weight, for instance.

GAWR–Gross Axle Weight Rating.  You will find this on that same sticker in the driver’s door.  There are two numbers, one for the front axle and another for the rear.  If you put more weight on the axles than this rating indicates, you risk creating dangerous vehicle handling conditions and you might also risk damaging the engine, transmission, and/or suspension of the vehicle.



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