What Does GCWR Mean?

Truck Towing Trailer on Highway

Even if you already know that GCWR stands for “Gross Combined Weight Rating,” or “Gross Combination Weight Rating,” you might not necessarily understand the full story! So, what does GCWR mean in practice, and what is GCWR? Simply put, your vehicle’s GCWR is the total amount of weight that your vehicle can carry safely, including the total weight of any attached trailer or cargo carrier. Let’s take a closer look, so you can see why this metric is so important.


GVWR vs. GCWR: Know the Difference

GCWR includes your vehicle’s curb weight, as well as the weight of cargo and passengers–just like your GVWR. However, unlike that other important rating, a GCWR is also meant to encompass the total weight of a trailer that you’re pulling. Here’s a closer look at the factors that distinguish GVWR vs. GCWR:

  • A Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is especially relevant when you’re dealing with heavy payloads, carrying heavy cargo in a pickup, or loading up a flatbed truck. It specifies the maximum operating weight for the vehicle itself, once all passengers and cargo are accounted for.
  • You need to know your Gross Combined Weight Rating whenever you hook up a trailer. More specifically, you need to make sure that the total mass of all elements, including your trailer, fall below this important maximum threshold.
  • You can’t ever exceed your GCWR without risking serious damage to yourself or others, but it’s especially relevant for drivers who spend a lot of time towing.

Remember that the distribution of weight can sometimes be just as important as the total amount. You don’t ever want to exceed a Gross Axle Weight Rating either!


Gross Combined Weight Rating and Towing Capacity

Perhaps you thought you were finished with research as soon as you learned your favored vehicle’s towing capacity. Your towing capacity tells you the total amount that your vehicle can safely pull in a trailer on the roads near Racine, but you always need to keep the GCWR meaning in mind. Here’s why:

  • As long as your trailer’s GVWR falls below your towing capacity, you should have little to worry about. However, you can run into trouble in situations where you’re managing a payload and towing at the same time.
  • Although you shouldn’t try and do any final calculations by hand, you can estimate a vehicle’s maximum towing capacity by subtracting the vehicle’s curb weight from the GCWR.

What Do You Need To Know About GCWR Regulations?

There’s no simple way to calculate a vehicle’s GCWR by hand. Instead, manufacturers undertake numerous rigorous tests in order to determine how much weight a vehicle can handle. Factors including engine torque, radiator capacity, and the strength of axles and chassis components, all play a role in the final calculation.

What does GCWR mean for your business? Add the total weight of your vehicle to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of your trailer. If the result is equal to 26,001 pounds or higher, you’ll need a CDL in order to operate it. This is true even if you’re not actually moving that much weight, so it’s important to keep in mind.

Get the Answers to All Your Towing Questions Here!

If you can’t find the answers to your questions in our hub of heavy truck information, don’t hesitate to start a conversation! We’re easy to reach from anywhere near Northern Chicago or Milwaukee, and you can always contact us online or by phone.


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