What Does GVWR Mean?

2018 Hino 195 Hybrid Model

You’ve probably heard of a “gross vehicle weight rating,” or GVWR for short. It’s a popular topic of discussion when it comes to pickup trucks, cab chassis trucks, and commercial vehicles and trailers in general. What does GVWR mean, exactly? The GVWR is the maximum operating weight for a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer. Essentially, GVWR tells you how much a vehicle can weigh while operating safely and legally on Northern Chicago roads. Learn more about gross GVWRs below, how they’re calculated, and why they’re important.

How is GVWR Determined?

It’s often stated that the GVWR is calculated by adding the gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) together. This is how GVWR was calculated many years ago, but times have changed; the actual process is much more complicated due to recent developments in safety systems. In fact, if you add together a truck’s GAWRs, chances are the sum will be much lower than the GVWR given by the manufacturer.

Even if a truck’s axle rating sum exceeds 22,000 pounds, for example, safety systems with automatic braking, vehicle stability systems, and the manufacturer’s chassis durability can knock the GVWR down to 19,500 pounds. For this reason, OEMs run rigorous tests to determine the GVWR of their vehicles. You can add the gross axle weight ratings as a general estimate, but it’ll never be as accurate as OEM testing.

What Are the GVWR Laws?

GVWR limitations vary from country to country. In the United States, there are several GVWR limitations to be aware of if you operate a commercial vehicle:

  • Vehicles over 6,000 pounds are prohibited from traveling on certain city roads. (Make sure you double-check for any limitations in your area.)
  • According to the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, vehicles over 8,500 pounds are required to have public liability coverage.
  • You’ll need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or a Non-Commercial Class A or B license to operate vehicles or combinations over 26,000 pounds GVWR. Keep in mind that CDLs are often needed for vehicles under 26,000 pounds GVWR, such as passenger vans carrying 16+ passengers or vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

Learn More About GVWR at Lynch Truck Center

Do you have additional questions about the GVWR meaning for trucks and trailers? Contact us at Lynch Truck Center to learn more or visit us in person near Racine and Milwaukee. Our experts can answer any questions you might have about trucks, from “What does GVWR mean,” to “What are the services commercial vehicles need?” We’re standing by to assist you!


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Lynch Truck Center
Lynch Truck Center
29000 Sharon Lane
Waterford, WI, 53185 United States
(262) 514-4000
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Lynch Truck Center , .