GVWR vs GCWR: What Do They Mean & Difference Between Them [Simple Answer]

There are many factors and statistics that go into a vehicle’s specs, and it can be hard for the average buyer to know what they mean. For example: GVWR and GCWR, what they both mean and what the difference is between them.

The short answer is that GVWR means gross vehicle weight rating and refers to how much total weight the vehicle can carry, including itself. GCWR, meanwhile, refers to gross combined weight rating and refers to how much total weight the vehicle can tow, including the type of trailer.

There is more that contributes to each rating and they have some overlap when it comes to overall weight capacity.

What Is the Difference Between GVWR and GCWR

GVWR and GCWR are two weight ratings that appear similar and overlap at home, but still have fundamentally different meanings and are based on different factors.

What is GVWR?

GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, refers to the overall weight capacity of the vehicle including its own curb weight and the weight of all possible cargo including passengers. This means a vehicle’s GVWR is calculated based on two factors, the overall weight of the vehicle itself and how much weight it can carry.

Curb Weight. The curb weight of a vehicle refers to how much it weighs without any optional cargo inside like passengers or tools, although this does include necessary cargo like fuel. The curb weight of a vehicle is determined by the structure of the vehicle itself, such as the type of materials used and the size of the engine block.

Payload. Payload is the amount of additional materials and people the vehicle can carry before you risk damaging the vehicle. This includes all storage space inside a car including areas like a truck bed or any hidden storage areas under the seats, but the capacity itself is based on how much extra weight the vehicle’s frame can carry.

What is GCWR?

GCWR, or gross combined weight rating, refers to how much weight a vehicle can drag or tow, including the weight of the trailer and anything being loaded onto it. Unlike GVWR, GCWR is based entirely on how much weight the vehicle can tow and the weight of the vehicle or its cargo has no direct impact on this number.

Trailer Weight. GCWR factors in the weight of the trailer being towed as well as how much cargo it is carrying, so one way to increase the amount of cargo you can tow is by decreasing the weight of your trailer. Of course, trailers themselves also have a weight limit so a lighter trailer might not always give you more cargo capacity.

Cargo Weight. Besides the weight of the trailer itself, GCWR also takes the weight of any cargo you are carrying into account. It is important to remember that GCWR depends on the strength of the vehicle’s frame and trailer hitch, but it does not factor in how much weight the trailer itself can carry before breaking down so you need to keep both numbers in mind.

Differences Between GVWR and GCWR

While both GVWR and GCWR refer to parts of your vehicle’s weight capacity, they are in many ways fundamentally different values based on what they specifically measure. In order to understand and make use of these different values, you need to understand what they measure and what makes them different.

GVWR

  • GVWR focuses on the vehicle itself and does not take towing capacity or trailer weight into account.
  • The curb weight of a vehicle is fixed, meaning that some portion of the vehicle GVWR will always be taken up by it.
  • GVWR is dictated entirely by the durability of the vehicle’s frame, including the axels and shocks.

GCWR

  • GCWR only accounts for the amount of weight the vehicle can tow and does not factor in how much weight the vehicle can carry on its own.
  • While the weight of the trailer is factored into the GCWR, different trailers have different weight ratings so this can impact the amount of cargo you carry.
  • Frame strength and engine power do influence GVWR, but so does the strength of the towing hitch and other associated parts.

Conclusion

GVWR and GCWR are both measures of a vehicle’s weight capacity, but they measure very different types of capacity and are influenced by different factors.

GVWR and GCWR vs Payload

Another potentially confusing part of vehicle weight and cargo ratings is the difference between GVWR, GCWR, and payload capacity. While all three values measure how much weight a vehicle can carry, how they calculate that weight and where the load is being carried varies between each value.

GVWR and GCWR

  • GVWR and GCWR measure carrying capacity, but take into account the weight of the vehicle itself and any trailers it is towing.
  • GVWR takes payload into account, since payload measures unnecessary cargo capacity.
  • GWVR also takes the weight of necessary cargo like fuel, oil, and factory-standard repair items like spare tires into account.
  • GCWR in particular relies on the strength of the trailer hitch as well as the strength of the vehicle’s frame and engine.

Payload

  • Payload only focuses on the amount of unnecessary cargo the vehicle is carrying, not taking into account the vehicle’s weight or any towing cargo.
  • Payload is a part of GVWR and has no bearing on GCWR whatsoever, since payload doesn’t calculate towing weight.
  • Payload isn’t effected by the weight of items like fuel or spare tires, since these are necessary cargo items that come with a working vehicle.
  • Extra features like tow hitches have no effect on payload capacity apart from adding more weight to a vehicle.

What is the Weight of a Vehicle?

A vehicle’s weight is generally referred to as its curb weight, or how much the vehicle weighs without passengers or optional cargo. There are, however, many different measurements of a vehicle’s weight depending on its contents, all of which paint a picture of the vehicle’s weight rating and structural integrity.

Curb Weight. This value refers to the total weight of the vehicle without passengers or unnecessary cargo, but unnecessary cargo is an important factor to consider. Necessary cargo includes features like fluids, spare tires, and other items that aren’t part of the car itself, but are necessary to make it run.

Dry Weight. The dry weight of a vehicle is how much it weighs without any passengers, cargo, or fluids in the vehicle, including gasoline and oil, making this value a good metric for the fluid capacity of a vehicle. The dry weight of a vehicle is always lower than the curb weight, since it takes fluids into account as necessary cargo.

GAWR. Also known as gross axel weight rating, the GAWR of a vehicle refers to how much weight the axels can hold up before breaking. It is important to remember that this rating includes other factors like cargo and trailer weight, so it is a good way to gauge the maximum overall weight a vehicle can carry.

GVWR & GCWR of Top 5 Selling Pick Up Trucks

In order to get a sense of what a good GVWR and GCWR look like, it is best to look at some of the top selling pickup trucks on the market right now. All of these vehicles are 2021 models of their respective brands and are the best-selling pickup trucks available today, ranked from the most popular to the least.

Ford F-150. The Ford F-150 is the most popular pickup truck on the market right now, with an average GVWR of 6,975 lbs and an average GCWR of 14,400 lbs. It is important to remember that both of these values will change depending on the cab size and engine model the vehicle comes with, and this applies to all the vehicles on this list.

Ram 1500. The Ram 1500 is the second most popular pickup truck available today and has a much higher average GVWR of 7,100 lbs. At the same time, its GCWR is significantly lower at 12,900 lbs, meaning that the Ram lags in towing capacity compared to the F-150 but can carry more cargo.

Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The Silverado 1500 is the third most purchased pickup truck on the market, with a lower GVWR of 6,800 lbs. It’s GCWR is also lower than the two models listed above, but the difference between the Silverado and the Ram 1500 is only minor, with the Silverado being rated at 12,800 lbs.

GMC Sierra 1500. The Sierra 1500 actually has an identical GVWR and GCWR compared to the Silverado, those numbers being 6,800 lbs and 12,800 lbs respectively. This means the different in sales figures likely comes down to other factors since the Sierra is the fourth most popular pickup available.

Nissan Titan. Despite being the fifth most popular pickup truck of 2021 so far, it has a higher GVWR and GCWR than almost every other vehicle on this list. The Titan has a GVWR of 7,100 lbs and a GCWR of 15,300 lbs, showing that massive cargo capacity isn’t the only trait people are looking for in a truck.

Wrap Up

A vehicle’s overall weight and weight capacity are based on a wide range of factors and metrics that all measure different types of capacity. GVWR and GCWR refer to how much weight a vehicle can carry, including itself, and how much it can tow, including any trailers. If you have questions about vehicle weight capacity, comment with them below.

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