Looking for specs on pickup trucks? Confused by the term “payload capacity”? There is a lot to know about the truck, including its weight and towing capacity.
With an empty weight of zero, the payload capacity of a truck indicates its maximum weight capacity. The towing capacity of a truck is determined by the weight of the truck and its cargo.
To understand the distinction between payload and towing capacity, you must put some of these other values into perspective – GVWR, curb weight, gross combined vehicle weight, etc.
Why do you need to know your truck’s payload capacity?
You need full control over your truck and a thorough understanding of its limitations to ensure the safety of you, your family, and other motorists. For a given class of truck, towing and transporting heavy loads are limited in different ways.
A pickup truck’s payload capacity determines its class: A half-ton, 3/4 ton, or 1 ton. A light-duty truck has a smaller payload capacity than a heavy-duty truck.
What does payload really mean? What does curb weight have to do with it?
What Is Truck Payload?
Vehicles have payloads, whether they are cars, trucks, or airplanes. In the case of trucks, this includes:
- Of course we must include the Driver
- If you have passengers
- All the gear and equipment that you have in your vehicle.
- The gas or diesel in your tank
- The stuff the truck didn’t come with.
You will add the payload to your truck no matter how light it is. When you add up a cab full of passengers and gear, this number can get pretty high.
Do you know what happens if you go over the limit of your payload?
The extra weight may make maneuvering the truck harder if you go over your maximum payload capacity. On wet, slippery, or icy roads, you may lose control of your vehicle.
In addition, consider the damage you could cause to your truck. There is a certain weight limit on the body, axles, and entire chassis of your truck. If you go over that, they wear out faster.
What are the best ways to determine the payload capacity of your truck?
There’s no way to just guess how much your truck can carry. You can’t rely solely on advertisements. The manufacturer’s official data will tell you your truck’s payload capacity. Vehicle handbooks and manufacturer websites have this information. Make sure you’re looking at the right year, model, and make.
GVWR and curb weight can also be used to determine payload.
Payload Capacity Terms
You’ll likely see these numbers when shopping for a truck or towable trailer. They all relate to the payload. GVWR and curb weight determine a truck’s payload capacity.
A truck’s curb weight is its weight at delivery. All standard equipment, as well as engine fluids, is included. In some cases – though not all – it includes a full gas tank.
You should also know about dry weight. Essentially, it’s the weight of the vehicle with no consumables.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
In order to calculate Gross Vehicle Weight, you need to add up passengers, cargo, a full gas tank, and everything else. Gross Vehicle Weights include passenger weights, cargo weights, and curb weights.
All the equipment, cargo, and passengers in your truck are included in the curb weight but not the gas tank. A true number can only be determined by weighing everyone and everything.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
It’s time to talk about GVWR now, the maximum weight that the vehicle can carry. Overloading the vehicle is when your GVW exceeds its GVWR.
What’s your pickup truck’s GVWR?
Your truck’s GVWR is an important number. Here’s how to find it.
- The small-print sticker on the door frame has all the numbers.
- You can check the Owner’s Manual.
- The manufacturer’s website
So what’s our payload?
Calculate the truck payload by keeping all those abbreviations in mind. Your truck’s GVWR and curb weight can be easily determined by reading your truck’s owner’s manual or online. If you don’t know your truck’s payload, don’t exceed it. That’s how you damage it severely.
Gross Combination Weight (GCW) and GCWR
To get GCW, we add everything up. Basically, GCW is the maximum weight that your truck can carry on the road when it is full, as well as its GVW. This includes itself, cargo, passengers, towed trailer, and everything else.
How does payload affect towing?
Quite a bit, as it turns out. Towing capacity is separate from the payload on a truck. Towing capacity is what a truck can tow, including a trailer.
If you’re towing a 5th wheel, you’ll also have a lot of weight on top of the truck bed. Since the towing pin/hitch is literally attached to your truck, you have to consider your pin weight in your payload calculations. A 5th wheel’s payload does matter.
Does Payload Capacity Equal Towing Capacity?
Payload capacity and towing capacity are not interchangeable when comparing pickups or other heavy-duty trucks.
You can carry as much weight as you like on top of your truck’s frame and chassis – plus your truck’s curb weight. In some cases, it’s called “payload,” while in others, it’s called “payload capacity.” These terms are interchangeable and will usually only differ from one manufacturer to another.
GVWR is defined by its curb weight, while towing capacity is determined by its payload capacity.
Some more about towing capacity
A pickup truck’s towing capacity is its maximum weight. Tongue weight is the weight your hitch must support based on your truck’s towing capacity.
Trailer sway occurs when the trailer skids off the road if the tongue weight is too low. If the tongue weight exceeds 15 percent of the trailer weight, steering becomes a challenge. You should have fewer driving difficulties and trailer sway.
Know your truck
In order to be safe on the road, every single one of those numbers matters. They aren’t simply guidelines to follow but also legal requirements.
Make sure you know your truck’s specs. Stay well below your limits, even when towing or hauling. Do you want to spend thousands without crunching the numbers?
You may have to put less stuff in the truck or upgrade to a bigger truck if your payload capacity isn’t enough.