There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to some of the common acronyms used to describe a vehicle’s towing and hauling abilities. Let’s break down the differences between gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and gross combined weight rating (GCWR).
What Is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)?
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), in the simplest of terms, is the maximum amount a vehicle can weigh as it rolls down the road. This number includes the curb weight of the vehicle, all occupants, and all cargo.
Does GVWR Include Trailer Weight?
No. A vehicle’s GVWR does not include the weight of any trailer. GVWR only accounts for the maximum weight of the vehicle, its occupants, and cargo. Also, if a trailer is in tow the trailer’s tongue weight counts against a vehicle’s GVWR.
Is GCWR The Same As Trailer Weight?
No. The GCWR is the full weight of the vehicle, all its occupants and cargo, the trailer tongue weight, and the trailer combined. Trailer weight is only half of the GCWR equation.
How Do I Calculate GCWR?
A vehicle’s gross combined vehicle weight rating is given by the manufacturer. If you don’t know yours, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s online towing guide. To properly calculate if you’re under your vehicle’s GCWR you’ll need to know the actual curb weight of the vehicle, the weight of all occupants and cargo, and the actual weight of the trailer. The best way to do this if you’re unsure of any part is to load up fully and head to a certified scale at a local truck stop or recycling center.
Can I Tow More Than My Truck’s Tow Rating?
No. Often you’ll find that when you subtract your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) from its gross combined weight rating (GCWR) that the number is a touch higher than the manufacturer’s advertised maximum tow rating. Sometimes it goes in the opposite direction. Whichever is the lower number is the one that needs to be observed when it comes to maximum trailer weights.
Can You Show Me An Example Of How This Works?
Sure! Let’s use a 2021 GMC Yukon as an example since General Motors is the only company to offer comprehensive towing information for all of its Chevrolet and GMC trucks and SUVs. Our example 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 comes with a 6,030-pound curb weight, a GVWR of 7,500 pounds, a payload rating of 1,470 pounds, a GCWR of 14,500 pounds, and a maximum tow rating of 8,200 pounds.
If we dissect the data given, we can see that the 7,500-pound GVWR minus curb weight equals 1,470 pounds or the same as the Yukon’s maximum payload rating. Turning to towing, if we subtract the curb weight from GCWR we come up with 8,470 pounds. Subtracting the driver weight necessary for SAE J2807 certification and we land right near the Yukon’s 8,200-pound maximum tow rating.
Savvy math nerds among us will point out that subtracting the Yukon’s GVWR from its GCWR yields just 7,000 pounds. This means that when running at maximum GCWR you’ll either need to lighten your trailer weight to 7,000 pounds while maxing out payload, or tow heavy with no payload. Keep in mind, if you put an average adult male in each of the Yukon’s seven seats, you’ll be close to maxing out payload already.