Understanding GVWR When Towing Trailers

There's much to consider when determining your needs.

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Trailer Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the amount of weight a trailer is rated to carry. While not always included in a manufacturer’s GVWR, the weight of the trailer has to be accounted for in the GVWR formula. You also have to take into consideration accessories like pallet fork holders, a heavier parking jack, winch and battery. If that wasn’t enough, you have to add the weight of any equipment you haul.

There are two basic methods used to determine trailer GVWR:

Method 1: Use the lowest component rating as the GVWR. In most cases that would be the axle or tire rating. With this method, if the axle rating is 6,000 pounds each, and there are two axles, the GVWR would be 12,000 pounds. If the tires rate lower, then the GVWR would be based on the total of the tire capacities.

Method 2: Other manufacturers add the weight of the trailer into their GVWR formula. If the capacity is rated at 12,000 pounds (determined by the axle capacities) and the trailer weighs 2,500 pounds, they would rate their trailer at 14,500 GVWR.

Maintaining Compliance. Regardless of the method used, when you weigh your trailer and equipment, the scale must read less than the rated GVWR on the tag. So, if your equipment weighs 9,500 pounds, the attachments weigh another 1,500 pounds and the weight of the trailer is 2,500 pounds, you should be safe on a trailer with a GVWR of 14,500 pounds. But adding options and accessories could put you over—so pay close attention to that.

Keep in mind that some states don’t even acknowledge the manufacturer GVWR; they only go by the total tire capacity rating. This means that your tires should rate up to haul the weight of the trailer, options, accessories, equipment and attachments in order to be legal. The best thing to do is check your state’s D.O.T. laws to determine how they interpret GVWR and capacity ratings, not to mention CDL requirements.

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