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GVWR: How To Know Your Vehicle’s Strength

Carrying passengers or cargo? Knowing your gross vehicle weight rating helps ensure you don’t overload your vehicle.

Gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR, might sound like a term only professional truck drivers are aware of. In reality, it’s an important figure every driver of a GMC pickup truck, SUV and crossover needs to keep in mind in order to remain safe while carrying cargo or passengers alike.


Easily found on a label placed inside the driver’s door jamb, the GVWR figure is the maximum weight a GMC truck or SUV is engineered to safely carry. While this figure does not include the total weight of any trailer being towed, it does include the passengers, personal effects, and cargo carried, along with the weight (or the gross vehicle weight) of the truck itself and the tongue weight of the trailer.


You may not give much thought about those figures while making short trips or carrying a couple of small items, but when it comes time to load your GMC with lots of passengers or cargo, it’s important to keep your GMC’s GVWR in mind. Failure to do so may result in you exceeding the GVWR and overloading your vehicle.


Overloading your truck or SUV can carry severe consequences, including:


  • Broken springs and suspension components due to excess weight
  • Brakes unable to stop the truck or SUV in a timely manner
  • Transmission and other driveline components may overheat and sustain serious damage
  • Unusual suspension behavior, making the vehicle hard to control
  • Tire temperatures rising to elevated levels, potentially leading to a blowout


Knowing both your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight and gross vehicle weight rating allow you to quickly calculate how much you can safely carry. For example, take a look at the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD double cab with the EcoTec3 4.3L V6. The gross vehicle weight rating for this particular model is 7,100 pounds1. The weight of the Sierra itself is already 5,216 pounds. By subtracting the weight from the GVWR, you can determine this particular Sierra can carry about 1,884 pounds without exceeding its maximum weight rating.


That doesn’t necessarily mean you can universally carry 1,884 pounds of cargo in its pickup box – the weight of passengers within the cab also needs to be factored into the GVWR. If you have two 200-pound passengers climb into that same Sierra, it now has an available capacity of 1,484 pounds.


It's important to always abide by the GVWR specifically set for your GMC truck or SUV. In the course of vehicle development, professional engineers have extensively pushed these vehicles to their limits in order to keep you, your passengers, and your belongings safe and to avoid damage to your vehicle. Staying within these limits helps your truck, trailer, and travel remain safe.