What does GVWR and GAWR mean?

The sticker on my truck’s door jam says GVW 5000, Front GAWR 2000, Rear GAWR 3000.

What does all that mean? Or better, of what practical use is that information to me?

I was recently hauling some bags of cement products and noticed the rear of the truck was sort of tilted down more than usual, that’s what got me to thinking about this subject.

GVWR Gross vechile weight rating. GAWR Gross axle weight rating.

Cars and trucks all have that rating, as you’ve noticed. So, if your truck weighed 3300 lbs (curb weight) and you climb in (say 200 lbs) you can carry another 1500 lbs total… to reach GVW. But it needs to be balanced because each axle has its own rating.

If you have the owner’s manual, Ford has about 15 pages in the book explaining about weight loading. The first page gives the gist, telling how much weight can go in the bed, followed by pages of confusing data, how much you can carry when towing a certain weight, etc. It’s best to place most of the load at the rear of the wheel wells and forward, when possible.

On my Ford half ton, the factory hauling capacity is nearly 3/4 ton, and a towing capacity of 5850 pounds… but it’s one or the other. I know people who’ll toss in over 1/2 ton, then hook a 4500 pound trailer… and the truck is overloaded. Stick to the book and your drive will be safe.

I hope that makes sense. If you don’t have the manual, most manufacturers have them available for download.

GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating = the maximum the vehicle was designed to weigh.

GAWR = Gross Axle Weight Rating = the maximum the axle was designed to carry.

These are useful for figuring out if any particular end of the vehicle is over loaded. It is particularly helpful if you change tire size and need to figure out what inflation pressure to use.


I’m going to add my own commentary for clarity.

GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating = the maximum the vehicle was designed to weigh.

…when it’s fully loaded, which will include the weight of the truck, all cargo and passengers, and/or a trailer. If you think you might be nearing this capacity, weigh the whole rig at a truck stop scale with a full tank of fuel.

GAWR = Gross Axle Weight Rating = the maximum the axle was designed to carry.

…also known as “maximum payload” for the truck bed. You can weigh this at a truck stop too, but the rear axle will have to be on its own section on the scale.


GVWR does not include a trailer,

GCWR = gross combined weight rating, includes the trailer,

Ford F250 Has
GVWR of 10,000 lbs, but it can tow a 10,800 lb trailer

GCWR is 16,200 lbs

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Very true.Your ratings change depending on the truck’s build, especially for some of the half tons (more options). Gear ratios, etc, changes a truck’s towing and load capacity.

It’s part of why Ford spent so many pages in their manual… charts and calculations enough to make a math geek happy.

It sort-of does include the trailer. The tongue weight on the trailer ball must be included. Drive the tow vehicle onto the scale with the trailer attached and loaded but not on the scales. A 1000 # tongue weight must be included in GVWR.


Sort-of, Yes
With a heavy enough tongue weight, you would hit the axle weight rating before hitting the vehicle weight rating.

Adding a trailer lightens the front axle, increasing the rear axle weight even more.

Hauling a trailer that heavy, you should be using a fifth wheel type trailer so you can balance the weight between both truck axles.

Yes, and tongue weight is 10 to 15% of trailer weight (in a perfect world) and the mfgr does include it in the charts and in the max tow ratings. My truck’s max is 5850 pounds towing, and 700 pounds tongue weight maxes carrying capacity. (I assume because the hitch is so far behind the wheels.)

Then again, many of us drove the old half tons and never worried. I had side racks roof high on the '57 Ford 1/2 ton, with a 52 Chevy box (trailer) w/ same. The wife’s employer had their sawdust pile catch fire, so free darkened sawdust. I’d fill both to the top and drive the 30 miles home. Loved that old truck… but a stupid move.

I like tag trailers with load-equalizing hitches. Takes some of the load off the rear and shifts it back to the front axle.


Good info, but I’m still puzzled. How many 100 pound bags of cement can I put in the bed before my truck reaches one of the weight limits?

Ford half ton truck, near the tail gate, then raise the gate? I’d say 10… but I’ve carried more. (Just not on the freeway.) If you need a bigger load, rent a $20 u-haul trailer and stack them near the axle…

Oh oh, I think I had more than 10 bags the other day. 12 -14 probably. No wonder the rear springs were sagging a little.

I bet your power steering worked great.

No worries. I was in a bind, and hauled 6 bags of mortar in the trunk of my Lesabre once. The little pump that airs up the load leveling rear shocks was really pumping to try and compensate.

Hence my reasoning for buying a used truck for such shenanigans.

People call the scrap yard pretty often complaining that we cheated them when they sold us their scrap vehicle. They think they know what the vehicle should’ve weighed because they saw the GVWR on the door jamb, but we paid them for less weight. Derp!


As far as having that much weight you probably don;t do it enough to worry about if you did it every day you would have problem’s.

Carry one at a time and make multiple trips.

Since this is a question about an antique, the 1962 Chevrolet C10 that I owned crossed the scales with an empty weight of 3980 LBS. The GVWR was 5200 LBS. The weight of the truck plus driver would be approximately 4200 LBS allowing for a 1000 LBS load, a half ton.

Not to mention a lot of weight is not steel.