How To Calculate The Carrying Capacity of A Truck?

While driving a truck, you need to make sure that the load it carries does not exceed its capacity. After all, it’s imperative to know what the payload and towing capacities of your vehicle are like. Using your truck to carry more weight than you are supposed to can result in long-term damages to the vehicle. This makes it imperative to know how to calculate the carrying capacity of a truck and never overload it.

Important terminologies that you should know

There are certain concepts that you need to learn about before you can calculate the carrying capacity of your truck. These are mostly factors that you would have to consider as a part of the calculations.

1. Payload capacity vs. towing capacity

Do not confuse payload capacity with towing capacity, as the two are entirely different concepts. Payload refers to the weight that you can add to the cargo area of the truck. On the other hand, its towing capacity is the maximum weight that you can tow using the truck, including its own weight and that of the cargo. Generally, a truck has a higher towing capacity than payload capacity, as the towed cargo puts its weight on the trailer’s axles and not your truck’s.

2. Curb weight

The curb weight of a truck refers to the weight of the vehicle when it is empty. This implies that it would not be carrying any cargo or passenger at the time of weighing the curb weight. The fuel tank and the fluids, however, would be at full capacity.


GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is a combination of the curb weight and the maximum cargo weight that the truck can carry. The GWWR is helpful in calculating the payload capacity of your truck, as you simply have to deduct the curb weight from it.


On the other hand, GVCWR stands for gross combined vehicle weight rating. This is a combination of the GWWR and the maximum weight of a loaded trailer that the truck can tow. You would need the GVCWR while calculating the towing capacity of your truck.

5. Trailer tongue weight

The term trailer tongue weight refers to the weight that the load towed on the trailer would exert on the trailer tongue. Usually, the trailer tongue weight is about 10% to 15% of the total weight of the towed load. The towed load has an effect on the payload capacity through the trailer tongue weight.

Calculating the payload and the towing capacity: How to go about it?

Now that you are aware of the above-mentioned concepts, you can calculate the carrying capacity of your truck.

  • Payload: To calculate the payload capacity of your truck, you simply need to subtract its curb weight from the GVWR. In case you are towing goods on the trailer, you would also have to deduct the trailer tongue weight. Do not forget to take into consideration any truck body additions that you may have installed, too.
  • Towing capacity: You may derive the maximum towing capacity of your truck by deducting the curb weight from the GVCWR. However, this is only a maximum value that does not include any cargo or passengers. Thus, the actual towing capacity of your truck would be greater than or equal to the weight obtained by subtracting the curb weight and the weight of the passengers, body additions and the cargo from the GVCWR.

Why can’t you just follow the advertised carrying capacities?

Usually, truck brands mention the payload and towing capacities of their vehicles while advertising. However, while calculating these values, they often tend to consider an empty truck with only a driver and no passengers, tools or cargo. Hence, it is better to calculate the capacities yourself or check if the towing capacity of the vehicle has received a seal of approval from a reliable third-party organization.

Why is it so important to keep the load within the carrying capacity of your truck?

Overloading your truck with more weight than it can carry may potentially have various consequences, including:

  • Poor efficiency
  • Long-term damages to the engine, axles, and transmission
  • Higher chances of accidents

In case you face difficulties because your truck cannot carry the weight it needs to, consider obtaining an HR licence so that you can drive a heavier truck.