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What Does GVWR Mean?

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

If you are in charge of a fleet, then you know just how important it is to pay close attention to the vast world of safety regulations and standards, no matter how stringent or convoluted they may seem. One of the most crucial of these safety protocols is the use of rating and serial plates – and the information that is included on them. Today, we are going to delve into GVWR, a vehicle weight standard that all fleet managers need to know inside and out to ensure that their planning systems and safety standards can remain well intact.

What does GVWR mean?

A Definition of GVWR

GVWR, otherwise known as gross vehicle weight rating, is, simply put, a weight rating for your commercial vehicle. It’s a standard that is used for virtually all vehicles, including the pick-up that’s sitting in your driveway as well as the Mack Truck that’s part of your fleet.

Although GVWRs differ from vehicle to vehicle, the ratings are designed to take into account two main properties: 1) the base curb weight of the vehicle and 2) the weight of optional accessories, the weight of cargo, and the weight of the driver and passengers. Unless there is a recall from the vehicle maker or a formal change made on the part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Freight Management and Operations, the GVWR of your vehicle will always stay the same.

GVWR Best Practices to Follow

Just like with any other vehicle rating, there are a number of key GVWR best practices that must be followed in order to ensure that your fleet is running at the weight that it should be. Let’s take a look at the GVWR best practices:

  • Get to know the federal regulations: Because GVWR is a federally-recognized standard that is overseen by the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Freight Management and Operations, it’s important to closely follow the guidelines that have been put into place. Remember, these weight guidelines help to safeguard the public, your drivers, and the roadways. Check out FMO’s site for a full description of these regulations.
  • Pay attention to the classes: Breaking it down, GVWR consists of eight weight classes in three separate commercial vehicle categories, light-duty trucks, medium-duty trucks, and heavy-duty trucks. The GVWR ratings are as follows:
  1. Class 1: 0-6,000 lbs.
  2. Class 2: 6,001-10,000 lbs.
  3. Class 3: 10,001-14,000 lbs.
  4. Class 4: 14,001-16,000 lbs.
  5. Class 5: 16,001-19,500 lbs.
  6. Class 6: 19,501-26,000 lbs.
  7. Class 7: 26,001-33,000 lbs.
  8. Class 8: Weight greater than 33,001 lbs.

It’s important to note that each class comes with additional state and federal regulations to consider, such as commercial license requirements. Many of these regulations correspond to weight, which means that you must do your research and consult your presiding agencies before you make an investment or hire.

GVWR Plate Requirements

Typically, the GVWR comes already attached to the vehicle in the form of a thin metal plate or label that has been installed either on the truck door jam or inside of the door. But, just because most commercial vehicles already come equipped with the GVWR label doesn’t mean that you can rely on it being there. There are several reasons for this, including wear-and-tear or previous sellers unwittingly removing it. If you buy the commercial truck used, the original label can also be missing if parts have been swapped out due to repair or damage.

GVWR Best Practices

Let’s look at a few methods you can follow to guarantee that your GVWR plates are up-to-code and exactly where they need to be:

  • Do a plate check during audits: Don’t let this task slip past you! Add a GVWR plate check to your internal audit checklist now so that you don’t skip it in the future. If a GVWR is either missing or isn’t visible to the presiding authorities, then your precious inventory may not get to where it needs to be.
  • Don’t get your plates mixed up: Regulations, especially those concerning fleet management, can be extremely convoluted, but that can’t stop you from keeping an extra discerning eye on details like GVWR. Just remember, GVWR is a separate standard from unladed weight ratings, gross combines weight ratings, towing weight ratings, and registered weight ratings. If you see any of these other ratings listed on your vehicle, you can NOT sub it for a GVWR.
  • Replace plated when necessary: If you’ve noticed that your GVWR label is not in the condition that it needs to be, make sure that you order a replacement that can handle wear-and-tear, no matter how many miles are put on the vehicle. Take a look at our line of ultra-durable rating plates to see what suits your GVWR needs best.

GVWR is only one component of transportation safety, but it’s a vital one. Understanding GVWR, and adhering to proper weight classification limits, helps to ensure the safety of your drivers as well as those who share the road with them.

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