Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The GVWR is a safety standard used to prevent the overloading of trucks. It’s the maximum safe operating weight of a vehicle, including the net weight of the vehicle itself, plus passengers, drivers, fuel, and cargo. The GVWR of a truck does not change after a manufacturer determines it for a vehicle.

The vehicle manufacturer determines the GVWR by considering the combined weight of the strongest weight-bearing components, such as the axles, and the weaker features, such as the body, frame, ​suspension, and tires. This determines the vehicle’s class, which defines the regulations it must follow. In some cases, drivers may need to obtain a specific type of license before driving a vehicle.

Light-Duty Trucks: The light-duty trucks category includes commercial classes 1, 2, and 3.

Class 1: This truck class has a GVWR of 0–6,000 pounds or 0–2,722 kilograms.

Class 2: This truck class has a GVWR of 6,001–10,000 pounds or 2,722–4,536 kilograms.

Class 3: This truck class has a GVWR of 10,001–14,000 pounds or 4,536–6,350 kilograms.

Medium-Duty Trucks: The medium-duty trucks category includes commercial truck classes 4, 5, and 6.

Class 4: This truck class has a GVWR of 14,001–16,000 pounds or 6,351–7,257 kilograms.

Class 5: This truck class has a GVWR of 16,001–19,500 pounds or 7,258–8,845 kilograms.

Class 6: This truck class has a GVWR of 19,501–26,000 pounds or 8,84611,793 kilograms.

Heavy-Duty Trucks: The heavy-duty trucks category includes commercial truck classes 7 and 8. Drivers in these classes must have a Class B commercial driving license (CDL) to operate the vehicle.

Class 7: This truck class has a GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds or 11,794–14,969 kilograms.

Class 8: This truck class has a GVWR of over 33,001 pounds or 14,969 kilograms and includes all tractor-trailers.

Vehicle Regulations

Suppose a vehicle has more than 10,001 pounds GVWR and is used for businesses, including nonprofits. In that case, it is subject to federal and state safety regulations for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. Vehicles over this weight must stop at state weigh and inspection stations. Drivers must follow the rules concerning hours of service and medical examinations.

A driver does not need a CDL to operate vehicles in Class 1 through Class 6, but each one with a GVWR over 10,001 pounds must be identified with the company’s name and the USDOT number.

It’s important to always check with the U.S. Department of Transportation and your state and local transportation authorities to ensure that you comply with the most current rules, regulations, and laws. If you’re operating a commercial vehicle outside of the United States, you’ll need to contact the transportation authority of ​the county where you plan to use the vehicle.