Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Ask Dave: Why is my truck’s combined GAWR higher than the GVWR?

Dear Dave,
My 2022 Ford F-250 has a front axle GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) of 4400 lbs. and a rear axle GAWR of 6800 lbs., for a combined axle rating of 11,200 lbs; yet my GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) is only 10,000 lbs. Can you explain why the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is 1200 lbs. less than the combined axle weight ratings? The weight of the truck at CAT Scales is 7,500 lbs. and payload is rated at 2800 lbs. —Rob, Ford F-250

Dear Rob,
This is common not only with trucks but with motorhome chassis as well. Manufacturers specify a certain axle to be able to handle the weight of not only the vehicle in the front and back but also additional weight or cargo carrying capacity. GVWR, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, is the maximum weight the entire vehicle can weigh with all cargo and occupants inside rolling down the road. GAWR is Gross Axle Weight Rating, which is the maximum that can be on the individual axle.

With motorhomes I have witnessed the industry using a heavier front axle with leaf springs versus the coil springs of the older P30 Chevrolet chassis so the rig could have more options such as a driver’s door. Yes, the weight on the front of these chassis was so close to GAWR that there could not be a driver’s door if the unit had a front slide room!

GAWR higher on truck back axle

On trucks you usually see the GAWR on the back axle much higher, as in your case, to allow for more payload in the back. However, take a look at what my 2016 Silverado 1500 has for GAWR and GVWR.

This is unusual as it is 3950 on both axles which adds up to 7900 lbs., but the GVWR is 7200. I have been a Chevy guy most of my life but have found this model is what I call a pretender, as it has the taller profile and the hood scoop like it’s a 3/4-ton work truck—but it’s all just for looks.

So, why the discrepancy of the combined GAWR and GVWR? From what I have learned from the chassis manufacturers and my Chevy dealers is the GAWR is the weight that the axle, bearings, and tires can withstand individually. The GVWR is the weight limit that brakes can safely stop the vehicle, as well as the weight the transmission can handle. So you can put a little more weight on the front or back axle depending on the model, but you need to keep the overall weight at GVWR, which means one or the other axle cannot be loaded to maximum.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Why is the GVWR higher than the combined GAWR?

Dear Dave,
I have this question regarding just about every 5th wheel RV manufacturer sticker I see. Why is the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) allowed to exceed the combined weight rating of the axles supporting the 5th wheel? For example, my GVWR is 12,600, but my two axles are rated at 6,000 lbs. each. I can only surmise that the tongue weight of the 5er is always going to be supported by either the front jacks or the tow vehicle. If true, I’m curious how they arrived at the GVWR of 600 lbs. over the combined axle rating. —Ray

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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Roger Marble
1 month ago

One other way of thinking about GAWR is to remember that the rating is for the entire axle. Each component, even the bolts holding the axle, have strength ratings. If you were to investigate the details, I bet you would find that some bolts are stronger than others. I bet that some 7,000# axles have the same bolts as a 6,000# axle. So would you like your vehicle manufacturer to start to use smaller bolts on your 6,000# axle by lowering the strengths of the bolts that are “too strong” for that axle?

Wayne C
1 month ago

The difference in GVWR between my 2011 RAM 2500 and the same year 3500 is 500lbs. The only difference between the two vehicles is a pair of overload springs on the rear axle so in this case the different GVWRs has nothing to do with brakes, transmission, or gearing. I wish the way GVWR is determined was better communicated by the manufacturer. I’ve heard some speculate some GVWRs are set to a figure that satisfies a lower registration fee rather than the vehicles capability. I wish I knew the answer!

1 month ago

The GCWR of 10,000 lbs mentioned cannot be correct since GCWR is total weight of the vehicle and whatever it is carrying AND towing. I think that was meant to be GVWR.

1 month ago
Reply to  Spike

Yes, Dave’s answer seems to reflect that.

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