What is Gross Vehicle Weight and Why Is It Important

January 27, 2012

The gross vehicle weight of any car is an important number to keep in mind at all times. More than anything else, this net weight value is important for safety reasons for your vehicle. If you exceed the gross vehicle weight, the car will begin to behave erratically; you may lose control over the vehicle or find that it's impossible to drive. The car may also bottom out and hit the ground as you're driving, which can cause damage to the undercarriage and to other important parts of the vehicle. Read on for an explanation of what gross vehicle weight is and how this value is important for your vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Weight Vs. Curb Weight

The curb weight of a car (also known as the tare weight) is the weight of the vehicle at the time that it's manufactured. This includes all of the basic add-ons and amenities of the car as well as all of the internal systems. It does not, however, contain the added weight of people, cargo and other items that you might transport in the car. The gross vehicle weight is a weight conversion from the curb weight to include all of that additional baggage as well.

Why Gross Vehicle Weight Matters

Many people assume that gross vehicle weight only matters for those driving large trucks and other vehicles that will haul massive amounts of weight. While it's important for truck drivers to keep the gross vehicle weight limits of their vehicles in mind when planning to cross a bridge or drive over certain surfaces, it's equally important for your safety and the longevity of your car to keep the gross vehicle weight of your smaller vehicle in mind at all times as well.

First, the gross vehicle weight of a vehicle is a number that affects how the vehicle performs. The heavier your car is, the slower the vehicle will move and the lower to the ground it will be. More luggage, cargo and people in the vehicle also means that the engine and other systems have to work harder to operate as normal. If you overload the car by extending beyond the maximum gross vehicle weight, you may find that your car does  not operate properly. You can cause permanent damage to the engine, the shocks, the brakes and many other parts of the car as well. Worse yet, you can be in a greater risk of getting in an accident if you exceed the maximum gross vehicle weight.

To measure the gross vehicle weight of your car, you can take it to a weigh station. These stations are oftentimes located on the sides of highways or in other areas around major cities. The manufacturer can provide you with more information about the maximum gross vehicle weight that is allowable for safe driving. If you have any other questions, speak with a mechanic or another professional.