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The Basis of Trailer Ratings

The Basis of Trailer Ratings

How Ratings Impact Everything from Trailer Lifespan to Commercial Tires

Every trucking operator knows just how important it is to meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, including requirements for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Too much weight could mean your trailer receives a ticket for creating an unsafe driving environment for other drivers on the road. All trailers have a maximum amount of weight they can physically haul, and that amount may be significantly different from the amount they can legally haul without facing repercussions if pulled over. 

How to Calculate Weight Rating for Your Trailer

It is important to understand trailer ratings and ensure you have suitable commercial tires for your trailer. Consider the following:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight: The GVW is the fully loaded weight of the towing vehicle. It includes all cargo, people on board, and fluids. Driving onto a scale determines what this weight is for your trailer. It is also possible to estimate it by taking the vehicle’s weight from the operator’s manual and taking into account additional weight such as fluids, cargo, and people.
  • Gross Trailer Weight: The GTW is similar to the GVW, but applies to a trailer’s fully loaded weight when it is connected to the vehicle itself. 
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio: The GVWR is the upper limit. Your GVW and GTW weights should not exceed this amount. If the vehicle is overloaded beyond this point, it can create significant stress on the vehicle and it may be difficult to handle. 
  • Payload Weight: This is the weight specific to the load size being hauled on the trailer. It’s critical to know this to ensure that the vehicle is not overloaded. 
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating: The GAWR is also important – it is the total amount of weight that the vehicle can handle per trailer axle. This figure is determined by the vehicle manufacturer, and you will find it in your manual. 
  • Maximum Payload Capacity: This figure is the total amount of weight you can add to the trailer. As a rule of thumb, it is best to avoid loading over 85% of this capacity as it can help to improve the overall lifespan of your trailer and the commercial tires installed on it. 
  • Overall Weight Distribution: While knowing the weight is important, it’s also essential to understand where that weight is positioned in the vehicle. The trailer should be loaded to balance the weight across the trailer to minimize wear and tear of the vehicle as well as to minimize accidents. 

Every vehicle has a limit to the amount of weight it can tow. This is best communicated by the manufacturer. Many factors contribute to maintaining proper safety on the roadways, including knowing these weight limitations and ensuring that they are calculated for every load before a truck and trailer leave the property. 

While safety is of the utmost importance, knowing following these weight parameters and figures also helps ensure that product gets where it needs to go without overstressing the vehicle and leading to breakdowns, as well as early wear and tear.

Keep Your Trailer Operating at Its Best

STTC offers 24/7 emergency road service to help you get back on your route when you do have a failure. Count on us to help you keep the best commercial tires on your vehicle at all times. Call us now at 610-954-8473 or contact us online to get the help you need.


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