Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) Explained

One of the most important things to remember as a fleet manager or owner is that it’s key to never exceed a vehicle’s Gross Axle Weight Rating.

Regardless of whether your fleet consists of trucks or other types of vehicles, the gross axle weight rating is a crucial weight metric to consider.

But to explain why, we’ll need to explore the meaning of Gross Axle Weight Rating.

In the following sections, we offer insights into:

  • A definition of Gross Axle Weight Rating
  • How to calculate Gross Axle Weight Rating
  • Why is Gross Axle Weight Rating important for your fleet


Here’s all you need to know on the topic.

What Does Gross Axle Weight Rating Mean?

For starters, what is the definition of Gross Axle Weight Rating?

This popularly overlooked metric represents the maximum allowable weight that can be positioned on a single axle, according to the vehicle’s manufacturer.

In other words, the Gross Axle Weight Rating, or GAWR, is your vehicle’s axle weight limit.

It’s important to note that there is a separate front Gross Axle Weight Rating and rear Gross Axle Weight Rating, as each rate is strictly individual. This separation ensures that each axle can safely bear its portion of the vehicle’s load.

Is the Gross Axle Weight Rating the same as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating?

GAWR is closely related to GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. These two weight metrics are both equally important and used to determine the safe limits of vehicles.

However, they represent different types of weight distribution.

As noted above, the Gross Axle Weight Rating is the maximum weight that each vehicle axle is designed to support. It includes the weight of the vehicle itself, plus passengers, cargo, and any additional weight placed directly on that axle.

On the other hand, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum total weight that a vehicle is designed to carry, including its own weight, passengers, cargo, fluids, and any towing capacity.

How to Calculate Gross Axle Weight Rating

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what is the definition of Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), it’s time to talk about calculation.

It’s important to acknowledge that the Gross Axle Weight Rating doesn’t represent the weight each axle is carrying at a certain point in time. This is the Gross Axle Weight. The GAWR is simply a number provided by the manufacturer.

To establish this weight metric for your fleet vehicles, you can:

  • Identify the vehicle’s specifications – Locate the manufacturer’s specifications for the vehicle, including the model, make, year, and axle configuration. This information can usually be found in the owner’s manual or by contacting the manufacturer directly. The GAWR data is typically located on a label or placard affixed to the vehicle (usually on the driver’s side door jamb).
  • Identify the axle configuration – Determine the number of axles on the vehicle and whether it has a single rear axle (SRW) or dual rear axle (DRW). Each axle may have a different GAWR, so it’s important to know the configuration.
  • Add up the individual axle ratings – If the vehicle has multiple axles, add up the individual GAWR values for each axle to determine the total GAWR for the vehicle. For example, if the front axle has a GAWR of 3,500 pounds and the rear axle has a GAWR of 4,000 pounds, the total GAWR for the vehicle would be 7,500 pounds.


Use these calculation tips to establish the accurate GAWR of your vehicles.

The Importance of Gross Axle Weight Rating in Fleet Management

Just like other weight-related metrics, the Gross Axle Weight Rating holds significant importance when it comes to fleet management and fleet maintenance.

Overloading a vehicle beyond its GAWR creates risks of premature wear and failure of critical components. These include the vehicle’s tires, suspension system, and brakes. Fleet managers who organize vehicle schedules and deliveries based on GAWR limits can minimize the chances of accidents resulting from mechanical failures.

Naturally, this means that adhering to GAWR limits helps fleet managers reduce maintenance costs and vehicle downtime. They can also prolong the lifespan of fleet vehicles.

In addition, overloaded vehicles consume more fuel to achieve the desired performance. In that sense, optimizing vehicle loads can help you reduce fuel costs.

In summary, Gross Axle Weight Rating is important for your fleet because it:

  • Guarantees safety compliance
  • Optimizes vehicle maintenance
  • Minimizes downtime
  • Helps fleet managers achieve fuel efficiency


Acknowledging the importance of GAWR can help you factor this weight metric into your practices, ensuring a positive impact on the overall performance of your fleet.

Final thoughts

Although widely underrated and often neglected, Gross Axle Weight Rating is a key weight metric that influences your fleet operations and performance.

We hope that this article will help you understand GAWR in detail and implement the provided information to expand the lifespan of your vehicles, avoid downtime, and enhance your fleet.

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Mike Valnev