Vehicle Gross Trailer Weight Explained

Weight-related metrics are a fundamental component when shaping your fleet strategy.

When it comes to towing a trailer, one of the most important metrics to consider and acknowledge is the Gross Trailer Weight.

Understanding this metric will enable you, as a fleet manager or owner, to ensure a safe and secure journey for your vehicles and drivers.

In the next sections, we offer in-depth information on:

  • What is Gross Trailer Weight?
  • How to calculate Gross Trailer Weight
  • What does Gross Trailer Weight mean for your fleet?


Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)

Before we go into the details of how to calculate Gross Trailer Weight, it’s key to lay out the foundations.

What does Gross Trailer Weight mean in the first place?

Below, we offer a Gross Trailer Weight definition.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) or Gross Trailer Weight rating represents the weight of a fully loaded trailer. This features the trailer’s weight itself, together with any loaded weight that is loaded on or into the trailer.

For example, passengers, cargo, animals, tools, fluids, or any other assets influence the Gross Trailer Weight rating.

Every trailer has its maximum Gross Trailer Weight, and it’s essential that you don’t exceed this number after fully loading the vehicle.

How to calculate Gross Trailer Weight

But how can you calculate your GTW in order to stay in the max Gross Trailer Weight zone?

To do this, it’s fundamental to be aware of the weight of the trailer by itself. You can find this data on a sticker positioned inside the vehicle. It’s likely to be caterogized as “dry weight” or “curb weight”.

If you can’t find this sticker, you may need to weigh the trailer or contact the manufacturer.

When weighing the trailer, ensure that it’s completely disconnected from the truck. Check if the vehicle is in contact with any area on the scale to make sure you won’t be getting a skewed result.

Note that you’re after the weight of the trailer when loaded. Make sure that all of the assets that it will be loaded with are on the trailer when weighing it.

After you’ve understood your GTW, make sure that your tongue weight remains between 10% and 15% of your Gross Trailer Weight.

Importance of Gross Trailer Weight in fleet management

What does Gross Trailer Weight mean for your fleet business, and why is it important?

Here are some of the most important ways this metric influences your business:

  • Safety – Ensuring that trailers are not overloaded helps maintain compliance with safety regulations. Overloaded trailers can strain towing vehicles, leading to increased braking distances, decreased stability, and a greater risk of accidents. By managing GTW within safe limits, fleet managers can help mitigate these risks and ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and other road users.
  • Equipment maintenance – Overloading trailers can accelerate wear and tear on towing vehicles and trailers. Excessive weight puts additional stress on brakes, tires, suspension systems, and other components, leading to more frequent breakdowns and higher maintenance costs. By monitoring and managing GTW, fleet managers can help prolong the lifespan of their equipment and reduce maintenance expenses.
  • Fuel efficiency – Overloaded trailers require more power to tow, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency. By optimizing GTW, fleet managers can minimize fuel consumption and reduce operating costs. Additionally, maintaining proper weight distribution can improve aerodynamics and further enhance fuel efficiency.
  • Regulatory compliance – Many jurisdictions have regulations governing the maximum allowable GTW for trailers. Fleet managers must ensure that their trailers comply with these weight limits to avoid fines, penalties, and legal liabilities. Monitoring GTW helps fleet managers stay in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.


In other words, GTW plays a crucial role not only in your performance but also in your legal compliance as a business.


Overall, Gross Trailer Weight is an easy-to-understand and simple-to- calculate weight-related metric that can have a serious impact on your performance as a fleet manager or owner.

We hope that this article will help you become familiar with this component of fleet management and will enable you to make all the right choices throughout your fleet journey.

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Mike Valnev