What is Gross Combined Weight Rating

Fleet-related weight metrics are at the heart of running a safe and efficient fleet operation, no matter how big your fleet is.

Among other essential weight metrics, Gross Combined Weight Rating stands out in terms of importance.

Often confused with Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, Gross Combined Weight Rating of GCWR is fundamental to understand when it comes to safety.

In the following sections, we dive deep into this topic.

What is Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)

The Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating represents the maximum amount of weight of a vehicle together with its attached trailer, any passengers, and cargo.

In other words, it’s the maximum weight that a towing vehicle can be when fully loaded and the weight of its fully loaded trailer. Anything beyond this weight is considered unsafe for your truck or SUV as it can expose the driver, passengers, and others on the road to risks.


In fleet management, Gross Combined Weight Rating and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) are two weight metrics that are often confused.

However, they’re both critical concepts to understand.

GVWR refers to the maximum weight a vehicle can carry, including its payload, passengers, fuel, and equipment. It’s specific to individual vehicles and helps determine their load capacity without overloading them.

On the other hand, GCWR represents the total permissible weight of a vehicle and any trailers it’s towing. This includes the combined weight of the towing vehicle, trailer, payloads, passengers, fuel, and equipment. GCWR is crucial when vehicles are towing trailers, as it ensures that both the towing vehicle and the trailer stay within safe weight limits.

The main difference between GVWR and GCWR lies in their scope.

GVWR applies only to the individual vehicle, while GCWR considers the combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer. Exceeding GVWR affects the vehicle’s handling and performance while surpassing GCWR can strain the towing vehicle’s components and compromise safety.

GCWR vs. Payload

Another metric that’s frequently used interchangeably with GCWR is Payload.

However, they represent two fundamentally different things

Payload specifically refers to the maximum weight of cargo and passengers that a vehicle can carry within its designated cargo area or bed. It excludes the weight of the vehicle itself and any trailers being towed.

Payload capacity is determined by factors such as the vehicle’s design, suspension, tires, and structural integrity.

It’s essential for fleet managers to consider payload capacity when loading vehicles to ensure that they do not exceed their weight limits, which could lead to safety hazards, damage to the vehicle, and potential regulatory violations.

How do you calculate Gross Combined Weight Rating

If you’re wondering how to find Gross Combined Weight Rating, we’re here to help.

To calculate the Gross Combined Weight Rating, you’ll need to understand the maximum allowable weight for both the towing vehicle and any trailers it’s towing.

The GCWR is typically provided by the vehicle manufacturer and can be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or specifications.

To calculate GCWR, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the GVWR of the towing vehicle – You can find the GVWR on a label inside the driver’s side door frame or in the owner’s manual.
  2. Determine the Gross Trailer Weight or Gross Trailer Weight Rating of the trailer – GTW or GTWR refers to the maximum allowable weight of the trailer when fully loaded with cargo, including any additional equipment or accessories. This information is typically provided by the trailer manufacturer and can be found on a label or in the trailer’s documentation.
  3. Add the GVWR of the towing vehicle to the GTW or GTWR of the trailer – This sum represents the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). It indicates the maximum total weight that the towing vehicle and trailer combination can safely handle.


For example, if the towing vehicle has a GVWR of 7,000 pounds and the trailer has a GTWR of 5,000 pounds, the GCWR would be 7,000 + 5,000 = 12,000 pounds.

It’s crucial to ensure that the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer does not exceed the GCWR to maintain safe towing conditions and compliance with regulations.

Exceeding the GCWR can strain the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and other components, leading to safety hazards and potential damage.

Factors affecting GCWR

Several factors can influence the GCWR of a towing vehicle and trailer combination.

These factors include:

  • Towing vehicle specifications – The towing vehicle’s design, including its engine power, transmission type, suspension system, braking capacity, and frame strength, directly affects its GCWR. Vehicles with higher towing capacities typically have higher GCWRs.
  • Trailer specifications – The weight, dimensions, and design of the trailer play a significant role in determining the GCWR. Factors such as the trailer’s Gross Trailer Weight Rating, axle configuration, braking system, and tongue weight contribute to its impact on the GCWR.
  • Payload distribution – How cargo is distributed within the towing vehicle and trailer affects the overall weight distribution and GCWR. Properly distributing weight helps maintain stability and control while towing and ensures that the combined weight remains within safe limits.
  • Hitch type and configuration – The type of hitch used and its compatibility with both the towing vehicle and trailer influence the GCWR. Different hitch types have varying weight capacities and configurations that can affect towing performance and safety.
  • Regulatory requirements – Local regulations and laws may impose restrictions on GCWR based on factors such as vehicle classification, licensing requirements, and road safety standards. Adhering to these regulations is essential for legal compliance and safety.


All of these factors are important to understand in order to gain a full perspective of GCWR.

Importance of GCWR

But what does gross combined weight rating mean for your fleet? Why is this metric essential?

In fleet management, the Gross Combined Weight Rating holds paramount importance for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of vehicles.

By adhering to GCWR limits, fleet managers can safeguard against potential safety hazards, prevent damage to vehicle components, maintain legal compliance, optimize fuel efficiency, and enhance the overall reputation of their fleet.

Operating within GCWR limits demonstrates a commitment to safety, reliability, and responsible fleet management practices, ultimately contributing to the success and longevity of the fleet.

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Mike Valnev