Gross vehicle weight rating
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The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross vehicle mass (GVM) is the maximum operating weight/mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer including the vehicle's chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, accessories, driver, passengers and cargo but excluding that of any trailers. The term is used for motor vehicles and trains.
The weight of a vehicle is influenced by passengers, cargo, even fuel level, so a number of terms are used to express the weight of a vehicle in a designated state. Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) refers to the total mass of a vehicle, including all trailers. GVWR and GCWR both describe a vehicle that is in operation and are used to specify weight limitations and restrictions. Curb weight describes a vehicle which is "parked at the curb" and excludes the weight of any occupants or cargo. Dry weight further excludes the weight of all consumables, such as fuel and oils. Gross trailer weight rating specifies the maximum weight of a trailer and the gross axle weight rating specifies the maximum weight on any particular axle.
A car driver licence is limited to driving vehicles up to a maximum GVM of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb). Beyond this, a different class of licence is required. A vehicle with a GVM up to 4,500 kg is termed a light vehicle, while those over 4,500 kg are termed heavy vehicles.
Many models of small truck are manufactured to have a GVM rating of 5,000 to 7,000 kg (11,023 to 15,432 lb) but sold with the option of a GVM of just under 4,500 kg so that they can be driven on a car licence. Often, the only difference between the models is where the exhaust exits, with diesel engined heavy rated vehicles having a vertical exhaust stack above the cabin and the light rated vehicles having the exhaust exit under the side or rear like a car.
Many minor roads, including some in rural areas and some in suburban areas, have GVM restrictions such as 5,000 kg or 8,000 kg. These restrictions may be applied for technical reasons such as load limited bridges, or as a method of reducing the number of heavy vehicles on local roads.
A standard car driving licence issued by an EU country (i.e. class B) limits the licence-holder to driving vehicles with a "maximum authorised mass" (i.e. GVWR) of 3,500 kg (7,700 lb). This includes holders of UK class B driving licences who passed their driving tests on or after 1 January 1997.
A UK driving licence holder who passed his or her class B driving test in or before 1996 is limited to driving vehicles with a GVWR of 7,500 kg (16,500 lb) or less, including minibuses not used for hire or reward.
Anyone looking to drive a heavy goods vehicle (i.e. any vehicle other than those used for passenger transport) with a GVWR of over 7,500 kg (16,500 lb) must obtain a class C licence. Anyone looking to drive any vehicle with a GVWR of up to 3,500–7,500 kg (7,700–16,500 lb) must obtain a class C1 licence. Anyone with a class C licence can drive class C1 vehicles.
In the United States, two important GVWR limitations are 6,000 and 8,500 pounds [lb] (2,722 and 3,856 kg). Vehicles over 6,000 lb are restricted from some city roadways (though there is some dispute about whether this restriction is for actual curb weight or GVWR). Commercial vehicles over the 8,500 lb threshold are required to have insurance under Section 387.303 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.
Vehicles or combinations with a GVWR over 26,000 lb (11,793 kg) generally require a Commercial Driver License (CDL) or a Non-Commercial Class "A" or "B" license. A CDL is also required for certain vehicles under 26,000 lb GVWR, such as buses and for-hire passenger vehicles of 16 or more passengers, all vehicles transporting placarded hazardous materials or wastes regardless of weight or load class, and any vehicle towing a trailer with a Gross Trailer Weight over 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) where the combination weight is greater than 26,000lbs.
On vehicles designed for the North American market, the GVWR can be found alongside other vehicle technical specifications on the Vehicle ID Plate that is usually located on the interior of the B-pillar according to U.S. or Canadian Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). (inside driver door near door latch).
Most U.S. and Australian commercial trucks are required by licensing authorities to have this information printed on the outside of the vehicle, and for it to be clearly visible from a specified distance.
- "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Section 571.3 Definitions". USA. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "Towing a Trailer - Being Equipped for Safety". USA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- For the UK terms relating to the weight of vehicles, see https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-weights-explained.
- "Driving licence categories". UK: GOV.UK. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Code of Federal Regulations – Title 49 – Transportation – Section 567.4 - Requirements for manufacturers of motor vehicles". USA. 2004-10-01. Retrieved 2013-10-17.