Payload capacity explained
A truck, being a heavy-duty vehicle, can carry a lot of weight in the cabin, as well as the ability to tow more weight behind it. A payload capacity of a vehicle is usually displayed inside the driver’s side doorjamb, listed also on the tire placard that indicates the recommended inflation pressure. Payload capacity should not be confused with towing capacity.
Payload capacity refers “to the gross load weight a truck is capable of safely sustaining and operating within”. It’s the combined weight of cargo and occupants that the vehicle is carrying. Simply put, it’s the carrying capacity of a vehicle be it a truck, a bus or a car. Payload varies depending on how each model is designed. A four-wheel drive or the third row of seats can reduce the payload of a vehicle.
Determining payload and towing capacity
Automakers calculate payload by testing a vehicle’s structural integrity with the suspension parts, body frame, and bed. Using the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), a vehicle’s maximum weight is determined to allow safe operation without damaging its components. The GVWR shall be the maximum weight allowable for a truck to carry, while the gross vehicle weight (GVW) is the total weight of the truck (curb weight) and payload. Carmakers calculate the payload of any vehicle by taking the GVWR and subtracting the vehicle’s curb weight.
Car payload is basically not thoughtful, given its medium-sized, and SUVs coming in larger sizes. Most drivers aren’t utterly troubled about carrying capacity as someone who drives a truck. In cars, passengers count as payload, and most automakers factor in 150 lbs. (68 Kilograms) per seating position, should there be a seating space in the car would mean less than 150 lbs. of payload limits. So, as long as everyone has boarded the vehicle, with their cargo in the trunk, the driver has settled for the drive. It has been said, “anything very heavy enough to exceed payload limits and considered dangerous probably won’t fit in a car,” in the first place. Weight is everything.
An SUV can carry more weight than a car can. When it comes to payload, it has a lot of carrying capacity just like a small truck, and has seating capacity as well, plus more convenient to ride than a car in most cases. Many SUVs have foldable back seats to carry heavy storage, but what they can’t fit in the extra space would mean overloading. For safety, cars and SUVs should not overload because the effects on the structural integrity due to damages are just the same as the effects on trucks.
What Happens if you Exceed Payload?
Payload is an important figure for truck owners because it means the difference between carrying heavy weight and keeping the good condition of the truck. If you’re already loaded to the maximum, but a friend weighing 200 lbs. also needs a hitch, you need to drop an equal weight of cargo to be safe in the travel; otherwise, you take all the risks.
Think cleverly, the payload is not the amount of weight you can safely place in the vehicle. If you load your cabin or the bed with the weight that corresponds to its capacity, you overloaded the capacity. Overloading can result in premature breakdown of your suspension, body frame, and drivetrain due to excessive weight. Also, the extra weight puts more strain on the engine, transmission, and brakes and will lead to repair problems.
Other risks include sudden bursts of tires due to much-added weight; with overload, you put additional pressure on the shocks and suspension system. Overloading the capacity will increase braking distances and increase wear on brake pads. Your truck can stall anytime and the bumps on the road will become enhanced to damage the structure.
Keeping the right information and following the payload and towing requirements are important for safety considerations, whether in your car, SUV, or truck. Knowing the ideal weight will help you determine how much you can carry in the vehicle. Expert opinions will say that towing and payload ratings are never an exact science; automakers’ estimates may be more or less not accurate at all. For safety, just carry or tow a reasonable weight to avoid premature damage and vehicle failure.
Can payload and towing capacity be increased?
It’s but a common question whether you can increase your vehicle’s payload or towing rating. You can’t increase payload rating but you can make your vehicle weigh less, same as with towing capacity, you need modifications to increase its pulling force such as upgrading the hitch and brakes, replacing the axles, and adding a bigger radiator and tires. But this move is expensive.
For payload, any accessory added such as winch, hitch, and/or bumper guards will decrease payload. Removing them will take off weight and help increase the carrying capacity. The payload capacity of any vehicle has been standardized by auto manufacturers based on engineering and field tests conducted before any power unit is made available in the market.
Should you desire to increase payload, the way to do it is simply to detach other items from the vehicle to give you additional capacity. In truth, you can’t alter what the makers have set. Should you also want to increase your towing capacity, make modifications to the transmission and engine to improve performance but never rely upon them as they can’t guarantee miracles to happen?
For most drivers, however, it’s worth giving up the towing capacity to maximize the payload, also for greater traction. It’s important to be abreast of the carrying amount of your vehicle so as not to compensate for road safety. Common sense will dictate not to overload your wheels, be mindful of every weight you put inside when hauling and when you have heavy loads spread them evenly across the car’s bed, and never fill it up without properly securing straps.
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