Big Issues Caused By Overweight Commercial Vans

Commercial van weight can have significant impacts on any service truck business, especially in the United States. Heavy vans have to follow tighter regulations, undergo more inspections, and can face costly fines in some jurisdictions. Let’s break down what you need to know about weight and why extra weight on commercial vans can be a big problem.

What is GVWR?

Commercial van gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) and payloads can differ from vehicle to vehicle.  It is important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific commercial van.

According to AboutAutos.com, gross vehicle weight rating is the vehicle’s maximum safe weight that should not be exceeded.  Weight calculations include curb weight, additional equipment that’s been added, the weight of cargo and the weight of passengers.  A vehicle’s GVWR never changes.

GVWR vs. Payload

GVWR should not to be confused with payload capacity.  GVWR includes the vehicle’s unloaded curb weight, passengers’ weight and cargo weight. Payload capacity is the difference between GVWR and vehicle weight.  For example: If a vehicle’s GVWR is listed at 10,000 lb and the vehicle’s weight is 6,000 lb (empty), then its payload capacity is 4,000 lb.

Make & Model (Highest Capacity Model)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
RAM Promaster11,500 lb4,680 lb
RAM Promaster City5,395 lb1,901 lb
Ford Transit10,360 lb4,640 lb
Ford Transit Connect5,302 lb1,610 lb
MB/Freightliner Sprinter12,125 lb6,768 lb
MB Metris6,614 lb2,425 lb
Nissan NV9,900 lb3,850 lb
Nissan NV2004772 lb1,480 lb
Chevrolet Express9,600 lb3,841 lb
*Values are estimates only, based on basic trim package and referred from vehicle manufacturer websites. For accurate technical specifications, refer directly to vehicle manufacturer documentation.

FMCSA Regulations Apply Over 10,000 lb

All commercial drivers of vehicles that perform interstate work in the USA and have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lb or more are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. These regulations are enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and are outlined in Title 49, Part 300 to 399 of the Code of Federal Regulations—an exhausting 734-page document of rules that must be followed.

FMCSA has many regulations for overweight commercial vans. For example, interstate drivers must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a DOT Medical Examiner certificate
  • Obtain and display a USDOT number
  • Follow Hours of Service requirements
  • Maintain proper records
    • Pre- and post-trip inspections
    • Accident reports
    • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Receive an annual inspection
  • And more…

Individual states set their own intrastate commercial vehicle regulations, but these regulations tend to be similar to the interstate guidelines. For example, 37 states require a DOT Medical Examiner certificate, while most include reporting, inspection, accident recording, and hours of service rules.

For many operators, the easiest way to avoid the hassle and paperwork of FMCSA regulations is to ensure their vehicle has a GVWR that is consistently under 10,000 lb. While most commercial vans fall into this category, the Ford Transit, RAM Promaster, and Mercedes-Benz Freightliner Sprinter each have a GVWR of over 10,000 lbs.

Fines For Overweight Vans

Overweight vans can also result in hefty fines. According to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, fines for on-the-road weight violations range from $100 to $10,000 for first offence.  Fines double on subsequent violations within a year.  Fines and other punishments vary in severity from state-to-state, and can even include prison time.

According to Connecticut General Assembly, criminal charges may be brought against the owner or operator of an overweight vehicle if the weight of the vehicle is the proximate cause of a motor vehicle accident that results in death.

Summary of GVWR Issues

To recap the issues and most important information surrounding GVWR:

  • GVWR never changes.
  • Additional regulations apply for vans over 10,000 lb.
    • Inspections, driver requirements, record keeping, and more.
  • Monetary fines may be imposed.
  • Prison time and criminal charges are possible.
  • Business operations will likely be affected.

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of vans by purchasing low-weight vehicles and incorporating the lightest components possible.

Air Compressor Solutions for Reducing Van Weight

Service vans that require compressed air for pneumatic tools can reduce weight by using UNDERHOOD™ air compressors.  Traditional air compressors mounted in the cargo area can weigh as much as 375 lb., while the UNDERHOOD™ rotary screw air compressor weighs only 85 lbs. This system increases the available payload by up to 290 lbs.

UNDERHOOD™ is the only air compressor specifically engineered for commercial vans. These 40 CFM rotary screw compressor systems by VMAC are available for the most popular commercial van models.  For further benefits of weight savings in vans, check out VMAC’s previous article “Air power: Just why does air matter to commercial van operators”.

UNDERHOOD for vans

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