Top 3 Challenges Caused By Over-Weight Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks

Gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) and payloads can differ from vehicle to vehicle and it’s important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific heavy duty pickup truck. Before we get into the details on why it’s important to pay attention to vehicle weight ratings, let’s go over some important concepts: GVWR and Payload.

What is GVWR?

GVWR is the vehicle’s total maximum operating weight, including the vehicle’s body, chassis, engine, fluids, equipment, accessories, cargo and passengers, excluding the weight of any trailers. A vehicle’s GVWR never changes.

What is Payload?

Payload capacity is how much weight a vehicle can carry. It is calculated by taking the vehicle’s GVWR and subtracting the vehicle’s curb weight. For example, if a vehicle’s GVWR is listed at 10,000 lb, and the vehicle’s weight is 7,500 lb, then the vehicle’s payload capacity is 2,500 lb. This means the vehicle can take 2,500 lb of weight in the way of equipment, accessories, cargo, and passengers.

What’s Wrong With Extra Weight On Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks?

The National Truck and Equipment Association (NTEA) published a report in April 2019, Understanding the Consequences of Driving Overloaded Vehicles, which outlines the risks, costs and safety issues associated with overloaded vehicles and the consequences that can affect drivers and business owners.

Three top issues included maintenance, drivability, and risk and liability. Let’s dive deeper into each of these concerns:

1. Maintenance

As vehicles become heavier, and overweight, its components and equipment become more stressed, causing premature wear and tear. With increased wear and tear comes increased maintenance costs and additional downtime due to failing and broken components and equipment.

2. Drivability

The drivability of a vehicle is impacted when it is overweight. Stopping, steering, maneuvering, and speed control can all be affected. Firstly, an overweight vehicle will take more distance to come to a halt, and drivers can easily misjudge the distance required to come to a safe stop. Secondly, a vehicle’s steering is also impacted, making it more challenging to safely maneuver the vehicle. Lastly, an overweight vehicle can easily pick up speed on an incline, and this excess speed can be difficult to control, which leads back to decreased maneuverability and difficulties stopping in time.

3. Risk & Liability

There are many risks surrounding operating heavy and overweight vehicles, and operators and business owners need to consider each scenario carefully.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all commercial drivers of vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 lb are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s (ME) Certificate. Failing to have the proper certification and driver’s license requirements can put a driver’s ability to legally drive at risk. Driving an overweight vehicle can also lead to impoundment, which is a great inconvenience and cost for business owners.

The monetary consequences of driving an overweight vehicle can be costly, with state laws varying. For example, according to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, fines for on-the-road weight violations range from $100 to $10,000 for first time offenders. Fines double on subsequent violations within a year.

And in the worst-case scenario where there’s an accident involving a vehicle found to be overweight that results in a fatality, some states can find the driver to be criminally responsible and charged with manslaughter, resulting in jailtime.

To summarize the issues surrounding GVWR, and the potential consequences of operating overweight vehicles:

  1. Driver’s license requirements may be at risk
  2. Business operations may be affected
  3. Monetary fines may be imposed
  4. Criminal charges can be applied
  5. Prison time can be sentenced

2019 Heavy Duty Pickup Truck GVWR Comparison Chart

We’ve put together a handy chart showing the GVWR and payload capacity of some of the most popular 2019 heavy duty pickup trucks. This chart can be use as a starting point for planning out new truck builds, or for double-checking weights to ensure your truck isn’t dangerously overweight.

Make & Model (Highest Capacity Model)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
Ford F250 Super Duty10,000 lb (4,536 kg)4,168 lb (1,891 kg)
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD9,900 lb (4,491 kg)3,402 lg (1,543 kg)
GMC Sierra 2500HD10,000 lb (4,536 kg)3,276 lb (1,486 kg)
RAM 250010,000 lb (4,536 kg)4,050 lb (8,929 kg)
Nissan Titan XD8,949 lb (4059 kg)2,425 lb (1,100 kg)
*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.

Sourcing Lightweight Equipment For Your Service Truck

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of vehicles by incorporating the lightest components possible. Choosing truck builders with experience lightweighting, using aluminum bodies, and sourcing equipment that saves hundreds of pounds, for example, can take a lot of the stress out of building a new, lightweight service vehicle.

VMAC air compressors and multi-power systems are known in the industry for being lightweight. The UNDERHOOD™ 150 helped Suez North America go from a 1,000 lb diesel drive air compressor, to a 200 lb UNDERHOOD™ air compressor. VMAC’s DTM70-H underdeck PTO drive air compressor saved Fanelli Equipment Repair 500 lb, even allowing owner-operator Phil Fanelli to downsize from a Peterbilt truck with 14-ft service body to a Ford F-550.

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