Top Issues Caused By Overweight Commercial Vans & Service 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 of 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. It is important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific commercial van or truck. According to AboutAutos.com, gross vehicle weight rating is the vehicle’s maximum safe weight that should not be exceeded. 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 carry 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 Equipment Association (NTEA) published a report, 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, their 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 a decline, 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:

  • Driver’s license requirements may be at risk
  • Business operations may be affected
  • Monetary fines may be imposed
  • Criminal charges can be applied
  • Prison time can be sentenced

2022 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 2022 heavy duty pickup trucks. This chart can be used as a starting point for planning out equipment and accessories for pickup trucks, or for double-checking weights to ensure your truck isn’t dangerously overweight.

Make/Model (Crew Cab, Standard Bed)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
Ford Super Duty F-250 XL10,600 lb (4,808 kg)3,650 lb (1,655 kg)
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD11,150 lb (5,058 kg)4,517 lb (2,049 kg)
GMC Sierra 2500HD10,800 lb (4,899 kg)4,448 lbs (2,018 kg)
RAM 2500 Tradesman10,000 lb (4,535 kg)4,010 lb (1,819 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.

2022 Commercial Vans GVWR Comparison Chart

Make & Model (Low/Standard Roof, Regular Length)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
RAM ProMaster 35009,350 lb (4,241 kg)4,680 lb (2,123 kg)
RAM ProMaster 25008,900 lb (4,036 kg)4,260 lb (3,084 kg)
Ford Transit 3509,500 lb (4,309 kg)4,515 lb (2,048 kg)
Ford Transit 1508,670 lb (3,933 kg)3,685 lb (1671 kg)
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 450012,125 (5,500 kg)6,768 lb (3,070 kg)
Chevrolet Express9,900 lb (4,491 kg)4,280 lb (1,941 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.

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, Chapter III, Parts 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 vehicles. 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 majority of heavy-duty pickup trucks do not.

Summary of GVWR Issues

To recap the issues and most important information surrounding GVWR:

  • GVWR never changes.
  • Additional regulations apply for commercial 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.

Sourcing Lightweight Equipment For Your Service Vehicles

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of service vehicles by incorporating the lightest components possible. Choosing truck upfitters with experience light-weighting 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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Best Service Truck Air Compressors for 2022

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