Definition of gross vehicle weight

Updated March 23, 2017

Gross vehicle weight is a rating used to indicate the total weight of a vehicle. This rating is set by the vehicle manufacturer. Gross vehicle weight is determined by how much weight a vehicle can transport without causing damage to itself or the road and becoming a safety hazard. Regulations and enforcement of gross vehicle weight vary from country to country. Commercial vehicles that transport specific cargo are subject to enforcement polices.


The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum allowable total weight of a vehicle when loaded. This includes the actual vehicle as well as fuel, passengers and cargo. This is a fixed weight that is set and specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

Certification label

The vehicle's certification label will indicate the gross vehicle weight limit. This can usually be found on the frame of the vehicle inside the driver's door. Also, this information is usually listed in the owner's manual.


Gross vehicle weight rating is important to know for both the maintenance of the vehicle and safety. When this weight limit is exceeded, it can damage the drive train and suspension of the vehicle. Also, it may affect braking, maneuverability and overall operational safety. For commercial vehicles, gross vehicle weight is measured to avoid having overloaded trucks damage roadways.

Payload and gross vehicle weight

Payload is related to gross vehicle weight. Payload capacity is the weight the vehicle is able to carry but does not include the weight of the vehicle itself. Many certification labels included information on payload, which is determined by both cargo and passenger weight.


Gross vehicle weight regulations are mainly enforced for commercial vehicles that carry large or hazardous payloads. These regulations vary from country to country, but in many cases vehicles must display a Department of Transportation number, which is used when monitoring a company's safety information during audits. At this time, information of gross vehicle weight may be assessed.

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