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How to calculate gross vehicle weight

Updated February 21, 2017

The gross vehicle weight, sometimes abbreviated as the GVW, is the total weight of your vehicle. This includes the weight of the car itself along with everything you load into it: passengers, cargo, suitcases or whatever else you are bringing on your trip. It is important to know the GVW, because if you exceed the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), of your car, it can be detrimental to the safe operation of the vehicle.

Check the owner's manual to find the weight of your car when it is sitting empty--known as the curb weight. This is the weight of the car no passengers or objects inside.

Weigh the cargo you intend to load into the car, piece by piece.

Add the weight of all the cargo.

Add up the weight of all the passengers and the driver.

Add the total weights of the car (curb weight), cargo and passengers together to get the gross vehicle weight.

Check your owner's manual to make sure you have not gone over the GVWR for the car. If so, unload some of the cargo.

Things You'll Need

  • Owner's manual or curb weight of car
  • Scale
  • Calculator
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About the Author

Bill Brown has been a freelance writer for more than 14 years. Focusing on trade journals covering construction and home topics, his work appears in online and print publications. Brown holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from St. John's University and is currently based in Houston.