What is "curb weight" versus "gross vehicle weight" and do they affect a car?


Dec 14, 2000




Now, many of you are thinking to yourself – “How does a woman know so much about this CAR stuff?”, especially something like curb weight and gross vehicle weight. Well, I’ll tell you! See my ex-husband was a weights and standards officer before he became a regular police officer, so I got really educated when he brought his work home every night. One thing I never want to be accused of is being ignorant!

Now, with that out of the way, I’ll explain to you what curb weight is and gross vehicle weight in an attempt to try to explain to you how this would affect your vehicle purchase.

Curb Weight is the actual weight of the truck without any passengers or cargo in it. It’s the base weight that is used in subtraction to calculate the total weight of the vehicle with passengers and cargo.

Gross Vehicle Weight is the total weight of the loaded vehicle. This includes the vehicle itself and the cargo that is loaded within that vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings are the ratings that are calculated by the manufacturers as to be the amount of weight that the vehicle will be when the vehicle itself is weighed filled with gasoline and loaded according to manufacturer’s specifications.

When a weights and standards officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a truck or other vehicle is exceeding the gross vehicle weight ratings for that vehicle, he will stop the vehicle and weigh it using portable scales which are underneath each axle. Then there will be a simple math calculation to determine whether or not the vehicle exceeds the gross vehicle weight rating specified by the manufacturer and by law. If there is a violation, there will be a ticket issued.

Naturally since this was many years ago when I first learned about these things, I did some research to determine if there was any other additional laws in place which have changed since my ex-husband was a weights and standards policeman.

I’ve found that there were major changes to the Motor Vehicle Act which affects vehicles which were manufactured before January 1, 2001 who have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 5500 kilograms. It appears that there’s going to be a more serious crackdown of violators of the law for vehicles that are in violation of the law and more serious restrictions for vehicles manufactured after January 2001.

However, in lieu of a ticket, officers will be issuing notices to vehicles manufactured before January 2001, if the officer feels that the vehicle exceeds the recommendations. The owner will have 30 days to be in compliance with the regulations or have additional possibly prosecution.

All of this means really this in plain English. If you’re going to use your vehicle to do hauling, then the government wants you to make sure that you use a vehicle that complies with the manufacturer’s recommendations. They’re doing this in order to crack down on unsafe vehicles on the road that may cause accidents due to overloading.

As long the consumer is aware of the ratings of their vehicles and loads them properly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations then there should be no problem with purchasing a vehicle regardless of whether or not it was manufactured before or after 2001. Therefore, I see that the concern about curb weight and gross vehicle weight only has merit when you’re referring to trucks that will be used for hauling cargo rather than passenger cars.


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