What is GVWR for Travel Trailers?


If you have been reading through a bunch of websites as you are looking at a travel trailer to buy, you might have been confused by all the times you’ve seen GVWR. Don’t worry, we have all been there.

So what is GVWR for travel trailers? GVWR means Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the absolute maximum amount of weight that the trailer can bear when it is fully loaded. This includes all cargo, fluids, and passengers, plus the original weight of the trailer. This weight rating should not be exceeded.

GVWR is very important to know when it comes to purchasing a travel trailer. You want to make sure it can carry everything, and you want to use the GVWR weight when assessing if your vehicle has enough towing capacity for your trailer and needs.

GVWR for Travel Trailers

When you take a look at any travel trailer specs, you should have a big list of numbers. Next to one of them, the term GVWR is there. This term is widely known in the RV world, but it is hard to guess what it means unless you are told directly.

GVWR refers to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. What that really means when you see those initials is: this is the absolute most weight that this trailer can handle when everything is loaded on.

Sometimes this is called maximum loaded trailer weight, but it is the same thing as GVWR.

This includes all the water you need for the trip, all the passengers, all the toys, all cargo, and optional equipment. Any more weight than what is given can be detrimental to the trailer, or to the vehicle that is pulling the trailer.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is a little different from GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).

GVWR is a little different from GVW which is Gross Vehicle Weight. GVW refers to the actual weight of the travel trailer fully loaded with gear that is measured by a scale. It’s not the number you should never pass, but the real weight of the trailer with everything loaded on.

Sometimes with trailers, GVW is also called GTW or Gross Trailer Weight. Don’t worry, it’s the same thing.

For example, there could be a travel trailer with a dry weight of 6,500 lbs. This weight is just the weight of the trailer, with nothing added. No water, no cargo, nothing.

The GVWR might be listed at 8,250 lbs. This means that you cannot add more than 1,750lbs to your trailer to obey the rules of the manufacturer and to be safe.

Why GVWR is Important for Safety

The GVWR is set by the manufacturer for a reason, and that is for safety. They calculate the max weight for each trailer specifically. So, it is pretty wise to follow the GVWR.

Exceeding the weight given can have several effects and risks. They are:

  • Brakes not adequate to stop or slow down the vehicle towing the trailer
  • Tires being more susceptible to blowouts
  • The suspension can break under the strain
  • Damage the vehicle being towed (too much weight on the hitch)
  • Harder to steer, tip over may happen.
  • Traction on front tires can be limited
  • Engine can overheat
  • Shortens life of transmission on the truck

GVWR is put in place for a reason. It’s not lowballed to get you to buy a bigger trailer, or to make you mad. Really, going over the weight capacity is very dangerous for passengers and the other people on the road with you.

Another reason to follow the GVWR given on your travel trailer is so that your towing vehicle and trailer lasts as long as possible.

Pushing the limits often is going to dramatically decrease the longevity of both. The more weight means that harder your vehicle is going to have to work. The trailer will put force on tires and the suspension system.

Why GVWR is Important When Buying a Travel Trailer

GVWR is definitely something that you are going to want to pay attention to when you are picking out a trailer. You might be thinking about the towing capacity of your truck.

Don’t make the mistake of looking for an 8,000 lbs trailer when you have a truck that can only tow 8,000lbs. You’ll want to look at the GVWR or GVW when you are picking out a trailer, and make sure that number doesn’t exceed 8,000 lbs.

GVWR refers to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. What that really means when you see those initials is: this is the absolute most weight that this trailer can handle when everything is loaded on.

This is just an example, but this mistake is common for beginners, and it can be costly.

If you go with the first option, you will be putting too much weight on your truck. As you saw above, that is really not good.

The good thing is that it is required by law to have the GVWR listed so you don’t make this mistake.

If you are going to invest in a trailer, you want to make sure you can use it frequently without doing damage to it or your truck, or both.

There are a lot of smaller travel trailers out there that can be pulled by SUVs or other cars. Everything I’ve said applies to these as well. Make sure you check your towing capacity before you decide on a trailer, or plan on buying a new vehicle at the same time.

To check the average towing capacity of your vehicle you can click here.

Figure Out How to Load Your Travel Trailer Under GVWR

GVWR is listed on each trailer. You can find this by the VIN number or on the owner’s manual.

Once you are sure of the weight that you cannot surpass, figure out how much you can take with you. The amount of weight you can have can be calculated by taking the GVWR and subtracting the dry weight of the trailer.

Sometimes this is listed and you don’t have to do any math.

One of the first things that you need to add up when loading your travel trailer is the weight of the water. Water weighs a little over 8 lbs per gallon. If you know how much your tank holds, then multiply it by 8.3 to get how much weight that is.

For larger travel trailers, this will be about 300 – 500 lbs of your weight. This is a lot, but water is the biggest necessity when you are traveling and camping.

Food and clothing also weigh more than you’d think. Pack a box or two, and weigh it on a scale. Don’t forget to factor in the weight of all the passengers.

Be mindful of the overall weight being loaded in your trailer, including the weight of passengers.

Other things that are important to calculate are dishes, bedding, electronics, and everyday cargo. Everything really adds up, and everyday things weigh more than you think.

Toy haulers are designed for a lot of weight, but make sure you aren’t adding too many bikes, ATV’s, or other toys.

When you are loading up your travel trailer, basically the most important part is to load essentials.

If you are worried you are exceeding the GVWR, you can go to weigh station. If you aren’t packing in excess, you should be fine, because trailers are designed to hold a lot. If your trailer has a ton of storage, it’s for a reason.

Just be mindful.

Before you invest in a trailer, check the GVWR and make sure you can live within its limits. This will help keep everyone safe and let your travel trailer live the long life that it is meant to.

Related Questions:

Is GVWR the same as towing capacity? GVWR refers to how much a trailer can weigh, at max, when fully loaded up with everything, including cargo and fluids. Towing capacity deals more with the vehicle doing the towing. Towing capacity is the maximum weight that a vehicle is able to tow.

What is dry weight on a travel trailer? Dry weight is the weight of the trailer without anything added to it. The weight is what a new trailer weighs before being used. By using the dry weight and GVWR, one can calculate how much payload or cargo can be loaded onto the trailer.

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