What is a curb weight? Curb weight is one of those numbers that is always included in a vehicle’s specifications but may not capture your attention unless you are towing a car. And while an automobile’s weight has much to do with its fuel economy, curb weight isn’t included on new-car window stickers, aka Monroney labels.
Also listed on a vehicle’s spec sheet is the car’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Unlike the curb weight, you can find your car’s GVWR on the compliance label affixed to the driver’s door jamb.
Yet another spec-sheet measurement is the vehicle’s payload or passenger/cargo capacity. It’s the weight of passengers and stuff your car can transport in a single load.
What Is a Curb Weight?
Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle including a full tank of fuel and all standard equipment. It does not include the weight of any passengers, cargo, or optional equipment. Curb weight is considered the closest weight to the actual weight of the vehicle. The curb weight may be helpful to know when planning to ship the vehicle on a carrier or to tow the vehicle behind another vehicle.
The actual weight of a vehicle can be precisely determined by weighing the vehicle on a large scale. Scales for cars and trucks are often found at truck stops or where cargo is loaded onto trucks.
A way to determine curb weight is to calculate it. Curb weight can be calculated by taking the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and subtracting the vehicle payload or passenger/cargo capacity from GVWR. The GVWR is printed on the vehicle’s compliance label (door jamb label).
Payload or passenger/cargo weight capacity may be printed on the tire specification label located in a door jamb area. A 5280 pound GVWR with an 1150 payload or passenger/cargo capacity would be calculated: 5280 – 1150 = curb weight of 4130 lbs.
What Does Curb Weight Include?
These are the components included in determining curb weight:
- Motor oil
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Other necessary internal systems
Is There a Standard Measurement for Curb Weight?
No standard for measuring curb weight exists, and many European vehicle manufacturers include the driver’s weight in their calculations. Other manufacturers measure curb weight with a gas tank filled to 10% or 50% in most cases.
The reasoning behind that is they believe the measurement should be close to the minimum amount of fluids needed for the vehicle to function. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, the fuel should be at nominal tank capacity.
Are There Requirements on Curb Weight?
Unlike the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), curb weight doesn’t come with legal requirements that must be followed. It all depends on the rules in your state.
Certain GVWRs are charged different insurance rates and may require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive. Knowing your curb weight is still useful, especially if you travel often and want a vehicle that will give you great gas mileage.
How Do I Find My Curb Weight?
The easiest way to find your curb weight is to do your own calculations. Start with the GVWR, found in the owner’s manual or printed on a compliance label inside the driver’s side door.
Next, add the weight of the passengers and cargo, and subtract that number from the GVWR. The number you are left with is the approximate curb weight of the vehicle.
The Impact of Curb Weight
Curb weight impacts your vehicle in different ways. Next, we’ll examine how high and low curb weight affects your vehicle’s performance.
What Does High Curb Weight Mean?
A high curb weight means your gross vehicle weight is large, and there are quite a few advantages that come with a heavier vehicle. For instance, they have more momentum than lighter vehicles.
As such, they continue moving forward when there’s an accident. That means the passengers are subjected to less force and are better protected. We’ll also examine some of the disadvantages in this section.
- More momentum
- Better collision protection
- Smoother ride
- Better suspension system
- Poor gas mileage
- Longer braking distance
What Does Low Curb Weight Mean?
As mentioned earlier in the article, a low curb weight means you’ll have better gas mileage than a vehicle with a high curb weight. Here are a few other advantages and disadvantages of low curb weight.
- Faster acceleration
- High performance
- Better maneuverability
- Faster brake response
- Ability to climb slopes easily
- Fuel economy
- Suffers more damage in collisions
What Is Payload Capacity?
Also known as passenger/cargo capacity, payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight a car, truck, or SUV can safely transport. In other words, the payload is the combined weight of cargo and people a vehicle transports at any one time, including the driver. For example, if you and your passenger weigh a total of 300 pounds and your car’s payload capacity is 1,200 pounds, you can also have 900 pounds of stuff in the car.
Carmakers engineer a vehicle’s suspension, steering, and related components for optimum performance up to the stated payload capacity. Exceeding that weight limit can not only overstress suspension and other chassis components but can also render the vehicle unsafe to operate.
What Is Towing Capacity?
Towing capacity often comes up in any discussion of vehicle (mainly truck) weight limits.
A vehicle’s towing capacity is the maximum weight it can pull behind it. Although most automobiles have a posted towing capacity, it has more to do with the vehicle’s structure and its engine’s output. If you own a Ford F-150 Crew Cab with a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds, 14,000 pounds is the maximum load it can safely tow.
That towing weight includes the combined weight of the trailer and the weight of whatever is loaded on the trailer. For instance, in our F-150 example, if it’s towing a boat, the maximum weight of the trailer, boat, and whatever you’ve loaded into the boat can’t exceed 14,000 pounds.
What Is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating?
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the combined limits of curb weight, options, aftermarket accessories, payload capacity, and the tongue weight of any trailer hooked up. Note that the tongue weight is not the weight of the trailer and its load. Instead, it is the percentage of the trailer weight resting on the trailer tongue.
The GVWR is a safety number. Operating a vehicle beyond its GVWR can harm its components and pose a danger on the highway.
Your vehicle’s spec sheet should have the GVWR listed. However, you can find the GVWR on the compliance label that the factory sticks on the driver-side door frame. The appropriate air-pressure settings for the tires are often included on the same label.
How to Determine Your Car, Truck, or SUV’s Curb Weight
The simplest method for finding your vehicle’s curb weight is to look it up on the Internet. Search for its year, make, and model along with the term “curb weight” or “specifications.” Your efforts will reward you with several links to the vehicle’s specs.
Alternatively, you can lift the GVWR information from the driver-side door frame. Then, if you somehow know the payload or passenger/cargo capacity, simply subtract it from the GVWR. It’s just math.
What Is the Difference Between GVWR and Curb Weight?
The weight rating from the chassis manufacturer is the GVWR or the gross weight rating. That should not be confused with the GVW or gross vehicle weight, which is the vehicle’s weight at any given moment.
Just view the GVWR as the vehicle’s weight limit per the manufacturer. GVWR includes the curb weight, passengers, cargo, and optional accessories. To operate the vehicles safely, they shouldn’t be loaded beyond the GVWR.
Overloading the vehicle will cause a delayed response from the brakes or strain the suspension system, possibly leading to it breaking. The extra load on the tires will generate more heat and increase the likelihood of a blowout.
Knowing the GVWR is important when hauling heavy loads as you don’t want to risk being fined, having your license suspended, or even jailed in certain states because the truck is overweight. Weigh stations will force you to shut down if you’re over the maximum gross weight, delaying the shipment’s arrival.
As we’ve discussed, curb weight is the vehicle’s weight without any additional accessories, aside from the fluids it needs to be considered functional. When traveling back from a long haul, there will be bridges to cross, many of which have weight limits.
Knowing your curb weight helps you figure out the best route to take home. It’s also helpful if you break down after dropping off a trailer and need a tow. Knowing both is crucial for determining how much you can haul. If your GVWR is 8,000 pounds and the curb weight is 4,000 pounds, then you can carry up to 4,000 pounds’ worth of cargo.
Why is it called curb weight?
Curb Weight is the weight of your vehicle that is generally given by the manufacturer and it refers to how much your vehicle weighs when it’s resting on the curb and not in use. It does not include passengers, cargo, fuel, vehicle accessories (toolboxes, etc), tongue weight or any other separately loaded items.
Why is curb weight important?
One reason curb weight is important is the more a vehicle weighs, the more energy it burns when driving. So, curb weight is a significant factor in fuel economy, along with the car’s engine efficiency, wind resistance, and so forth. Knowing the curb weight is essential if you are preparing to tow or haul a car.
Does curb weight include fluids?
Curb weight is the published weight of a vehicle as produced by the factory, with a full tank of fuel and all fluids filled. Curb weight does not include passengers, cargo, or any accessories.
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