Choosing the Right GVW for Your Custom Trailer

custom trailer

Are you buying a trailer for the first time, second time or even third time? Or are you buying a new vehicle to tow your custom trailer? And are you still confused about a few things? Like what do GVW and GVWR mean and why are they important?

Very basically, GVW is the Gross Vehicle Weight and GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This means that the GVW is constantly changing while the GVWR remains constant. These maximum weights are determined by the manufacturer to ensure that you operate safely within the vehicle’s capabilities and it is essential that you do not confuse the two.

Terms You Need to Know

  • GVW – This is the maximum weight of the vehicle, including the chassis, body, engine, fuel, engine fluids, accessories, driver, passengers, and cargo but it excludes the weight of a trailer and its cargo.
  • GVWR – This is the maximum safe operating weight of a vehicle, when fully loaded, as specified by the manufacturer. It takes into account the curb weight of the vehicle (the weight with no payload), plus what goes inside it (including passengers and cargo) and the tongue weight, or downward force the trailer exerts on the tow hitch when towing. This does not take into account the actual weight of the trailer and its contents.
  • GCWR–This refers to the Gross Combined Weight Rating and is the maximum weight of the vehicle and everything in it, as well as the weight of the trailer and everything in it.

There are formula’s to work out the GVW, GVWR, and GCVW of your vehicle but fortunately, you don’t need to know how to do it yourself. These numbers are all determined by the manufacturer and can be found on a sticker inside the door and in the owner’s manual. You simply need to look them up.  

Safety is Essential When Towing

The GVWR and GCWR are important because if a trailer is overloaded things can go very wrong, very quickly. The combined weight of a vehicle and its payload has a significant effect on the handling of the vehicle and for safety reason, the GVW should never surpass the GVWR.

Overloading a vehicle can lead to the following problems:

  • Brakes may not be substantial enough to slow down or stop the vehicle effectively
  • The suspension can become ineffective  
  • Various components can break under the added strain
  • Tires can generate more heat than they can handle, making a blow out more likely.

Matching Your Custom Trailer to Your Vehicle

If towing capacity is a serious consideration for you and you already have a custom trailer, then you need to be sure that you buy the right vehicle to tow it. The towing capacity of a vehicle is determined by the manufacturer to ensure your safety and can’t be changed. It takes into account such factors as a vehicle configuration, chassis, engine, transmission, rear axle, and weight and therefore can vary significantly between different makes and models. You need to do your research and determine your needs before you decide on a vehicle and trailer combination.

Fortunately, you don’t need to make the decision alone. A sales consultant at McFarlane’s will be able to advise you on the towing capacity of your vehicle, or any vehicle you intend to purchase and ensure that it meets your towing requirements. If you already own a custom trailer, McFarlane’s can advise you on the best towing vehicles and if you have a vehicle, McFarlane’s can build you the perfect custom trailer to match your budget and needs.