Perhaps you’ve been mounting unnecessary loads on your truck and you think commercial truck drivers have been extorting you or you want to start a towing business. In short, this is an ideal opportunity to procure a truck. Soon after you start your hunt, you’ll realize that looking for the right truck can get confusing!

It’s not difficult to become mixed up in the ocean of terms and truck necessities. But, we’re here to help you with some of that confusion!  

Truck Load Capacity Tons: How Much Your Truck Can Carry

Truck load capacity simply means the maximum weight of the cargo as well as passengers that you can secure on your truck, otherwise known as the truck's empty weight. A truck load could be anything ranging from a truck bed loaded with sand to three passengers and a month's worth of baggage.

Payload capacity is determined by the vehicle's maker and should be indicated in the owner's manual. Be that as it may, you can also work out your truck's weight limit all by yourself.

Calculating the Payload Capacity of Your Truck

Begin with the maximum weight your truck can deal with, referred to as its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This maximum weight can also be determined by the maker and it should be recorded in your owner's manual. Deduct your truck's empty weight from its GVWR. That should give you your payload or truckload capacity.

Payload Capacity = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating - Empty Weight

For instance, if your truck weighs 9,000 lbs and its GVWR is 11,000 lbs, then its payload capacity is 2,000 lbs.

Towing Capacity: How Much Your Truck Should Pull

Towing capacity is the amount of weight your truck can safely pull behind it with a trailer. Ordinarily, your truck's towing capacity immensely surpasses its payload capacity because a considerable amount of the weight is lying not on your truck's axle, but the trailer axle.

Your truck towing capacity can be accessed in the owner's manual or computed on your own.

Truck Load Capacity Tons and Towing Capacity

Calculating the Towing Capacity of Your Truck

To calculate your truck towing capacity, deduct your truck's empty weight from its Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR).  The GCVWR is the maximum allowable weight of your stacked truck and the weight of the trailer attached.

Towing Capacity = Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating - Empty Weight

Assuming your truck weighs 4,000 lbs when empty, loaded with a garden mulch of 5,000 lbs and its GCVWR is 16,000 lbs. Its towing capacity can't exceed 7,000 lbs.

Classification of Pickup Trucks: Half-Ton, Three-Quarter-Ton, and One-Ton

Half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton are all classes of pickup trucks. This classification is based on their payload capacities.

Even though tonnage usually relates to a truck's payload capacity, it is also used as a causal method to group these trucks.

Generally, a ton is 2,000 pounds, which means a half-ton truck would have a 1,000 pounds payload capacity, three-quarter-ton trucks have a 1,500 pound payload capacity, and a one-ton truck can have 2,000 pounds of payload.

Commercial Trucks Classification: Light-Duty Trucks, Medium-Duty Trucks, and Heavy-Duty Trucks

Most trucks are classified as either light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty trucks. This truck classification is based on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

Truck Load Capacity Tons and Towing Capacity

Light-Duty Trucks

These consist of classes 1-3 of trucks. Listed below are their GVWR:

  • Class 1 GVWR: 0 to 6,000 pounds
  • Class 2 GVWR: 6,001 to 10,000 pounds
  • Class 3 GVWR: 10,001 to 14,000 pounds

Medium-Duty Trucks

These are made up of classes 4-6 trucks. Their GVWR are as follows:

  • Class 4 GVWR: 14,001 to 16,000 pounds
  • Class 5 GVWR: 16,001 to 19,500 pounds
  • Class 6 GVWR: 19,501 to 26,000 pounds

Heavy-Duty Trucks

Classes 7 and 8 are found here. They have a GVWR as stated below:

  • Class 7 GVWR: 26,001 to 33,000
  • Class 8 GVWR: Over 33,000 pounds

Note that regulations on what is allowed to tow or carry depends on the government guidelines. Heavy-duty trucks also require a special license to operate.

Common Terms Associated With Trucks

Tongue Weight

A fraction of the payload capacity is the trailer tongue weight. This is the total weight applied to the truck's tongue by the towed load. It goes from 10% to 15% of the whole truck's empty weight.

It’s important to add the cargo weight in the truck bed before working out the tongue weight if the trailer is needed for hauling and towing.

Trailer Axles

An axle is a focal shaft for a pivoting wheel or gear. The axles will either be fixed to the truck while the wheel pivots around it or built with the wheels rotating with them.

Cargo Weight

This is the weight of the loads, gear, and supplies on a vehicle. It is also regarded as the payload.

Two-Wheel Drive (2WD)

A truck with two-wheel drive is one in which power is sent from the motor to just two of the truck's wheels. This assists in increasing gas productivity and lessens empty weight (expanding payload and towing capacities). However, it will be more difficult driving through  colder climates or rougher terrain.


Torque is an estimation of rotational power. High force is fundamental for initial acceleration, pulling, and pushing a stacked truck uphill. Torque and horsepower are firmly related estimations, however, torque is very significant in regards to trucks.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

Four-wheel drive implies that each of the four wheels gets power from the motor. You regularly need to physically initiate the 4WD framework, and both the front and back hub will get a similar measure of force from the motor. 

This can be exceptionally favorable on tricky surfaces, such as cold streets or when going through rough terrain, yet it ought not to be utilized on high-footing surfaces like asphalt. In such paths, you’ll have less traction.

Diesel Engine

Most trucks out there use gasoline; however, diesel is a famous choice for genuine towing. Diesel motors normally cost more, but their additional weight usually helps decrease the payload capacity. 

Diesel engines can also give enormous measures of torque and have greater fuel economy numbers.

Final Thoughts

While they might seem comparable, a truck's payload and towing capacities can't be switched with one another. By doing so, you could wind up misleading others about your truck’s abilities. For example, towing a classic car may have different requirements.

Towing and payload evaluations can be difficult to work out, due to a number of factors like hitch type, natural conditions, and freight course of action, but you can always utilize the truck’s manual or seek out the help of experts.

Remember that driving at or close to your truck's most extreme capacities will place extra strain on your truck’s engine. The motor and transmission will be forced to work harder and your brakes and tires will begin to wear out more quickly.

While truck load capacity tons and towing capacity are distinctive, you should not regard them as the same. By and large, the more weight you have in your truck bed, the less your truck can adequately tow. And are trucks safer than cars? Check out this recent study.