Ask TFLtruck: Why Don’t the Truck Axle Weight Ratings Add Up to Total Gross Vehicle Rating GVWR?

2018 ford f350 ram hd 3500 dually trucks comparison
2018 Ford F-350 & Ram HD 3500 dually trucks

We recently received this question from Anthony that has to do with truck axle ratings on 3/4-ton and 1-ton heavy duty trucks. It’s important to understand all the different rating of your truck, as to not accidentally overload it.

How does a truck with a lower front and rear GAWR have a higher GVWR?  Shouldn’t a class 3 truck have a higher GAWR than a class 2B truck?

I do understand that many 3/4 ton trucks are “de-rated” due to the max 10k GVWR of the Class 2B which keeps them from requiring a more expensive 10k+ GVWR registration.  I also know that Ford offers a de-rated F350 with a max GVWR of 10k for those Who want an F350 but do not want to pay for a 10k+ GVWR registration.  However, this is the first time I ran into an occasion where a class 2B truck had higher GAWR that a class 3 truck.

Anthony also provides two specific axle and gross vehicle ratings examples.

2017 Ford F350
Front GAWR: 5,600 lbs
Rear GAWR: 6,340 lbs
GVWR: 11,500


2014 Ram HD 2500
Front GAWR: 6,000 lbs
Rear GAWR: 6,500 lbs
GVWR: 10,000 lbs

Let’s begin with the basics. The Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the maximum weight the manufacturer says each axle is rated to handle. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight the whole truck/vehicle is rated to handle.

Each class of truck is defined by the GVWR limit. The 3/4-ton (2500 series trucks) are limited to GVWR = 10,000 lbs (aka. Class 2b). 1-ton heavy duty trucks can go up all the way to GVWR = 14,000 lbs.

The front axle rating plus the rear axle rating almost never equal the GVWR for the truck. It’s because there could be cases when an axle might be overloaded, but the total weight of a loaded truck is still less than the GVWR.  For example, a diesel HD truck with a snow plow on the front may approach the front GAWR, but still be nowhere near the GVWR. Same thing with a truck with a bed full of rock. It may be approaching the rear GAWR, but not the total GVWR.  The point is – the weight should distributed more or less evenly, so that each axle is not overloaded.

Second part of the question is: why does the Ram HD 2500 have higher GAWR limits than the Ford F-350? I do not have a precise answer to this.  It may be the case that the Ram 2500 has a heavy duty plow package or a heavy duty camper package. These can increase the individual GAWR limits.  However, the Ram 2500 by definition is a 3/4-ton Class 2b truck, thus it must have a GVWR = 10,000 lbs.  It is weird how it works.  I hope it helps.

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