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How to Calculate Tonnage for a Truck or Van

by Bill Brown

Overloading your truck or van can, at the least, cause extra wear and tear on the vehicle. At worst, it can be a rollover or safety hazard. The tonnage capacity for your vehicle is another way of referring to the payload. The payload, the most weight you can safely load into the truck or van, is calculated by subtracting the allowable fully loaded, gross vehicle weight of the vehicle, from the empty, or curb, weight. It used to be that a "half-ton" truck meant the maximum tonnage of the truck was 1,000 pounds; manufacturers have now exceeded these terms, and the payload of a half-ton truck can be considerably more.


Refer to your owner's manual to get the fully loaded, or gross vehicle weight, of the truck or van. It is sometimes referred to as an acronym, GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating.


Refer to the owner's manual for the truck or van to get the curb weight of the vehicle.


Subtract the maximum allowed fully loaded weight from the curb weight to get the maximum tonnage or payload.


Refrain from overloading your truck or van for safety and optimum operation of the vehicle.

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About the Author

Bill Brown has been a freelance writer for more than 14 years. Focusing on trade journals covering construction and home topics, his work appears in online and print publications. Brown holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from St. John's University and is currently based in Houston.

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