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Trailer Cargo Capacities and Load Distribution

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Every trailer has a designed maximum weight capacity. This maximum weight capacity is stated on the trailer and in the

trailer manuals as the gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. The GVWR is printed on a label or placard, often referred to as the certification or VIN label, which is mounted on the left front side of the trailer, typically within 6 inches of the floor line, or near the coupler. In practical terms, the GVWR is the most a trailer should ever weigh with all cargo loaded. Exceeding the capacity rating overloads the trailer and can lead to safety problems, including poor handling and control, reduced braking ability, increased stopping distances and premature wearing of suspension system components, including tires and brakes.

If you ever have a question about how much your fully loaded trailer weights, you should take it to vehicle scales and weigh it. Truck service areas, grain elevators, and weigh stations are just a few of the locations where such scales can be found. If the amount of cargo causes the trailer to exceed its GVWR, you should unload some of the cargo items to reduce the weight below the GVWR.


Other weight capacities the trailer are also provided on the certification label. The most weight an axle can bear is the gross axle weight rating or GAWR. If the trailer has more than one axle, each axle will have weight rating information provided on the certification label. The most weight an axle can bear is the gross axle weight rating or GAWR. If the trailer to exceed its GVWR , you should unload some of the cargo items to reduce the weight below the GVWR.

The distribution of cargo loaded evenly within the trailer, both side-to-side and front-to-back, is important to travel safety. For example, if a trailer weights 5000 pounds empty and has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds, 5000 pounds of cargo can be added to the trailer. However, if all 5000 pounds were to be added to the right side of the trailer, the trailer would not handle correctly and the tire weight ratings on the right side would likely be problems such as swaying would likely occur. Either of these conditions could cause an accident. The heaviest items should be placed near the floor and directly over or as close to the forward-most axle as practicable. For the best information on trailer and tow vehicle handling characteristic, consult your trailer manufacturer's owner's manual regarding cargo loading recommendations.

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