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Tow Like A Pro: Understanding Truck Payload vs. Towing Capacity | Kunes Auto Group

Published on Aug 14, 2023 by Talia Mushinsky

Are you curious about the terms payload and towing capacity in the world of trucks?

These concepts may seem similar, but have distinct differences that every truck owner should know. Kunes Auto Group aims to simplify these concepts for you, ensuring the safety of your vehicle and its load. Let's dig into the nitty-gritty of truck capabilities!

What's Inside and What's Behind? Payload vs. Towing

Truck payload is the total weight your vehicle can handle, including passengers, luggage, and more. Towing, conversely, is related to the weight your truck can drag behind it. Let's unravel these terms to help you use your truck more effectively.

Payload: How much stuff, like passengers or groceries, your truck can carry inside.
Towing Capacity: How much weight your truck can pull behind it, like a boat or trailer.

white pickup truck carrying furniture in its bed

Your Truck's Payload Capacity: What Can You Carry Inside?

Have you ever wondered how much weight your truck can handle inside? That's your payload capacity! It's like packing a suitcase, but for your truck. Here's how you figure it out:

Here's how to calculate Payload Capacity:


Payload Capacity = GVWR - Curb Weight

  1. Find the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on your truck's door or in the manual.
  2. Take away your truck's weight (that's called "curb weight") from the GVWR.

Example: If GVWR is 9,000 lbs and your truck's empty weight is 5,000 lbs, then the payload capacity is 4,000 lbs.


Remember: Passengers, groceries, and anything else inside the truck count towards the payload. So plan wisely!

a gray 2021 Ford F-150 Black Widow towing a boat

Your Truck's Towing Capacity: What Can You Pull Behind?

Want to tow a boat, trailer, or camper? You'll need to know your truck's towing capacity. Unlike payload, towing capacity includes the weight resting on a trailer's wheels, not just the truck's.

Here's how to calculate your truck's towing capacity:


Towing Capacity = GCVWR - (Curb Weight + Cargo Weight)

  1. Find the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) in your truck's manual.
  2. Subtract your truck's empty weight plus any other stuff inside.

Example: With a GCVWR of 15,000 lbs, and your truck weighing 5,000 lbs with 4,000 lbs of cargo, your towing capacity is 6,000 lbs.

white pickup truck towing a camper

Drive Safe with Your Truck: Kunes Auto Group's Essential Tips

Understanding Truck Payload

Truck payload isn't only for builders. For families on adventures, nature lovers, or those moving big items, knowing what your truck can carry is super important.

What Happens When Your Truck's Too Full?

Filling your truck too much can be bad news. You'll feel it right away as the steering gets tricky. The truck might not drive as well, and parts like the suspension and wheels get stressed out. Plus, bumps in the road feel bigger, and your truck could even touch the ground, which isn't good.

Tires and Too Much Weight

Putting too much stuff in your truck can also hurt your tires. Remember to check how much weight your tires can handle. If a tire pops when your truck isn't too heavy, you might be okay. But if your truck is overloaded, it can be dangerous. And did you know? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says trucks that tip over cause a lot of car accidents.

Your Truck's Engine and Pulling Heavy Stuff

If you pull things that are too heavy with your truck, it's not good for the engine. The engine gets super hot and its specially formulated oil can break down. If this happens, your truck will stop working.

Putting Weight in the Right Places

It's not just about how much stuff you put in your truck, but where you put it. Imagine if all the heavy stuff is at the back of your truck; the front might not grip the road well. So, always spread things out nicely.

Kunes Auto Group Cares About Your Safety

At Kunes Auto Group, our motto is safety first. Whether you're driving a truck for work or play, always be mindful of your load, as overloading can cause significant damage. Spread it evenly and ensure you're within the payload capacity for a smoother, safer ride. 


Always consult your owner's manual and remember that safe hauling practices can avert accidents. Need assistance? Swing by Kunes Auto Group today for more expert advice on truck safety and optimal performance! Kunes Auto Group's expert team is at your service.

Come Visit Us Today!

At Kunes Auto Group, we are passionate about trucks and committed to helping you make the most of your vehicle. From hauling equipment to towing recreational vehicles, we've got you covered. Stop by today, and let us ensure that your truck is geared up for any adventure!

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