Most manufacturers have stopped using weight-related terminology to describe their pickup trucks. They’ve switched to other terminology that doesn’t usually help you determine a truck’s load rating. If you already own the truck, your owner’s manual provides the specs you need to know. If you’re shopping for a truck, ask your sales person, or you can check manufacturer websites for specifications even on older models.
Whenever you purchase a pickup truck, whether new or used, you need to know what purpose it will fulfill, other than just driving it for pleasure. If you know you will be using it for work-related jobs, or any kind of hauling, you will need to consider certain factors for the different types of classes of pickup trucks. Half Ton Pickup Trucks, sometimes called light duty trucks, will accommodate you well if you need it to 1.) Drive to work 2.) Haul some trash 3.) Move some furniture 4.) Move a load of mulch, or your Christmas tree. 5.) Towing up to a 21 ft. boat. Examples of light duty trucks are Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan or Toyota Tundra.
Three Quarter Ton Pickup Trucks are designed for drivers who still need a general purpose truck, just with an increased load capacity to carry heavier cargo in their trucks, such as 1.) Hauling medium loads of sand, dirt or wood 2.) Light fifth-wheel trailer used with in-bed campers 3.) Towing bigger boats over 21 ft. Examples of three-quarter ton trucks are the Ford F-250, Chevy or GMC 2500 or Dodge Ram 2500.
One Ton Pickup Trucks are for drivers who need to carry heavier cargo in their trucks, moving up to the larger F-350 Series and heavy duty pickups such as Dodge Ram 3500 or Chevrolet 3500, capable of 1.) Hauling large loads of sand, dirt or wood 2.) Carrying large in-bed campers 3.)
Towing heavy fifth-wheel trailers, such as horse trailers or car trailers.
Important factors to keep in mind are 1.) An understanding of the truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) will help you decide which type of truck fits your needs. The GVWR is an auto’s maximum safe weight that should not be exceeded. Weight calculations include curb weight, additional equipment that’s been added, plus the weight of cargo and the weight of passengers. Everything is considered to determine if the GVWR has been exceeded. Keep in mind, GVWR does not reflect a truck’s actual weight, it’s a limit. Actual weight is referred to as the gross vehicle weight, or GVW, and it changes every time you put something into the truck or take something out of it, from passengers to luggage to cargo.
Towing a trailer increases the GVW by the amount of weight that’s attached to the hitch, not by the entire weight of the trailer. An auto’s GVWR never changes. 1.) Overload springs help keep the vehicle level when loaded or overloaded, but they do not strengthen the axle, wheel bearings, tires or frame. 2.) Engine, transmission, axle gearing, and passenger weight combined all play a part in the capabilities of your truck. An extra load is put on systems when a vehicle is loaded down enough to take its weight beyond its GVWR. The brakes must work harder, and might not even be able to stop the car or truck efficiently. Tires could blow and suspension might be compromised — many components can be pushed beyond their limits when the GVWR is ignored. The GVWR can usually be found on either the driver’s door jamb or on the door’s frame.
Be sure to consider the truck’s axle Rating to make sure weight is distributed properly. In addition to the total gross vehicle weight rating, you must also consider the per axle rating. Let’s say your pickup truck weighs 5,000 pounds and has a GVWR of 7,000 pounds. That means you can add 2,000 pounds of people (and other cargo).
But that extra 2,000 pounds needs to be somewhat distributed.If you load 2,000 pounds of cargo at the rear of the bed, behind the rear axle, it will raise the front of the truck, making it difficult to steer — because there’s not enough down force on the front wheels to give them grip. In addition, if you load cargo that way, you’ll run a high risk of damaging the rear springs, rear axle, bed and perhaps even the truck’s frame.
Consider another scenario. Say you load 2,000 pounds in the bed, 3 or more people in the cab, and maybe add on a front mount winch or plow. The truck will be difficult to steer in that type of situation, too, because it’s dealing with way too much down force on the front wheels, possibly causing damage the front suspension. Either of those scenarios could also damage the tires due to overload. The ideal loading method is to distribute that 2,000 pounds as evenly as possible between the front and rear axles. Carrying cargo in a distributed manner allows the front and rear suspension (and the tires) to spread the load more evenly. Auto manufacturers calculate every type of load rating for a reason. They know what the materials and components can handle and they don’t want you to damage your truck or have an accident.