What is meant by payload capacity?

A vehicle’s payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight it can safely carry. In a car or SUV, that includes the combined weight of cargo in the truck bed and passengers inside the cabin that your vehicle is carrying.

Moreover, payload capacity refers to how much you’re able to load into both your truck and the truck’s bed without breaking the suspension and voiding your warranty.

The GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) which means it includes a full tank of gas and any other fluids that keep a car running. So, a vehicle’s payload capacity is the number of things it can safely carry after you’ve filled up the tank with fluids.

What is the payload capacity for a truck?

The word Payload is borrowed from a carrier, where payload guides to the part of the load that pays for the vehicle. Your truck’s payload capacity refers to all the cargo weight that you can safely add in addition to your truck’s curb weight. A common misunderstanding among truck shoppers is that payload is the amount of weight in the bed. It isn’t. It’s the amount of weight in the bed and the cabin combined. If you’re towing a trailer, the payload also includes the weight of the trailer driving down on the trailer hitch known as tongue weight.

For Example: 
Your new vehicle may be capable of carrying 1,500 pounds, but don’t load 1,500 pounds of load into the bed. At most, the truck can carry 1,155 pounds minus your weight, the weight of the passenger, and the weight of anything and anyone else you put inside the cabin with you.

How do you calculate the payload on a truck?

Payload capacity is calculated by your vehicle manufacturer and listed in the owner’s manual. It’s also usually posted on a placard on the driver’s side doorjamb. Also, you can calculate your truck’s payload capacity on your own by doing a calculation. For that, you should have a sound knowledge of the terms used in calculating the vehicle’s payload capacity.

How do I know my payload capacity?
 To calculate the payload capacity of your truck, you simply need to subtract its curb weight from the (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)GVWR. In case you are towing goods on the trailer, you would also have to deduct the trailer tongue weight. 

Note: Do not forget to take into consideration any truck body additions that you may have installed, too must be added in GVWR.

Payload Capacity = Gross Vehicle Weight - Curb Weight 

For example: 
If your truck's GVWR is 8,500 lbs and it weighs 4,000 lbs empty, then your payload capacity is 4,500 lbs. Payload capacity includes passengers weight as well so you can put 4,500 lbs of occupants including driver. If you’re picking up a couple of friends, you may need to lower your cargo and stuff to stay within truck’s weight limit.

What happens if you go over payload capacity?

A vehicle’s payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight it can safely carry. A truck consists of all of the weight in the cabin and bed. The payload capacity is not the amount of weight you can safely place in the bed of your truck. If you fill your truck’s bed with the amount of weight equal to the payload capacity, you’ve overloaded it. Payload is the total amount of weight your truck can carry in the cabin and the bed combined.

Loading your vehicle with more weight than it is designed to carry is unsafe which makes the engine and transmission work harder than they’re designed to work. Overloading your vehicle sets more stress on the frame, suspension, and tires than they can tolerate. The vehicle does not accelerate fast enough to keep up with traffic, can slide in turns, and takes a longer time to brake to completely stop driving way causing accidents.

It also voids your car warranty and insurance contract which is not good because the cost of those repairs will be entirely on you. The vehicle starts to wear on parts will cause them to fail early creating the worst scenario, it will cause them to fail immediately. So, when your transmission fails under the strain of a load you’re going to get a costly ticket on top of the towing bill and maintenance of the vehicle.

How to Increase Payload Capacity?

Yes, It’s feasible to raise the payload capacity of your current vehicle. But be careful while doing so look for the good information available to appropriately increase your vehicle payload capacity. After all, payload capacity is affected by the capabilities of many different parts of your vehicle. Upgrading anyone doesn’t enable others to take more stress. Likewise, upgrading your truck’s shocks might enable you to damage the frame with a heavy load more successfully.

The most noncontroversial way to increase payload capacity is to reduce the weight of your vehicle. This can be done by removing the rear seats or carrying fewer occupants which may provide a few extra pounds of hauling capacity. Beyond that, if you must move a heavier load than your vehicle is rated to carry, rent something that can safely do it. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and the new tires’ weight ratings to ensure you’re not lowering the amount your truck can carry.

Important Note: 
The payload capacity listed on the Tire and Loading Information label is the maximum payload for your vehicle as built by the assembly plant. If you install any additional equipment on your vehicle, you must determine the new payload. Subtract the weight of the equipment from the payload listed on the Tire and Loading label. When towing, trailer tongue weight or king pin weight is also part of the payload. For more information on load limits, refer to your Owner's Manual under Load Carrying. 

What is the Payload capacity safety guide?

Aftermarket bed liners, truck caps, and toolboxes are great, functional additions that make a truck a more practical everyday tool. But they all reduce payload capacity. If you choose to add one or more to your vehicle, know its weight, and factor it in every time you haul.

  • Top-heavy loads are more likely to shift so place the heaviest items on the base of the bed.
  • Spread cargo as evenly as possible in the truck’s bed or SUV’s cargo area.
  • All trucks nowadays have tie-down points for ropes and ratchet straps. Strap heavy items in place so they can’t slide preventing them from damaging your cargo and your truck.
  • Accelerate and brake gently and leave extra room between you and any other vehicle to allow you to drive safely.
Explore more: 
Does a Fifth wheel tow better than a travel trailer? 
How do I find my car tow capacity by VIN number?


If you’re truck shopping, you’re likely to hear some very remarkable payload capacities advertised. It’s you need to be aware and necessary to note that they are strictly true. But, they generally don’t refer to the truck you’re going to buy. In short, don’t exceed your vehicle’s payload capacity if in some situations absolutely need to haul more than your vehicle can safely carry, then rental truck options are best.

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Aaron Bennett is an accomplished author and a true aficionado when it comes to pickup trucks. With an unwavering passion for all things automotive, Aaron has dedicated his life to exploring the world of pickups and sharing his expertise with others. As the proud owner of several powerful machines, he has spent countless hours behind the wheel, navigating rugged terrains and conquering highways with unrivaled enthusiasm.

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