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Common Trucking Terms Explained

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2018 Silverado 2500 HD Deep Ocean Blue Metallic LTZ Z71 Crew Cab towing John Deere Skid Steer with a Big Tex Trailer. Towing 10,808 pounds (total weight of trailer and equipment combined).

The auto industry is full of its own unique vocabulary. That’s especially true when it comes to truck-specific words. If your eyes glaze over in incomprehension whenever someone starts throwing out words like “GVWR” and “payload,” you’ve come to the right place. Discover what these five trucking terms mean.


Perhaps the easiest term to understand, “towing” simply means pulling a trailer behind a vehicle. Although there’s different methods of towing, such as using a fifth-wheel hitch or a frame-mounted receiver hitch, the end result is the same.


This is defined as the total weight of everything you put inside the truck, including passengers, objects, and a load of firewood. Typically, a truck’s payload capacity will be less than its towing capacity.

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2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD


This cryptic acronym stands for “gross vehicle weight rating.” GVWR is the maximum amount a vehicle can weigh, which includes cargo weight, passenger weight and unloaded curb weight. For example, if a truck’s GVWR is 11,000 pounds, and the truck weighs 7,000 pounds when it’s empty, then the truck has a 4,000-pound payload capacity.


This acronym means “gross combined vehicle weight rating.” GCVWR is defined as the maximum weight of a loaded truck and its attached loaded trailer. Like GVWR, this number is also determined by the automaker. For example, if a truck has a 13,000-pound GCVWR, and it has a base curb weight of 5,000 pounds, then it can safely handle up to 8,000 pounds more of cargo and trailer weight.

2016 Chevy Silverado HD

Trailer Tongue Weight

Perhaps the most baffling phrase used when “talking truck,” this term simply means the weight the trailer exerts downward on the towing hitch. A truck’s tongue weight should be 10-15% of the loaded trailer’s total weight, to ensure a smooth and safe haul. For example, an 8,000-pound trailer would pair with a tongue weight of 800 pounds.

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News Source: TopSpeed