Trying to work out what the weights mean for your 4WD or car can be incredibly frustrating and difficult, especially when you have a significant amount of poor quality information out there. For example, the GVM meaning is one of the most commonly misunderstood pieces of weight information out there.
It’s technical meaning is Gross Vehicle Mass, but unless you’ve actually looked into it those three words probably don’t mean a whole lot, so lets break it down.
GVM means is the absolute maximum that your vehicle can weigh at any time. When you purchase a new 4WD, it will have a tare weight, and a GVM. If you take the tare weight away from the GVM, you’ll get the allowable payload. Again, don’t get worried about the terms; here’s a practical example.
Our Isuzu Dmax weighs 1950kg in its tare form, when it first rolls off the factory floor. The factory GVM is 2950kg, meaning the payload you can carry is 2950kg take away 1950kg, or exactly 1000kg.
Where it gets more complicated is understanding that your GVM is any weight applied to the vehicle. It’s literally the combination of weights of all 4 wheels touching the ground.
This means accessories, fuel, passengers, gear and your tow ball weight, and that is the killer. If you have a heavy trailer that you are towing, you can eat into your payload significantly by just hooking the trailer up.
Some typical items that you’d expect on a 4WD include:
Driver and passengers (210kg for a small family of 4)
Bull Bar and Tow Bar (140kg)
Full tank of fuel (70kg)
Fridge and secondary battery (50kg)
Tools, food and other gear (50kg)
Adding just this is 520kg. If you now add a tow ball weight of 200kg, you’ve used 720kg, which is above what some 4WD’s are actually allowed to carry!
Get your vehicle weighed
It’s well and truly worth getting your vehicle weighed. This can be as simple as driving down to the local tip and asking them to give you a figure, or you can go all out and get a Mobile Weighing company out that will do your vehicle and van, and tell you how you sit.
What if you are over GVM?
If you do find yourself over GVM, you have a couple of options. The first is to shed some weight. Alternatively, you might be able to shift some weight into the trailer. Lastly, you can often get a GVM upgrade which increases the amount you are legally allowed to carry.
GVM is only part of the consideration
If you pass the GVM hurdle, well done. However, this is just the beginning; there’s actually 7 items you need to comply with, and you can be under on 6 and over on 1 and you are still not legal. If you want to know more, we’ve written a simple towing guide that explains it all in detail, nice and simply.