- Sep 27, 2005
A brief primer on pickup truck payload capacities
In a previous post, one of our commenters suggested that I did not understand payload ratings on trucks (actually, the commenter questioned my math skills in a manner that suggested he has access to my college transcript). I thought we'd clear things up a bit…
Payload designations such as half-ton, 3/4-ton, and 1-ton are little but nods to the past practice of naming a truck according to its actual payload, and don?t accurately describe total or per-axle payloads. While some modern half-tons (such as the heavier crew-cab models) indeed have payload ratings close to 1,000 lbs, most are rated to carry around 1,500 lbs or so. 3/4- and 1-ton pickups can carry far more than their name would suggest. My 3/4-ton GMC has a GVWR of 8600 lbs, and thus can carry 3300 lbs in addition to its wet curb weight of 5300 lbs. In fact, the rear axle of my truck is rated for 6000 lbs by itself, and maybe has 2000 lbs on it when unladed. Total payload is thus limited in this case not by spring, axle, or tire capacity, but by the brakes. Most dual rear wheel 1-tons have GVWR somewhere north of 11,000 lbs and rear axle ratings of 9,000 lbs (the two extra tires allow for the extra weight), which gives them a maximum payload of up to 5,000 lbs or so. For the record, the 4 cubic yards of wet mulch shown in the picture above was well within my truck?s capabilities, but 3 cubic yards of damp sand may have been a bit too much.