• Sep 27, 2005

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.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      That has to be the best job I've seen explaining what seems to be a simple subject, but tends to get convoluted in the conversation. Thanks, EB.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This topic takes on particular relevance if you're planning to tow anywhere near the vehicle's rated tow capacity. Far too many people get into trouble with thinking that goes something like this: "It says my truck's tow capacity is 6000 pounds, so I'll have no problem with my 5000 pound dry weight trailer and some dirt bikes in the pickup bed." A few thoughts: - Dry weights, particularly when supplied by a sales person, are not to be trusted. The gross vehicle rating (the maximum the trailer is supposed to weight) is a decent place to start. A better place is an accurate scale. - Maximum tow capacities make a number of assumptions, and require you pay attention to the weight on each axle (i.e., you may need a weight distributing hitch) as well as any payload in the tow vehicle (many max tow capacities presume no cargo and only one passenger). - As Eric mentioned above, brake capacity takes on great importance when adding weight, particularly in a trailer. Make sure your trailer brakes work correctly, and are adjusted properly. If you're looking at a trailer with electric brakes, invest in a quality controller. I know of someone many years ago who had a particularly close call while towing a trailer. After thinking about what really happened, he revisited the site of the incident - and was pleased to see he had left *six* strips of rubber on the pavement. In that situation, four strips wouldn't have been enough. There are many resources available for further research on this topic. A good place to start is the towing forums available on http://www.rv.net.
      Henry Hank Hulteen
      • 1 Year Ago
      ENJOYED ALL THE COMMENTS.BUT-- I NEED TO HAUL BRICKS TODAY IN MY F150. DOES IT HOLD 1000 LBS OR WHAT? IT CALLED A HALF TON TRUCK. WHAT IS OVER LOADED? WHEN DOES IT GET DANDEROUS? IS 2000 LBS TOO MUCH? CAN I SPTIT THE LOAD BETWEEN THE BED AND A TRAILER ?HITCH IN BOLTED TO THE FRAME. TOO MUCH TONGUE WEIGHT? HELP!
      • 9 Years Ago
      What are the actual physical differences between ton, ton and 1 ton trucks? Are the frames the same? Are the driveshafts the same size (thickness)?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Jesus you people are morons. Kevin, do you even bother looking up words before you get on someone's case? Here, let me make it easier for someone like you to comprehend: http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861708169 unlade-Definitions: 1. empty ship or vehicle: to empty a ship or vehicle by removing its cargo 2. remove cargo: to remove the cargo from a ship or vehicle Instead of trying to look smart, why not go back to school and actually be smart.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Someone asked what the physical differences are between the trucks, besides the capacities. This is my understanding and may be incorrect, but here goes. A 1/2 and 3/4 ton truck will usually share the same frame. They will have different brakes, they may have a different differential (esp. rear). Typically, the most noticeable difference is a 1/2 ton truck will often have coil springs in the rear, and a 3/4 ton truck will almost always have leaf springs. It used to be a 3/4 ton truck would have leafs in the front too, and a "heavy half" (actually a GM trademark) would have the coil front end from a 1/2 ton truck, for a better ride. Coils in the front are pretty common now on 3/4 ton trucks, even without the "heavy half" designation. A 1 ton truck will have dual rear tires (dualies or dooleys), that's pretty easy to spot. It will also definitely have a different (very large) differential. It has leaf springs. It again has different brakes. I am not sure if it has a different frame. It will rarely be 4WD. It used to be near impossible to get a 4WD 1 ton light truck as it's difficult to haul that much weight over the rear axle on rough terrain anyway, but companies wanted to be able to sell "more truck" to a person who was really just looking for a base to make a jacked-up mini-monster truck from. A 1 ton truck will have at least 8 lug rims, typically with the hub sticking out in the middle. The "1" in F-150 and GMs 1500 designation actually refer to a "class 1" truck. I'm not clear what the correspondence between class 1 and 1/2 or 3/4 ton is. Class 1, 2 and (I believe) 3 are all light trucks, 4,5 and 6 are medium trucks and 7,8 and 9 are heavy trucks. GM didn't used to sell a vehicle over a 2500 (class 2) with a bed, as many of those get made into other kinds of trucks (or RVs) anyway. But Ford has sold F-350s with beds for some time now, and GM has started to do so also with their "medium duty" GMCs a year or two ago. It was always possible to get a company to put a bed on a GM 3500 for you that looked near identical to the ones that GM would install by default on a 1500 or 2500. Perhaps it was even from the same company who made it for GM in the first place. I believe that it was a bit more common to get one of those squared-out beds with locking storage on the sides like plumbers often use. Okay, I'm out of truck facts.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #9 Dude!!! Virtually everything you said is incorrect. 3/4 and one ton trucks will usually use the same frame and many other components. 1/2 tons will have a lighter frame and parts. Look up the capacities on any truck line and you will see the 3/4 and one tons are very similar, while the 1/2 tons are much less. There are no pickups sold in the US that have coil springs in the rear (unless you consider the Ridgeline a pickup). They all have leaf springs in the rear. Some SUVs have coil springs in the rear. Whether a truck has coils or leafs in the front all depends on make and model. GM and Dodge use front coils on 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ton. Ford uses coil on 1/2 and leaf on 3/4 and 1 ton. 1 ton trucks have dual rear wheels if they are duallys. Some are, some aren't. 4WD duallys and 4WD 1 tons are very common. Most that I see are 4WD. The model designations used by manuafacturers (F150, F250 etc) have absolutely nothing to do with weight class designations. GM has been selling trucks of various weight classes (over class 2) with beds throughout it's history. Where did you hear all this crap?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Kevin, "Unladen" is what I thought was the correct word, too. Microsoft Word's grammar check disagreed with me, however, and that's why I used "unladed".
      • 9 Years Ago
      Instead of criticizing your math skills, I'll focus on English. I don't think 'unladed' is the term you want - I'd go with 'unladen'.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #2 too many parts to list but here is a short list. front and rear axles, springs, shocks,third member, hubs, frames , brakes,Axle ratios. As you move up the GVWR there are significant changes even in the sheet metal. Hoods being one example. So to compare a 1/2 to a 3/4 to a 1ton is apple and oranges.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I did a bunch of research on this back when I was commissioned to haul 72 25LB bricks, but this is a good refresher.