Trucks in a Row

The difference between carrying and pulling

What is the difference between payload and towing capacity?

Having a pickup truck is quite nice. If you need to transport items that do not fit in a car or SUV, there is always room in the bed of a pickup truck. If you need to get some mulch for that Saturday afternoon project, you will have no problem picking it up and hauling it back home. There are two terms to describe the two weights above. They are payload and towing capacity. What is the difference between payload and towing capacity? In short, the payload has to do with how much is in your truck, and towing capacity has to do with how much your truck can tow. Keep reading below to learn more.

Empty Bed of Pickup TruckWhat is payload and how do I calculate it?

Payload is the amount of weight that you have in your truck. This can be the weight of you and your passengers, the weight of items in the bed of your truck, or a mix of both.

The owner’s manual of your truck tells you how many pounds the payload is. However, if you wanted to calculate it yourself, you would take the gross vehicle weight and subtract the curb weight. This gives you payload and tells you how much weight in passengers and stuff you can carry.


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Truck Pulling a CamperWhat is towing capacity and how do I calculate it?

Towing capacity is how much you can pull behind your truck. This is typically more than payload because the weight is behind the truck and not in it.

Again, the owner’s manual will tell you how much your truck can tow. You can also calculate it yourself. You take the gross combined vehicle weight and subtract curb weight. This will give you towing capacity.

Man Next to TruckWhy do I need to know this?

It is important to know these numbers because if you haul too much weight, you risk damaging your tires, frame, and other important parts of your truck. To avoid damaging your truck, make sure that if you are towing a trailer you take into account what you have in your truck as well!

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