Commercial Motor Vehicle Classification
Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings for Trucks
There are eight classes of commercial motor vehicles in the United States, and they’re divided into three, more general categories: light duty, medium duty, and heavy duty. Commercial motor vehicles or trucks that operate on U.S. highways can be classified based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The GVWR is a safety standard used to prevent the overloading of trucks. It’s the maximum safe operating weight of a vehicle, and it includes the net weight of the vehicle itself, plus passengers, drivers, fuel, and cargo. The GVWR of a truck does not change after a manufacturer determines it for a vehicle.
The vehicle manufacturer determines the GVWR by considering the combined weight of the strongest weight-bearing components, such as the axles, and the weaker components, such as the body, frame, suspension, and tires. This determines the vehicle’s class, which determines the regulations that it needs to follow. In some cases, drivers may need to obtain a certain type of license before driving a vehicle.
- Class 1: This class of truck has a GVWR of 0–6,000 pounds or 0–2,722 kilograms.
- Class 2: This class of truck has a GVWR of 6,001–10,000 pounds or 2,722–4,536 kilograms.
- Class 3: This class of truck has a GVWR of 10,001–14,000 pounds or 4,536–6,350 kilograms.
- Class 4: This class of truck has a GVWR of 14,001–16,000 pounds or 6,351–7,257 kilograms.
- Class 5: This class of truck has a GVWR of 16,001–19,500 pounds or 7,258–8,845 kilograms.
- Class 6: This class of truck has a GVWR of 19,501–26,000 pounds or 8,84611,793 kilograms.
- Class 7: This class of truck has a GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds or 11,794–14,969 kilograms.
- Class 8: This class of truck has a GVWR of greater than 33,001 pounds or 14,969 kilograms and includes all tractor trailers.
If a vehicle has a GVWR of more than 10,001 pounds and is used for a business, including nonprofits, then it is subject to federal and state safety regulations for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. Vehicles over this weight are required to stop at state weigh and inspection stations, and drivers must follow regulations concerning hours of service and medical examinations.