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Leveling Capacity and GVWR

There is some confusion in the market place as to what leveling capacity means and how this differs from gross vehicle weight rating. Whether you’re towing a trailer or driving a heavily laden vehicle, it’s important to understand what they mean and the difference between the two.

First, we need to know that the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross vehicle mass (GVM) is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer: Including the vehicle’s chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, accessories, driver, passengers and cargo but excluding that of any trailers.

On vehicles designed for the United States market, the GVWR can be found alongside other vehicle technical specifications on the Vehicle ID Plate located on the interior of the B-pillar.

There’s also a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) which refers to the total mass of a vehicle, including all trailers. GVWR and GCWR both describe a vehicle that is in operation and are used to specify weight limitations and restrictions. These are extremely important and should NEVER be exceeded.

Considering the GVWR; it would be totally acceptable to fit a nine hundred pound snow plow to a truck rated to carry a ton, as the GVWR would not have been exceeded. However the front end of the vehicle will squat quite severely, creating several ride and handling problems for the driver.

This is where Air Lift’s adjustable air spring kits (also called air bags) come into play. The LoadLifter 5000 series air springs, for example, have a lifting capacity of up to 5,000 pounds which can easily level a vehicle; bringing it back to a normal and safe ride height. This lifting capacity can therefore be termed the leveling capacity of the air springs.

However, should the truck also be loaded with a 700 pound payload the vehicle would now exceed the GVWR. So, even if the vehicles ride height was corrected using Air Lift’s adjustable air springs in the front and/or rear, the vehicles GVWR would still have been exceeded. A vehicle under these conditions would not be safe to operate on the roads and puts a dangerous amount of stress on stock components like axles, brakes, powertrain, etc.

On a heavily laden vehicle, Air Lift’s air springs can effectively correct the ride height and distribute the additional weight, thereby improving ride comfort and handling. In spite of air spring’s leveling capacity, they do not in any way increase the GVWR or GCWR of the vehicle. It’s up to the operator to ensure the vehicle complies with the GVWR/GCWR at all times.

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