What is GCWR is a question that many people who are new to RV-ing are asking and it is extremely important to learn the answer. GCWR is an extremely important parameter that you need to calculate properly so you do not put yourself and your entire family in danger by overloading your tow vehicle and your loaded trailer.

What is Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)?

GCWR is the maximum allowable weight of the fully-loaded towing vehicle and the weight of the trailer when fully loaded that your SUV or truck can safely handle without putting you at risk. It is something that is determined by the manufacturer of vehicles so you can check and make sure you are safe on the road.

It is also quite easy to figure out. You can calculate what the GCWR of your car is by adding the gross vehicle weight rating and the gross trailer weight. These two weight ratings will give you a rough number but you have to remember that the gross vehicle weight does not include the tongue weight, passengers, and cargo. It just includes the weight of the vehicle with all the standard equipment and a full tank of gas. To get the total weight you will have to take into account the weight of the baggage and the weight of the passengers you are traveling with.

To be on the safe side you need to find a public scale where you can calculate the gross combined weight rating precisely. This is a task that takes quite a bit of time but it is something that will ensure your safety. Exceeding the weight limit when you tow a trailer can be extremely dangerous and you really do not want to put anyone you care about in danger of being in a car accident.

Why is GCWR Important?

One of the main reasons why GCWR is important and you do not want to exceed it is because it may put you in danger of being in an RV accident.

It becomes much harder to control a heavier load. It is more challenging to make turns and stop the vehicle and trailer when you have exceeded the GCWR. The vehicle usually has a maximum towing capacity and if your trailer is overloaded it may not be able to pull it or stop it in time when you hit the brakes. The brakes on all vehicles have a rating but that rating is given according to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and not the GCWR so by overloading you may overload your brakes and they will become less effective.

Another reason why overloading is dangerous is that you may damage both your vehicle and a travel trailer or 5th wheel. It is important to learn your gross axle weight rating too which can be focused on your front axles or rear axles. This way you will know which part of your vehicle and trailer are crucial and where to put most of the cargo and load.


Being safe when you are on the road is of extreme importance and it should be your primary concern when you take a trip with your family. Knowing the answer to the question: “What is GCWR and how to properly calculate it?” will ensure your safety on the road. Although it takes more time to check and calculate because you need to find a public scale where you can measure the weight of your loaded vehicle and trailer, it is the right thing to do because overloading and going over the GCWR is one of the main RV accident causes. If you decide to travel overloaded it will be much harder to maneuver the heavy trailer and even harder to stop it once you pick up on some speed because the brakes on your vehicle are not designed to effectively stop heavier loads.

We sincerely hope that this article clarifies what is GCWR and why it is important and we hope that you will not take it lightly and make sure that you do everything in your power to stay safe on the road when you are on a trip with your family.