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The US DOT puts trucks into classes by “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” (GVWR) ranked from 1 to 8 (smallest to largest).
GVWR refers to the maximum operating weight a truck can possibly carry while driving including the truck itself. GVWR classes have nothing to do with what parts the truck is fitted with, how beefy the suspension is, or what the truck looks like. They are solely based on weight.
So if a truck’s GVWR is 10,000 pounds, that’s the most the manufacturer and government have certified the truck to possibly weigh with fuel, passengers, and cargo. These classes exist for safety regulation, commercial designation, and registration purposes.
Those “weigh stations” you see on the side of the highway exist to make sure truckers aren’t exceeding their GVWR. Those stations generally only “apply” to you if your total-weight (your truck and whatever you’re towing) exceeds 26,000 pounds– that’s the minimum weight requiring a CDL in most states.
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