‘How do I calculate my vehicle’s payload capacity?’ [Newbie Guide] 

Updated Jul 13, 2021 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

Doing business using your vehicle? Here’s a handy tip. 

These days, cars are no longer just personal modes of transportation. Filipino car buyers want to get their money’s worth, and many of them tend to purchase vehicles that can pull at least double duty as family and business haulers. 

Couple loading boxes in car

You might feel shortchanged if your car isn't capable of at least two roles 

This holds especially true now when the pandemic’s economic effects are still very much prevalent, and many of those who took out loans on their cars now struggle to pay the monthly amortization. They’re on the lookout for opportunities to either replace the jobs they lost or earn a little more on the side, whether it’s through a ride-sharing gig or delivering goods on a regular basis.

If you do decide to make your car earn its keep, an important consideration is payload capacity. In simple terms, this refers to how much the vehicle can safely carry (both passengers and cargo) at any given time. The payload capacity is on top of the vehicle’s curb weight, which is how heavy the vehicle itself weighs (full tank and all), but with the cabin and luggage bay unoccupied.

Ford F-150 bed

Payload capacity doesn't only apply to large vehicles such as pickups

A workhorse role will predictably be more strenuous for a car than just occasionally driving family members around, so you’ll need to know if your vehicle is up to the task. Carmakers usually release payload capacity figures for heavier machines such as SUVs and pickups. But what if you want to know, say, just how many sacks of rice your seven-seater MPV can carry?

Fortunately, there’s a simple formula for that. All you need to do is subtract your car’s curb weight from the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). The latter is the maximum allowable weight that the car can put on safely, which includes the combined weight of occupants, cargo, and accessories. The GVWR is commonly indicated on a sticker or badge on the driver’s side door frame, if not on the user manual

Sacks of rice in Xpander

Focus the greater part of the weight towards the middle, or between the front and rear axles

For instance, your car might have a GWVR of 1,840 kg. and a curb weight of 1,275 kg. By subtracting the curb weight from the GWVR, you arrive at a payload capacity of 565 kg. which is what the vehicle can safely carry, or the equivalent of 10 sacks of rice at 50 kg. each. And if you find yourself using the car to haul stuff for business, you might want to concentrate the bulk of the weight between the axles, to reduce the stress on the rear suspension.    

Find more tips for beginner car owners at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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