In the U.S., trucks are organized into eight classes, with Class 2 having two subdivisions. Class 1-3 trucks are light-duty, Class 4-6 trucks are medium-duty, and Class 7-8 are considered heavy-duty. If you’re wondering how light-duty vs. medium-duty trucks compare, or how medium-duty vs. heavy-duty trucks compare, we’ve listed the numbers below for your reference. Read on to learn more about truck classification and the role gross vehicle weight rating plays in categorizing different types of trucks.
The GVWR of a truck determines its class. When you compare light-duty vs. heavy-duty trucks, for example, you’ll notice that heavy-duty Class 8 trucks have the heaviest GVWR, while light-duty Class 1 trucks have the lightest. GVWR is a vehicle’s maximum weight, which includes payload capacity (i.e. passengers and cargo). Essentially, GVWR is the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can safely handle. Typically, the GVWR can be found on a placard on the driver-side door.
What’s the GVWR for each class? Look below for the GVWR ranges per class, as well as examples of popular light, medium, and heavy-duty models:
Class 1-3 trucks are considered light-duty. Class 2A trucks, such as the Silverado 1500, are categorized as light-duty, while Class 2A models like the RAM 2500 are sometimes referred to as light heavy-duty.
Class 4-6 trucks are considered medium-duty.
Class 7-8 trucks are considered heavy-duty. Keep in mind that regulations on what you’re legally allowed to drive or tow with a CDL license depends on the state. Generally, at least a class B license is required to operate a Class 7-8 truck.
Essentially, this figure tells you how much a commercial truck weighs when it rolls off the factory floor. It includes the weight of a full tank of fuel and all standard equipment, but not the weight of passengers, cargo, or optional equipment.
“Payload” refers to the weight that a truck is carrying, in the bed as well as in the cabin. Once you know your truck’s GVWR, you can calculate its payload capacity by subtracting the curb weight from the GVWR. For example, if your truck has a GVWR of 7,000 pounds and a curb weight of 5,000 pounds, then you can safely take on a maximum of 2,000 pounds.
So far, we’ve talked about commercial truck weights when all cargo is loaded into the truck itself, rather than towed in a trailer. The GCWR tells you how much a truck can handle when the weight of a trailer and its cargo are included.
If you’re towing, you will also need to account for the static force exhibited by the trailer tongue on the hitch ball. This will translate into some extra weight added to your total.
Many light duty trucks aren’t actually used for commercial purposes, but these models can hold their own on the job. Class 1-3 trucks are considered light duty. Note that while class 2A trucks, such as the Silverado 1500, are categorized as light duty, Class 2A models like the RAM 2500 are sometimes referred to as light heavy-duty.
If your business requires a commercial truck for a specific application, this is where you’ll find the versatility you need. The medium duty class includes a wide range of vehicle types, from landscaping dump trucks to box trucks for delivery.
Class 7-8 trucks are considered heavy-duty. Keep in mind that regulations on what you’re legally allowed to drive or tow with a CDL license depends on the state. Generally, at least a class B license is required to operate a Class 7-8 truck. Examples of commercial heavy duty trucks include 3-axle tractor-trailer tractors and single-unit dump trucks with a GVWR of over 33,000 pounds.
Do you have additional questions about truck classification? Or, are you shopping for a new or pre-owned work truck for job sites around Chicago? Badger Truck & Auto Group can help! Contact us online or call us at 414-344-9500 to learn more about light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks and their differences, or to schedule a test drive with a specific model. While you’re here, be sure to check out our new vehicle specials and pre-owned specials for great offers on high-quality work trucks.
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