Car Weight Limits | Weight Capacity - Consumer Reports News (2024)

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As anyone who's ever experienced the consequences of an overstuffed grocery bag can attest, it's not always a good idea to cram more stuff in just because you think it will fit. The same thing holds true with cars, although chances are that load capacity isn't very high on most buyer's list of priorities when choosing a new model. That's a shame, as that capacity may be even lower than you think.

The truth is that many new family sedans, SUVs, compacts, and subcompact models are at or near their maximum load capacity when loaded up with four average-sized American males and their luggage, gear, or other cargo.

The Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Mazda6 midsized sedans, for example, all have a combined load capacity of 850 lbs. for passengers and cargo. That means that four 195-lb. passengers, which is about average for an American male according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would be close to maxing out any of those sedans' capacities as soon as they got in. Throw in another 70 pounds for luggage, gear, or whatever else they want to bring along and all three cars would be at their maximum load. Keep in mind that these are all five-passenger vehicles. Squeeze in one more average guy and the car would not only cease to be a pleasant place to be, but it would be way past its limit without any cargo.

Many minivan buyers choose that body style specifically for hauling around lots of stuff and/or groups of people, whether that means a large family or a high school sports team. But consider that when most seven-passenger minivans, including the , Nissan Quest, and Toyota Sienna, are loaded to capacity with seven 165-lb. passengers, that's before any bats, balls, helmets, pets, camping gear, bicycles, cargo boxes, or luggage are added.

Not surprising, some sports cars and convertibles have the lowest weight capacities, with the Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Nissan 370Z all checking in at 450 pounds or less. Perhaps more interesting is that a Ford Fiesta subcompact has a higher load limit than a larger and heavier Mustang, and the same holds true when comparing a Chevrolet Sonic with a Camaro. Clearly, the muscle cars are made to haul something other than a heavy payload.

All this is not intended to cause alarm; it's just something else to keep in mind when you're shopping for a new vehicle. Don't think only in terms of how much trunk or cargo room a vehicle has, or how many seats. Think about how you'll be using it, what kind of weight you'll routinely be carrying, and how much it is designed to carry safely.

Load capacity can normally be found on the tire information placard in the driver's door sill or in the owner's manual. This assumes the vehicle is in proper running order. It's important to understand the level of air pressure in your car's tires effects their load capacity and if you don't inflate to the recommended pressure setting, you're load capacity may be compromised despite what the placard says.

Manufacturers determine that capacity based on a number of factors, from tires and suspension to how the vehicle will handle in an emergency maneuver under load. And with increased focus on fuel economy, those load limits may be coming down as carmakers try and reduce vehicle weight wherever possible to save fuel.

Meanwhile, the CDC says the average weight of passengers continues to go up, even while our cars are trying to lose weight. Maybe we should take a tip from our cars, and try to shed a few pounds ourselves.

Jim Travers

Car Weight Limits | Weight Capacity - Consumer Reports News (2024)


What is the weight limit for a car? ›

“The combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed 385 kg or 850 lbs.” The tire pressure is also listed there. The bottom line is that weight limits vary on every car.

How much can I load in my car? ›

Calculating your vehicle's maximum payload is straightforward. You take the GVWR and subtract your vehicle's curb weight. The remainder is your total maximum payload.

How much weight can I put on top of my car? ›

If you don't have a roof rack, your car will generally be able to hold roughly 70-165 lbs of weight. You will also probably have to attach that weight using unconventional and unreliable means, such as bungee cords roping through open windows or using straps to tie something down to a bare of.

Do cars have a weight limit for passengers? ›

Auto manufacturers recommend a payload capacity for every vehicle; it's the maximum combined weight of all passengers and cargo that can be carried safely. Exceeding the payload capacity stresses the tires, shocks, suspension and springs – four parts of the vehicle that keep it under control and on the road.

What happens if you exceed the weight capacity of a car? ›

Improperly loaded vehicles or those that exceed the weight rating will dramatically affect performance. Steering, maneuverability, braking, and acceleration are all affected. Most important, stopping distances are dramatically impacted. Simply stated, an overloaded vehicle requires more distance to stop.

What happens if you go over payload capacity? ›

Exceeding payload capacity can strain the suspension, transmission, and engine of the vehicle. Issues related to suspension can be very costly. Repairs and extended downtime can put a strain on any business.

How to know if a car is overloaded? ›

Increased Braking Distances: Overloading a vehicle compromises its capacity to slow down or stop efficiently. If you notice that it's taking longer for the vehicle to come to a complete stop or that the brakes feel less responsive, it could indicate excessive weight on the load.

What happens if you carry too much weight in your car? ›

It won't respond to steering inputs as quickly, and it will take a lot longer to build up and maintain speed. All that extra weight will also increase your car's stopping distance, so an overloaded car will be trickier to slow down when avoiding an unexpected obstacle.

What is maximum vehicle load? ›

Federal law controls maximum gross vehicle weights and axle loads on the Interstate System. Federal limits are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 pounds on a single axle, and 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group. There are also Federal standards for length and width on the National Network (NN).

How do I know how much weight I can put in my car? ›

To calculate your car's payload, you need to subtract the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) from the kerbweight. GVWR refers to the maximum weight you can safely add to your vehicle.

How much weight can I pack in my car? ›

The Unwritten Rule: 100 lbs or less

That equates to two large suitcases. That could be a frustrating part of your moving plan, where many people assume it's OK to pack their vehicle full of household items. But it's not.

What weight is considered heavy for a car? ›

EPA classifies vehicles as Light Duty (GVWR < 8,500 lb) or Heavy Duty (GVWR > 8,501 lb).

Do cars have a max weight limit? ›

Every vehicle has a safe weight limit and this safe weight limit is quite easy to find too. Going beyond your car's maximum load capacity can have serious consequences for your car's passengers and the other families on the road. In this article we will help you with the following: Where do I find my Weight Limits?

Do seats in a car have a weight limit? ›

Combination seats with harness: Seats can be used forward facing with a harness for children who weigh up to 40 to 65 pounds (depending on the model) or without the harness as a booster (up to 100–120 pounds, depending on the model). Integrated seats: Some vehicles come with built-in forward-facing seats.

Is 3000 lbs heavy for a car? ›

The average weight of a car of around 4,100 pounds according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Small cars generally weigh around 2500 pounds, large cars weigh around 4200 pounds, and trucks and SUVs can weigh anywhere from around 3500 pounds to over 6000 pounds.

What happens if there's too much weight in a car? ›

It won't respond to steering inputs as quickly, and it will take a lot longer to build up and maintain speed. All that extra weight will also increase your car's stopping distance, so an overloaded car will be trickier to slow down when avoiding an unexpected obstacle.

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