Once you learn the basic towing terms the next step is to find what the various weight acronyms mean so that you can determine how much weight the trailer and towing vehicle can take. You will need to find out which weight rating is correct for your situation. Acronyms explanations and other weight related definitions will help you be properly informed.
GVW - Gross Vehicle Weight: The GVW is the total weight of the tow vehicle. This weight includes the driver, passengers, cargo, contents, car components and accessories.
GTW - Gross Trailer Weight: GTW is the total weight of the trailer. This includes all the contents or cargo.
GCW - Gross Combination Weight or GCVW - Gross Combined Vehicle Weight: GCW or GCVW is the total weight of the tow vehicle and trailer. This weight includes the fully equipped vehicle, driver, passenger, cargo, contents and etc of both objects.
GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: GVWR is the total allowable or recommended vehicle weight specified by a manufacturer when it is fully loaded. Fully loaded includes the weight of the vehicle, driver, passengers, contents, components and accessories plus the tongue weight.
GTWR - Gross Trailer Weight Rating: GTWR is the maximum recommended weight of the trailer. This weight includes all the content or cargo. This weight rating is usually located on the trailer frame.
GCWR - Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating: GCWR is the maximum recommended gross combination weight. This includes the total weight of the tow vehicle, occupants and any cargo or content plus the trailer and its cargo.
GAWR - Gross Axle Weight Rating: GAWR is the maximum allowable weight that a single axle can safely carry.
Definitions without Acronyms:
Trailer Tongue Weight - Trailer Tongue Weight is the downward weight or force exerted on the hitch ball by the object being towed or the coupler. This is thus then the amount of the trailer's weight that is transferred to the tow vehicle from the trailer tongue. The rule of thumb is that the tongue weight should not be more than 10 percent of the gross trailer weight.
Curb Weight - Curb weight is the empty weight of a towing vehicle. This does include the vehicle's fluids, fuel and standard equipment but not driver, other occupants or cargo.
Payload - Payload is the number resulting from the subtraction of the curb weight from the GVWR. In more plain terms this is the weight of the cargo in the trailer only, not including the weight of the tow vehicle or trailer.
Tow Rating - The tow rating is the manufacturer's recommended towing capacity. This rating is often based on the GVWR plus other factors.
To determine many of the weights defined above one would need to use a car or truck scale. All of the letters might at first read like alphabet soup but once the meaning is defined it is usually easy to understand the acronyms associated with towing a trailer or other object. Getting the correct weights will help one load and drive the towing vehicle and trailer safely.