Before you set out on a Spring Break road trip, we recommend you understand your vehicle's payload.
The payload is how much weight a vehicle can carry. This includes the weight of both passengers and cargo.
Most people view payload only in terms of how much cargo a vehicle can carry and do not consider the occupants' weight in the vehicle. For example, for someone who owns a half-ton pickup, it is common to hear them state, “My pickup can haul 1,600 pounds of firewood.” This is actually incorrect because the payload is actually the weight of passengers and cargo combined. If it’s a crew cab carrying four 200-pounders, then there are only 800 pounds left for carrying firewood in the cargo box without exceeding the payload limit.
Likewise, many consumers think crossovers are sturdy beasts of burden, but they are based on passenger-car designs, not on truck designs with steel frames that can handle heavy loads. Did you know, the payload for the Jeep Cherokee compact SUV is only 1,000 pounds, which is only 75 pounds more than a Toyota Camry.
Why Is Payload Important
What happens if you exceed the payload limit? The simple fact is, the extra weight can put a serious strain on your vehicle's engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, and tires and can lead to serious repair needs. Overloading a vehicle, for example, will increase braking distances and increase wear on brake pads and rotors.
Where Can You Find a Vehicle's Payload?
A vehicle’s payload is listed on the tire placard that shows the recommended inflation pressure, and it’s usually also found on the driver’s doorjamb. Payload might also be listed in the owner’s manual, and it shouldn’t be confused with the gross vehicle weight rating or towing capacity.
Please note that towing capacity is a separate rating for how much a vehicle can pull on a trailer.
A Vehicle's Payload can vary by model within a vehicle line based on how each model is equipped. Anything that increases a vehicle’s curb weight (the vehicle's weight with its vital fluids), such as an all-wheel or four-wheel drive, a moonroof, sunroof, or a third row of seats, can reduce the payload.
A great example of this is on the Toyota RAV4. The payload on a base LE model with front-wheel drive is 1,240 pounds. On the Toyota RAV4 Adventure and TRD models, which have AWD, larger wheels and tires, and other features, the payload drops to 1,050 pounds.