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GM joins Ram in honest truck weighting

by Bill Cawthon on


Automotive News reports that General Motors has decided to leave all the parts on their trucks when establishing maximum payload ratings.

The practice of artificially inflating payload ratings by deleting components usually considered standard equipment has come to a head recently as it was revealed that Ford had omitted the jack, spare tire, center console, radio, and other items to be able to make a claim that its Class 4 F-450 pickup, rated at 31,200 pounds towing capacity, was actually a Class 3 pickup and  could out-tow the Ram 3500, which is rated for 30,000 pounds.

The curb weight, which is used by most manufacturers, including Ram, to determine weight class, puts the F450 above the 14,000-pound limit for a Class 3 truck.

A standard F450 with all of its pieces and the maximum claimed loads would exceed the truck’s actual capacity and could create a hazard.

Later, it came to light that General Motors was omitting the rear bumper on its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups to allow claims of higher payload capacities.

Trucks have an engineered total weight, or Gross Vehicle Weight, that is the maximum for which the truck is designed for safe operation. After subtracting everything “truck” from that weight, whatever is left is “payload,” which includes driver, passenger, and cargo. The less “truck” for a given GVW means a higher allowable payload, which translates directly into bragging rights.

It also opens the door for misleading claims and consumer confusion.

“As this story unfolded, we took a look at how the whole industry does this, and almost everybody uses base curb weight,” GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said. “We thought the best thing to do was line up with the rest of the industry to make those comparisons as easy as possible for consumers.”

GM will use the curb weight standard across its entire pickup line

Ford, which has demanded that Chrysler stop claiming “best-in-class towing” for the Ram 3500, says it has no plans to change the way it calculates its Super Duty truck weights.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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