GVWR vs. GAWR: A Guide to Weight Ratings for Trailer Safety

April 7, 2023

As a driver, towing a trailer can be a challenging and dangerous task if proper safety measures are not taken. Two essential factors that you need to consider while towing a trailer are Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). These ratings indicate the maximum weight that your vehicle and trailer can safely carry without risking any damage to the vehicle, trailer, or the passengers.


Understanding GVWR and GAWR

GVWR refers to the total weight of your vehicle, including passengers, cargo, fuel, and the trailer. In contrast, GAWR refers to the maximum weight that each axle on your vehicle or trailer can safely carry. Both these ratings are crucial for ensuring that your vehicle and trailer can handle the weight you’re towing safely.

It’s essential to note that the GVWR includes the weight of the trailer, while the GAWR only considers the weight that each axle can handle. Therefore, if you’re towing a trailer, you need to ensure that the combined weight of your vehicle and trailer does not exceed the GVWR, and the weight on each axle does not exceed the GAWR.


Importance of Properly Sized Chains

Using chains while towing a trailer is a legal requirement in most states. However, not all chains are created equal, and using the wrong chain can be dangerous. When selecting chains, you need to ensure that they are properly sized and rated for the weight you’re towing.

The primary purpose of using chains while towing is to prevent the trailer from separating from the vehicle in case of an accident or malfunction. Therefore, it’s essential to choose chains that can handle the weight of your vehicle and trailer, ensuring that they won’t break or snap under pressure.


How to Choose the Right Chains

When selecting chains, you need to consider the weight rating of your vehicle and trailer. The weight rating indicates the maximum weight that the chains can safely carry without breaking. To find the appropriate chain for your vehicle, you need to know the weight of your vehicle, trailer, and any cargo you’re carrying.

The chain’s weight rating should be equal to or greater than the combined weight of your vehicle and trailer. For instance, if your vehicle weighs 5,000 pounds, and your trailer weighs 2,500 pounds, you need a chain with a weight rating of at least 7,500 pounds.

It’s also essential to ensure that the chains are long enough to secure the trailer to the vehicle.When attaching chains to a vehicle, always cross the chains. Crossing the trailer chains aids in turning the trailer by reducing the probability of stress. It also acts as a cradle in the event of separation from the tow vehicle.


A Guide to Buying 

Based on your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, you need to find the size and grade of chain that would cover that GVWR. Each trailer must be fitted with two chains and each chain would have the GVWR rating of the trailer. Outfitting your trailer with a pair of chains is essential to achieve the proof load. 

Below are the ratings on various sizes and grades of chain in ascending order based on SAE J-684.

Chain You Can Trust

Finding the right chain is essential for safe travel. Laclede Chain domestically manufactures chain you can rely on and we’re ready to help you quickly find the chain you need for safe transport. Connect with a Laclede Chain expert to get a quote on chain for your hauling needs.