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Pickup Truck Load Capacity

How Much Load Can Your Pickup Truck Handle?

By

Nissan Frontier Truck

2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup Truck

Photo © Jason Fogelson

About Load Capacity

I'm sure you've heard different models of pickup trucks referred to as half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton vehicles. All three terms refer to a pickup truck's load capacity. For example, a half ton truck's springs, chassis and bed are designed to safely carry a maximum of 1000 pounds, or one-half of a ton.

Most manufacturers have stopped using weight-related terminology to describe their pickup trucks. They've switched to other designations that don't usually help you determine a truck's load rating. If you already own the truck, check your owner's manual, if you're shopping for a truck, manufacturer websites usually offer specifications for even older models.

In general, you can expect to haul loads of the following types in different classes of pickup trucks:

Half-Ton Pickup Trucks

Sometimes called light duty trucks, these general purpose pickups include Ford's F-150, Chevy's Silverado 1500 and other similar pickups.

  • Drive to work
  • Move furniture
  • Haul trash
  • Modify to create a lowrider or sport truck

Three-Quarter-Ton Pickup Truck

Still general purpose pickup trucks, but with an increased load capacity, such as the Ford F-350 and Chevy 2500:

  • Hauling medium sized loads of dirt or sand
  • Light fifth-wheel trailer used with in-bed campers

One-Ton Pickup Trucks

For drivers who need to carry heavier cargo in their trucks, moving up to the larger F-Series and heavy duty pickups:

  • Hauling large loads of sand, dirt or wood
  • Carrying large in-bed campers
  • Towing heavy fifth-wheel trailers, such as horse trailers or car trailers

Keep in Mind That:

  • Engine, transmission, axle gearing, and passenger weight all play a part in the capabilities of your truck.
  • Overload springs help keep the vehicle level when loaded or overloaded, but they do not strengthen the axle, wheel bearings, tires or frame.

Some of the early small pickups, such as the first Datsun truck sold in the United States, were quarter-ton trucks with less hauling capabilities.

An understanding of the truck's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) will help you decide which type of truck fits your needs.

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