Reading A Trailer Capacity Plate

Michael Vatalaro

Find out what your trailer is capable of carrying.

Photo of passengers boarding a boatObviously, your actual boat's capacity is just as important as your trailer. (Photo: Billy Black)

Your trailer should have a plate showing the designed weight capacity. If you're unfamiliar with yours, take a moment to find it. It should list the Max Capacity, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) for a given tire size and inflation pressure.

Illustration of a trailer capacity plateThe capacity plate on your trailer should look similar to this example.

Multiply the GAWR by the number of axles to get the GVWR. If you've only got one axle, the GAWR and GVWR will be the same. The Max Capacity will be the GVWR minus the weight of the trailer itself.

So if, as in the pictured example, the GAWR is 2,550, and it's a tandem-axle trailer, the GVWR will be 5,100 pounds. The Max Capacity is listed as 4,000 pounds, which means the trailer weighs 1,100 pounds, unloaded. The total weight of the boat, motor, fuel, and all the gear aboard cannot exceed 4,000 pounds. Hopefully, the original dealer packaged your boat with an appropriately sized trailer. If you're unsure of your boat's weight, or concerned that you're approaching the maximum capacity, a quick trip to a public scale will either put those worries to rest or let you know it's time for an upgrade. 

— Published: Spring 2014

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