Are you moving to a new house or picking up your student from college soon?  Are considering using your SUV or Minivan for this exercise?  Well, this article is for you.  Just because it looks like you can put a boatload of heavy stuff in your car doesn’t mean you should. SUV, minivans and standard vans have maximum weight and capacity limits and its best to know more about them before you start stuffing. Here’s what the folks at say you should know.

Load Capacity Varies

Load capacity, which is the maximum amount of passenger and cargo weight that a vehicle is designed to handle, varies greatly from vehicle to vehicle. It can range from 900 lbs. or so for small crossovers like the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V and up to 1,600 lbs. for full-size, full-frame SUVs like the Ford Expedition and the Chevy Suburban.

First concept, if you intend on carrying some heavy stuff, it’s a good idea to know how load capacity is calculated. It’s calculated by subtracting the empty weight of the vehicle (curb weight) from the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The GVWR of your vehicle will be in the owner’s manual.  

Remember, load capacity includes passengers as well as cargo. If you have an SUV with a load capacity of 1,000 lbs., and you put four 200-lb. adults inside, you can only carry 200 lbs. of luggage. Complicating things is the fact that gasoline factors in too. Gasoline weighs about 6 lbs. per gallon, so if our theoretical SUV has a 15-gallon tank, filling up would add 90 lbs of weight.

Loading strategy

Now that we know how much stuff you can carry, let’s look at where to put in the vehicle. There is a strategy involved. In all vehicles, and SUVs in particular, it is important to keep the heaviest items towards the center of the vehicle. This reduces the potential adverse effect on handling that could be caused by the cargo weight.  It keeps the center of gravity near the center of the vehicle and this makes for optimum steering and braking.

Secure loose items

Next concept, to prevent cargo from flying around during any panic stops, keep smaller items in boxes and make sure they are secure.  The last thing you want to happen is have anyone hurt from objects flying around during a quick stop.  

Rear visibility

Although this isn’t always possible, try and stack your belongings so you can see out the back of the vehicle. Without rearward visibility, there is no telling what you might run into.

Tire maintenance

If there is any part of your vehicle that is affected by a loading it’s your tires. Take a good look at them after the car is loaded up and make sure they look OK. No bulging sidewalls or other concerning issues. Confirm the tires are properly inflated too. The recommended inflation pressure usually can be found on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the owner’s manual. Be sure to use these inflation pressure numbers, not the maximum pressure figure on the tire sidewall.

Article Courtesy: Earnhardt Chrysler


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