Decoding Vehicle Weight And Trailer Figures

Buying a trailer is not that easy a job, because a number of unfamiliar terms are related to it. You must study these terms to purchase the right trailer for your need.

Tare Mass? GVM? Kerb Mass? All these terms and acronyms are familiar on a trailer’s compliance plates and in the manual. But do you know what they actually mean? All these terms refer to how much of a load a trailer can carry or tow. Therefore, it’s important to know them elaborately.

Two most common terms you will find are gross and mass. Scientifically, gross and mass are different from one another, but here both of them represent the total weight a trailer can carry. No matter what is the type of a trailer (4-car trailer, 5-car trailer, 6-car trailer), these weights are expressed in pounds and tonnes.

Tare Mass

It is the weight of an empty vehicle with fluids (coolants and grease) and only 2.6 gallons of fuel in the tank.

Kerb Mass

Same as Tare Mass, but with an entire full tank of fuel and also without any accessories (bull bars, tow bars, roof racks etc).

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)

GVM means, the maximum weight of a vehicle when fully loaded. GVM is usually found on the vehicle’s weight placard.


Payload is the maximum load a trailer can carry. Deduct a vehicle’s Kerb Mass from the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), the answer which comes out, is the amount of stuff you can load into it.

Gross Vehicle Axle Mass

You should keep this in mind that a trailer’s GVM is distributed evenly. It is the utmost load taken by a vehicle’s front and rear axles. To provide a safety margin, the combined gross axle weight is usually exceeded above the GVM.

Tare Trailer Mass (TARE)

This is simply the weight of an empty trailer. It can be a single axle box trailer, camper trailer, jet ski trailer or a heavy duty multi axle trailers. A Tare Mass varies depending on the type of trailer and mechanism it has. A Tare Mass is also refereed to as Dry Weight.

Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)

GTM means the maximum load an axle of a trailer can take. Gross trailer mass is the combined weight of a trailer and its payload, but not including the tow bar weight.

Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)

ATM is the total weight of Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) and the tow bar. ATM can also be defined as the maximum towing weight of a trailer.

Knowing about these terms can help you a lot, when you business is associated with the need of a trailer or when you go to buy one.