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The Trailer Guru’s Guide to Payload Trailer Weight

January 17, 2020 /
8x16 tandem axle enclosed cargo trailer

At Renown, “How much can my enclosed cargo trailer haul?” is a question we face every day. Some see payload trailer weight as a measure of trailer beefiness. In reality, the enclosed trailer weight and cargo weight combined, called the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR or just GVW), is one of the most important safety considerations a driver needs to be aware of. This guide is intended to provide a resource for a better understanding of how much different trailers can safely haul.

Common Terms in the World of Payload Trailer Weight 

When you’re looking over all of the trailers in stock at Renown, you need to consider all of the different ways you wish to use your trailer. The weight of this cargo will help you decide on the right size trailer for the task at hand. Let’s go over some of the more common terms you will come across as you consider your enclosed trailer options:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR/GVW): this is the maximum amount of weight specified by the manufacturer for the trailer to safely carry. This maximum includes both the payload capacity and the trailer weight to arrive at the absolute ceiling for safe transport. For example, you may see a 6×12 empty trailer weight listed as 1200 pounds. If the trailer has a GVWR of 3500, this means you can load up 2,300 lbs of cargo. Therefore, the 6×12 enclosed trailer weight capacity in total, or gross, is 3500 lbs.
  • Trailer Weight: also referred to as “empty weight” this is the weight of just the trailer without any cargo. Remember, asking how much does a 20ft enclosed trailer weight is only part of the equation. Payload capacity and GVW need to be accounted for.
  • Payload Capacity: this is the maximum weight of cargo that a trailer can safely transport. For example, Load Max trailers are marketed as having incredible payload capacity for hauling heavy equipment.
  • Tandem Axle (TA): also called a “dual axle”, a tandem axle allows for two independent axles to share the load of the trailer. This allows for heavier loads to be safely transported. You may notice the “TA” behind certain trailer lines designating this trailer as a tandem versus others which are a single axle or “SA”.

Looking at the Numbers: Enclosed Trailer Specs By Size:

Size matters when it comes to enclosed cargo trailers. A longer trailer may be needed to haul a food trailer, prized show car, or provide more room for a mobile office. However, a common misconception is that bigger always means a greater payload capacity. But remember a shorter trailer with a tandem axle may very well be able to carry a greater load than a longer trailer which is single axle. 

Below we’ll run through some of the more conventional trailer sizes. While we don’t carry each of these in stock at all times, we cater to custom orders and can work within your project’s budget to build the perfect trailer to meet your needs.

  • 5×8 Enclosed Cargo Trailer

5×8 enclosed trailer empty weight: 900 lbs

Payload Capacity: 1,800 lbs

GVW: 2,700 lbs

  • 6×10 Enclosed Cargo Trailer

6×10 enclosed trailer weight: 1,100 lbs

Payload Capacity: 2,400 lbs

GVW: 3,500 lbs

6×12 enclosed trailer weight: 1,200 lbs (SA), 1,800 lbs (TA)

Payload Capacity: 2,300 lbs (SA), 5,200 lbs (TA)

GVW: 3,500 lbs (SA), 7,000 lbs (TA) 

7×16 enclosed trailer weight: 2,260 lbs

Payload Capacity: 4,740 lbs

GVW: 7,000 lbs

8.5 x24 enclosed trailer weight: 3,600 lbs

Payload Capacity: 3,400 lbs

GVW: 7,000 lbs

  • 14ft Enclosed Cargo Trailers (SA)

6 x 14 foot enclosed trailer weight: 1,460 lbs 

7 x 14 foot enclosed trailer weight: 1,520 lbs

Payload Capacity: 2,040 (6×14) & 1,980 (7×14)

GVW: 3,500 lbs

  • 14ft Enclosed Cargo Trailers (TA)

6 x 14 foot enclosed trailer weight: 2,060 lbs 

7 x 14 foot enclosed trailer weight: 2,120 lbs

Payload Capacity: 4,940 (6×14) & 4,880 (7×14)

GVW: 7,000 lbs

  • 16ft Enclosed Cargo Trailers

7 x 16 ft enclosed trailer weight: 2,260 lbs

8.5 x 16 foot enclosed trailer weight: 2,800 lbs

Payload Capacity: 4,740 lbs (7×16) & 4,200 lbs (8.5×16)

GVW: 7,000 lbs

  • 18ft Enclosed Cargo Trailers

7 x 18 ft enclosed trailer weight: 2,480 lbs

8.5 x 18 ft enclosed trailer weight: 3,000 lbs

Payload Capacity: 4,520 lbs (7×18) & 4,000 lbs (8.5 x 18)

GVW: 7,000 lbs

  • 20ft Enclosed Cargo Trailers

7 x 20ft enclosed trailer weight: 2,640 lbs

8.5 x 20 foot enclosed trailer weight: 3,200 lbs

Payload Capacity: 4,360 lbs (7 x 20 ft) & 3,800 lbs (8.5 x 20 ft)

GVW: 7,000 lbs

  • 24ft Enclosed Cargo Trailer

8.5 x 24 foot enclosed trailer weight: 3,600 lbs

Payload Capacity: 3,400 lbs

GVW: 7,000 lbs

We have many more trailer options than just those listed above. Additional capacity on an enclosed trailer can be added with options like bigger axles, added height, 12 inch on center cross members, and other considerations. Talk to a knowledgeable team member about your unique enclosed trailer specs today. 

Gross Vehicle Weight Law 101

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) help determine the maximum GVWs allowed on the roadway. While this can vary across state lines, across the U.S. there are thresholds you need to be aware of when transporting cargo within your enclosed cargo trailer. 

Not only will an overloaded trailer be harder to handle, less safe, and will add additional wear and tear to the trailer’s components, you could also receive a ticket depending on the jurisdiction. The best course is to simply be aware of how much you are transporting and keep cargo weight below your trailer’s GVW. 

Knowing Your Limits

Staying within the GVW with a loaded enclosed cargo trailer is the best way to safely transport your cargo from A to B, but what about the vehicle you are using to tow the trailer? It’s vital to know your vehicle’s towing capacity to ensure the GVW of your trailer does not exceed this. While the vehicle may be able to physically move the trailer, you will putting the vehicle’s components through a great deal of stress and creating an entirely unsafe situation for driving on the road. 

Most vehicles have a manufacturer’s sticker on or near the inside of the driver’s door. If you are unable to find your vehicle’s information, you can look it up by year, make, and model on the NADA website.

How to Find the Perfect Trailer Based on Payload Trailer Weight

When scoping out all of the options Renown has for different trailer sizes, ask yourself these three questions: 1) What do you want to haul? 2) Where will you haul it? 3) What are the special considerations of your cargo?

  1. What do you want to haul?

Thinking about the physical dimensions of your trailer is important when considering the operations you wish to conduct. Length x width will give you a rough estimate of a trailer’s total capacity if it was filled top to bottom. Obviously longer trailers will have an edge in this computation but remember there are many instances where a shorter trailer actually has a greater payload capacity than a longer trailer has. An enclosed car trailer weight generally runs upwards of 3,000 lbs when the cargo vehicle’s weight is factored into the GVW. Tandem axle trailers will be more stable, easier to handle, and be able to safely carry a heavier load. 

  1. Where do you want to haul it?

Consider where you will actually take the trailer. Is it meant for open highways and long distances or more likely to be used in an urban/suburban setting? A landscape crew carrying all of their equipment around the city needs a trailer that’s a tough workhorse but also is small enough to maneuver through tight streets, neighborhoods, and in traffic. A beast like the 8.5x16TA trailer gives ample room for equipment while also being stout enough to carry thousands of pounds of cargo – even when roads are rough or nonexistent, such as in a construction setting. To put you in the perfect trailer, your sales representative should discuss with you the terrain your trailer will likely traverse.

  1. What are the special considerations of your cargo? 

When hauling live animals or extremely large items, generally a gooseneck trailer is the best option for stability and payload capacity. As with all of our trailers, options abound – you can increase the number or size of axles with a custom trailer set up to help boost payload capacity. Other considerations can be harder to spot. For example, almost all of our trailers come with a patented ThermaCool® roof liner which helps keep interiors cooler but some cargo may require additional considerations like vents to keep the interior as cool as possible. Our dedicated sales team can take your project’s requirements and can help you spot special considerations in order to recommend the perfect set up to meet your needs. 

Key Takeaways on Payload Trailer Weight

Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground here. As you browse all of your trailer options, use the knowledge you’ve gained here to be more aware of how payload trailer weight affects which trailer would best suit your purposes. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Length does not always mean more payload capacity. A smaller trailer can easily have a greater GVW especially when it has a tandem axle versus a longer trailer with a single axle.
  • Do your homework of looking at what you want to haul, where you want to haul it, and different options that can work best for your given situation. 
  • Look up your vehicle’s towing capacity when deciding on a trailer. If your new trailer has a super high GVW but your vehicle can’t safely tow it, you will have purchased an expensive storage shed.

Renown Does Trailers Differently Our team stands ready to give you an entirely different sales experience. From the first moment you step foot on our lot in Douglas, GA, to the moment you drive away with your new trailer, and even years down the road, we promise to be a team of integrity. This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a promise to treat you with respect, giving our very best to getting you the very best trailer possible. We won’t push. We won’t prod. We will use hundreds of years of combined experience in this industry to find you the perfect trailer at the most competitive price possible. Period. That’s the Renown difference – call, click, or come in today.

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