How is the ride and performance while riding near max payload?

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wilderness4wd

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For those of you who are riding around within let's say 100 lbs. under or over your max payload, how is the ride and performance? Is it sluggish? Ever have trouble getting up steep hills while offroading? Is there any sagging? Have you made any mods to help improve the situation?

I have a 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and my payload is 990 lbs. I am concerned that I'll be very close to this and may even exceed it. I think it'll be fine but I am seriously considering upgrading to a full-size truck, although I'd rather not.

I won't be towing anything - it's just mods, upgrades, armor, and gear in and on the truck.

Thanks.
 
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Billiebob

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For those of you who are riding around within let's say 100 lbs. under or over your max payload, how is the ride and performance? Is it sluggish? Ever have trouble getting up steep hills while offroading? Is there any sagging? Have you made any mods to help improve the situation?

I have a 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and my payload is 990 lbs. I am concerned that I'll be very close to this and may even exceed it. I think it'll be fine but I am seriously considering upgrading to a full-size truck, although I'd rather not.

I won't be towing anything - it's just mods, upgrades, armor, and gear in and on the truck.

Thanks.
Stick within the manufacturers guidelines, more important than maxxing out the GVWR are your mods. Weight is one thing but bigger tires are like adding overdrive. They also add rotational mass which really sucks up horsepower, even unloaded. If you are running stock rubber, maxxing out GVWR should be fine. Yes, you will obviously lose some acceleration and your brakes will be pushed harder, but Toyota built it to run fine fully loaded.
 
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diabetiktaco

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I never actually checked if I was over payload but I'm assuming I am. The OME HD leafs and nitrocharger shocks are spot on though and the right is very smooth. I have skinny 255 tires, so in the rain it's tough around tight bends and such but I've never had an issue I couldn't steer out of. Don't cheap out on suspension or tires.
 

LostWoods

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I think people will find that weight location is more important than total weight. I'm pushing limits on my Gladiator but most of the weight is in the suspension, tires, skids, and bumpers well below the beltline so it's not really an issue. If you plan on running around with a 180lb tent and a bunch of gear up on the roof, you'll have a drastically different experience. When I had my Tacoma, I kept my tent tucked behind the cab for this reason and it was very manageable.
 

ThundahBeagle

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Dont forget to add yourself and passengers. Or a Leer truck cap. Just those factors alone can take up over 509 pounds. That counts against payload.

All machines have limits, and no, your machine was not built to run just fine at maximum payload capacity all day every day. Half capacity maybe. Just like an advertised maximum tow capacity, it depends on other factors. Braking will suffer with longer stopping distances, and they will need to be changed more often. Cornering will need to be slower, hills are tougher. Pushing off from red lights and stop signs. In fact you should probably maintain your vehicle according to the Severe schedule in the manual, if you are running at full capacity all the time.

I'm sure there would be some sagging, too, if you were at max payload.

My max cargo AND passengers is over 1700 pounds in my 2014 GMC Sierra. and with my AFM engine, I get as good fuel economy as you.

Only thing is, I'm 19 feet long and pretty wide. So if you are trying to do more rock crawling or technical trails, a big one is not for you. But If you can stay at a thousand pounds in a full size truck meant to take 1700 capacity, you will be better off than being maxed out all the time
 

ThundahBeagle

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I think people will find that weight location is more important than total weight. I'm pushing limits on my Gladiator but most of the weight is in the suspension, tires, skids, and bumpers well below the beltline so it's not really an issue. If you plan on running around with a 180lb tent and a bunch of gear up on the roof, you'll have a drastically different experience. When I had my Tacoma, I kept my tent tucked behind the cab for this reason and it was very manageable.
I could argue that weight distribution is not more important than total weight, but weight distribution is very important. I built a deck and drawer system, and if everything is put away right, it's already distributed pretty well. Distribution IS ver important
 

LostWoods

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I could argue that weight distribution is not more important than total weight, but weight distribution is very important. I built a deck and drawer system, and if everything is put away right, it's already distributed pretty well. Distribution IS ver important
Well I mean within reason. If you're sticking a full ton on a Tacoma you're going to have a bad time but if you're talking 200# over with the weight low vs 200# under with a few hundred of it on the roof, I know which is going to handle better. Even with my tent below the roofline, it was night and day different on trail without.

People also need to remember that GVWR is a padded number (heavily on the Tacoma) and the real numbers that matter are the GAWR... You just can't take the two GAWR numbers and add them for a total payload because you know someone will put that full payload value in the bed and exceed the rear axle rating. Get weighed up on a 2-axle scale periodically as you build and as a final weight and you should be fine.
 

Pathfinder I

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For those of you who are riding around within let's say 100 lbs. under or over your max payload, how is the ride and performance? Is it sluggish? Ever have trouble getting up steep hills while offroading? Is there any sagging? Have you made any mods to help improve the situation?

I have a 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and my payload is 990 lbs. I am concerned that I'll be very close to this and may even exceed it. I think it'll be fine but I am seriously considering upgrading to a full-size truck, although I'd rather not.

I won't be towing anything - it's just mods, upgrades, armor, and gear in and on the truck.

Thanks.

There's two questions at play here - first is your total weight allowance, and the second is how your truck handles the weight.

1) For your total weight allowance, this thread already has info on that -- knowing your payload, GVWR, GAWR, etc. are all very important to this discussion. However, in the absence of real-world testing and data on the variety of brands/model trucks out there, I always struggle with the question "is it OK to exceed payload". It might be OK for a Toyota. It might not be OK for a Honda. I'm not saying nobody knows, but what I am saying is I've never actually seen a "standardized" approach to real-world GVM capability and the real-world consequences of going over weight from a vehicle reliability/handling/etc. perspective. There are plenty of anecdotes, and plenty of very specific examples (i.e. vehicles with massive roof loads), but not enough general data to make the decision clear for me on "is it safe to go over or not". As others have said, it's not just the weight but where it's carried that can make a huge impact on the overall safety of the situation.

The majority of GVM/GVWR determinations seem to be based on regulations as opposed to physics. For example, once a vehicle weighs more than a certain amount, the classification changes in the regulations (I think the CAFE standards are related to this somehow) -- I don't remember the details, but the point is that if a vehicle has to have under a 6000 lbs GVWR in order to fit into a certain emissions bracket, even if the truck is strong enough in the real world to actually have a higher GVWR, they'll still stick the 6000 lbs limit on it to make it fit the right category. I'm not at all an expert on this stuff, but a while back I was researching putting a deck and canopy on my mid-size, and when I researched why they weren't more popular here in North America as compared to Australia, even if the trucks are substantively similar, the GVWR will be very different from country to country. For example, the Holden Colorado, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, the last gen of the Isuzu DMAX and the new gen of the Mazda BT-50 all share a platform, and in theory should be pretty close in terms of GVWR, but the Australian examples frequently boast payloads of a ton, which is way more than the North American versions, and from what I could divine the reason for that is regulatory.

So without a clear answer on the implications of extra weight from the "physics" perspective, I don't even bother to speculate on whether or not the vehicle will be "tough enough" to handle the extra weight. I instead focus on the legal/regulatory side. Many will argue that a few hundred pounds over is probably fine for non-commercial work because if you are in an accident it is unlikely that you would be found negligent or liable (a few hundred pounds over is unlikely to be noticed by a "reasonable person"), and therefore you don't need to worry so much about lawsuits or the insurance company telling you to take a hike. This is probably a fair assessment, but technically, the insurance company COULD say "take a hike", and you COULD be liable in a lawsuit -- it's just not very common as far as I know, because I was unable to find a lot of evidence of actual cases of this happening. This is a decision for the individual based on their risk tolerance. I don't see any need to flirt with a lawsuit in my case so I try to stay under GVWR. It may be unlikely that I'll get sued for being over, but it would be a pretty high impact thing if it did happen.

This risk profile changes if you are a commercial operator; enforcement and liability are all much more serious in the commercial vehicle realm. In that case, I think it's foolish to be over GVWR. It's easy to say "I'm not a commercial operator", but for some folks that's worth a second thought. Do you make money off of YouTube or by sharing photos of your rig on instagram in exchange for goods or discounts? Do you moonlight driving for Uber? And what does all this mean according to the laws of your local jurisdiction? What constitutes a "commercial" vehicle is a bit more grey since the "Gig Economy" took off and the regulations are still catching up in a lot of places, but lots of folks can't have a dedicated Overland rig so if your rig is also used to make you money, be aware that could impact this discussion a bit and increase your risk if you are over GVWR.

2) For how your vehicle handles your weight, this one is a lot simpler. Assuming you are within GVM, a call to a suspension specialist -- ARB for example - will get you set with a suspension system tuned to your specific weight and application. I've emphasized that last part because there are a couple of critical points to make on this:

  • Most vehicles from the factory have a "Jack of all Trades, master of none" suspension (except vehicles like the ZR2 Bison, TRD Pro of Jeep Rubicon, where the upgraded suspension is part of the package). If 90% of vehicles sold spend 90% on the highway with light, everyday loads (which is the case for the majority of "Lifestyle" trucks - Taco, Canyon, Ranger, etc.) you can bet that the stock suspension will be set up to perform in those conditions. Therefore, if you are making a touring rig where 90% of the time you will be hauling 95% of your GVWR capacity, then the stock suspension is likely to sag and not do you any favours in terms of handling and comfort. It's also likely to wear much faster than intended, increasing the risk of a roadside emergency on an adventure. The solution is aftermarket suspension.

  • Related to the above, though, not all aftermarket suspension is created equally. Most manufactuers are actually just subsidiary brands of the big suspension manufacturers selling re-badged components. This is especially true in the "lifts" market - there are a lot of people who just want the aesthetics of a lifted truck, and no shortage of cheap, unscrupulous companies willing to sell you a "lift of many inches" for what appears to be a steal of a deal.

    A proper suspension specialist will not just provide springs, shocks, and pucks to give you height - they will have a fully engineered suspension system that improves suspension performance for the weight of your vehicle, while preserving the performance of the rest of the vehicle. Cheap lift kits often will ignore things like control arm angle, drive shaft angle, brake lines, etc. A quality engineered suspension kit will be designed with all of these other components in mind, and will come with replacement bits and bobs to make sure the suspension improvement is not met with a degradation elsewhere. It may lift it, or it may just haul the weight better -- For example, ARB have 3 different suspension options for the Colorado, each designed to a specific weight range - Light, medium, or heavy, and the focus isn't really on lifting the rig at all.


Thanks for reading my suspension thesis :D Hope it's helpful! Also, none of this is legal advice even though I mention regulations; I'm not a lawyer, just a dude saying stuff on the internet. YMMV!
 

LONO100

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I'm sure I have exceeded the payload on a few of my vehicles in the past, and while I don't recommend it, the biggest place where I have noticed the weight is when accelerating or trying to maintain freeway speed uphill. Off road, those wheels will be rubbing those wells way more often as well. As I have learned more, grown less wreckless, and probably most of all I have more of a budget to get exactly the type of vehicle that will fit my needs as opposed to taking whatever I could afford, I am able to prepare better and keep my payload under limits.
 

leeloo

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I have no explanation on why US pick ups have such a minuscule official payload compared with the rest of world. They seem to be built fine. Dodge RAM 1500 is the only US pick up sold officially trough dealers in Europe and they state a GWM of 3500 kg ( 7716 lbs ) which is very respectable, on par and even superior with other pick ups sold here like Hilux, ranger etc.. . But not in its home the US. Must be something with some obscure laws, maybe you need a differtent driving license for heavier trucks, maybe the taxes are different , I don't know,
To make things short, it is obvious that less you weight better the on road and off road performance will be. You can offset some thing with a good suspension but physics always wins in the end. And I seen first hand that stock light vehicles in general have an easier time off road than even upgraded rigs that overloaded, that is for sure.
But it seems that the backpacker mindset seems to make its way in the community, it certainly makes sense financially as well and I think this is very good.
I pack lighter = I spend less on fuel and suspension, so I can do more trips..it is as easy as that. If the same item can be found in a lighter version with little compromise - I go for that one.
In my current vehicle I have a lot of space. I leave for a 2 week trip 1/3 empty. I don't feel the need to fill it just because I have the extra space...

The new vehicle I am planning now, it has a very good payload, I am not even worried that I will go near the GVM, (payload is very good, but the volume to put in this payload sucks, so unless I carry bricks - no danger there ).

But still I make extra efforts to keep it light. I have seen first hand how well a vehicle can do when it is light. Test with your own vehicle. Just find a near by trail, a couple of hours ride in an empty truck, than load the kitchen sink and go back on the same trails. You will never pack the same again.
 

LONO100

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The payload in trucks grts crushed the higher up in trim level you go per vehicle. My current truck has a payload rating of 1842 lbs, the same exact truck but go up 1 trim level and the payload is about 1100 lbs because of the added weight of fancy stuff like panoramic sunroof, 12 way adjustable power seats, etc. The suspension can differ and play a role in payload as well. The more comfy they try to make the ride, the less payload, the more you give the suspension the ability to articulate and rebound, you lose payload, etc.
 

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I'm sure I have exceeded the payload on a few of my vehicles in the past, and while I don't recommend it, the biggest place where I have noticed the weight is when accelerating or trying to maintain freeway speed uphill. Off road, those wheels will be rubbing those wells way more often as well. As I have learned more, grown less wreckless, and probably most of all I have more of a budget to get exactly the type of vehicle that will fit my needs as opposed to taking whatever I could afford, I am able to prepare better and keep my payload under limits.
This is a great point -- and an easily observable condition for a driver (even without a scale) of when you are over weight because the opposite of what you describe is likely also true in that situation -- usually, if a vehicle is heavy enough where it's noticeably effected in it's acceleration from a stop or in it's ability to maintain speed at highways, then trying to stop all that weight in a hurry (i.e. with the stock brakes on the rig) will see a performance hit too. It's not often noticed because we actually don't have to stop suddenly very often, but it can have a huge impact on braking distances which is the difference between a "Gee, that was close" story to tell and a "A driver and passenger were airlifted to hospital today from I-5 after they collided with an animal crossing the road" headline.

Here's a vid that covers how much of an impact this can have:


That being said, I've never upgraded my brakes - and if a person stays within GVWR they shouldn't have to -- but along with suspension mods, it might be worth looking at a brake upgrade at the same time if the use case demands that.
 

wilderness4wd

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Thanks all... this really is a helpful and welcoming community!

I've got a very detailed spreadsheet where I weigh everything and I am removing some of the unnecessary mods/upgrades, and figuring out how to work without them.
 
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ThundahBeagle

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The vehicle at max payload should be fine but overweight can lead to mechanical breakdowns and from my experience overloading the back of a pickup leads to a nasty floating of the front end.
Just remember that this isnt like a light switch. Everything isnt just fine and dandy until that pound over capacity is the straw that breaks the camels back.

If you were to take a yardstick and measure the distance between the top of the rear wheel, and the wheel well edge, it would sink a little every few hundred pounds you add to the bed. So the ride quality gets progressively worse the more weight you add.. You should see a marked difference between dead empty and "at capacity" or even 200 past capacity.

That translates to worse and worse ride and performance quality in terms of fuel economy, "off the line" 0-60, down from 60 to zero, turns, and also dictates that you go over obstacles slower, to reduce the chance that you damage or stress suspension components.
 
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