Overloading your rig

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Rd62

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The other thing that I have started taking into account is that not everyone needs to carry a high lift jack or maxtrax’s or even camp stoves etc.
If you are going on a true expedition then you need to think like you’re backpacking (one person carries the tent, another the stove etc.)
This should shed over 100 pounds on each vehicle.
Great point
 
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MetalMatt1776

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Common sense is a lot lighter than steel.
That's a fact, but lack of common sense is a lot more expensive than steel. And we all know common sense just isn't very common. With that said, the sad fact is that most guys who dump the money for armor take more precautions offroad. The dimwits seem to never have armor and then act surprised when their transfer case spits it guts out all over the trail.
 
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Pathfinder I

Not all armour is equal, either!

For instance, Steel is heavy, but strong. Aluminum is lighter, but weak. Rule of Threes: Aluminum is about 3 times lighter than steel, but steel is 3x stronger. The question is, how strong do you need it?

Do you need a Skid Plate? Or do you need a Rock Guard? Skid Plate = skidding the weight of the vehicle over a hard object. Rock guard = protecting the underside against thrown stones and sticks. For rock guards, aluminum is fine.

AEV has also done some work with Boron Steel skids on the ZR2 Bison, which are incredibly strong. I'm excited to see who else uses those kinds of skids and how Boron Steel performs/is used for other rigs. Theoretically, you can get a much lighter skid plate since the Boron Steel is much stronger you need less of it.
 
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Lindenwood

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We are evangelical about GVWR. It's absolutely critical if you want to travel internationally. For the occasional trip on private property like ranching, as another poster mentioned, it's not as critical, but for any kind of vehicle-based travel I think it is really important. And I'd wager that a lot of rigs that are set up to be "Expo Cool" are probably over the GVWR, especially if they are really built up smaller SUVs, like Jeeps.

Our previous overlanding rig was a Jeep JK Rubicon -- what many argue is the best Overlanding platform available in North America.

Only, it isn't.

I'll explain why for anyone who doesn't know this and stumbles on this thread:

There are 3 important numbers to pay attention to with rigs. The first is the Curb Weight. This is how much an empty, bone-stock vehicle weighs with full fluids parked at the curb, just like the name implies.

The second is GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). This is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle. There may also be a number associated which is the Combined GVWR -- it's a number that the rig and trailer cannot exceed. Since there is another thread on trailers I won't go into that here. The GVWR is the maximum weight the vehicle was designed to be, and there is some limiting factor -- tires, bearings, axles, transmission, engine, suspension, etc. -- that means the engineers have said "This, and no more".

The third and final number -- which is, I'd argue, the most important -- is Payload. GVWR minus Curb Weight = Payload. Payload is how much stuff you can bring, and is meant to include the weight of the driver, passengers, family dog, luggage, etc. What people forget is that it also includes all those snazzy aftermarket bits and pieces, and those add up fast. 150 lbs for a steel bumper. 100 lbs for a winch. 150 lbs for a RTT, etc.

So why do I think the JK Rubicon, or even the JL Rubicon, is not the best platform? Because the Payload is only 750-800 lbs. Just me, my wife, and our dog take up over half that payload in a stock jeep. By the time you add even basic camping gear and luggage for a week away, we are easily over the payload capacity. I'm not saying you cannot use the jeep for overlanding -- you absolutely can, and thousands do -- we did for years! But, you have to take a backpacker mentality to it. Small, light, compact is the only way to live long-term out of a JK on a multi-month expedition and respect it's GVWR. If you have your heart set on a fridge, an RTT, bull bar, winch, and expo-cool rear tire carrier with 3 jerry cans off the side, you will find that the Jeep is not suitable. The same is true for a lot of smaller SUVs.

"But ChasingOurTrunks, you said that GVWR is limited by components, so I can increase that number by upgrading suspension and such, can't I?!", Yes, I did say that and functionally, replacing components would increase capacity so that's true!

Only, it isn't.

The GVWR is a number that manufacturers set, and it cannot be changed legally. The numbers printed on the door jam are the numbers associated with the VIN of your vehicle. It doesn't matter if you upgrade every single component in the rig, it will still have the same GVWR according to one, very important stakeholder: The Insurance Company.

You can get away with overloading a rig in some jurisdictions, but in others you may find that being overweight voids your insurance coverage, and can expose you to extreme liability in an accident. You may also find that some countries will deny you entry (or deny you insurance which denies you entry in effect). And even though I've been disagreed with on other forums, an overloaded rig will have a higher rate of component failure than one that is kept within the weight limits it was designed for.

We went through every piece of gear we had and weighed it down to the gram, and ultimately this exercise is why we replaced our Jeep with a mid-size truck with 1500lbs payload capacity. For the kind of travel we do, we needed the extra weight capacity.

What I suggest folks do is they pick a rainy Saturday when they aren't out adventuring, and take ALL of the gear they typically bring on a trip and the bathroom scale. Weigh every piece of it and record it in a spreadsheet; every time you add or subtract gear, toss it on the scale and update the spreadsheet. Toss the weights of people in there too -- if you lose 50 lbs, update it. The goal is to create a database of your "Payload" -- you'll know, down to the pound, how much weight your are bringing on a trip.

Then, find out how much your existing accessories weigh. If a lot of stuff is bolted on or is difficult to find the weights of online, just go to the nearest trucker scale -- there are plenty all over the US and Canada, always near major roads (interstates, Trans Canada, etc.) and find out how much your new "Curb Weight" is with all your accessories bolted on. You may find your payload is lacking -- if that's the case, you only have three options:

1) Bring less stuff

2) Buy lighter accessories.

3) Take your chances with an overloaded rig.
Great post! Though, could you cite one example where, in the U.S., an insurance provider denied a claim because the offending vehicle was over GVWR? People say this a lot, but I dug and dug and dug for weeks and never found one verified case of thos happening.

Moreover, as I said in my linked thread, if it was the case that driving over GVWR would cause your insurance to not pay out in an at-fault accident, why would that not apply to speeding, running red lights, or even drunk driving? For all of those offenses, your insurance will still absolutely pay out as you had contracted. Now, there is a good chance your rates will skyrocket afterward--if you are not simply dropped entirely. But, there is no legal basis for them to deny payout due to operation over GVWR.

That said, a bad accident that investigators determine was caused or exacerbated by your opersting over GVWR could result in additional civil liabilities. But, that is wholly separate from normal auto insurance.
 
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RoarinRow

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I probably need to rethink what is in my bids. My build is currently set up as a bug out vehicle but wanna be overlander. I guess I need to do some reorganization this weekend. Bug out vs Overlanding.
 
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Great post! Though, could you cite one example where, in the U.S., an insurance provider denied a claim because the offending vehicle was over GVWR? People say this a lot, but I dug and dug and dug for weeks and never found one verified case of thos happening.

Moreover, as I said in my linked thread, if it was the case that driving over GVWR would cause your insurance to not pay out in an at-fault accident, why would that not apply to speeding, running red lights, or even drunk driving? For all of those offenses, your insurance will still absolutely pay out as you had contracted. Now, there is a good chance your rates will skyrocket afterward--if you are not simply dropped entirely. But, there is no legal basis for them to deny payout due to operation over GVWR.

That said, a bad accident that investigators determine was caused or exacerbated by your opersting over GVWR could result in additional civil liabilities. But, that is wholly separate from normal auto insurance.
Thanks for the kind words Lindenwood!

I’m on mobile and don’t have specific links, but citing cases where it’s happened in the USA will be difficult as I don’t even know where to look, and each state has different rules. In some states, GVWR limits only apply to commercial vehicles. Some states require that all vehicles with a load deck (including small pickups) are registered either commercially or with a special license where GVWR limits may apply. You are right to ask though, as everyone has to make their own minds up about this stuff — is this something I need to worry about? For me, my answer is always a qualified yes. Others may look at their travel style and rank it low on the list of concerns.

From what I understand it is more of an issue in Europe, [becoming an issue in] Canada, and in Australia; in some of these jurisdictions they enforce GVWR limits in all vehicles, not just commercial trucks. It wasn’t much of an issue in these places 10-15 years ago either, though, so I imagine this is going to be a bigger issue in the future. When has a democracy gone for less regulations, after all!

But in practical terms your post answered the issue and upon rereading I realize I wasn’t very clear on what the main issue is. A reputable insurance company probably won’t deny coverage of the vehicle due to GVWR overages. Even a $60k payout is cheap for the big guys. If you overload your vehicle and wreck it, odds are they will pay the first time — but somewhat related, I have to wonder if odds are in favour of wrecking it if the weight was managed effectively, which is just a rhetorical question for the ether!

The main issue is in two places:

1) Liability. In the USA in particular, it seems you can be sued for passing gas in the presence of a litigiously minded jerk and be on the hook. Going way over a GVWR gives legitimacy to lawsuits that will be a pain to respond to. Even having to go a few steps down this path is a headache of monumental proportions. Additionally, while a reputable insurance company will write off a $60k loss, they will likely be a bit more strict if a civil lawsuit with evidence of gross negligence comes around as there’s a lot more money at stake. In a typical accident insurance will cover you personally but if those costs creep up and you can be demonstrated to be at fault, the company will at some point look for a way to cut you loose. Most policies have language about “use within the designed function of the vehicle” in there. The risk of even a small lawsuit is worth taking this issue seriously, as even a small lawsuit without insurance covering costs would send most people to bankruptcy. And if your insurance stands by you to the bitter end, you still need to worry about...

2) Future practical Insurability. Insurance protects people against foolish decisions, and until you prove otherwise, the insurer will lump you into your designated spot on an actuarial table. Everybody gets one mistake. That mistake proves you are not average, and rates will skyrocket. I’d rather not risk it, as those higher rates mean less trips.

There is no advantage as far as I can see to ignoring GVWR. The disadvantages are numerous and while some are more hypothetical than others, I’d prefer not to be the first scientist to test they hypothesis!
 
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smlobx

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We have recently returned from a true expedition across the “Forbidden Zone” in Namibia
There were a total of 7 vehicles...all identically prepared 79 Series Toyota Land Cruisers with caps and rtt’s. We carried 7, 20 liter Jerry cans of diesel in addition to full 130 liter tanks and traversed the Namib desert.

Before we left we had a meeting where we decided who carried what. One High Lift jack, 2 camp stoves with bottles, 2 shovels etc.
You should have seen the pile of stuff in the parking lot that we left...amazing

Weight, especially on a trip like this with deep sand and being very remote is your true enemy..

And before you ask...yes we all got stuck and even had a busted CV joint on one of the trucks...
 

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69machguy

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This is a great thread. Last week I visited Pismo Beach, CA for the first time. My F350 was loaded for a family trip, not to mention my usual overlanding gear. While turning around on soft sand my rear end quickly sunk. My wife and kids rolled their eyes thinking we’re stuck. Thank God for rear lockers. Like many have commented, I need to reevaluate what I carry regularly
 
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JCWages

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I did this exercise in May when I ordered my new King coilovers. It was very eye-opening!

The numbers are a bit off and I have a different, heavier, winch now but the gist is the same. My truck is a pig. lol

 
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Charles M

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The Curb on my Tahoe is 5894 pounds the GVWR is 7300 but the payload weight listed is 1700 pounds... Now even if you use that funky new math it equals out the payload weight should only be 1406 #s

I have lots of steel frt and rear bumpers 4 inch lift 35 in tires, swing out tire carrier, cargo shelving and a bed inside, cooler, winch, tools, first aid gear, dual batteries, sleeping bags, bottle jack and more. My five 35 inch tires and rims weigh in at a whopping 86 pounds each compared to the stock 48 pound units.

I have removed mid row and last row seating and other unneeded things like a stock jack and tire carrier components.

I often wondered if I was under the 1700 payload weight... So I decided to see just how bad it was. I filled the gas tank and my wife and I climbed in and we weighed it.... I was happy to see it was only 6890 pounds so we have room for 410 or 704 more pounds depending on how you calculate it more stuff. Although I can't really see putting that much into it even for an extended camping expedition.
 
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GabrielSyler

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My rig with all the permanent add-ons and loaded for a trip (including passengers) sits just over the factory GVM (3,200kg). I had the GVM increased to 3,500kg through upgraded suspension and engineers certificate. The vehicle power struggled with the weight until I had the engine tuned. Car drives great now (or like factory again haha) and doesn't have any issues on the sand.
 

Pathfinder I

My rig with all the permanent add-ons and loaded for a trip (including passengers) sits just over the factory GVM (3,200kg). I had the GVM increased to 3,500kg through upgraded suspension and engineers certificate. The vehicle power struggled with the weight until I had the engine tuned. Car drives great now (or like factory again haha) and doesn't have any issues on the sand.
That's awesome! I don't know if such a think is possible in North America, but it's neat that you can do it in Oz.

Can you share a bit more on this process of getting an engineer's sign off? Did that have any impact on your insurance or registration of the vehicle? And is the upgrade attached to the vehicle's VIN, or is it a separate item that would need to be referenced in the event of a problem?
 

GabrielSyler

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That's awesome! I don't know if such a think is possible in North America, but it's neat that you can do it in Oz.

Can you share a bit more on this process of getting an engineer's sign off? Did that have any impact on your insurance or registration of the vehicle? And is the upgrade attached to the vehicle's VIN, or is it a separate item that would need to be referenced in the event of a problem?
It's as good as an off-the shelf product here in Australia once the engineers have done the initial testing for the product. I don't know the particulars of that test but I imagine it involves breaking and swerving tests and the like. Their is no doubt a large sum of money involved in the initial testing stage. Their are several organisations that do this work. I picked one that met my needs and got the vehicle dropped off. They swapped out the suspension, issued a new certificate and I was out of there. The upgrade is attached to the vehicle's VIN and the car is formally registered with the larger GMV. They attach a VIN mod plate sticker to car also.

If you do the modification prior to first registering the car, the upgrade is valid in all states in Australia. If you do it after registering the car it is only valid for the state it was registered in. You can drive in other states but if you wanted to register the car in a new state you'd need to redo the certificate.

You could also get upgrades to your towing capacity but I read somewhere that this may be changing.
 
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It's as good as an off-the shelf product here in Australia once the engineers have done the initial testing for the product. I don't know the particulars of that test but I imagine it involves breaking and swerving tests and the like. Their is no doubt a large sum of money involved in the initial testing stage. Their are several organisations that do this work. I picked one that met my needs and got the vehicle dropped off. They swapped out the suspension, issued a new certificate and I was out of there. The upgrade is attached to the vehicle's VIN and the car is formally registered with the larger GMV. They attach a VIN mod plate sticker to car also.

If you do the modification prior to first registering the car, the upgrade is valid in all states in Australia. If you do it after registering the car it is only valid for the state it was registered in. You can drive in other states but if you wanted to register the car in a new state you'd need to redo the certificate.

You could also get upgrades to your towing capacity but I read somewhere that this may be changing.
Very cool Gabriel! Thanks for that information!

If anyone else is reading and has engaged in this process in other jurisdictions, it would be extremely helpful to know about for the purposes of this thread!