Van payload information: what you need to know

Van payload information

When you’re choosing a van, there’ll be a whole load of things to consider, but one of the most significant factors will be what you need to actually carry.How bulky everything is will decide what kind of load volume you’ll need (or space in good, plain language) but even more important will be how heavy what you’re regularly carrying is. That will tell you what payload your van must have. 

1. It pays to get it right

Getting this right is really important for a number of reasons – ranging from your van either being too small for the job (massively inconvenient) or too big (a real waste of your hard-earned money), right through to safety issues and costly fines if your van is overloaded. 

2. So, what is payload? 

In simple terms, payload is how much weight your van can legally carry. Stop and think how much you put in your van and things can soon start to add up. For instance…

• An average house brick is roughly 2.27kg

• A 5-litre tin of paint is around 7kg

• A sheet  of 4’ x 8’ plywood is around 10kgs (based on ¼ inch softwood)

• An average bale of hay weighs up to 18kg

• A large bag of sharp sand is 35kg

• A big sack of potatoes can be about 50kg

3. Working it out 

There is a formula for working out your van’s payload. Don’t panic, we’re not about to go all Einstein on you! 

GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) – Kerbweight

And that’s it. The GVW is the maximum weight that a van is legally allowed to weigh when loaded. This includes the van itself, fuel in the tank and whatever you’re carrying onboard. And here’s another important thing to remember – what you’re carrying also includes you and any passengers!

You should be able to check your GVW on your van’s official weight plate. Usually you’ll find it riveted to the inside of a front door panel, or somewhere within the engine bay.

Kerb weight is what your van weighs with nothing in it but fuel and fluids. 

So, let’s say a van’s GVW is 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) and that its kerb weight is 1,900kg. Using our non-Einstein formula, you’ll quickly know that your legal payload will be 1,600kg. Job done. Well, not totally yet!

It’s important to point out that the 1,600kg includes everything in the van – not just people but also what equipment is fitted which obviously varies depending on trim level as well as any additional fixtures and fittings such as ladder racks or internal storage. In other words, don’t rely on the manufacturer’s basic kerb weight figures because they won’t allow for these variations. 

If in doubt on any of the above, always check a manufacturer’s website or vehicle handbook.

4. Penalties – don’t end up paying for your payload 

Did you know that the number of overloaded vans being stopped on British roads is increasing? The Police and The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carry out regular spot checks and if you’re carrying more weight than your payload allows you can get heavily fined and prevented from continuing your journey. You can also end up in court for this offence and potentially in prison if you get charged with dangerous driving. An overloaded van can increase the chances of a fatal accident if you have to brake suddenly. In short, it’s important to get the payload on your van right.

5% – 10%£100
More than 30%Court summons

5. Examples of van payloads 

So back to what we said right at the start. What your trade is and how much you need to carry will be key to choosing your van. To help you, here’s a very quick guide to payloads for a range of van types*:

Small vans Typical Payload: 500 – 900kg 

Medium vans Typical Payload: 900 – 1200kg 

Large vans Typical Payload: 1200 – 1500kg 

Crew van Typical Payload: 500 – 600kg

Dropside van Typical Payload: 1253 – 1500kg

Luton van Typical Payload: 1000 – 1200kg

So, in summary, payload, isn’t just about weight. It’s about your safety, your reliability and your reputation.

When you want extra guidance, feel free to talk to our specialist dealer partners. They supply thousands of vans every year and with all their experience they’ll always be happy to help.

*Always check with manufacturer or dealer for the most accurate and up to date information.

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