Work trucks are everywhere; the roads are filled with commercial work trucks in various shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a neighborhood plumber’s van filled with equipment or a massive 18-wheeler hauling merchandise across the country, these workhorse trucks represent critical transportation for all types of workers and materials.
Commercial motor vehicles in the United States are divided into three subcategories and eight classes based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR.) The GVWR represents the maximum safe operating weight of a vehicle. The vehicle’s net weight plus the driver’s and passengers’ weight, fuel, and cargo are used to calculate the GVWR. The GVWR is a safety standard meant to prevent overloading the vehicle, and it does not change after the manufacturer sets it.
Let’s take a closer look at the classifications of commercial vehicles.
Subcategory #1: Light Duty Vehicles
Trucks in classes 1, 2, and 3 belong to the light-duty subcategory.
- Class 1 – GVWR is 0 to 6000 pounds. Examples include passenger minivans, lighter pickup trucks, and most SUVs.
- Class 2 – GVWR is 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. Examples of class 2 vehicles include ¾ and 1-ton pickup trucks and cargo vans.
- Class 3 – GVWR is 10,001 to 14,000 pounds. Class 3 vehicles tend to either be heavier versions of class 2 vehicles or lighter versions of class 4 medium-duty vehicles.
Subcategory #2: Medium Duty Vehicles
The medium-duty category includes vehicles in classes 4, 5, and 6.
- Class 4 – GVWR is 14,001 to 16,000 pounds. Ford E-450 passenger van and F-450 super duty pickups fall into this class, as do box trucks and large walk-in delivery trucks.
- Class 5 – GVWR is 16,001 to 19,500 pounds. It’s in this class that most commercial vehicles appear. While some non-commercial vehicles straddle the line, such as the Ford F-550, most of the trucks in the class are things like large walk-in trucks, bucket trucks, and cherry pickers.
- Class 6 – GVWR is 19,501 to 26,000 pounds. This is the class for single-axle trucks, beverage trucks, and school buses.
Subcategory #3: Heavy Duty Vehicles
The heavy-duty category includes vehicles in classes 7 and 8.
- Class 7 – GVWR is 26,001 to 33,000 pounds. Examples of class 7 trucks include propane gas trucks, tow trucks, city buses, and garbage trucks.
- Class 8 – GVWR is greater than 33,001 pounds. Big rigs like Peterbilts and Kenworths fall into this class, as do fuel tankers, cement trucks, and fire trucks. These are the really big trucks, and this class is sometimes called severe duty trucks.
Why Does it Matter?
Each class has a separate set of operating requirements. For example, vehicles in class 3 and above that are used for business are subject to specific state and local regulations. Drivers of class 5 vehicles and above must have a commercial driver’s license.
Regardless of which class truck you drive, you can benefit from adding quality truck storage boxes in aluminum or carbon steel. Mounted on the bed or underbody, good truck storage helps you keep your gear safe, dry, and organized.
It’s time to hit the road.