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Payload: Do you know your limits?

Payload: Do you know your limits?

Understanding payloads and why they're important...


When it comes to buying a van, a number of things may influence your decision. If you're frequently working in tight spaces then accessibility will matter to you. A driver who spends a lot of time on the road may care more about the vehicle's safety features, while fuel economy matters to - well, pretty much everyone. As the main purpose of a van is to hold and transport cargo, payload is something that every potential van driver needs to consider.


What is payload?

Payload is any load carried by a vehicle, including passengers. So it's important to know what payload your van can handle. Overloading a vehicle can have all sorts of disastrous consequences. Not only does it put a massive strain on the engine and transmission, it also places you, your passengers and other road users at risk.


Should the worst happen while you're travelling in an overloaded van, at best you'll suffer a financial loss due to damage or an undelivered load; at worst - death. This sounds extreme, but when you imagine a loss of control at high-speed you understand that overloading is a recipe for disaster.


Because of this, authorities take overloaded vehicles very seriously. Both the police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) have the power to stop and search any commercial vehicle. If your vehicle is over the legal weight limit you can be fined and stopped from driving any further, so it's definitely worth making sure you understand your vehicle and its limits.


Calculating your vehicle's payload

Only two things are required to work out your van's payload capacity; the GVW (Gross vehicle weight) and its kerbweight. Both of these figures can be found in your vehicle's manual. GVW is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle, including the vehicle itself, operational fluids like fuel and oil, cargo and passengers. Kerbweight is weight of the vehicle alone.


To calculate your payload capacity, simply subtract your kerbweight from your GVW. Let's imagine we have a van with a GVW of 3000kg. The kerbweight of the van is 2400kg, which means you can safely carry a payload of 600kg.


Recognise the law, understand your vehicle and most of all - know its limits.


Here's a rough guide to typical payloads on different van types:

Type   Payload range   Example
Car-derived vans   500kg   Ford Fiesta van - 550kg
Small vans   667-1000kg   Citroen Berlingo Enterprise - 610-660kg
Medium vans   750-1600kg   New Vauxhall Vivaro Sportive L1H1 - 1079kg
Large vans   1000-1600kg   Fiat Ducato L3H2 - 1420-1525kg
Pickups/4x4   1045-1195kg   Mitsubishi L200 Warrior - 1045kg-1120kg

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