What Does a Car Weigh?

The roads are littered with vehicles of all sizes and shapes from decades of motoring history. It is almost impossible to tell at a glance how much a car weighs. Although I do not discount the possibility that someone has this skill somewhere in this wide and wonderful world.

In this article we will discuss how weight is measured when it comes to cars and some of the average weights for certain car classes. This is a hard question to answer but we can certainly point you in the right direction.

How Much Does a Car Weigh?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the average car weighs around 4,094 lbs. This factors in that the average weight for small cars is 2,600 lbs. and the average for large cars is 4,400 lbs.

Over the years average car weights have actually decreased and this trend is likely to continue. When a manufacturer creates a new model year they often look for places where they can decrease weight and use lighter materials.

Lighter cars are easier to slow down and they are also more economical on fuel. Gone are the days of steel behemoths, today light weight is the aim of the game.

As mentioned vehicles have been decreasing in weight so in this section we just want to illustrate that for you by comparing some older and newer models. In the table below we will compare the change between today's model year and what the weight was five years ago.

Car Model Weight in 2018 Weight in 2023
Ford Escape 3,542 to 3,755 lbs 3,283 to 3,904 lbs
Ford F-150 4,069 to 5,697 lbs 4,021 to 5,740 lbs
Volkswagen Tiguan 3,777 to 3,858 lbs 3,765 to 3,856 lbs
Chevrolet Trax 3,124 to 3,344 lbs 2805 lbs

You will likely notice that at the lowest most basic trim the models mentioned above are lighter than they were in 2018. Some of them are heavier in 2023 than in 2018 in the most advanced trim levels. This is because it includes additional features that had not been available in 2018.

The Different Car Weights

The rather grim saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat holds true when it comes to weighing cars as there are different weight classifications when it comes to motor vehicles. The following are some of the terms used when weighing a car and what they mean.

  • Curb Weight: This is what the car weights without cargo, passengers or a driver
  • Gross Weight: This is the potential weight of the car with a driver, passengers and a full load of cargo
  • Gross Combined Weight: This refers to a vehicle towing an unladen trailer. It factors the weight of the car and the trailer combined.
  • Payload: This combines Gross Weight and Gross Combined Weight in so much as it factors in a full trailer load, driver, passengers and a full cargo in the car as well.
  • Gross Weight Rating: This is a rating of what your car should be able to carry when it comes to cargo. Passengers and the driver.
  • Gross Axle Weight: This is the weight load on each axle of your car.
  • Maximum Load Trailer Weight: This is like the Gross Combined Rate but it factors in a fully loaded trailer rather than an empty one.
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating: This is the maximum weight that one axle of the car can safely handle.

How Can I Find the Exact Weight of my Car?

The weight of most people's cars is generally not the most important aspect to them but sometimes you may find yourself in need of knowing this information. It might be especially handy if you were to reach a bridge that has a maximum weight limit.

You might also need to know the weight specifications of your vehicle if you are planning to tow a load or carry a large cargo in your vehicle. There are plenty of ways of finding out the weight of your vehicle including:

VIN Decoder

You may not be aware but you can use your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out its listed weight. You can use a VIN decoder online but you will first need to locate this number on your car. One of the most common places to find it is on the car's body just inside the driver's door.

The VIN should be 17 characters long and be made up of numbers as well as other characters. Once you have your number you can use a free online decoder like the AutoZone Decoder. It is probably best to use one from a reputable company like AutoZone if you can.

When you input your VIN at a decoder you will be given lots of details regarding your vehicle including its listed weight.

Driver Side Door

Having located the VIN on the driver's side door well you might also have noticed as with many vehicles the curb weight of the vehicle is listed along with other specifications right there as well.

Ask Your Dealer

When buying your car your dealer should be able to locate the exact listed weight of the vehicle if you request it. You can also call up your dealer and ask if they can give you the information but you will need to supply the VIN to them.

Check Your Owner's Manual

Sometimes but not always your car may come with an owner's manual which lists all of the specifications that you should expect from the vehicle. It is a very handy tool for the car owner as it explains warning lights and how to perform basic maintenance. It is also a great source to tell you how much your car should weigh.

Locate a Car Scale

If you have a loaded car and want to know its weight you could try and find a local vehicle scale. These can sometimes be found at scrap yards or vehicle inspection sites.


The weight of your car can be important and knowing this when buying a new car may be part of your reason for choosing a particular model. Heavier cars take longer to stop and use more fuel. It isn’t difficult to find out how much your car weighs or the weight of a car you might be interested in buying.

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