Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Many cars are driven overloaded

Alternate Route
has a blog up on a subject that has long been a hot-button topic with me: Payload ratings of vehicles, and that they are waaaaaay too low, at least for most super-sized McAmericans.

The government requires that vehicles allow for 150 pounds per person. ONE-HUNDRED-AND FIFTY-POUNDS! ...And that doesn't include luggage, gear, groceries, etc.

Think about that, and then apply that formula to your own situation. Is your car overloaded when you pack up the family and head off for wherever? Unless, you fall into that small minority of "skinny" families, or own a truck, SUV or minivan, I bet you're are exceeding your vehicle specs. Even if you own a "truck" of some sort, you still may be overweight, as many of them are rated rather low for payload. The boxy and very cargo-friendly Honda Element (yes, a truck) is rated to carry only 800 pounds; that's people and gear.

Or take for example 265-pound Ron Larson of Henderson, Nev. He and his 150-pound wife were unaware of the limitations of their Cadillac XLR two-seater with a 362-pound payload capacity. "If the dealership knew there was a weight restriction, they should have told us," he says. And the information should be on the window sticker, not the door frame, he says. BINGO, we have a winner!

Another related long-time hot-button topic for me has been the fact that most people who tow are completely unaware of of trailer brake ratings, and how vastly they differ from "advertised" tow ratings that the manufacturer advertises.

Okay, so your vehicle (fill in the name of your tow vehicle _________) is rated to tow (fill in the advertised tow rating _________) pounds—but only if it has trailer brakes. I guarantee you if you go to your owners manual it will state that if you don't have trailer brakes, it most likely can't tow more than 1000 pounds. Some vehicles, like full-size GM pickups will go up to 2000 pounds, but even so, that's a far cry from what GM advertises.

Now spec-savvy readers here at Straightline may already know this, but I bet the odds are that Fisherman Fred, who lives down the street, and tows a 2800 pound boat/trailer combo doesn't know that. In fact, I bet he doesn't even have a clue...

Frankly I think vehicle sales brochures should be required by law—BY LAW—to state the payload as well as the braked and unbraked tow ratings on their specs page. Buyers should know this stuff up front—before they buy a new vehicle; not after, as this info could well alter their vehicle purchase choice.

Oh, and what got ModBob (and me) started on this topic? An article on USA Today (here).

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