Mr. Paul Pinoski
Project Engineer
SLP Engineering, Inc.
1501 Industrial Way North
Toms River, NJ 08755

Dear Mr. Pinoski:

This responds to your letter to me in which you requested an interpretation of the term "vehicle capacity weight," as defined in Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) No. 110, Tire selection and rims (49 CFR 571.110). I apologize for the delay in our response.

FMVSS No. 110 applies to passenger cars. Section S4.3 of the standard requires a placard to be placed on the door of the glove compartment or other accessible place on which shall be displayed, among other things, the "vehicle capacity weight." This term is defined in S3 as meaning "the rated cargo and luggage load plus 150 pounds times the vehicle's designated seating capacity." You asked how to obtain the "rated cargo and luggage load," so that you can calculate vehicle capacity weight.

The agency does not define the term "rated cargo and luggage load" or otherwise regulate how that load is determined. The term simply refers to the vehicle manufacturer's determination of the cargo and luggage carrying capacity of the vehicle. The choice of methodology to be used in making that determination is left to the discretion of the vehicle manufacturer.

From a safety standpoint, the important issue is the overall value specified by the vehicle manufacturer as the loaded weight of a vehicle. That value is also known as the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The GVWR informs a vehicle owner how heavily he or she can load a vehicle. The only express regulatory limitation on the GVWR manufacturers may assign to their vehicles is set forth in 49 CFR 567.4(g)(3), which provides that the assigned GVWR "shall not be less than the sum of the unloaded vehicle weight, rated cargo load, and 150 pounds times the vehicle's designated seating capacity." (Emphasis added.) "Rated cargo load" and "rated cargo and luggage load" are interchangeable terms.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have further questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Walter Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.


Philip R. Recht Acting Chief Counsel

Enclosure ref:110#567#571 d:4/24/95