Vehicle Tare Weight

Vehicle Tare Weight Meaning + How to Calculate Yours

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When it comes to setting up a vehicle for towing, touring, 4WDing or all of the above, learning all of the various weight terms becomes incredibly important.

Your vehicle tare weight is one of the essential figures that you’ll need to know because it’s one piece of the payload puzzle. In other words, it will help you work out how much ‘stuff’ you can load into your vehicle without being over your legal limit, which voids insurance and increases the risk of an accident.

Some other terms you may see for vehicle tare weight include ‘tare mass,’ ’empty weight’ and ‘unladen weight.’

Here’s everything you need to know about vehicle tare weight, plus how to find yours.

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Vehicle Tare Weight

Nissan Patrol (interior)

Let’s look at what the vehicle tare weight means on a technical level first, then we can summarise what that means for you and your set-up.

According to the Australian Government, as stated in the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 (paraphrased for vehicles):

12.7 Tare Mass
Tare is the total mass of the vehicle when not carrying any load, but when ready for service, unoccupied and with all fluid reservoirs filled to nominal capacity except for fuel, which shall be 10 litres only, and with all standard equipment fitted.

In other words…

Vehicle tare weight is the weight of an empty vehicle with all of its running fluids (such as oil, brake fluid etc.), but with only 10 litres of fuel in the tank.

Think of tare as what the vehicle weighs as it rolls off the factory floor with all fluids and only 10 litres of fuel but with no additional accessories, modifications, driver, passengers or luggage.

VEHICLE TARE WEIGHT = Weight of Empty Vehicle + Oil & Fluids + 10L Fuel

Where to Find Your Vehicle’s Tare Weight

You can usually find your vehicle’s official tare weight on the compliance VIN tag or in the manual. If not, you can find every make and model listed on Redbook with all specifications and weights.

Why Initial Tare Weights Are Not Always Relevant

When purchasing either a brand new car or a second-hand vehicle that is still stock standard, the manufacturer-specified tare weight is very useful.

It gives you a base to work out how much weight allowance (payload) you’ll have for luggage, passengers and accessories. Plus, if you’re going to be towing, it will help with sorting out towing weights.

However, once accessories and modifications start to get added to a vehicle, that baseline “empty” weight will be heavier than when the car first drove out of the factory.

Basically, your available payload just got smaller.

It’s important to know your vehicle’s ACTUAL tare weight…

To work out your available payload, you need to minus the weight of your completely empty vehicle (Tare) away from the maximum weight that your vehicle is allowed to be (GVM). The difference between those two figures is how much weight you’ve got left for the driver, passengers, luggage, full fuel tank/s and any additional accessories.

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What Does Vehicle Tare Weight Include?

Vehicle Tare Weight

Remember, ‘tare’ is the weight of the vehicle when it is completely empty.

What IS Included in Vehicle Tare Weight?

Tare weight includes the weight of the empty vehicle itself with all running fluids and 10L of fuel, plus anything that was fitted to the vehicle in the factory.

Once the vehicle leaves the factory and has already had its compliance plate stamped, any additional accessories and modifications will then come out of the vehicle’s payload allowance.


If you order a brand new car and ask for a bull bar and tow bar to be fitted, those accessories will be added by the dealer, which happens after the car has left the factory. Therefore, the weight of the tow bar and bull bar will come out of your payload.

Vehicle Tare Weight INCLUSIONS:

  • Weight of completely empty vehicle
  • All running fluids (coolant, oil, brake fluid etc.)
  • 10 litres of fuel

What IS NOT Included in Vehicle Tare Weight?

Everything that is added to the vehicle after it has left the factory is not included in the tare and will come out of the payload allowance.

Vehicle Tare Weight EXCLUSIONS:

  • Driver
  • Passengers
  • Full fuel tank/s & jerry cans
  • All luggage (food, clothing, 4WD gear, camping gear, toys etc.)
  • All accessories & modifications fitted after factory (bull bar, tow bar, side steps, roof racks etc.)
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How to Find Your ACTUAL Vehicle Tare Weight

So that you’re able to work out how much weight allowance you’ve got left for your passengers, luggage, fuel and accessories, you’ll need to know the current tare weight of your vehicle (regardless of what it was when it left the factory).

To find your vehicle’s tare weight, you will need access to a Public Weighbridge. You can usually find weighbridges at local council rubbish and recycling facilities, which are free for use by the public.

How to Weigh a Caravan - Vehicle Tare

How to measure the VEHICLE TARE:

  1. Ensure the car is empty of all luggage, passengers etc. and only has about 10L of fuel
  2. Drive the vehicle onto the weighbridge
  3. The driver must exit the vehicle and get off the weighbridge
  4. Record the weight → This is your Vehicle Tare Weight
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Calculating Your Vehicle’s Payload Allowance

Now that you’ve measured your vehicle’s actual tare weight, you just need the GVM in order to work out your available payload allowance.

Using Kerb Weight instead of Tare Weight

Although tare is a common weight to use when working out payload, it can be very tricky to know if you’ve actually only got 10 litres of fuel in your tank.

A more accurate way to measure what’s in your fuel tank is to fill it up completely. This is called ‘Kerb Weight.’

  • TARE WEIGHT = Empty vehicle with 10L fuel
  • KERB WEIGHT = Empty vehicle with full fuel tank

For working out the vehicle payload, you will get a much more accurate measurement when using kerb weight. This means that your fuel is already accounted for, so the payload allowance that’s left is for the driver, passengers, luggage and accessories.

It’s up to you whether you want to use the tare weight or kerb weight.

If calculating payload with…

  • Tare Weight: Payload includes → Driver, passengers, luggage, accessories + fuel
  • Kerb Weight: Payload includes → Driver, passengers, luggage, accessories

What is GVM?

The Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle including passengers, luggage, accessories and Tow Ball Weight.

GVM is set by the manufacturer, which states the maximum weight the vehicle can be at any given time and cannot be exceeded.

You can find your vehicle’s GVM on the car’s compliance plate or on Redbook.

Don’t Forget to Include Tow Ball Weight (if towing)

Keep in mind that if you will be towing a trailer or caravan at any point, the tow ball weight will also be included as part of the vehicle’s payload (when towing).

The reason that the TBW comes out of the vehicle’s payload is because the rear of the car is now carrying the weight from the front of the trailer.

Here’s how to measure tow ball weight for any caravan or trailer.

How to Measure Vehicle Payload

Vehicle Payload

How to work out vehicle payload:

  1. Take the vehicle’s Tare Weight
  2. Take the vehicle’s GVM
  3. Minus the Tare Weight from the GVM
  4. This figure is your Vehicle Payload (GVM – Tare = Payload)

Or, you can use Kerb Weight (full tank of fuel) instead of Tare Weight (10L fuel), in which case the fuel is already accounted for and the leftover payload is for driver, passengers, luggage & accessories.

Or, use the Payload Calculator →

Use the Packing List below to help sort out your Vehicle & Caravan payloads.

Caravan Packing List

Caravan Packing List

Never forget a thing with the ULTIMATE Caravan Packing List!

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • 17 categories
  • ‘Weight’ column (to organise payload)
  • PRINTABLE – fully customisable
  • DIGITAL – completely interactive
  • Download once, use it over-and-over
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Vehicle Tare Weight FAQs

What is the difference between tare and GVM?

Tare is the weight of a completely empty vehicle (with only 10 litres of fuel), while GVM is the maximum weight of a fully-loaded vehicle.

Is tare the same as Kerb Weight?

Tare and kerb weight are similar as both are the weight of a completely empty vehicle, but tare only includes 10L of fuel, while kerb includes a full tank of fuel.

Does tare weight include a full tank of fuel?

No, vehicle tare weight only includes 10 litres of fuel, not a full tank.

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