Knowing your vehicle's payload limits will make planning easier and your drive a lot safer.
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Knowing your vehicle's payload limits will make planning easier and your drive a lot safer.

At some point, we've all had to carry around a bunch of stuff. Sometimes the task is easy -- a backpack, for instance, or your pet cat. Other times, we're more encumbered. Most of us have tried to lug too many grocery bags from the car to our homes, only to spill milk or crush precious fruit. Overloading our puny arms with too many books, boxes and other things makes the process of moving more difficult and hazardous, as our bodies were only designed to handle so much.

You could say the same for cars, trucks and SUVs lugging cargo down the road. We're constantly moving things from one place to the next on highways and side roads. Overloading a vehicle can put a huge strain on the engine, transmission and other working parts. At the same time, drivers in overloaded vehicles are putting themselves and others on the road at risk.

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Knowing how much payload your car, truck or SUV can handle is important for safety considerations. Payload is simply any load carried by a vehicle. It also helps you to determĀ­ine how much you can fit in your vehicle and how many trips you have to take. And before you count up everything you'd like to put in your car, don't forget: Passengers count as payload, too.

So how do you figure out how much your tow vehicle can carry? Find out on the next page.