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Light-duty vehicles: The heavy cost of overloading

There’s just no good reason to overload your commercial vehicle. Increased fuel consumption, higher maintenance costs, poor handling, accident hazards and road damage... The risks are numerous. Read on to learn how to keep the roads safe for everyone.

5 risks associated with overloading light-duty vehicles

Overloading doesn’t just hurt your vehicle and the roads—it puts the driver, passengers and other road users at risk, too. An overloaded vehicle:

  1. Can make steering and maneuvering difficult and increase braking distance. Vehicles operate differently when they’re carrying more weight than they’re designed for, and the result can be deadly.
  2. Puts stress on your engine. An overloaded vehicle can cause your engine to overheat, reducing its lifespan. It also increases the risk of a flat tire.
  3. Guzzles gas, cutting into your bottom line.
  4. Can void the manufacturer’s warranty if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  5. Puts excessive wear and tear on roads and bridges at taxpayers’ expense.

6 prevention tips

  1. Know your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
    The GVWR is defined as the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer. The GVWR appears on the vehicle compliance label (a metal plate or sticker with information including the name of the manufacturer, the month and year of manufacture and the vehicle identification number). It’s generally found on the driver’s side door frame or on the left-hand side of the dashboard.
  2. Evenly distribute the load across all four axles.
    This will improve vehicle dynamics and prevent pitching and swaying, which can cause accidents.
  3. Secure your cargo with straps, ropes, chains, etc.
  4. Know what you’re carrying and how much it weighs.
    Light-duty vehicles can be used to transport solids, liquids—even people. The nature of the cargo you’re carrying (weight, volume, length) will affect handling, and the weight of your passengers, their luggage and the trailer must be less than the vehicle’s load capacity.
  5. As the owner, develop a safe loading policy.
    In turn, your drivers have to follow the guidelines you set and comply with the manufacturer’s weight recommendations.
  6. Before you hitch on that trailer.
    Pulling a trailer places additional demands on a vehicle, so make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended towing capacity. Remember:
    • The trailer weight must not exceed the weight permitted for the vehicle.
    • Any cargo loaded in the trailer must be as light as possible and placed near the axles.
    • The trailer must be securely hitched to the vehicle to minimize the risk of accident.

Eagle-eye roadside inspectors

But overloading isn’t just a safety issue. Roadside inspectors can issue costly tickets to drivers of overloaded vehicles, increasing your operating costs.


Charges et dimensions, Transport Québec (in French only)

Les risques d’une attache-remorque, (in French only)

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See our complete list of prevention fact sheets.

In collaboration with
WILFRID TANGUAY INC., Risk Control Services

These tips are provided for information purposes only, are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.

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