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What happens when you load your shopping bags with way too much stuff? They will tear from the bottom and all the items fall out! For someone who has injured their back one too many times while lifting heavy items, they will attest to the fact that carrying too much weight is not safe.
This is still true whether you are talking about humans or cars. When people carry extra weight, they might strain their midsection and when a minivan is overloaded, the extra weight will be bad for the suspension, brakes, engine, and more.
But how much weight is too much when it comes to a minivan?
Most minivans can carry between 1,000-1,500lbs. Specifically the weight that different models can carry are:
- Chrysler Pacifica: 1,725lbs
- Chrysler Voyager: 1,725lbs
- Dodge Grand Caravan: 1,567- 1,729lbs
- Honda Odyssey: 1,420lbs (estimated)
- Kia Sedona: 1,568- 1,642lbs
- Mercedes Metris (Passenger): 1,896lbs
- Toyota Sienna: 1,245- 1,565lbs
Every car has a maximum load capacity that you can put in it which is also known as the payload of that vehicle. Some models (such as the Honda Odyssey) haven’t had the payload tested for multiple years so there isn’t any recent test information put out by Honda. This is why the Honda Odyssey’s payload capacity of 1,420lbs is estimated as it’s based on the Honda Pilot’s payload.
Another important term to understand is gross vehicle weight. This is the weight that the minivan maxes out at including anything that it is carrying.
Gross vehicle weight can be divided into two parts: curb weight and payload. Curb weight is the weight of your minivan without any driver, passengers, or any other personal items. It is just the weight of the car and the standard equipment that comes with it. The payload is the weight of the driver, passengers, any personal items, and equipment that you put in the minivan.
The combined total of the curb weight plus the payload should never exceed the gross vehicle weight.
A 7-seater minivan will come with a payload capacity of approximately 1,400 pounds (but look above for the exact payload for your minivan model).
Let’s suppose that every passenger weighs 200 pounds. So with all the seven passengers, your minivan is already going to be overloaded, and that is without any luggage or other equipment!
If your minivan is carrying too much weight then it could be really hazardous and it could end up being fatal too, not only for you but also for the other cars on the road!
You need to keep your minivan within the weight limit to go out and do your business normally and safely.
You should also be aware of the axle weights. The axle is a rod that supports the weight of your car. It also joins the wheels and rotates them. There is a weight limit for the axles also. You need to divide the things you are carrying evenly among the two axles. If one axle has more weight than the other then you are also driving more dangerously.
It is possible that the weight of the minivan is under the gross vehicle weight limit and still the rear axle is carrying far more weight than the front axle. To avoid this situation be aware of the weight limit on both the axles in your car and distribute the weight accordingly.
How do you know if your vehicle is overloaded?
The payload limit and gross vehicle weight are usually written on the driver’s side door sticker and it is also in the instruction manual. But if you don’t know the exact weight of all the people and things in your car then you will not be able to tell if the car is overloaded or not.
If you want to get a rough estimate of whether your minivan is overloaded or not, all you have to do is look at how it is sitting! If the vehicle is carrying more weight than it should then there will be a strain on the suspension and the vehicle will be extremely low to the ground.
You can also check the suspension spring. If it is more compressed than usual then your vehicle is likely overloaded. The parts that are most stressed when the payload limit is exceeded are the suspension, tires, shocks, and springs.
You can also tell if your car is overloaded by simply driving it. As mentioned above, extra weight affects the tires and shocks. That means you will face difficulty in steering the car normally.
It will take longer for you to accelerate and for the brakes to slow/stop the vehicle as well.
You should not drive if you are not sure whether your car is carrying too much weight or not or if you believe that it is. It’s best to figure out the general weight of the passengers and then assume 50lbs for each medium sized bag of luggage and see how close that puts you to your minivan’s payload capacity.
What happens if you put too much weight in your car?
If your car is carrying too much extra weight then it will put stress on the critical systems of the vehicle and will make them malfunction or wear out much faster. Too much weight in your minivan or car means more strain on the engine.
Driving around with all that extra weight will obviously take extra energy.
The tires will also feel the pressure. The tires can easily get overheated due to the weight and this may result in a very dangerous blowout. If your tires rupture at a high speed then it will cause your vehicle to swerve and you will probably not be able to control it.
If you are driving normally and make a sudden turn then the extra weight will put a lot of stress on the shocks and springs. This will cause them to compress and according to the laws of gravity, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So the springs will decompress with the same force and will push the vehicle inside, this will create a rocking effect in the car.
Due to the unstable swerving of the car, it will be difficult to steer the car and the car could spin out of control. The safety systems in your car will also not work properly if they are supporting too much extra weight.
Apart from the obvious damage to your suspension and engine, the extra weight will be a hazard for you as well. If you have filled the trunk or rear of your minivan or other vehicle to the ceiling then you will not be able to see the cars coming behind you properly. Also, if you push the brakes quickly then the luggage might fly forward and hit someone.
Maintaining the balance of your car is also very important. If the rear axle weight exceeds its weight limit then the car will be much lower in the rear will be more prone to accidents or even dragging the underside for the vehicle on the ground when you go in and out of parking lots.
How to prevent a car from being overweight?
If you absolutely have to carry a heavy load but your car won’t allow you to do that then consider renting a truck or pay a service to get it delivered.
Road safety is not a joke and everyone should follow it strictly. Ignorance of this issue will not work as simply feigning ignorance will not save you from an accident!
It is the driver’s responsibility to check the vehicle’s load so you should make sure that you measure the weight of your vehicle before setting off on your trip. If your car is overloaded then take out some unnecessary items and lighten the load. It’s better to be safe than sorry!