The gross vehicle weight rating refers to the maximum amount of weight an automobile can handle, including passengers, accessories and any cargo, and still function properly. However, the GVW does not pertain to trailers as it reflects the weight of a vehicle, not how much weight it can haul.
Though most people do not have to worry about their vehicles' GVW, unless someone overpacks his SUV while pulling a trailer, consequences can result if they exceed their GVW rating. For instance, the excess weight could result in broken springs or brakes that fail to stop the vehicle in a timely fashion. Additionally, the suspension may fail to react properly and consequently make the automobile difficult to control.