A car’s weight depends significantly on fuel consumption, rolling resistance, manoeuvrability, acceleration, safety, and a myriad of other factors. This is why it is important to know the weight of a car before purchasing it.
It is hard to define what makes a car better. Some go for durability and strength; some go for manoeuvrability for agility. But for an average joe, a lighter car looks better on paper since you can get better fuel economy. However, heavier cars offer better protection.
Now, this article will not be a debate about whether lighter is better or heavier is safer. Instead, we will highlight the importance of knowing your car’s weight.
Without further ado, Let’s Ride!
The average weight of a car
It’s hard to determine whether a car’s weight is good or bad without knowing the average. However, this average varies from type to type. Since there are different car styles, for example, compacts, sedans, SUVs, and trucks, these all are different weights.
For instance, an average compact car like a Toyota Corolla should weigh 2,500-3,000 pounds. A large vehicle like a Dodge Charger will weigh around 4,500 pounds.
On average, small SUVs should weigh around 2,000-3,500 pounds, and large SUVs weigh about 6,000-10,000 pounds. The weight of a car varies greatly across different automobile models, and it is impossible to recall all of them. So, it’s a good idea to consider a car’s typical weight. For better understanding, here is a list showing the average car weight of different classes.
- Compact Cars: 2,500-3,000 pounds
- Midsize Cars: 3,300-3,500 pounds
- Large Cars: 3,700-4,000 pounds
- Compact SUV/Truck: 3,300-3,700 pounds
- Mid-size SUV/Truck: 4,400-5,300 pounds
- Large SUV/Truck: 5,500-6,000 pounds
Remember, these are just the curb weights meaning it is just the car’s weight and does not consider any cargo or passengers.
Why you should know about your car’s weight
Here are four reasons why you should know your car’s weight:
Weight impacts your fuel economy
The heavier the car, the more resources it will consume to run. This is precisely why large cars are considered gas guzzlers. Lighter cars are much more fuel-efficient than any mid-sized or large SUVs. Aside from SUVs, any commercially large, bulky vehicle will consume more fuel.
For instance, the Mercedes Maybach S560 weighs around 5,000 pounds and only gets a measly mileage of 19-mpg. 4WD vehicles get around 15 to 17-mpg. Heavier vehicles have a more excellent rolling resistance and inertia. Both of which increase fuel consumption. Even in electric cars, weight is a significant factor in energy consumption.
Safety of your car and passengers
Heavier cars are better if you are looking for safety and stability. Family sedans are much safer than fast, agile cars. Generally speaking, if there is an unfortunate accident between a Toyota Highlander and a Honda CR-Z, then the heavier vehicle is likely to sustain more minor damage, and the passengers will remain safer.
Heavier cars also offer better stability because of the center of gravity. Your vehicle will feel like it’s glued to the ground. It’s reassuring for drivers driving in hazardous crosswinds. Modern SUVs now have better shock-absorption structures to increase safety standards.
Power to weight ratio
A car’s power to weight ratio can significantly affect its performance. The heavier the vehicle is, the more power it will require to run. You can get this ratio by dividing the car’s horsepower by the car’s weight. Supercars like the McLaren have a very high power-to-weight ratio because they are incredibly lightweight.
A McLaren M8C has 650 horsepower and weighs around 1,424 pounds, giving it a power to weight ratio of 46.41. Compared to that, an SUV like Toyota 4Runner weighs around 4,750 pounds and has a horsepower of 270, giving it a weight-to-power ratio of 5.68.
If you are a performance-hungry gearhead, you would prefer cars with higher weight to power ratios purely because of acceleration and speed.
Weight distribution effects manoeuvrability
Manoeuvrability can be different based on terrain. However, the weight distribution of a car can enhance manoeuvrability on any terrain.
Heavier cars have better weight distribution and better brakes. When a car breaks, the weight pushes it down forwards and makes the car’s back lighter. If the back becomes too weak, it can lead to oversteering.
Heavier cars also have a better grip on the road because of weight distribution.
Lighter cars have higher acceleration for apparent reasons. Modern SUVs are fast, but small cars will always have the advantage here.
Lighter cars are easier to turn when cornering. When turning, the weight of a vehicle shifts to the opposite direction. Heavier cars may have better grip, but the weight makes it difficult to spin under acceleration. In this case, lightweight cars will offer better manoeuvrability.
How to check your car’s weight
The easiest way to know your car weight would be to contact your vehicle manufacturer. You will have to tell them about your car model, manufacturing year, purchase date. After that, customer care should provide you with all your required information.
There are a few other ways, such as looking in the driver’s door sills or looking in the specification of your car manual. You can also take your car to the nearest automobile shop and weigh it on a vehicle scale.
Lighter cars are easier to handle and are more efficient, but heavy vehicles are comparatively safer. Hopefully, this article should give you an idea of the importance of car weight. And, if you want, you can always reduce your car weight by swapping to lighter electrical components, body panels, lighter wheels, and polycarbonate glass.
Featured image: Created using photo from Gabriel Gurrola/Unsplash