Cargo Van Weight Distribution

Distributing the weight of freight correctly when loading any vehicle is vitally important. Not only does correct weight distribution minimize wear and tear on the vehicle, but it also enhances safety. For these safety reasons, law enforcement agencies can check the load distribution of trucks and vans, including cargo vans.

The total weight limit for the van should not be exceeded, as well as the individual weight limits for each axle. Larger loads should have the larger items to the front surrounded by smaller items. A net or something similar should be placed between the cargo and the driver in case of cargo movement.

Weight Distribution Considerations

There are several factors that have to be taken into consideration when assessing a truck’s weight distribution, and these include the:

  • Number of axles
  • Distance between axles
  • Size of the tires.

Cargo vans are more compact and smaller than most other types of van and only have the two axles. While this may make load distribution easier, you still need to pay attention to load it safely.

This is not just for peace of mind that you are protecting the vehicle’s life and the integrity of the load, but also because it is the law.

Even though a cargo van has solid sides in the cargo section, freight may still be able to move around if not secured. You should therefore secure any loads with ropes, nets, or straps.

If not secured, pieces of the cargo may move around in the cargo section and cause damage to itself or other freight.

One of the advantages of a cargo van is that you can access the cargo section directly from the driver’s seat. However that can also mean that a piece of unsecured freight could also have direct access to the driver.

If you carrying an assortment of freight that is not secured, you should at least place a barrier between the driver and the freight. This barrier could be a net that can easily be removed when the van is stationary, but it will stop freight from distracting or hitting the driver while the van is in motion.


Safe Loading of a Cargo Van

As a cargo van is reasonably small, the axles are fairly close together, so the actual distribution of the weight is less of a problem than it is with most other types of van. Certain rules should still be applied though to the safe loading of a cargo van.

These rules include:

  1. Glass objects such as mirrors should be padded and loaded along the sides of the van.
  2. Where possible large objects should be loaded first and smaller objects loaded around them.
  3. If an object is top heavy the center of gravity should try and be lowered. If safe to do so, laying the object on its side may do this.
  4. Try and avoid anything sticking out of the back door but if there is no other choice, ensure you place a flag on its most outermost tip.
  5. Ensure you do not exceed the weight limits of the van.
  6. If loading a partial load, ensure it is put between the two axles and should never only be placed on the rear.

The loading of a cargo van is also made easier by the fact that it has a side door as well as a rear door. This means that a load can be distributed in the best way for load distribution, but any item can still be accessed easier for multiple drop-offs.


Unloading a Cargo Van

For ease of unloading, some guidelines should also be followed to avoid damage to you or the freight. Plus, following these guidelines could save you time in unloading.

These guidelines are:

  1. Always wear gloves as you may not always notice if something has broken during transit, perhaps glass or porcelain.
  2. Before unloading, look to see if the freight has moved as if it has, removing an item may cause another to drop and break.
  3. Survey the area in which you intend to unload to ensure there is enough space and there is protection from the weather. Obviously, rain can affect most cargo but providing shelter from potentially strong winds is also important during dry weather conditions.
  4. Be sure you are not going to impede the rights of traffic, vehicles, cycles, or even pedestrians.


Customizing a Cargo Van

Many businesses which use cargo vans opt to customize them for the type of freight they will carry. These customizations are often unique to the type of business and the types of freight they transport. Customizing the cargo section on a cargo van can make for faster and easier loading, and can sometimes even negate the need for individually securing the loads.

Customizations can include shelves, racks, or even compartments, each of which are of a size and shape to best transport the unique freight of each individual business.

Many small businesses use a van to transport their tools and equipment rather than heavy mixed loads. This is why cargo vans are becoming increasingly popular with small businesses such as contractors, plumbers, caterers, and florists.

Apart from making these smaller loads easier to stow, having access to your tools directly from the driver’s seat can save time at any destination.


Cargo Van as a Commercial Vehicle

Although cargo vans in many States are not automatically considered to be commercial vehicles, laws in some States do class them as such.

All States have weigh stations which commercial vehicles are required to call into to have their loads checked, and each State’s laws may include cargo van checks.

It is therefore recommended that if you are planning to drive your cargo van across country, either for personal reasons or for business, you check each State’s laws regarding cargo van loads.


Weight Distribution in General

Weight distribution of any vehicle may basically be similar as it takes into account the maximum payload of the vehicle and the individual payloads of each axle. However, where ever possible certain other aspects should be considered when loading a vehicle such as a truck or van.

Even if a load is secured with ropes or straps, it is still possible for some movement to occur to the cargo. For this reason, loads should not be placed too close to any doors as they could cause problems when the doors are opened.

As well as considering the individual weights of an assortment of cargo, consideration should also be given to individual centers of gravity. Even if secured, top-heavy items may present excessive strain due to their constraints, resulting in damage or a shift in the load.


Driving a Loaded Cargo Van

As with any vehicle loaded with cargo, if you drive a loaded cargo van, that load is more susceptible to movement if you brake sharply or accelerate too quickly. While you should always take care when driving, it is especially important when carrying a load as cargo escaping its confines can cause accidents.



A cargo van is compact and sturdy but is only designed to only carry a certain amount of weight. It is therefore essential for you to learn what that weight is and how best your cargo can be evenly distributed, so as not to place too much weight on a single axle or tire.

Due to its side and rear doors, a cargo van is usually much easier to load than most other types of van. Also, due to driver being able to access the loads directly from their seat, if loaded correctly, it is easier for them to unload the van.

This is perhaps the main reason why cargo vans are becoming so popular with small businesses which have to deal with multiple deliveries, such as a florist or mail delivery van.

The ease with which a cargo van can be loaded and unloaded has made them a popular choice for rental vehicle businesses such as U-Haul to offer their customers. With some larger vans, a professional loader is often recommended to ensure the load is evenly distributed, ensuring the integrity of the load.

Cargo vans are also easier to drive than larger vans and often do not need a Commercial Driver’s License to drive.. This means that they are comparable to a large SUV to drive. Your own driving experience will therefore help you in avoiding sudden stops which could displace the load.

Author: Kenneth Graham

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