What is a car’s kerb weight?

November 24, 2022 by

Wondering what a car’s kerb weight is, and what the implications of this are? You’ve come to the right place

Your car’s weight impacts everything from its acceleration, braking and fuel economy to how it tackles a corner or bumpy road. Manufacturers refer to the ‘kerb weight’ when discussing how heavy their vehicles are. In an ideal world this would be a simply defined measurement that could be used to easily compare different vehicles.

In reality, manufacturers often apply their own interpretations and variations to what kerb weight means, usually in an attempt to make a car seem lighter than it is. This article will help you get to grips with what kerb weight means and how to interpret the manufacturer’s often confusing information on the subject.

Kerb weight meaning

Kerb weight can mean several things depending on which type of kerb weight standard we are referring to. In general, though, kerb weight refers to the weight of a car including the fluids needed for operation (coolant, brake fluid, oil, transmission fluid etc.) as well as a 90% full fuel tank.

What are the different types of kerb weight?

There are several different kerb weight measurements that manufacturers use. Sometimes you may see this referred to as ‘curb’ weight, this is just an American and therefore incorrect spelling of the word.

DIN Kerb Weight

DIN is an acronym for Deutsches Institut für Normung, meaning German Institute for Standardisation. This is the most common measurement used by manufacturers when specifying a car’s weight. A DIN kerb weight comprises of the following:

Car weight in standard form – this excludes any optional extras

+ Fluids necessary for operation – coolant, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid
+ Fuel tank at 90% full – a larger fuel tank will mean more weight

EU Kerb Weight

DIN Kerb Weight + 75kg to approximate the weight of a driver and luggage

This figure is used by EU auto manufacturers and is the weight used when undergoing emissions testing procedures.

Dry Kerb Weight

Car weight in standard form excluding fluids

This measurement is used by some manufacturers to make their vehicles seem lighter than they really are. There is no hard and fast rule here as some dry kerb weight figures may include some fluids but not others. It is also a largely a marketing exercise as the vehicle is not drivable without fluids.

What doesn’t a car’s kerb weight include?

  • DIN Kerb Weight does not include:
  • Driver weight
  • Passenger weight
  • 10% of the total fuel capacity
  • Luggage
  • Any optional extras

The DIN kerb weight includes the standard car’s weight and fluids required for it to function, but it also excludes certain things that will most definitely be required in the real world.

The most obvious of these is the driver. Luggage is also unaccounted for in the DIN kerb weight, although the EU kerb weight does allocate an additional 75kg over the DIN figure to account for both driver and luggage.
In reality, the average adult UK male weighs 78kg (females are 69kg) and a weekend’s worth of luggage for two people could easily top 30kg. That could mean up to an additional 177kg over the DIN kerb figure.

Neither the DIN nor EU kerb weight measurement include any optional extras, some of which can make a noticeable impact on the car’s weight. Start ticking boxes like larger wheels, a panoramic sunroof, that awesome 20-speaker premium sound system with subwoofer, a tow bar and an automatic transmission and you can quickly add up to 100kg to a base car’s weight.

Let’s take a look at the example below:

You buy a family saloon with a DIN Kerb weight of 1500kg. This comprises:

Basic vehicle weight: 1417kg
Fluids: 20kg
Fuel: 63kg (90% fill of a 70-litre fuel tank)
TOTAL: 1500kg DIN Kerb Weight

Yet the real-world weight of the same car when setting off on a weekend getaway can be over 200kg higher:

Basic vehicle weight: 1417kg
Fluids: 20kg
Fuel: 70kg (100% fill of a 70-litre fuel tank)
Optional extras: 40kg (automatic transmission) 

20kg (upgraded sound system) 

15kg (sunroof)

Occupants: 78kg (driver) 

69kg (passenger)

TOTAL: 1729kg real world figure

Of course, driving by yourself to work in a base model car with the fuel light on will show a smaller discrepancy between the DIN and real-world figures. Then again, setting off on a road trip with five adults and a boot full of luggage will swing things the other way. 

The bottom line is that your car’s kerb weight figure should be used only as a guide. But it is still useful.

Why should I care what my car’s kerb weight is?

Weight has a direct bearing on a car’s fuel economy, handling, performance and even tyre wear. That’s why Colin Chapman, Gordon Murray and countless other gifted car designers have always strived for less weight in their vehicles. 

Heavier vehicles require larger brakes, bigger tyres and more powerful engines, all of which increase running costs. If you already drive a large SUV and want to tow a heavy trailer, you may exceed the Maximum authorised Mass (MAM) on your driving licence. Some roads also have weight restrictions which may require you to take a detour if your vehicle is too heavy.  

Kerb weight vs gross weight

You can calculate a vehicle’s gross weight by taking the DIN kerb weight and adding the weight of all the occupants and their luggage.

This is also known as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Most standard driving licences allow for a 3,500kg gross weight (8,250kg if you got your licence before 1 Jan 1997). This means that the vehicle, occupants, luggage and anything being towed must not exceed this figure for you to be legally allowed to drive on the road.

Whether your car can carry this much will come down to the specific make and model.

A VW Golf 1.0 TSI hatchback has a gross vehicle weight rating of 1,770kg. Seeing as the kerb weight is 1,257kg, this allows for 512kg of occupants and luggage. It is rated to tow up to 1,300kg.

The larger VW Touareg SUV has a gross vehicle weight rating of 2,850kg, its kerb weight is listed as 2,092kg. This lets it carry 758kg of additional weight. It is also rated to tow up to 3,500kg. 

Be careful not to overload your vehicle as it can be a safety hazard and potentially lead to an accident.

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