This is probably not a question you thought you’d be hearing when you got started RV camping. You are probably wondering if that’s even a thing. Can you even have an overweight RV or trailer? Unfortunately, you can and probably do! And it’s not a good thing. Read on to learn more about keeping your rig’s weight under control and in the good range.
Safety and Other Issues
Over 50% of the rigs on the road today are anywhere from slightly to grossly overloaded or over their weight limits. Aside from the accelerated wear & tear on the RV or trailer, this is creating an unsafe condition. Just a few of the things that could occur due to an overweight RV include:
- Tire blowouts – The extra weight puts an additional and excessive strain on your tires. This makes it much more likely you’ll experience a scary and expensive blowout.
- Handling issues – An improperly loaded or overweight RV can become difficult to handle. Trailer sway can become excessive and extremely dangerous to you and others on the road. If your tow vehicle isn’t rated to pull that heavy of a load, you’re risking it as well.
- Extra liability – If you are in an accident and your rig is overloaded, you can be in for an unpleasant surprise. Your legal and financial liability will be considerate — even if you aren’t at fault for the accident.
- Shorter vehicle lifespan – When you overload your motorhome or travel trailer, you are shortening the life expectancy of the rig. The extra work it has to do causes it to break down sooner than later.
Know Your Numbers
There are two very important numbers you should be familiar with regarding your rig. These are the GVWR – Gross vehicle weight rating and the GCWR – Gross combined weight rating.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The GVWR specifies the maximum carrying weight for your tow vehicle or RV. It includes the vehicle itself, passengers, cargo and fuel.
Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
Along with the above GVWR, the combined weight rating also includes the weight of your loaded trailer or towed vehicle. The GCWR is the maximum COMBINED weight of the two. (Your trailer or towed vehicle will have its own GVWR.)
Weigh Your Rig
With RVs the most accurate way to weigh your rig is to find an RV weighing station. They use a specific method of “wheel position weighing” that weighs each wheel individually. This allows you to determine the overall rig weight as well as what each wheel is carrying. Your local RV dealer or RV club may be able to point you to one of these sites.
In a pinch, most truck stops and travel centers have truck scales that you can pay a small fee to have your rig weighed. While this won’t provide the most accurate weight, it will at least give you an idea of what kind of load you’re carrying. This site can help you find a truck scale: CAT Scale locator map
Learn the Road Rules
Along with the basic rules of the road, there are RV-specific and vehicle towing laws in the various states. Towing cars, boats and trailers behind your RV or towing vehicle add another layer of regulations and liability to be aware of. Be sure to “know before you go”.