Monday, August 15, 2022


Is your RV overweight? Weigh it and be safe

By Deanna Tolliver
At an RV rally I took the plunge and had my fifth wheel and truck weighed. Although many RV safety experts recommend it, I’ve been making excuses for not having it done (too far from an event that offered it or didn’t want to wait in line on departure morning). Also, I was a little afraid of what I might find out.

This particular weigh-in was sponsored by RVSEF (RV Safety and Education Foundation). At this rally, all the rigs were weighed on the last day—departure day—which was convenient because you need to be set up for weighing as you would be going down the road: water in the freshwater tank, fuel, people on board, etc.

Photo courtesy

Those of us with tow vehicles were asked to meet the afternoon prior to our weigh appointment to weigh our trucks separately. That was a a great idea because no one would have to unhitch the next morning at the appointment.

When I made the appointment, I met my Weigh Team, Trey and Susan Selman. I was asked to fill out a form and provide the following information:

GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (of the truck and the trailer, separately)
GAWR = Gross Axle Weight (Both front and rear axles of both truck and trailer)
GCWR = Gross Combined Weight Rating (truck and trailer hitched)

Hitch type: (fifth wheel, gooseneck, travel trailer) and both vertical and tow ratings

Data from the tires (on both the truck and the fifth wheel):
Brand, model, size, load range (LR)
Sidewall rating: Max load single and max load dual ___pounds @ ___psi
Inflation pressure you set your tires (on both truck and trailer)

At the weigh appointment, I was asked to drive up onto the portable scales, first with the truck, then with the trailer. The team then entered those weights into their computer program, and within a few minutes I had a printed report in hand.

Trey went over the numbers with me, and, although I had some trouble areas, he told me how I could manage them by shifting and/or eliminating weight.

For example, the team weighed each wheel position on my fifth wheel. I learned that not only was my trailer weight over on one axle, the printout showed which side and which tire. This information can then be checked against a table showing the maximum weight ratings for the tires. I was very happy to see that even though the weight of one side of the front trailer axle was a little high, I had not exceeded the maximum rating for my tires.

THE OTHER POSITIVE RESULTS were that my pin weight was fine, the truck axle weights were good, and the total GCW (combined truck and fifth wheel weight) was good.

But….I also found out that my fifth wheel exceeded the recommended GVW by about 1,000 pounds . The bulk of that is on the driver’s side, which not coincidentally happens to be the side containing the large kitchen slide—residential refrigerator, convection/microwave oven, stovetop range, large TV, and fireplace. Not much I can do about those, but I’m taking a close look at moving other items on that side to a different location, AFTER trying to downsize those 1,000 pounds!

Having the weights on all four tires is extremely helpful because I can see where the problems are. For example, the front axle of the fifth wheel carries too much weight. The back axle (I have a dual axle fifth wheel) is fine. I’m working on shifting some front axle weight to the back of the trailer and am considering a small storage container on the rear hitch.

Why is all this important? To quote from the RVSEF website: “Exceeding these ratings can cause premature wear and tear on the vehicle’s components. The RV may have failures or need repairs due to excessive weight, although the weight factor may not be clearly evident. In the worst case, an overweight situation creates safety hazards.”

From a tire safety standpoint, Roger Marble (RV Tire Safety) notes that overloaded and under-inflated tires can lead to safety issues. You might be a stickler for keeping your tires inflated at their correct levels, but if you don’t know if your RV is overloaded, you could still have tire issues, such as premature tire wear or tire failure (blowouts).

Now that I know my RV and truck weights, I have some work to do. It will be a challenge, as a full-timer, to downsize the “stuff” in my life even further, and to figure how the best places to keep the rest of it. But it must be done to drive safely down the road.

##RVT848 ##RVDT1445


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Vanessa Simmons
1 year ago

Had my rig weighed at the Escapees RV park in Congress AZ at Boot Camp. I was overweight. But I had a list of 20 items from Boot Camp that I needed to be carrying! I went to my sisters and unloaded a lot of stuff and added the new items. I went to FMCA Rally and got reweighed. I was not only overweight still but 500#s more! So I am not sure what my RV weight is.

I don’t travel with a full tank of fresh water. Just enough for a few days of teeth, toilet, and hands so I only need electricity if just stopping overnight somewhere.

There is an app that supposedly “weighs” your RV, wonder if anyone has tried it. I recently downloaded an instruction sheet for weighing your RV at a CAT scale doing one side then the other. Seemed very complicated and not sure how you would do the two sides since you drive one way over the scales (I think never used one before!)

1 year ago

Perhaps you can move some stuff to the truck?

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

I asked the manufacturer about the weight of my Aliner. 1850#..does that include the weight of the factory installed dormers? No The weight went up. Does that include the weight of the factory installed Cool Cat heat pump? No. Now it is 2500#. doesn’t include the dealer installed battery, spare tire or twin propane tanks. So, my Aliner maxed out the GVW at delivery. Next time I will have my RV weighed before I sign the dotted line.

Randy Brown
1 year ago

I’d like to know more about the software used. Is it available? Is it proprietary or open-source or something created for the event?

Sherry Dawson
4 years ago

Very well written, Deanna. The list of information to bring to the weighing is also very helpful. I enjoyed reading about your personal experience.

Regarding reducing weight of contents, I always think first about reducing the weight of the containers holding my items. You might not have to take less with you–just store it differently. For example, use food-safe plastic containers and plastic or paper bags instead of heavier glass or crockery containers. Remove as much of the packaging from any item as possible. Many food items are sealed in bags inside a box–so throw away the box. Use one large light-weight bin to corral multiple items instead of several small ones (if that reduces the total weight). Items in outside storage may also need to be repositioned rather than discarded.

In my current small RV, I weigh every item before it is put in the rig, and keep a running total of weight. For items to be stashed in multiple places, I keep a temporary bin for each area, and weigh the lot before I store them (deducting the weight of the bin). That way I can keep a tally of the weight over each wheel.

Also, when trying to redistribute the weight, a different way to store it might help. For example, many food items that we refrigerate at home don’t actually need refrigeration. Move them from the heavy refrigerator side of the RV to a cabinet or basket on the other side. Items in hanging baskets can be stashed in a chair or in the sink, etc. (on the lighter-weight side) when traveling. Also, some items that you really like having on the current side can be moved to the other side or the rear only when traveling, if you’ve planned right for each wheel or axle. A diagram helps.

There are lots more tips like this, but the main idea is to educe container weight or reposition some contents and then see what you really have to discard. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Deanna Tolliver
4 years ago
Reply to  Sherry Dawson

Thanks Sherry! Those are great ideas!

4 years ago

Very interesting!

As my wife and I travel around Canada & the US in our converted 16′ Cargo Trailer, we are often amazed to see 5th wheel trailers with large storage boxes hanging off the back bumper.

Obviously it’s a personal thing. But I wonder, with a large 5er to begin with, why the need for “extra” storage? Is it really necessary to take absolutely everything?

Maybe I’m missing something? Perhaps we downsized too much?!

4 years ago

Hi Deanna,
Thanks for the explanation. That hadn’t occurred to me, but it makes sense – to help distribute the load.

1 year ago
Reply to  Doug

Ours is not that large, but also not much weight. It’s all our waste water hoses and gear, plus a few leveling blocks.

1 year ago
Reply to  Doug

Hello Doug. Maybe it would be helpful to explain the “stuff” we carry on the bumper of our fifth wheel. The generator is there so I don’t have to move it to use it as well as For weight distribution. It’s heavy and awkward. I carry my wheel chocks and leveling blocks on the bumper for easy access and any dirt on them is left outside. A 7 gallon water jug rides the bumper for an outdoor source of water so I don’t have to go in and out of the RV while doing outside cleaning jobs. Just our way of doing it. My biggest objection to our method would be its aesthetics.

Gary Machholz
4 years ago

Wow! Three events in the Mountain States for the whole year and only one in Colorado where every third house has an RV parked in the drive. If this is truly an industry safety issue it should be offered more than one time in an area each year. Either that or give detailed information on how to weigh your setup at available spots such as landscape supply places or trucker scales (and which trucker scales are friendly enough to accommodate you and take the time necessary to do it correctly).

1 year ago

Truck scales can be found on the Cat Scale web site. I think.
Also Flying J and Loves truck stop usually have a truck or Cat Scale available – but not for individual wheel weights. You can also go across many, if not all, state/gov. truck weigh stations along the hiways. You might also call your local truck regulatory agency or the state Hiway patrol – they may also offer this service for a fee. Happy and safe trails! (Wear a mask!)

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