Monday, September 25, 2023


Overloading an RV is easier than overloading a car

It is almost impossible to overload a passenger vehicle because space tends to limit the amount of weight. You can’t take your child’s six friends to the baseball game if you are taking all of the team’s Little League equipment in the back seat. Space, not weight, is the main concern.

Then there are RVs. An RV is heavier and is capable of being overloaded. Also the storage capacity in most RVs offers many possibilities for improper weight distribution. Loading your supplies can have a major impact on how the vehicle handles, as well as on the durability of your tires. The results of overloading can be serious. Passenger safety is at stake. Problems such as tire failure and/or poor handling can leave the driver with inadequate ability to control the vehicle during emergency maneuvers.

Load ratings for RVs
RV manufacturers provide load ratings on certification tags at various points inside or outside the RV. The certification tags are usually placed as follows (if you can’t locate the sticker, check with your dealer):

  • Motorhomes: on door edge/pillar, or near the driver’s position in the interior
  • Pickup/Camper: on back exterior wall
  • Travel Trailers: on front left-side exterior wall
  • Tow Vehicles: on driver’s side door frame

To weigh your RV, a level, commercial platform scale is needed to obtain five weights (look in the yellow pages or search online for “Weighers-Public”):

  • The entire vehicle with all wheels on the scale
  • Front axle with only the front wheels parked on the scale
  • Rear axle with only the rear wheels parked on the scale
  • Left side with only the left front and back wheels on the scale
  • Right side with only the right front and back wheels on the scale

Springs, wheels, axles and tires are all affected by overloading. Tire failure can be disastrous in an RV, especially at high speeds. Be very careful and pay close attention to the inflation pressures stamped on the side of the tire.

Distribute weight as equally as possible on the left and right side of your RV. The need for this will be clear when turning and maneuvering your RV in traffic.

Pickups with campers present another type of weight distribution problem. The camper is added to the truck as cargo, rather than being built on its own chassis or being towed. GVWR and GAWR listings still apply. The manufacturers are also required to tell you the weight distribution limits, or “center of gravity zones,” which are listed in truck and camper owner manuals. The main focus in balancing a camper is to be sure the weight of the camper does not create a tail-heavy or top-heavy vehicle and cause stability problems.


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. Real dumb question my truck is maxed out at 7,000 trailer is not connected my trailer weighs 7000 what issues May come of this

  2. Carrying capacity is a huge problem from what I have seen until one gets to DP’s and even some there don’t have as much as one would think. Plus do not forget passengers count in used capacity!
    Was a big factor in what we purchased. Still at 43k loaded and a few k to spare I like full tanks. Not like we can ever get good mileage.

  3. Excellent comment Jeff! And don’t forget your fuel. I can carry 60 gallons of diesel at 7.1 pounds per gallon. My tank when full weighs 426 pounds. My water thank when full weighs 500 pounds. If both of those are full I’m pushing almost 1,000 pounds of dead weight on a 14,000# GVWR camper!! That kills my mileage and makes my rig drive like it’s had a few too many.

    Like Jeff, I always minimize my water on board when traveling and I plan my fuel load to take on only enough for a day’s travel. I fill my water tank once I’m close to my boondocking spot. Why pay in fuel mileage to move those liquids when they’re readily available at your destination?? Why overload your tires and risk a blowout because you’re too lazy to plan your fuel and water needs?

    • Willie:
      Do you have a Travel Trailer, 5th Wheel or Class A, B or C motorhome?

      If you are considering the Fuel in your Tow Vehicle, the vehicle itself takes up the weight of the fuel. Now a Motorhome is a completely different Animal. Built on a Steel Chassis and designed much differently that Trailers. Motorhomes can usually carry a whole bunch of water and fuel combined.

      I think the basic article was about Travel Trailers and how easy it is to overload them.

      Like I said, it starts with Education and I don’t think Dealers today are doing enough to explain these things to NEW BUYERS.

    But, this is where EDUCATION should be first and foremost with All RVers and Especially NEWBIES!

    Unfortunately, too many people don’t even think about how much weight they are carrying. Clothing in an RV is a HUGE weight item. Then there is Canned Goods and Last but Not least is WATER!

    Water is just DEAD Weight and should be carried in limited quantities. Filling your Water tank full is just not a good idea. Now, I know many people travel with full tanks, but consider all that Dead weight you are dragging down the road. Unless you are boon-docking, you should consider carrying only enough water to get from Point A to Point B. In my case, I have a 100 Gallon tank, which is about 834 pounds. Filled full, would put me way over my Gross Vehicle Weight. So, I only carry about 25 gallons. Enough for Rest Room use, while on the road.

    But alas, I know I am talking to MANY DEAF Ears! OK, Guess I’ll see you on the side of the road, fixing that Flat Tire!


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