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.