RV weight terminology you should know


By Russ and Tiña De Maris
When shopping for an RV, everyone has their own ideas of what’s “important.” Be it the floor plan, the electronics gear, the comfort of the bed — tastes matter. Here’s something that we should ALL be concerned about – weight. No, not whether you’ll fall through the floor, but the weight of your rig.

weight763For rigs manufactured since 1996, the RV industry requires the manufacturer to post an information sheet inside a cabinet in every coach. Here’s a rundown on terms you need to know – and pay attention to.

GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
This is the maximum total weight a motorhome or trailer and its contents as allowed by the design specifications of the manufacturer. For personal safety of yourself and others on the road, it’s critical not to exceed this weight.

GCWR – Gross Combined Weight Rating
Here’s the maximum total combined weight of your tow vehicle plus anything you’re towing, once again based on the design specifications of the manufacturer. It’s also a gauge of how well the vehicle will tow in terms of muscle. The closer your total weight gets to this number, the tougher towing performance can become. Add on a steep upgrade or a nasty headwind and things can get even worse.

GAWR – Gross Axle Weight Rating
The maximum weight that can be carried by the axle, including tires and wheels.

UVW – Unloaded Vehicle Weight
Also known as “dry weight,” this is the claimed weight of a motorhome or trailer as it rolls off the manufacturer’s line. What’s added after that, say for instance by the dealer or a previous owner, can truly affect that weight. This is a good reason to actually weigh your rig – you’ll then really know where you stand.

NCC – Net Carrying Capacity
Theoretically, the amount of weight you can toss on your rig in terms of gear, food, water, sewage, even passengers. Here, too, is where the weight of those add-on options matter. NCC has been replaced recently by a couple of other terms, which follow.

SCWR – Sleeping Capacity Weight Rating
The manufacturer’s designated number of sleeping positions multiplied by 154 pounds (70 kilograms). Ah, to be able to meet that specification!

CCC – Cargo Carrying Capacity
Here the manufacturer simply takes the GVWR and subtracts the UVW, full fresh (potable) water weight (including water heater), full LP-gas weight, and SCWR. Is this a bit of hocus-pocus? It means you, as a consumer, get to figure out your own CCC based on a personal calculation of actual passengers carried, the amount of fresh water onboard, and the amount of LP-gas carried.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

6 months ago

IMO the industry has only made understanding weights and weight ratings harder to understand. all one needs to know are:

GVWR – the maximum amount of weight the vehicle chassis can safely support. this is provided by the vehicle mfg.

GAWR – the maximum amount of weight each axle can safely support. the sum of the GAWRs will be equal to or a bit less than the GVWR. if less the difference is usually the max amount of tongue weight on the hitch. when weighing the loaded vehicle owners need to, at a minimum, get individual axle weights (4-corner weights are best). it is possible to be overweight on one axle and still be equal to or less than the GVWR. also provided by the vehicle mfg.

GCWR – the total amount of weight the vehicle can safely move. provided by the vehicle mfg.

Empty Weight – same as UVW but don’t trust the mfg sticker. did the dealer add any options? the weight of those options must be taken into account. we always insist on a certified empty weight prior to signing a purchase order.

Wet Weight – the weight of the vehicle with full fuel, fresh water and LP tanks but nothing else. Black and gray tanks should be empty. if the vehicle seller won’t permit the prospective buyer to get a wet weight prior to purchase an approximate wet weight can be calculated. fresh water = 8lbs per gallon, gasoline = 6lbs per gallon, diesel = 7lbs per gallon, LP = 4lbs per gallon. almost all of those fluids will increase the weight on the rear axle(s).

Payload – the difference between the GVWR and the wet weight. this is the amount of supplies, food, clothing, pets, other stuff and people that can be safely added.

the SCWR and CCC are really unnecessary and confusing. and again, the EW, WW and Payload ideally are based on 4-corner weights as it is possible for one side if the vehicle to be much heavier than the other. but finding a scale to do 4-corner weights can be difficult so individual axle weights will suffice. having an actual payload weight (per axle) or even a calculated payload (per axle) can be the deciding factor when making a purchase decision. it was for us.

weighing your rig is not a one time thing. most people tend to acquire ‘stuff’ and once on board ‘stuff’ tends to stay on board. re-do your weights every couple of years or more frequently if the number of usual passengers change.

The Loneoutdoorsman
6 months ago

Hi. You mentioned GVWR, but did not define it. Ey know what it is, but maybe some folks don’t.
Ey always read and appreciate your diligent efforts in supplying useful, correct, and informative information. Thank you Russ and Tina^

RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago

Hey, Loneoutdoorsman. I just looked at the article and GVWR is the first definition in there. 😕 Thanks for your kind words. Have a great day! —Diane at RVtravel.com

Gary Reed
3 years ago

Good article by Russ and Tina De Maris.
I made a electronic file copy and a hard copy for my Travel Trailer RV data book.e

3 years ago

Ah yes, 154 lbs, that was some time ago.