When you’re excited about a camping trip, it’s easy to forget that you might want to weigh your RV first.
Knowing the weight of your RV has so many benefits. Not knowing how much it weighs or how much extra weight you can carry may cause problems for you. An overweight RV can be dangerous for other drivers as well.
How does one even go about weighing their camper? It’s not as difficult as you might think.
Let’s dive in!
Why Should I Weigh My RV?
Not knowing how much your RV weighs can cause it or your tow vehicle to wear out prematurely.
The heavier a vehicle is, the more wear and tear the components will experience during travel. These affected components could be a part of your RV or tow vehicle. Yes, an overweight RV could affect how a tow vehicle performs too.
If your camper is too heavy, it’ll take longer to stop than if it was within the limits. It takes a fully-loaded tractor-trailer 200 more feet to come to a stop than it does a car. Imagine how long it might take a fully loaded or overloaded RV to stop!
Some roads and bridges have weight limits as well. Knowing the weight of your RV will protect the infrastructure and keep your family safe during travel. It may also save you from a potential ticket.
Balancing the weight in your vehicle from side to side and front to back is important too.
An imbalanced RV can cause excess pressure on tires, leading to a blowout while on the road. Imbalanced campers can also sway or jackknife, which could cause an accident.
Pro Tip: Curious to know How Much Do RVs Weigh? We took a closer look to find out!
Understanding RV Weight Limits
Every RV, fifth wheel, or travel trailer has varying weight limits owners should know before their first trip.
If you are pulling a travel trailer or a fifth wheel, it’s vital to have a vehicle capable of towing it. A truck’s GVWR can tell you if you can pull a trailer’s GVWR. For a fifth wheel, the calculations are a little more challenging, but there are websites available that can help.
Knowing a motorhome’s GCWR will allow you to safely tow a vehicle behind you if your RV can handle the weight.
What do these acronyms mean? Let’s look at some terms and definitions to get you safely on the road.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)
UVW is the weight of your vehicle as it comes from the manufacturer. It doesn’t include propane, liquid in your tanks, cargo, occupants, or any accessories a dealer may add. However, in a motorhome, the UVW will consider the weight of fuel or engine fluids.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
Ratings are the maximum allowable limit determined by the manufacturer when they designed the camper.
The GVWR of any motorhome or towable vehicle is the total weight limit of a fully-loaded RV. This includes campers, cargo (clothing, gear, food), and liquids like your propane or fresh water in your tanks.
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR)
The GCWR is the total weight a manufacturer will recommend for a fully loaded motorhome and the vehicle towed behind it. If you use a dolly for your tow vehicle, you’ll need to add the dolly’s weight to the total weight.
If the GCWR is 24,000 lbs and your fully loaded motorhome is 17,653 lbs, the vehicle and trailer/dolly cannot weigh more than 6,347 lbs.
Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
CCC is the amount of weight you can add to your RV as you pack for your trip, including clothing, supplies, and food. Plus, it counts passengers, propane, and anything in your tanks. Last but not least, the CCC also incorporates the tongue weight of a towed vehicle.
Before you load up for that first trip, consider weighing your RV or towable. Then, recheck it after it’s loaded. This gives you an accurate idea of how much you can bring along.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
GAWR is the maximum weight the axles under your RV can handle and operate safely. GAWR will vary from camper to camper.
Pro Tip: When packing up your RV, you don’t want to weigh it down with stuff! Find out these other 10 RV Packing Mistakes.
How to Easily Weigh Your RV
Truck Stop CAT Scales
Located at truck stops across the US, CAT scales are an easy way to get a good weight measurement. Motorhomes with a towed vehicle will place the RV wheels on the first and second scales, and the tow will rest on the third.
To weigh a truck with a trailer or fifth wheel isn’t much different. The truck rests on the first and second scales, while the trailer wheels rest on the third.
Be aware that CAT Scales give axle weights and cannot measure the weight on the corners, which would show how balanced the RV or trailer is before travel.
Escapees SmartWeigh Program
Having the opportunity to have your RV weighed with Escapees SmartWeigh Program provides a more precise measurement for safety while traveling.
Unlike truck stop scales, this program allows each wheel to be weighed independently. Weighing your RV with this method can help identify tire loading issues and any potential side-to-side balance concerns. Because of its precision, it’ll cost more than a truck stop scale.
If you aren’t an Escapees member, no worries, you can still take advantage of the program for $10 more than a member. Visit their website to schedule an appointment at one of their locations.
RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF)
At $60, RVSEF’s weight offering is comparable in price to Escapees or the CAT Scales at a truck stop.
Pro Tip: RVSEF has events around the country throughout most of the year. Visit their website for the closest event to your home to have your RV weight checked.
Don’t Let an Overweight RV Ruin Your Vacation
Regardless of how you look at it, weighing your RV is a good idea. It’ll also keep you and other drivers on the road safe.
Knowing how the weight is distributed will save wear and tear on the tow vehicle and the camper. Wise packing will provide years of family fun around a campfire.
Have you used any of these methods to weigh your RV? Let us know in the comments.
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