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The Consequences of Not Weighing Your RV

You can end up in a hazardous situation if you don’t watch your weight. While we think staying fit is essential, we’re not talking about your physical fitness. Weighing your RV is something that every RVer should do regularly to ensure they’re safe while traveling. If not, there can be potentially deadly consequences.

Today, we’ll remind you to weigh your RV and walk you through the process. Let’s get started! 

What Is Dry Weight?

The trailer’s dry weight is not the only crucial weight you need to know. The dry weight of a trailer is the trailer’s weight when it is completely unloaded. There’s no water in the tanks or camping gear in the storage compartments. It’s a bare-bones RV, likely how you picked it up from the dealership.

However, you must factor in any upgrades. The dry weight on your manufacturer’s website will be inaccurate the second you add or remove furniture, solar panels, or air conditioners.

What Is GVWR?

GVWR is an acronym for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This refers to the vehicle’s safest maximum weight. It includes the weight of passengers, gear, and any weight from a trailer. 

The manufacturer sets this number using the abilities of the components they install. They consider the frame, suspension system, wheels, axles, and other crucial elements that carry the weight. A vehicle must be able to haul and stop an RV to keep everyone safe.

How Do You Calculate the GVWR?

To calculate the GVWR, you must know the vehicle’s dry weight and the payload (or cargo-carrying) capacity. Adding the numbers gives you the gross vehicle weight rating. However, there’s a much easier way to know this number.

Manufacturers place stickers on the driver’s side door jam with a tremendous amount of information. One piece of information you’ll find on this sticker is the GVWR. In addition, it will provide information about your axle ratings, payload capacity, and information about your tires. If you haven’t noticed this, look at your sticker after reading this article.

Pro Tip: Learn more about why Towing Capacity Is Only Half the Challenge.

RV towing
Know your RV weight before you head out on your adventures!

What Is the Difference Between Towing Capacity and GVWR?

It’s best to understand your towing numbers, especially towing capacity and GVWR. They’re easy to confuse because they go hand in hand. However, towing capacity refers to the weight your vehicle can pull, and GVWR refers to the vehicle’s total weight.

When towing a trailer, a portion of the weight transfers to the vehicle. To ensure you’re staying within your vehicle’s tow ratings, you must know your vehicle can handle the weight of the passengers, gear, and any weight from the trailer.

How Do You Weigh Your RV?

While weighing your RV isn’t as straightforward as stepping on a bathroom scale, it’s not very challenging. It would be best to find a commercial truck scale, like CAT Scales. These are readily available at many truck stops. Do not drive through the truck scales along the interstate. These are for commercial vehicles, and the operators likely won’t be excited to see you.

Once you arrive at the CAT Scale, pull up to the scale and follow the directions on the signs. These typically tell you how to position your rig according to the type of trailer you’re towing. However, ensure that each axle is on a different plate on the scale.

Some CAT Scales require you to contact an attendant via an intercom system at the scale. However, they have upgraded most scales, allowing you to do everything from your phone. So download the app on your mobile device before heading to the scale. You can follow the prompts in the app, pay for the transaction, and receive your RV’s weight directly on your device.

Pro Tip: Make weighing your RV simple with our guide on How To Easily Weigh Your RV.

Truck CAT scale weigh station
Use truck CAT scales to easily weigh your RV.

How Do You Find Weighing Locations?

The best way to find weighing locations is to download the CAT Scale App. This app uses your phone’s GPS to help locate the weighing locations near you. The CAT Scale App is a fantastic resource that RVers should have and regularly use to ensure they’re staying within the safety limits. You should never exceed the weight limits for your vehicle and trailer.

Is It Dangerous to Exceed the GVWR or Towing Capacity?

Exceeding the GVWR or towing capacity for a vehicle is incredibly dangerous. Your vehicle may pull more than the towing capacity, but not safely. You can cause severe damage to your vehicle and RV and put yourself and others in a risky situation.

Exceeding these critical tow numbers can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and trailer. Too much weight on your vehicle’s rear axle can destroy your suspension components and reduce your ability to steer. You want as much control of your steering as possible when driving, especially when hauling a heavy trailer.

What Are the Consequences of Not Weighing Your RV?

Not weighing your RV could result in your rig being overweight. This can drastically increase the wear and tear on your vehicle’s suspension components. Some RVers have experienced severe failures, and insurance companies have denied warranty claims because RVs were overweight. This could leave you on the hook for any damages to your RV or other people’s property.

However, if you’re too worried about being overweight but never weigh your RV, you don’t know how much stuff you can bring with you on your adventures. This means you are leaving toys or other items at home because you think it might put you over the weight limit for your RV.

Either way, the most essential thing is knowing your RV’s weight. This is not something that you should assume. You must know your RV’s weight as accurately as possible. The $12 or so you’ll pay to weigh your RV on a CAT Scale is worth the assurance it will give you.

Travel Safely, Don’t Skip Out On Weighing Your RV

We want you, your loved ones, and your RV to have many adventures in the future. However, we’ve seen far too many campers on the road and in campgrounds exceeding the towing limits for the vehicle. Keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe, and weigh your RV the next chance you get. It is crucial to know where you stand and whether you need to add or subtract weight from your vehicle or RV.

Do you know your RV’s weight limits? Tell us in the comments!

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