Sometimes it seems like you never have enough stuff or enough places to put it, but it is important to remember your RV does have its limits. You need to understand what your vehicle’s weight limits are and never exceed them. Exceeding these limits is not only illegal but dangerous as well, overloading in one of the major factors in RV accidents. Not to mention the wear and tear overloading can do to the vehicle itself. Let us help you learn what those limits are, why they are important and how to avoid costly mistakes.
What are your vehicle’s weight limits?
It is easy to learn what your specific weight limits are, they are listed in the owner’s manual, but first, you need to understand what each limit means. Yes, I said limits as there are more than one.
1. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): This is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle when fully loaded including all gear, passengers, fluids, and fuel.
2. Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): This is the maximum allowable weight that each axle can carry and is based upon the carrying capacity of components such as suspension, wheels, tires, and brakes.
3. Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): This is the maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded RV and any towed vehicle or trailer.
Exceeding either of these ratings will impact handling, cause excessive wear and tear on mechanical components, may prohibit use on certain roads and is illegal.
How to determine what your RV weighs
Figuring out whether or not you have exceeded any of you weight ratings is only possible in one way – having the unit weighed. You will need to locate a commercial truck scale, have the vehicle weighed empty and loaded. It is recommended you use a scale capable of giving you a weight for each axle which will allow you to determine whether or not you have exceeded GAWR and ensure proper weight distribution.
If you find yourself at a trade or travel show you may be able to have your RV weight there; many vendors offer this service at reduced show rates. You can also find this service available at most commercial truck centers as well as quarries, storage facilities and some moving companies. Almost any business that sells cargo by weight items should have scales available.
It’s all about the packing
As stated earlier total weight is only part of the equation, you also need to make sure you distribute the weight properly. A vehicle which is loaded unevenly is as dangerous as one which is overloaded. Here are some tips on reducing weight and packing it correctly.
1. Take only what you need. You do not want to find yourself without something you need, but you also do not want to have a blow out because you took too much. If there are supplies you can pick up as needed, such as groceries or ice, don’t take them along for the ride. Likewise, if you are going to be somewhere with a reliable supply of safe water take only the amount you need in transit.
2. Put everything in its place. When you finally get your fully loaded RV to an adequate weight pay attention to where everything as stored and return it to the same spot each trip, this will ensure consistent weight distribution each time. You want less weight up front (due to engine weight), moderate weight surrounding water tank or generator and more weight to the rear.
3. Use your tow. If you are using a tow vehicle chances are you already use it to store some of your gear, but if you are towing a vehicle don’t forget it can carry equipment as well. This is an excellent place to store items you will only use in conjunction with that additional vehicle or those you will remove immediately upon reaching camp.
4. Weigh everything. Besides weighing the vehicle and gear as a whole, you should also weight all you gear independently. Keep a list of the weights, so you will know what changes when equipment is removed and weigh new gear before loading to understand how this will affect the GVWR.
For more information on the importance of your RV’s weight check out this YouTube video.