Weighing your RV

February 13, 2008 by Mark Polk · 3 Comments  
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Weighing RV Brochures

Weighing your RV can be the difference between a safe, enjoyable trip and a costly, disastrous trip. The Recreation Vehicle Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF) has weighed well over 10,000 motor homes and trailers in conjunction with RV events. The results are a real eye opener. Nearly a quarter of the RVs weighed had loads that exceeded the capacity of the tires on the vehicles. On average, these RVs were overloaded by over 900 pounds based on manufacturer specifications. In a separate survey conducted by Bridgestone / Firestone, 4 out of 5 RVs had at least one under inflated tire, a third of which were dangerously under inflated and at risk of failure. Most of the weight was on the rear. 40% of all rear tires were overloaded. Improper weight distribution resulted in 28% of all motor homes being out of balance by 400 pounds or more from one axle end to the other. 

With multiple slide out rooms, amenities like washers and dryers, holding tank capacities and the ample amount of storage space available on modern RVs it’s easy to see why so many RVs are overloaded. Add this to the fact that many RVs are already close to capacity when they leave the factory and the problem is magnified. Overloaded RVs are extremely dangerous. That’s the bottom line.

Driving or towing an overloaded RV is a leading cause for RV accidents. The suspension system, tires, wheels, brakes, axles, and the RV itself all have weight ratings. Weight ratings are established by the manufacturer and are based on the weakest link in the chain. When you exceed a weight rating you are overloading one or more components on the RV and risk wearing the component out prematurely or complete failure of the component.

The first step to weighing your RV is to find scales. This shouldn’t be a problem; you can look in the Yellow Pages under moving and storage companies, gravel pits and commercial truck stops. There are several different kinds of scales. What is important is to find scales where you can weigh individual wheel positions in addition to the overall weight, and the axle weights. When you weigh your RV and/or tow vehicle they should be fully loaded for travel. Always keep in mind that weighing your RV is a snapshot in time. Weights can and do change according to how you load and distribute the weight in your RV and on many other factors. You should get in the practice of weighing your RV periodically to stay within all weight ratings. Whenever an overload condition exists resolve the problem before using your RV.

To download some helpful brochures on RV tire care & how to weigh your RV go to

Happy Camping

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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3 Responses to “Weighing your RV”

  1. Chris Bryant on February 13th, 2008 9:09 am

    This should be made s sticky! Most people have no idea what their rig weighs, or how much stuff they manage to cram in to it (I know I didn’t), and it’s probably the biggest factor in both safety and staying out of the repair shop!

    Good job!

  2. jim conner on February 13th, 2008 5:10 pm

    Mark, this blog of yours was & is very imformative. Thank you. Jim

  3. Al Grayson on February 18th, 2008 4:50 am

    Oregon has a welcome policy of leaving roadside scales “ON” when they are not in use by the weight enforcers.
    Tire manufacturers publish load rating/inflation pressure charts for each model and size of tire. Go to their web sites or contact them by mail or phone.
    “LT” (Light Truck) tires generally have a maximum rated speed of 75 mph.
    “ST” (Special Trailer) tires generally have a maximum rated speed of 65 mph.
    Increasing the tire pressure above the maximum rating of the tire (molded on the sidewall) does not increase the maximum speed or load ratings.
    If the load range of the tires installed on the vehicle is increased (like from “C” to “D”), take care not to raise the tire pressure above the pressure rating of the wheel. Also do not exceed the load rating of the axle.
    Even if the load on different tires on an axle or in a set (like all four tires on a twin axle trailer) is different, the tire pressure of all the tires must be according to the chart pressure for the most heavily loaded tire on the axle or in the set. Due to friction in the equalizer bushings the load on each axle in a set may be different. Trailers with nonequalized axles (like “rubber” axles) must be set up dead “level” (parallel to the road surface).
    Good policy is for the tires on a vehicle not to be loaded above 80% of their rated load capacity (Ha!).
    Always dump wastewater holding tanks as soon as practical when leaving the campsite (a couple of gallons of fresh water left in each one to keep residues from drying is OK). Hauling the weight is unnecessary, and the sloshing of water in a partly filled tank does not improve vehicle stability.
    Do not rely on increasing tire pressure above the chart recommendation to counter sway. If a trailer sways when traveling straight down the road with no side gusts or passing rigs, there is a design or balance (trailer distribution) problem that must be corrected. Sway control is ONLY for countering sway induced by side gusts and passing large vehicles, not for controlling a poorly balanced or constructed trailer.