The happy RVers left Kansas with their brand new fifth wheel in tow, but by the time they ascended into the Rockies, they knew something wasn’t right. With every twist and turn the truck was losing power and as the husband did his best to stay calm, he remembered what the sales guy said on the showroom floor: “Sure, your truck can pull it!” At that moment, he knew he should have done his research before buying . . .
Getting your RV weighed is a no-brainer, yet thousands of drivers fail to do it. Unfortunately, by the time an unsuspecting RVer discovers their RV is overweight, the worst might have already happened. Tire blowouts, handling problems and power loss are all common symptoms of exceeding cargo capacity. If any of these issues results in an accident, the RVers insurance coverage could be voided when investigators determine the RV was overloaded. The poor RVer will carry the financial burden of whatever comes next.
The Only Way to Get Your RV Weighed
There’s only one way to get your RV weighed properly: go to a professional RV weigh station. Many RVers think that CAT scales will do the job (and save money too), but those “platform” truck stop scales only weigh the load over each axle. That’s fine for big rigs, but the average RV weighs much less than a Freightliner and our tires are much smaller. For RVers, measuring the load over each wheel is far more critical in determining a safe load distribution.
“Truck platform scales can actually give you a false “safe” indication and allow you to operate with one or more tires overloaded,” say the experts at Escapees SmartWeigh, one of the best ways to get an accurate RV weight reading.
The non-profit RV Safety and Education Foundation agrees with the SmartWeigh team and says:
- The ONLY way to properly weigh your RV is by wheel position. Your tires and wheels are the foundation of your RV, and each has a maximum weight rating.
- Unless you know the load being carried by each wheel position, you have no way to know the proper inflation of your tires. Improper inflation leads to improper wear, reduced life of the tire, and greater potential for rapid tire failure.
It’s hard to know how many RVers are behind the wheel of dangerously overloaded rigs. The lead weigh master at the Escapees SmartWeigh location in Congress, Arizona says he estimates at least 50 percent of the rigs he personally weighs each year are overloaded. That’s pretty scary when you consider there are over eight million RVs on America’s highways.
Professional RV weigh scales can be found around the U.S. From the non-profit RV Safety and Education Foundation weigh scale program to the most well-known of all, the Escapees RV Club SmartWeigh program. Located at three different Escapees parks around the country, the service is operated by the club’s trained and experienced weigh masters who can help you determine if your RV is overweight. And if so, how to fix the problem. For less than $100, you’ll learn things like:
- Your RV’s exact height and wheel weight positioning
- Trailer hitch analysis and adjustment
- Tips for better weight distribution
- Which tires are best for your RV
- Why and how to make necessary changes for a safer ride
Weighing your RV is easy and fast. Just show up with it loaded as you normally would when traveling. For example, we showed up with full water tanks and a week’s worth of food. We don’t always travel that way, but we do when driving to remote boondocking campsites. Our goal was to find out if we were pushing the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio limits of our Dodge Ram 2500 in this situation.
After a thorough assessment, you may or may not get the feedback you had hoped for. In our case, it was what we suspected: we are at the capacity of our Dodge when traveling with full tanks. This new information has impacted how we camp, but it’s better than not knowing and having a terrible wreck.
RVing is full of adventurous times, but misadventure shouldn’t be one of them. Do yourself, your family and your property a favor by getting your RV weighed by a professional. Whether you’re behind the wheel or just along for the ride, that vital information will make you happier and more confident on every journey.
About the Author:
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com
Ricky R. ~ “Just wanted to let you know that we had a tire go out on a recent trip to Florida, and for the first time, was able to use my Coach-Net services. Not that I really wanted to ever use this, but that is the reason we have it. We contacted Coach-Net and was assisted by Kristen, who was in constant contact and extremely patient and helpful during our whole, stressful event. Being broken down somewhere strange is not very comforting. She was able to source a tire repair service along with a new replacement tire, which was covered 100% under our plan. Kristen kept in touch up until the repair service arrived. We received an automated call verifying the repair was done and go back on our way. There are so many horror stories about poor service and customer support with roadside plans, so I thought I would share a GOOD story and great outcome. Thanks, again, for great coverage and excellent employees who care.”