Understanding RV Weights Can Be Quite Baffling At First Glance
Understanding class b motorhome weights may seem an impossible task and nothing but a jumble of acronyms when first exposed to them. However, it’s the responsibility of every class b and RV operator to understand and abide by each one. Note that it is the responsibility of the operator to abide by these rules, not necessarily the owner of the vehicle. If ever stopped, the driver is the one who will most likely be liable for any violations. Always be on the safe side and find a full set of scales to determine the actual weight for each category listed here.
Obviously, the most important reason for these limitations involves the safe operation of the vehicle. Overloading an RV may cause equipment failure or loss of control which could lead to accidents. Over time, one can expect the continued abuse of the set limitations will greatly diminish the life expectancy of the equipment, thus posing greater risks each time the vehicle is taken out on the road.
RV manufacturers provide two categories regarding weight limitations. One is the actual measured weight of the vehicle and any contents or towed vehicles.
The other is the weight rating, or limitations, established for any particular component, like the drive-train, engine, a tire, or an axle. It’s important to fully understand the difference between the two so to avoid too much more confusion.
A tire’s rating might be something most are already familiar with. Each tire is clearly marked with the maximum air capacity and weight limit it will safely bear. The actual weight an axle can sustain is labeled the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). When the motorhome is actually weighed by each axle, it’s easy to see if every tire is within the required limitations by dividing that weight shown, the GAW (gross axle weight) by the number of tires on the axle. Of course, it’s always a goal to keep the weight equally balanced on each side.
When all of the axle weights are combined, the result is listed as the GVW (gross vehicle weight). If a vehicle or trailer is being towed, the GTW (gross trailer weight) is added so you’ll have the GCW (gross combination weight). It must remain under the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) or the Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight.
Another safety factor involved when towing is to always stay within the limitations of either the Tongue Weight (or Tongue Load) or the King Pin Weight ratings. This is the weight that can be withstood by the hitch ball or a mounted fifth wheel. The actual weight can be obtained by finding what ten to fifteen percent of the GTW is for a ball hitch or fifteen to 25 percent for a King Pin.
As far as the weights for the RV itself are concerned, there are several other ratings to be aware of. One is the determined when it leaves the factory. It includes only full fuel tanks, oil and coolants. The UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) doesn’t include anything added by a dealer, LP gas, water, cargo or passengers. When those are included you’ll have the CCC (cargo carrying capacity).
By subtracting the UVW from the GVWR, it’s possible to quickly calculate the amount of other things you can bring along like gear, food, passengers, and other cargo after factoring in anything being towed.
Just know that along with the sense of freedom, the joy, convenience, and memories that traveling in an RV can provide, there also comes a tremendous amount of responsibility. These are large vehicles that will take a longer time to get up to speed or to stop. They also require more room to maneuver, especially if towing anything.
It is imperative to stay under the load restrictions for any roads you plan to travel. Overweight violations can be very expensive propositions. Plan ahead because weight restrictions can vary by seasons.