Hitch weight, ship weight, dry weight, GVWR, cargo capacity ... what does it all mean!?! All of the different weight limits listed on an RV can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you have to decode abbreviations. How do you determine if you have to get your RV weighed at a weigh station? This article will help make sense of RV weights and weigh stations, so read on!
Understanding the Weights
All of the weights listed on your RV can be confusing and intimidating, especially for new RVers. Let's look at what each one means.
These weights are all one in the same. All of these stand for the weight of the RV when it rolls off the assembly line and is not loaded with anything. This weight does not include occupants, fluids in the tanks, cargo, or any aftermarket, installed accessories. It is the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW).
This is the maximum amount of weight the RV hitch can handle. This has absolutely nothing to do with the vehicle you tow it with, and everything to do with the hitch that is installed on the RV itself. You will want to ensure that you do not exceed what the hitch can handle or you may find yourself with some serious damage to the hitch and/or the rig itself!
The Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the maximum amount of weight that the axles can carry. This has nothing to do with the tires and how much they can handle, it’s just the axles.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that the axles and tires will carry. If the axles can handle more than the tires, the tire weight will be listed, and vice versa. This will be a weight you want to know before adding things to your camper. Upgrades can be made easily to the tires to increase the rating, but the axles can be a bit of an ordeal to try and upgrade.
The Net Carrying Capacity (NCC), or Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC), is an important one to pay attention to, especially if you have a toy hauler. This is the maximum amount of cargo your RV can carry. This includes passengers as well, so don’t load it up to the max and then climb in!
This is the weight of the trailer once it’s on the hitch. If you want to calculate this, subtract your hitch weight from your dry weight (UVW).
If you’re headed down the highway with your RV in tow, you may see a weigh station and wonder if you are required to stop. The short answer to this is no, you do not have to stop at a weigh station. A weigh station is only for commercial vehicles that are hauling freight. Weigh stations make sure that trucks are not overloaded, as this is not only dangerous but it can cause damage to the roads from being too heavy. If you are worried about your RV's weight and want to make sure that you’re not overloaded, you can pull into a weigh station and get weighed, but it's not required.
If you happen to see a sign that says RVs must be weighed, or an officer is directing you to pull in, it’s probably best that you go ahead and do it. There may be a specific reason at that time or for that particular stretch of road and you don’t want to end up with fines. Otherwise, keep chugging down the road and happy trails!