Understanding how and where to weigh your travel trailer is important to maintaining your vehicle. The leading cause of tire blow out is an overweight travel trailer. You can easily weigh your vehicle at home or at a truck stop to ensure you’re on the right track. This article, How and Where to Weigh Your Travel Trailer, will address everything you need to know about weighing your travel trailer, so you don’t hit any unwanted bumps along the road.
To weigh your travel trailer, consider at home options or options for when you’re on the road.
- To weigh your travel trailer at home, use the following practice: wheel positioning weighing. Wheel positioning weighing is the easiest and most accurate method of at home weighing. To do this you weigh each wheel on a scale, and compare to the maximum weight rating for each tire. You can purchase a scale online, or use a scale you have at home.
- Weighing your travel trailer at a weighing station is the most accurate way to weigh your trailer. To do this locate a weighing station (found along the highway) and use the single platform scale to check your trailers weight. This method will cost you a weighing fee.
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about weighing your travel trailer, at home or at a weighing station. Knowing the weight of your trailer is essential to staying safe on the road and avoiding tire blow out.
- 1 Quick Answer
- 2 How and Where to Weigh Your Travel Trailer?
- 3 Average weights of travel trailers
- 4 How to Evaluate Your Vehicle Load and Balance
- 5 Wrap Up
How and Where to Weigh Your Travel Trailer?
Understanding how to weigh your travel trailer is important to the safety of operating your vehicle. Know where to weigh your vehicle and have a plan prior to hitting the road.
How to weigh your travel trailer
To weigh your travel trailer, use a single platform scale. Most semi-truck stops offer these scales and charge a weighing fee. When using a single platform at a semi-truck stop to weigh a travel trailer follow these simple steps:
- Locate your nearest single platform scale, or weighing station. They are going to be along highways and often are found near state borders to help semi-trucks traveling from state to state.
- Call ahead to confirm they accept travel trailers (90% of locations will) and determine the monetary weighing fee.
- Pull into the weighing station and approach the single platform scale. There may be a line of RV’s, trailers, and/or semi-trucks waiting to weigh.
- First, take the weight of the entire rig (both travel trailer and the tow vehicle) and record it.
- Move the vehicle forward so it is positioned so the rear axle is just off the single platform. Make sure the hitch is still positioned over the scale and take that weight and record it.
- Next, uncouple the hitch and take the weight of only the trailer.
- The goal of taking each of these weights is to allow you to determine the trailer weight, tow vehicle weight, and the trailer weight in relation to the pin weight.
- To calculate the tow vehicle weight, take the total weight minus the trailer weight.
- To calculate the pin weight, take the trailer weight minus the weight taken before unhitching the trailer. This weight should be less than 10% of the trailer weight. If this weight is more than 10% there is too much pressure on the hitch.
- Lastly, pay your weighing fee.
Where to weigh your travel trailer and how much it costs
You can weigh a travel trailer at home, through a specialist, or at a weighing station. Cost, reliability, efficiency and accuracy of the weighing will vary depending on the selected location.
At home weighing: The cost to weigh at home is free, apart from the materials you need to purchase and the time you will spend. At home weighing can be done with either a certified scale or home scale, such as a bathroom scale. A certified scale will be more accurate; however, a bathroom scale may be free if you already have one handy. The cost of a certified scale can range from $50 to $100.
Truck stop: Located along the highway, truck stops have weighing stations suitable for a travel trailer. Weighing a travel trailer at a truck stop is inexpensive, costing between $10-$14 for the initial weighing. Most truck stops will offer additional weighing’s for $2-$4 within a 24-48-hour time period.
Weighing specialists: This option is usually by appointment only, and will not accept drive-ups. Some popular weighing specialists’ programs include Escapees RV Club and RVSEF. To use a weighing specialist call to set up an appointment and you will schedule a time to have a professional weigh your vehicle. A weighing specialist on average charges $60/weighing.
CAT scale locations: CAT scale is the most accurate place to weigh your travel trailer. It is also one of the most cost-effective methods to weigh in. For the first weight the cost is $12 plus a $2.50 charge for reweighs within 24-hours.
How to weigh your travel trailer at home
There are multiple methods to weighing your travel trailer at home; however, the “wheel positioning weighing” is considered the most effective and accurate. Wheel position is considered the only proper way to weigh a travel trailer, because an overloaded tire can blow and cause an accident. Below you will find steps to weighing your travel trailer at home using the “wheel positioning weighing” method.
Step 1: Purchase a scale – Before you get started you will need to purchase a travel trailer or RV scale. You can use a bathroom scale; however, it will not be as accurate. Travel trailer scales can be purchased online. The most popular travel trailer scale brands include, Uline, and Sherline. Prices for an at home scale range from $50 to $100.
Step 2: Check your tire capacity – Each tire has a weight capacity limit that is usually specified on the tire. If you cannot locate the tire capacity on the tire consider researching it online or calling the manufacturer.
Step 3: Weigh each wheel – This method involves weighing each wheel individually, then comparing the weight to the tire weight capacity. To weigh each wheel, you will roll your vehicle slowly onto the scale. This works best with two people. One person inside the vehicle to drive, and one outside to motion to the driver and reposition the scale under each wheel. So, you will be taking four different weights for comparison.
Step 4: Confirm and evaluate weight capacity – The last step once you have taken your weights is to compare each weight to the travel trailers capacity. Consider overall and hitch capacity. If you are overweight, or close to capacity, remove any unnecessary items from your travel trailer and repeat steps 1-4.
How to weigh your travel trailer on a CAT scale
CAT stands for certified automotive truck. Online you can find a list of CAT scale locations in the United States. These certified weighing stations offer a weighing platform for a variety of large vehicles, including travel trailers. CAT Scale is ranked #1 for professional drivers, and are known for accuracy, and reliability. Follow these easy steps to weigh your travel trailer on a CAT scale.
Step 1: Find your local CAT Scale Company – To find your local CAT Scale Company conduct an online search. Once you have located the address and phone number give them a call to schedule an appointment or check their hours.
Step 2: Review your vehicle position – CAT Scale Company provides a chart with the correct position to weigh your travel trailer. Review the chart to ensure you know how to park your trailer when you arrive for weighing.
Step 3: Attend your appointment – Whether you set an appointment or visit during operational hours, you will arrive at the CAT Scale Company location and be directed to the travel trailer weigh in platforms.
Step 4: Weigh your travel trailer – Position your vehicle on the scale completely. The steer axle should be ahead on platform 1 while the rear axle is on platform 2, and the trailer is on platform 3. Signal for the weight to be taken.
Step 5: Evaluate your vehicles weight – Check to see if your travel trailer is overweight. If your vehicle is overweight repeat steps 1-4. The cost to reweigh should be less if done within 24 hours of the original weigh in.
There are many different ways to weigh your travel trailer that vary in accuracy and cost. Having an overweight travel trailer can cause issues like a blown tire on the road. To stay safe weigh in regularly.
Average weights of travel trailers
As a general rule of thumb, a travel trailer will weigh 250 pounds for every foot of length (not including the hitch). A travel trailer, on average, weighs 5,200 pounds when its water tank is empty, and there is no equipment in it. This is referred to as “dry weight”. The average weight of equipment and water is 1250-1750 pounds. This is often called “real weight” by travel trailer enthusiasts. Different factors impact the weight of a travel trailer such as materials, and slide-outs. Lighter materials, such as pop-out tenting and aluminum metal decrease the weight. Below are some popular models, and their average weight. (These weights reflect trailer, gear, and water).
Jayco Jay Flight 26RKS (2015): This 26-foot-long model weighs in, on average, between 6,855 to 7,355 pounds.
Jayco Jay Flight 27RLS (2015): This model is 27 feet in length and weighs in between 7,280 and 7,780 pounds, on average.
Jayco Jay Flight 19RD (2015): This 19-foot-long model, on average, weighs in at 4,965 to 5,465 pounds.
Coleman CTS192RDWE (2017): Weighing in, typically, between 5,224 to 5,724 pounds, this popular model is 23 feet long.
Cherokee West 274DBH (2017): 32 feet in length, this model weighs between 8,955 to 9,455 pounds on average.
Rockwood Mini Light 2504s (2017): This smaller 17-foot-long model weighs, on average, 5,036 to 5,536 pounds depending on the load.
Evo 197SS: This model in 24 feet in length. It weighs 5,595 pounds when it is at its full capacity, but averages 5,250 to 5,500 pounds in weight.
How to Evaluate Your Vehicle Load and Balance
Controlling your travel trailer vehicle balance is essential to your safety, and to avoid damaging your trailer. “Vehicle balance” is a term used to describe the distribution of weight throughout a vehicle. It is important that each tire is supporting a similar amount of weight to maintain good tire pressure, suspension, and control. When you operate your vehicle, each acceleration, turn, and brake shifts the pressure from one part to another, making vehicle balance important to keeping a well-maintained travel trailer. To keep vehicle balance, follow these steps:
Step 1: Check your vehicle – Before you start your trip check your brakes, tire traction, tire pressure, and suspension. Once you have assured your travel trailer is in good condition weigh each wheel to check weight distribution.
Step 2: Make adjustments – If you determine there is improper weight distribution during your weigh in make the proper adjustments by moving gear within the travel trailer, or removing it from the trailer.
Step 3: Practice braking, accelerating, and turning – Before you begin a long trip with your travel trailer take it out for a local spin. This gives you an opportunity to identify any problems before you hit the road. This also gives you the opportunity to learn how to operate a travel trailer on the road if this is your first outing.
Step 4: Plan for adverse weather – Make sure that you research and understand how your vehicle balance will change given adverse weather conditions. Many travel trailers are limited by the snow. Determine what your trailer can handle in various weather conditions, and research the local weather ahead of time.
Vehicle balance is important to maintaining your travel trailer and having a safe trip.
When you operate a travel trailer knowing how and where to weigh your vehicle is important to ensuring safe travels, and maintaining your vehicle. There are many different options, with costs varying from free to $100, to weighing your travel trailer. It is important to do what you are most comfortable with. Please feel free to share your experiences or thoughts in the comments below. Remember vehicle balance is essential to avoiding an accident, or blown tire while on the road. Happy travels!