Traveling With Your RV: Weigh Station Rules For RVs By State

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Enter the world of campers, and you might hear a conversation about weight and payload. Perhaps, one day you drive your Class A motorhome down the highway or tow your travel trailer and see a sign saying there is a weigh station one mile away. Do you have to stop? 

In most cases, the answer is no. RVs do not have to stop at weigh stations. If your GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Ratio) is less than 10,000 pounds, you will not have to stop. State weigh stations are for commercial vehicles, not privately owned RVs. However, some states have different regulations that you must follow.

do rv's have to stop at weigh stations

It can get confusing. In this article, we discuss the guidelines for weigh stations. What is a GCWR? Payloads and how to reduce the weight of your RV.

What’s a Weigh Station?

The purpose of weigh stations is to make available checkpoints for commercial vehicles, including commercial trucks and agricultural vehicles, over 10,000 pounds. It enables the weighing of commercial vehicles while still on the road. They are often along the freeway, making pulling over easy and accessible.

The weighing takes place on rolling scales so that drivers do not need to come to a complete stop. If all is okay, they can proceed with their journey. Generally, vehicles under 80,000 pounds will get the green light to continue.

It is a legal obligation for trucks to pull over at every open weigh station. The law in some states includes drivers renting a vehicle, for example, for house moves.

A vehicle overweight is unsafe. It compromises the safety of other road users. Heavy and overweight loads are more difficult to maneuver when stopping, turning, and going downhill. They are also slower to accelerate, which can cause accidents when other road users come across a slow-moving truck that does not accelerate as quickly as anticipated.

Weigh stations are a safety measure.

Heavier loads can also put wear and tear on roads and bridges.

What Do Weigh Stations Do?

Weigh stations weigh trucks for their overall weight and the weight per axle. The Department of Transport will take the vehicle out of commission and prevent the driver from continuing the journey until they unload the truck to a permitted weight. The driver will receive a fine.

Fines vary from state to state and can be significant. Rhode Island enforces all of its truck maximum weight limit rules through penalties. They charge $65.00 for every pound over the legal weight, up to a maximum of 10,000 pounds. Above that, the fine increases to $125.00 per pound.

In addition to verifying a vehicle’s weight, officials can ensure that the driver and vehicle follow the rules, regulations, and safety guidelines.

Depending on how thorough a check the official carries out. There can be an inspection of the inside and outside of the vehicle and necessary paperwork of the driver and vehicle. Sometimes the driver is tested for drugs and alcohol.

List of States and Its RV Guidelines on Weigh Stations.

Strictly speaking, weigh stations are not there for privately owned RVs. However, the area gets grey, if you work or run a business from your RV, your RV could be considered commercial. North Dakota is one state to which this rule applies.

The majority of states have weigh stations which are primarily there for commercial vehicles. However, some states require all vehicles over a set weight to stop and verify the weight limit.

Here is a list of the states requiring all vehicles to stop, including RVs.

All vehicles over 10,000lbs gross vehicle weight must stop at weigh stations, including RVs.

  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Missouri requires all vehicles over 18 000 lbs to stop at weigh stations.

All vehicles or combinations over 26 000 lbs, including RVs, must stop at weigh stations.

  • Colorado
  • Montana

Pennsylvania requires all large vehicles to stop. However, the state does not define a large vehicle but includes passenger and specialty vehicles, therefore RV’s.

In addition to the above list, some state police can require a vehicle to proceed to a weigh station. This is entirely normal. Follow the police officer to the weigh station, and the situation should not cause concern. 

Why Do Some RVs Need To Stop at a Weigh Station?

Most states have weigh station laws designed to set safe weight limits for commercial carriers and their trucks. These state laws sometimes overlap with the RV vehicle world as they can have a weight similar to commercial trucks. For this reason, knowing the weight of your vehicle is always advisable. 

An easy way to determine your vehicle’s weight is to take it to one of the truck stops near you. A CAT Scale will provide an accurate readout of what your RV weighs.

As a general rule, if you are unsure, it is best to pull into a weigh station and follow the weigh station protocol, ensuring you are better safe than sorry. 

What Happens if You Don’t Stop at a Weigh Station?

It is illegal to pass a weigh station, and not stopping is unlawful and, therefore, not a good idea. It can be costly. For skipping a weigh station, you could receive a fine of up to $300.00. It might not seem too steep a fine. However, it could lead to further penalties.

If you drive past a weigh station, a law enforcement officer could pull you over and direct you to the nearest station for further inspection. Once at the weigh station, the inspector could conduct a Level 1 inspection.

If you are ever trying to decide whether or not you need to stop at a weigh station, it is best to pull into the station. An officer can advise you if you need to drive your RV onto the scales or if you are free to continue your journey.

How To Find Your RV’s Weight

You can find your RV weight listed in a few locations. 

  • You can find the weight of your RV listed in the RV Owner’s manual.
  • On a travel trailer, the weight should be on the VIN sticker, usually located on the trailer’s frame.
  • Your weight for your tow vehicle or motorhome will be stated on the data plate inside the door on the door jamb.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The manufacturer determines the GVWR, the maximum weight a vehicle can carry safely. It is when you fully load your RV with all passengers, luggage, and other cargo or gear, like solar panels. The GVWR includes the RV itself, such as the frame, axles, wheels, and suspension system.

The GVWR does not include the towed vehicle. The GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) covers the combined maximum load weight after the attachment of the towed vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Axle Weight Rating

In addition to the GVWR, an RV has a rating for what each axle can carry. Weight distribution is crucial when loading an RV, whether a trailer or a motorhome. Unevenly distributed weight makes a vehicle unsteady.

Dry Weight / Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)

According to the NTEA states, the NHTSA definition of the unloaded vehicle weight is the weight of a vehicle with a maximum capacity of all fluids necessary for the operation of the vehicle but without cargo, occupants, or accessories that are ordinarily removed from the vehicle when they are not in use. 

In terms of an RV, it is the state the vehicle leaves the factory. It includes a full tank of fuel, propane, and any necessary fluids. Not included are passengers, water in the holding tanks, and any accessories installed by the RV dealer. The added weights, such as bike racks and solar panels, must be included as cargo and calculated into the GVWR.

Check Out How to Weigh Your RV – The EASY Way!:

How To Avoid Weigh Stations

If you do not want to stop at weigh stations, this is achievable in two ways.

Plan your route. If you plan ahead, you can plot a way that avoids a particular stretch with weigh stations. The negative of this method is that it can take longer and potentially take you on roads unsuitable for RVs. There may be low bridges or narrow roads.

Wait until the weigh stations are closed. Find out where the weigh stations are on your route. Then find a rest stop before the weigh station and pull over for a rest and something to eat and drink until the weigh station is closed.

You might have heard about the Weigh Station Bypass, the Prepass. However, this device is for commercial users and not for private RV users.

Key Takeaway: The most straightforward course of action is to stop at all weigh stations.

How To Locate Weigh Station Near You?

To find weigh stations near you or to help plan a route avoiding the weigh stations, Coops Are Open is a website that lists all the weigh stations and their location in each state. The website even recommends some common truck routes for regional or long-distance journeys.

It is required to be a premium member to locate CAT Scales near you. Currently $4.99 per month.

Coops is a slang term used by truckers referring to weigh stations. So-called for forcing large trucks into small confined areas for weighing. Just like chickens in a coop. 

Another method of locating other weigh stations is to use Google or Apple maps.

Tips To Reduce Your RV’s Weight

A couple of ways to reduce the weight of your RV include: 

  • Only fill your fresh water tank half full, or leave it empty until you arrive at your campground. Empty your grey and black holding tanks regularly, so you do not carry unnecessary waste.
  • Minimize your gear. Empty your RV of any cargo you do not use, such as bike racks or satellite dishes. Unload seasonal sports equipment like skis and kayaks.
  • Carry enough food and clothes for your trip and no extras.
  • Choose lightweight crockery and cooking equipment. A couple of saucepans and a set of plates can soon add up. 

What Are the Heaviest RV on the Market?

RVs often have the nickname, tiny homes. However, there are some whoppers at the other end of the scale, and these definitely are not tiny homes.

Generally, the biggest and heaviest on the market are class-A motorhomes, and the Newell Coach 2020p weighing in at a colossal 63,600 lbs is a large motorhome.

For the trailers category, the Jayco Eagle 334DROK has a dry weight of 11,375 lbs and a gross weight of 12,825 lbs, and it is also the longest at 42 ft 2 inches. You will need heavy vehicles with a large towing capacity.

Fifth-wheelers also hit the not-so-tiny market, with the Grand Design Solitude 380FL having some impressive stats. The dry weight of 16,800 lbs, together with 1,934 lbs payload, make this a beast.

Related Questions

Do Pickups With Trailers Need To Stop at Weigh Stations?

As long as the pickup truck and trailer do not exceed weight limitations of 10,000 lbs, you should not have to stop at weigh stations.

Where Can I Get My Trailer Weighed?

You can use a CAT Scale to weigh your trailer, the same way as other recreational vehicles generally found at truck stops. 

How To Weigh a Travel Trailer?

Weighing a travel trailer and pickup on a CAT Scale is straightforward.

Pull your trailer onto the scales so both vehicles are entirely on the scales when weighing a pickup and a travel trailer.

Ideally, the truck’s front wheels are on platform one, and the rear axle is on platform two. The trailer should automatically be on platform three.

How Much Does a Class A Motorhome Weigh?

An average Class A motorhome weighs 13,000 – 36,000 pounds.

How Much Does a Class C RV Weigh?

Class C motorhomes weigh, on average, between 10,000 to 20,000 pounds.

The Bottom Line

Do RV’s have to stop at weigh stations? Generally, RVs do not have to stop at a weigh station as they are personal vehicles and not commercial unless a specific law in the area states otherwise.

The general rule is that you can pass weigh stations if your vehicle is under 10,000 pounds weight limitations. However, if vehicles exceed this weight, check the state’s regulations, as you might have to enter the weigh station protocols. Common sense says that if in doubt, pull into the weigh station and check with the official.

Before setting out on a trip, it is always a good idea to weigh your RV at a truck stop.

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Written by William Perry
William was born and raised in the United States and currently lives in Utah. A retired police officer, he is the father of three and grandfather of six. Along with writing, he enjoys traveling, the outdoors, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.
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