RVs often weigh a lot, and some are almost as long as big rig trucks. And on the road, we see those weigh stations everywhere, but do 5th wheel campers have to stop at weigh stations?
As a general rule, most RVs, including fifth wheel campers, do not have to stop at weigh stations unless operated as a commercial vehicle. Commercially used RVs will typically have to stop at weigh stations in most states if they exceed 10,000 lbs, although certain states have that number at 26,001 lbs.
But all but the smallest teardrop trailers will likely be well over 10,000 lbs.
In this blog post, we will explore the purpose of weigh stations and their relevance for those traveling with a 5th-wheel camper, but really the same rules apply to all RVs including a travel trailer or motorhomes.
We will discuss state-specific requirements for stopping at weigh stations in an RV, weight limits that may exempt or require you to stop, and how you can use these facilities to determine your vehicle’s weight. Additionally, we’ll provide guidance on finding the nearest open weigh station and understanding when it’s necessary to stop during your journey.
Lastly, we’ll address potential consequences if you fail to adhere to weigh station rules while towing a 5th-wheel camper.
By the end of this post, you should have a comprehensive understanding of whether do 5th-wheel campers have to stop at weigh stations and how best to navigate these important checkpoints during your travels.
Table of Contents:
- What is the Purpose of Weigh Stations?
- What States Require You to Stop at Weigh Stations in an RV?
- Are There RV Weight Limits That Exempt or Require You to Stop?
- Can I Use a Weigh Station to Weigh My RV?
- How to Find Your RV’s Weight
- How to Find the Nearest Weigh Station
- Do You Have to Stop at Every Weigh Station in an RV?
- What Happens If You Don’t Stop at a Weigh Station with Your RV?
What is the Purpose of Weigh Stations?
Weigh stations are an important part of ensuring that large trucks are traveling safely and complying with state laws.
At weigh stations, trucks are checked to ensure that their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is not exceeded; otherwise, the excess load can damage roads and bridges or create safety hazards for other drivers.
The gross weight is determined by the manufacturer and includes all cargo, passengers, fuel, equipment, and other items on board. If a truck surpasses the maximum weight, it can have dire consequences for roads and bridges as well as pose risks to other motorists.
When approaching a weigh station, there are certain protocols that must be followed in order to pass through quickly without being weighed or inspected.
Drivers should always stay within their unloaded vehicle weight (UVW), which is determined by subtracting the trailer’s dry weight from its total loaded weight including cargo, passengers, fuel tanks, etc.
Additionally, when pulling a trailer or motorhome behind your tow vehicle you need to pay attention to your gross combined weight rating (GCWR). This takes into account both vehicles’ weights plus any additional load they may have such as holding tanks or equipment inside the RV itself.
Knowing these numbers ahead of time will help you avoid having to stop at every weigh station along your route.
RV owners and renters who plan on camping with their family over summer break should be aware of weigh station regulations before they embark on the open road.
Although RVs don’t usually exceed commercial vehicles’ size limits, like those found at truck stops or agricultural vehicles’, they must still abide by local laws governing rear axle loads to avoid a monetary penalty if stopped at an open weigh station during their travels.
Overall, understanding how weigh stations work can save you time while traveling with an RV.
The short answer is that unless your RV is used for commercial purposes, there’s usually no need to stop at weigh stations no matter how big your RV or how much it weighs!
To find out which states require you to stop at weigh stations in an RV, let’s take a closer look.
What States Require You to Stop at Weigh Stations in an RV?
Weigh stations are vital for verifying that all commercial vehicles, including RVs that are used for business purposes, adhere to RV safety regulations and comply with legal standards.
Some states require RV owners to stop at weigh stations if ordered to do so by a state police officer, whether a commercial vehicle or not. Those states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
It’s important for travelers to know this before hitting the road as fines can be issued if they fail to comply with these regulations.
Motorhomes used for business purposes must also adhere to certain regulations set by state governments.
California Connecticut Kansas and Texas require commercial drivers operating out of an RV or other large vehicle to stop at weigh stations while traveling within their borders.
Before setting out on any trip it is wise for business owners who operate out of an RV or other large vehicle in these states should contact their state’s DMV office first so they can confirm whether they need to pull off at a weigh station during travel or not.
It is essential that everyone takes note of which states require them to pull over into a weigh station when driving an RV; failure to do so could result in hefty fines from law enforcement officers. Knowing which laws apply where you live will help keep your travels stress-free and enjoyable, allowing you more time to enjoy your family camping trips.
Although the rules for stopping at weigh stations in an RV vary by state, it is important to be aware of your own vehicle’s weight limits and regulations.
Next, we will discuss how these weight limits can exempt or require you to stop at a weigh station when traveling with a 5th-wheel camper.
#TipTuesday when transporting any oversize vehicles, such as trucks, RVs, etc, make sure your gas tank is no more than a quarter full. Not only is it a hazard, but it can cause problems at the weigh stations.https://t.co/3qiOf6ydkh#heavyhaulers #trucking #transport #shipping pic.twitter.com/iaeCdKqUeh
— Heavy Haulers (@heavy_haulers) November 19, 2019
Are There RV Weight Limits That Exempt or Require You to Stop?
When it comes to RV travel, knowing the weight limits is key.
The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is an important number to know when you’re on the road in your RV. This rating refers to the maximum combined weight of your tow vehicle and your recreational vehicle.
If your truck and trailer together exceed 10,000 pounds, you may need to stop at weigh stations depending on what state you are traveling through.
But again, in most cases, this only applies if you use your RV for commercial purposes.
In some states, such as New York, California, Oregon, and Washington, vehicles exceeding a certain weight must pull into weigh stations for inspection or verification.
On the other hand, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah only require commercial vehicles with a gross combination weight of over 26001 lbs to stop at these facilities.
For all other drivers in those states who are not flagged by law enforcement personnel or highway patrol officers during traffic stops or routine patrols along highways and interstates are exempt from stopping at weigh stations.
I have driven my Class A motorhome (36′ long and probably 26,000 pounds) in the following states and never once stopped at a weigh station or been flagged by an officer to do so:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
It is essential for RV travelers to familiarize themselves with the regulations of each state before taking a long-distance journey across multiple jurisdictions within North America, as local laws may have exceptions.
Even if an RV’s gross combination weight does not exceed 26001 lbs, one should still exercise caution and brush up on their knowledge of weigh station requirements in order to avoid any potential surprises or hiccups along the way.
Weighing your rig can help ensure safety and streamline the process, as many states require RVs above a certain GCWR limit such as those exceeding 10k pounds in total gross combined weight rating (GCWR).
Can I Use a Weigh Station to Weigh My RV?
No. Weigh stations are not designed for personal use, including RV weighing.
They are intended solely for commercial vehicles and their purpose is to ensure that all commercial vehicles comply with the laws regarding weight limits. Weighing your RV at a weigh station is not only illegal but also dangerous as you may be in violation of other laws such as vehicle registration or licensing requirements.
The best way to determine your RV’s weight is by having it weighed on a certified scale at an authorized facility or service center.
This will provide you with accurate information about your vehicle’s total weight, including any cargo that might be loaded onto it. It’s important to know this information so that you can make sure you don’t exceed the legal limits set by state and federal regulations when driving your RV on public roads and highways.
In certain states, recreational vehicles used for commercial purposes with a GVWR exceeding 10,000 pounds must pull into designated weigh stations while traveling through them in order to be checked by law enforcement and make sure they are adhering to the maximum allowable weights for highway travel.
To ensure compliance with state laws, it is essential that RV owners know how much their rigs weigh including any cargo loaded onto it; the best way to do this is by having an authorized service center or facility use a certified scale for weighing.
It should also be noted that certain states offer special exemptions from having to stop at weigh stations for drivers who meet specific criteria, such as full-time residency or proof of insurance coverage.
This exemption can vary significantly depending on the state in question; thus, doing research ahead of time is paramount before embarking on a journey.
If ever uncertain whether or not pulling into a particular weigh station would benefit yourself and/or others sharing our nation’s roadway system, it is best to err on the side of caution and proceed accordingly instead. It is better to be safe than sorry.
When you find out recreational vehicles are exempt from stopping at all weigh stations pic.twitter.com/ER8uJyp1Or
— Travis Gillilan (@TravisGillilan) November 6, 2019
How to Find Your RV’s Weight
Weighing your RV is an important step to ensure you are traveling safely and legally.
The best approach for obtaining an accurate weight of your RV is to use a CAT scale, which can be found at many truck stops on the way. A CAT scale will provide the most accurate weight measurement for large vehicles like RVs.
Of course, the manufacturer of your RV will list the empty weight of your RV on their website and in the manual that came with your RV.
To weigh a towable RV, start by driving onto the scale with both the pickup truck and any towed vehicles.
This will give you a total weight of both combined. Then, drive off the scale and park the trailer in a nearby parking space or lot before returning to the CAT scale with just your truck. You can then get an accurate reading of the amount of weight of your RV alone.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there may be different requirements for weighing depending on what state you’re in and whether or not you have an oversized load permit.
For example, some states require commercial vehicles over certain weights to stop at weigh stations while others only require them if they are carrying hazardous materials or oversized loads. If unsure about local regulations, it’s always best to check with local authorities first before proceeding through any weigh station checkpoint.
Realizing the heft of your RV is essential for guaranteeing you stay secure and within regulations while driving. With that knowledge in hand, it’s time to find out how to locate the nearest weigh station for further verification.
How to Find the Nearest Weigh Station
Weighing stations are designed to ensure that commercial vehicles comply with weight limitations on highways and bridges.
The easiest way to find the nearest weight station is by using Google or Apple Maps. Simply type in “weigh station near me” and it will provide you with a list of nearby locations. You can also use the Coops Are Open website which provides information about state-by-state regulations as well as maps showing all active weigh stations across the United States.
Granted a lot of the weigh stations I pass in my RV aren’t open. And online resources may not show you open weigh stations exclusively.
Note that the website is not secure, so on Google Chrome at least you will get a warning before it takes you to the site. But since it does not require you to enter any personal or payment info, it’s not an issue.
If you know what state you plan on traveling through, you can contact the Department of Transportation (DOT) in that particular state for detailed information regarding any applicable laws or regulations related to weighing RVs at local weigh stations.
This includes specific requirements such as whether certain classes of vehicles must stop at designated scales along certain routes or if there are any exemptions based on size or weight restrictions for recreational vehicles (RVs).
It’s always best to take advantage of available resources like these when planning your RV travels, as many states require RVs over a certain weight limit to pull off at designated scales regardless of registration status. With this in mind, it pays dividends to register your RV beforehand if time is limited during the trip – that way you can avoid any unexpected hiccups along the road.
Do You Have to Stop at Every Weigh Station in an RV?
Drivers of any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds must stop at every weigh station they come across that is open.
Never think about skipping a weigh station, even if there’s a long line; the risks are too great to ignore. Weigh stations are important checkpoints for all vehicles traveling on public roads and highways in order to ensure safety and compliance with state regulations.
RV owners should be aware that their recreational vehicles may require them to stop at these locations as well. If your RV weighs more than 10,000 pounds when fully loaded, you must make sure you follow the rules and stop at each weigh station along your route.
This includes motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, and pop-up campers alike – no matter what type of RV you have or where it’s registered.
At a weighing station, vehicles are inspected to ensure compliance with state-set weight limits and that hazardous materials are transported properly. In some states like California and Arizona additional inspections may take place such as checking fluid levels or verifying brakes are in working order before allowing passage through the facility.
If drivers fail to comply with these requirements they could face fines ranging from $50-$500 depending on state law enforcement discretion, so always remember: stopping at every weigh station is essential when traveling in an RV.
Moving forward, let’s explore what happens if you don’t stop at a weigh station with your RV.
What Happens If You Don’t Stop at a Weigh Station with Your RV?
If the RV is clearly marked as commercial, then 99% of the time, nothing will happen.
However, there are certain states that require all vehicles over a certain weight limit to stop at weigh stations regardless of their purpose or designation. In those cases, an official may reroute you and escort you back to the weigh station in order for them to check your vehicle’s weight and ensure compliance with regulations.
If it turns out that your RV exceeds the state-mandated weight limit and you didn’t stop when required by law, then there could be consequences.
If you’re not adhering to the traffic regulations, it could mean penalties or a summons might be issued. It is highly unlikely that someone would face jail time for failing to comply unless they were repeat offenders who had previously been warned about stopping at weigh stations but failed to do so again anyway.
The best way to avoid any issues related to not stopping at a weigh station is by brushing up on the legal requirements of your vehicle in each state before hitting the road.
To get clued up, check out online resources such as individual state DOT websites or federal guidelines regarding interstate travel in RVs; certain states have different regulations for weighing vehicles like RVs due to their size and weight capacity compared to other types of vehicles.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if your RV is overweight at a weigh station?
If you have an overweight RV, you may be subject to fines or other penalties depending on the jurisdiction.
You should check with local authorities and review any applicable regulations before attempting to travel in an overweight vehicle.
It is essential to ensure that your RV meets all weight requirements for safe and efficient operation while on the road. Neglecting to abide by the necessary rules can lead to dire effects, including lessened fuel economy, heightened wear and tear on parts, impaired maneuverability, or even risky conditions due to unsteadiness.
Does an RV need to be weighed?
Yes, an RV needs to be weighed IF it is used for commercial purposes.
Weighing your RV is important for ensuring that it is properly loaded and within the manufacturer’s weight limits. This helps prevent accidents or damage due to overload as well as making sure you are not exceeding legal road weight restrictions.
It’s best to weigh both the front and rear axles separately, in order to get a better understanding of how the load is distributed across them. Additionally, if any modifications have been made since the purchase (such as adding water tanks), it’s wise to re-weigh your vehicle periodically for safety reasons.
Leaning in to my traveling trucker side! Stopped at a Flying J to weigh my RV for the first-time since I built her! I’ve got 1200lbs to spare and each side is almost exact in weight distribution! I’m so proud pic.twitter.com/HyXLMK805R
— Natalie Nin 💖 NYC ✨ (@SweetheartNin) March 12, 2023
Do RVs have to stop at weigh stations in Florida?
In Florida, recreational vehicles (RVs) do not need to stop at weigh stations.
However, commercial vehicles that are over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight must stop and be weighed. If an RV is being used for commercial activities, it must adhere to the same rules and regulations as any other commercial vehicle in Florida.
What is the weight limit for a 5th wheel?
The max load a 5th wheel can take is contingent on the hauling power of the vehicle towing it.
Generally, most vehicles have a towing capacity between 6,000 and 15,000 pounds. It is important to consult with an expert or your vehicle’s manual before attempting to tow any trailer as this could cause damage if done incorrectly.
Before towing, be sure that all safety features are in proper working order.
Overall, understanding the rules and regulations for stopping at weigh stations with your 5th wheel or other types of campers can be confusing.
Weighing your RV is a good idea to make sure you are within legal limits and staying safe on the road.
Make sure you know where all of the nearest weigh stations are located so that if needed, you can stop when necessary or avoid them altogether depending on what state laws require in regard to recreational vehicles. Knowing this information will help ensure that any trip taken in an RV goes as smoothly as possible.