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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RV Towable and Vehicle Weight Ratings - Rules of the Road

GVWR, CCC, UVW, GAWR…UGH!! Acronyms like these can make your head spin. One of the secrets to a pleasurable RV experience lies in knowing what each of these mean and applying them to your specific situation. It’s widely known that an overloaded or underpowered rig can be a challenge to drive but the other side of the equation is safety. Let’s explore the common vehicle weight rating acronyms you are likely to encounter when RVing.

If you happen to be in the market for a new (or new to you) RV make sure you understand these terms and make a suitable match...espescially if you are purchasing a towable/tow vehicle combo.

GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

GVWR is the maximum allowable weight of a vehicle – be it a truck, car, trailer or motorhome – regardless of storage space. The max weight reference refers to a fully loaded vehicle and includes fuel, people, cargo, etc. The GVWR may never be exceeded!

UVW – Unloaded Vehicle Weight

This is the weight of the vehicle as it comes off the manufacturing line PLUS a full fuel tank (full generator tank also), oil, coolants. The UVW does not include the weight of any dealer or after market installed upgrades such as a sleeper sofa instead of a J Steel, TV or satellite dishes, awnings, etc.

CCC– Cargo Carrying Capacity

The CCC refers to the amount of weight (or cargo) you can load into the vehicle. This is GVWR minus UVW, full fresh water weight (including water in water heater), full LP gas tanks, and passengers.

So, for example:

GVWR is 12,000 pounds (the max it can weight)
UVW is 10,000 pounds
Less fresh water (in your fresh tank plus your water heater) @ 8.3 pounds per gallon
Less propane @ 4.5 pounds per gallon
Less passenger weight

By the way, did you know that the average full-time RV carries 2,000 pounds of "stuff"...that's a ton! Be careful here. Just because there is bin and closet space does not mean the vehicle is equipped to roll packed to the gills.

GCWR – Gross Combined Weight Rating

The combined weight of your fully loaded RV and your towed vehicle or your tow vehicle and fully loaded trailer is the GCWR. The GCWR may never be exceeded!

GAWR – Gross Axle Weight Rating

Each axle is rated to carry a maximum amount of weight thus the GAWR. You may not exceed this number on the front axle and make up for it on the rear axle – it is the weight per axle. The GAWR may never be exceeded!

Tow Rating – Used in reference to a tow vehicle – the tow rating is the maximum weight that the vehicle will safely tow. The tow rating may never be exceeded!

Now that you are familiar with these terms where can you find out your vehicles specs? Cars and trucks usually have a sticker with these ratings on the inside of the driver door. Towables have a sticker on the front left side exterior wall as well as a spec sheet inside a cupboard door. Motorhomes will have this information on the driver door edge or pillar.

Armed with this knowledge, it’s a great idea to weigh your RV regularly – once a year or so should do it. Truck stops typically have scales and charge reasonable fees of less than $20. Prior to being weighed fill your fuel tank, make sure your holding tanks and LP tanks are as you usually travel with them and your passengers are seated in the vehicle. This should give you a true to life picture of your RV’s weight. Remember, never exceed your weight ratings – travel smart – travel safe.


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