RV Buying Guide: Understanding RV Weight Ratings 1580

Understanding RV trailer weight ratings is one of the biggest learning curves for first-time RV buyers. These ratings are very important and cannot be overlooked. But there’s no need to be intimidated. Despite all of the acronyms, trailer weight ratings aren’t that difficult to understand.

Seasoned RVers and newbies alike can benefit from a short refresher course in RV trailer weight ratings. Grab a pen and paper and get ready to go back to school (don’t worry, there won’t be a test at the end). Join Ian Baker as he runs through each rating in the short video above. Or, test your knowledge with our guide below.

If you’re heading into your local Camping World to shop for RVs, bring your desired weight ratings with you. Find your tow vehicle’s capabilities ahead of time using Camping World’s Tow Capacity Finder tool. Narrow your search for the perfect RV by coming in prepared and in the know.

Weight ratings are particularly important when towing travel trailers and fifth-wheels. But weight ratings also come into play for motorhomes too. Knowing these numbers will help you load your RV safely within its recommended limits.

FOR TRAILERS:

Family vacation trip, leisurely travel in motor home, Happy Holiday Vacation in Caravan camping car. Beautiful Nature New Zealand natural landscape Scenic route with camper van in New Zealand.
Image by Vichai Phububphapan from Getty

UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight)

Also referred to as “Dry Weight,” the UVW is the weight of the RV without any liquids, passengers, or cargo.

GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight)

The weight of your RV with liquids, passengers, and cargo.

*Tip: Wondering what your GVW is? Head to your nearest highway truck weigh station with your fully-loaded setup to get accurate numbers.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

This number is the max allowable capacity of your RV fully-loaded with liquids, passengers, and cargo. Your GVW should not exceed your rig’s GVWR.

CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity)

Wondering how much liquid, passengers, and cargo you can carry? Then you’re wondering about your CCC. Use this simple formula to calculate how much weight you can take on board.

GVWR – UVW = CCC

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating)

The maximum weight your axel is rated to accept. This number comes into play when loading up your RV. Take note of where your heaviest items are in the rig. If heavy items are stored over the axel, you may be putting undue stress on your axel. Spread your cargo weight throughout your RV.

Tongue Weight (for travel trailers)

On travel trailers, this is the force exerted on your tow vehicle’s hitch ball.

Pin Weight (for fifth wheels)

On fifth wheel’s, this is the force exerted on your tow vehicle’s fifth wheel hitch in the truck bed.

FOR TOW VEHICLES:

Dog on black pick up truck back view

Curb Weight

The weight of your tow vehicle without liquids, passengers, or cargo.

Max Tow Capacity

The maximum weight that your tow vehicle is rated to tow. This number should never exceed your trailer’s GVW.

*Tip: Think about how you will be traveling in your RV: Will you be full-timing and bringing along most of your possessions? Or will you be taking the rig out for short weekend trips with just the essentials packed? Consider how much you anticipate loading up your trailer, leaving ample weight room between your tow capacity and GVW.

Tongue Weight (for Travel Trailers)

The weight your tow vehicle’s rear suspension can handle. Ensure your trailer’s tongue weight does not exceed this number.

*Tip: Don’t forget about items that may add weight to your tongue weight, like heavy cargo stored in the forward pass-thru storage, or bike racks mounted to your trailer’s tongue. Extra weight added to this linking point can lead to fish-tailing on the road.

Pin Weight (for Fifth Wheels)

The weight your tow vehicle’s rear suspension can handle. Ensure your fifth wheel’s pin weight does not exceed this number.

FOR TRAILERS AND TOW VEHICLES:

GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)

The suggested safe weight of your tow vehicle and trailer, fully-loaded with liquids, passengers, and cargo.

*Tip: Stay well under maximum GCWR to ensure safe braking on the road.

All of these RV trailer weight ratings are important in your RV buying process. A knowledgeable RV salesperson at Camping World can help you find a trailer or fifth-wheel that you can safely tow.

As a general rule, it’s best to err on the side of caution. When calculating your weight allowances, always come in under the recommended ratings. This prevents strain on your tow vehicle and trailer and ensures safe driving conditions for you and others on the road.

Kelsey’s first career as a performing artist had her traveling the world. Eager to keep traveling, she hit the road to see the USA in a 69’ Airstream Overlander. Today you can find her writing about travel, design, and good food. When she’s not planning her next trip, she’s sipping on local beer and petting other people’s dogs.

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