Friday, January 9, 2015

Information Regarding Trailer Weights

If you read the previous entry on the floor plans we have been looking at, then you saw the specs regarding trailer weights. The information the RV industry provides regarding trailer weights is very confusing. One of the problems is that there seems to be no standard terminology.

One company may use the term "unloaded vehicle weight (UVW)" to refer to the total weight of the trailer, while another may call this the "shipping weight" or even the "base weight". Still, another may refer to this as the "dry weight." Regardless, all of these terms refer to how much that trailer weighs without your personal items (clothes, food, etc.) in it and with no liquids.

But, this still may not be accurate.

In some cases, those weights given are before other items are added, such as the air conditioner, the refrigerator, the microwave, or the television. The only way to really know the true weight of a trailer is by having it weighed. Yeah, you can ask the salesperson, but often he/she does not know. A lot of mystery seems to surround all of these weights.

Another number you will see in the specs is for the GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Simply put, the GVWR is the total weight a trailer can manage as set forth by the manufacturer. This is an important number. If you subtract the weight of the trailer from the GVWR, you arrive at the "cargo capacity" or "carrying capacity" of a trailer, or the amount of weight the trailer can manage in addition to its own weight. I've even seen this weight referred to as the "net carrying capacity".

For example, in the Rockwood 2109 that I referenced in the earlier entry, the GVWR is 4,855 pounds and the weight of the trailer is 4,091 pounds. This is a difference of 764 pounds, which is your cargo weight. Actually, the web site states it is 714 pounds, and I can't account for the difference. I notice such errors quite often on these specs. It adds to the mystery, I suppose.

So in the case of the Rockwood, that means we can put 764 pounds of gear in that trailer before we max out its weight. That isn't much room to play with. For example, if you filled up the fresh water tank in this trailer, that would be an additional 288 pounds itself, as a gallon of water weighs roughly 8 pounds. Then you have propane, clothes, food, and all sorts of other items to consider. It would not take much to bring this trailer to capacity, and I don't like pushing or exceeding limits. It just isn't safe.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who buy trailers based solely on the dry weight of the trailer and don't take into account how much they will add once they load the trailer. Can your tow vehicle handle all of that weight? If your vehicle is rated to tow 3500 pounds and you buy a trailer weighing 3500 pounds, then you are overloading your tow vehicle because you have yet to add the hundreds of pounds of food and gear and other items you will put in your trailer. I hear people who do this say, "But my vehicle can pull it." Sure, it can pull it, but can it control it? Can it stop it? Can it manage it safely?

I remember a commercial by Toyota from a few years ago. Now, keep in mind as I relate this story that I love Toyota vehicles. The company wanted to advertise the pulling power of the Tundra, so it showed the Tundra pulling the space shuttle. Sure, the Tundra could pull it, but it certainly wasn't practical. I can put my truck in neutral, get behind it, and push it if it is on level ground. But if it suddenly got on a downhill slope, I would not be able to stop it. Likewise, I would not be able to push it up a hill of any size. Being able to do something and being able to do something SAFELY are two very separate things.

If you intend to buy an RV, make sure you learn what all these ratings mean and then stay within your limits.

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