By Mark Polk
There has always been confusion when it comes to trailer weights. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen people read the manufacturers weight label on the outside of the trailer or fifth wheel and assume that they can’t tow it. The data plate on the outside gives you the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is not the actual weight of the trailer; it is the maximum amount of weight that the trailers axles, brakes, tires and other components can support. The trailer might weigh 5,000 pounds, but the GVWR may be 7,000 pounds. This means that you could add 2,000 pounds of weight to the trailer before you reach the GVWR. You need to consider how much weight you will add to the trailer when you are calculating this number. You never want to tow a trailer that exceeds the GVWR. The components on the trailer are not designed to exceed the GVWR and it can be extremely dangerous, or fatal.
Any manufacturer that is a member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is required to have a weight rating label inside the trailer that will give you more weight information. Look for it on the back of a cabinet or closet door. It will provide information on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) or Dry Weight (DW), which it is commonly referred to, the weight of the fresh water tank and LP gas when full, and the Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) for the trailer.
The UVW is the actual weight of the trailer as manufactured at the factory. You also want to find out if this weight includes options on the trailer. When a dealer orders a trailer they list the options they want on it. These options include, but are not limited to, the roof air conditioner, awnings, stabilizer jacks, and a spare tire. You can see how quickly weight can add up on the trailer.
Be careful when you look at the weights in the manufacturers brochures. In most cases these weights are for the base model trailer without options, and depending on what they consider to be options the weight can change drastically. It is not uncommon to see a brochure weight of 5,000 pounds, but the actual weight of the trailer is 5,700 pounds or more. 700 pounds can make a big difference when your tow vehicle is on the border of its maximum tow rating.
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America's most highly regarded series of DVD's, videos, books, and e-books. http://www.rveducation101.com/
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