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Axle Weights...?

I'm not sure if this is the right section for this kind of question but here goes... (if not, Gary can you please move it for me or tell me where I should repost?)

I notice many times on here you talk about not going over your axle weight rating(s) which makes sense for many reasons but my question is, can you actually be ticketed for it?  If so can someone direct me to or post a link to the FMCSA rule(s) that address this?  

I've been told numerous times that exceeding the GVWR, GCWR etc. of your tow vehicle is not recommended but not illegal... (at least not in the U.S.) To my knowledge the only manufacturer recommendations that are enforcable by law are tire load ratings...?  (for instance, my rear tires are rated at 3150 lbs when in a dual application for a total of 12,600lbs which exceeds the axle rating, but my trailer tires which are rated at 3500lbs each matches my axle rating of 7000lbs, so in that case the trailer axle ratings would be enforcable but not the truck axle rating)

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone can point me to the specific rule(s) that address this so I know what I'm up against the next time I get weighed out by a DOT cop...  Based on my personal experiences (and yes, almost every time I've been inspected the officer does check my door sticker) there has never once been a mention of being overweight on the axle (which I know I have been, numerous times, but never over the tire load ratings)  I just need to know if I've been getting really lucky, if this is a specific state to state ruling and not federal, or some other loophole perhaps?  Thanks in advance!

You can never, should never exceed your axle, or tire weight ratings. Yes you can be ticketed.

So if your tires are heavier duty (higher rated) then stock, and all tires per axle combined will take more weight then the axle is rated for, no you still can't legally go over your axle rating.  You've been lucky if you have been over. You cannot exceed your trucks IRP registered weight either.

I'm certainly not trying to start an argument or question your knowledge as it seems extensive but I'm looking for the actual statute that states you must abide by a certain axle limit...  I don't know the statue number off the top of my head (I can find it if need be, if anyone's interested) but I recall a specific rule addressing tire loading, just never anything axle-wise... Any suggestions?  I've already looked and can't find much...

No arguement here. Finding it shouldn't be that hard, maybe search the FMCSA website, contact the DOT, HWY Patrol? I'd hunt it down for you but I'm just to busy working right now. Let us know what you find.

So after almost 2 days of searching this is what I've come up with, sorry for being long-winded but I'm trying to be thorough...  This is a quote I found on a different site and I will referance some actual statutes I've uncovered as well...

Quote "Some suggest that RAWR per the door sticker is legally binding by federal law. Specifically by para f of FMCSA:

(f) Except as provided herein, States may not enforce on the Interstate System vehicle weight limits of less than 20,000 pounds on a single axle, 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle, or the weights derived from the Bridge Formula, up to a maximum of 80,000 pounds, including all enforcement tolerances. States may not limit tire loads to less than 500 pounds per inch of tire or tread width, except that such limits may not be applied to tires on the steering axle. States may not limit steering axle weights to less than 20,000 pounds or the axle rating established by the manufacturer, whichever is lower.

The argument is that the last half of the last sentence "the axle rating established by the manufacturer, whichever is lower." is referring to the door sticker RAWR.

It is my contention that this actually refers to the "steering axle" which according to my English classes is the subject of the sentence. My contention is to find a standard relating to the rear axle in para f you have to refer back to the first sentence:
"States may not enforce on the Interstate System vehicle weight limits of less than 20,000 pounds on a single axle" " End Quote

FMCSA reg. 571.120 referances tire and axle load regulations, in summary it states that the tires on a given axle may not have a combined load rating of less the GAWR.

FMCSA reg. 393.75 covers the load restrictions based on tire choice (which is the only law addressing enforcable axle load(s) due to the fact that tire load ratings are actually issued by the DOT not the manufacturer) and reads as follows:

§ 393.75Tires.
(a) No motor vehicle shall be operated on any tire that—
(1) Has body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall,
(2) Has any tread or sidewall separation,
(3) Is flat or has an audible leak, or
(4) Has a cut to the extent that the ply or belt material is exposed.
(b) Any tire on the front wheels of a bus, truck, or truck tractor shall have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 4/32 of an inch when measured at any point on a major tread groove. The measurements shall not be made where tie bars, humps, or fillets are located.
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, tires shall have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 2/32 of an inch when measured in a major tread groove. The measurement shall not be made where tie bars, humps or fillets are located.
(d) No bus shall be operated with regrooved, recapped or retreaded tires on the front wheels.
(e) A regrooved tire with a load-carrying capacity equal to or greater than 2,232 kg (4,920 pounds) shall not be used on the front wheels of any truck or truck tractor.
(f) Tire loading restrictions (except on manufactured homes). No motor vehicle (except manufactured homes, which are governed by paragraph (g) of this section) shall be operated with tires that carry a weight greater than that marked on the sidewall of the tire or, in the absence of such a marking, a weight greater than that specified for the tires in any of the publications of any of the organizations listed in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 119 (49 CFR 571.119, S5.1(b)) unless:
(1) The vehicle is being operated under the terms of a special permit issued by the State; and
(2) The vehicle is being operated at a reduced speed to compensate for the tire loading in excess of the manufacturer's rated capacity for the tire. In no case shall the speed exceed 80 km/hr (50 mph).
(g)(1) Tire loading restrictions for manufactured homes built before January 1, 2002. Manufactured homes that are labeled pursuant to 24 CFR 3282.362(c)(2)(i) before January 1, 2002, must not be transported on tires that are loaded more than 18 percent over the load rating marked on the sidewall of the tire or, in the absence of such a marking, more than 18 percent over the load rating specified in any of the publications of any of the organizations listed in FMVSS No. 119 (49 CFR 571.119, S5.1(b)). Manufactured homes labeled before January 1, 2002, transported on tires overloaded by 9 percent or more must not be operated at speeds exceeding 80 km/hr (50 mph).
(2) Tire loading restrictions for manufactured homes built on or after January 1, 2002. Manufactured homes that are labeled pursuant to 24 CFR 3282.362(c)(2)(i) on or after January 1, 2002, must not be transported on tires loaded beyond the load rating marked on the sidewall of the tire or, in the absence of such a marking, the load rating specified in any of the publications of any of the organizations listed in FMVSS No. 119 (49 CFR 571.119, S5.1(b)).
Code of Federal Regulations448
(h) Tire inflation pressure. (1) No motor vehicle shall be operated on a tire which has a cold inflation pressure less than that specified for the load being carried.
(2) If the inflation pressure of the tire has been increased by heat because of the recent operation of the vehicle, the cold inflation pressure shall be estimated by subtracting the inflation buildup factor shown in Table 1 from the measured inflation pressure.
Table 1—Inflation Pressure Measurement Correction for Heat  Average speed of vehiclein the previous hour Minimum inflation pressure buildup Tires with 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs.) maximum load rating or less Tires with over 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs.) load rating
66-88.5 km/hr (41-55 mph) 34.5 kPa (5 psi) 103.4 kPa (15 psi).
[34 FR 9344, June 13, 1969, as amended at 40 FR 44557, Sept. 29, 1975; 41 FR 36657, Aug. 31, 1976; 44 FR 25455, May 1, 1979; 44 FR 47938, Aug. 16, 1979; 53 FR 18057, May 19, 1988; 53 FR 49401, Dec. 7, 1988; 63 FR 8339, Feb. 18, 1998; 65 FR 70220, Nov. 21, 2000; 66 FR 67694, Dec. 31, 2001; 70 FR 48054, Aug. 15, 2005]  

This link comes from the CA DOT website which reads almost identically to what I've been able to find on other state DOT sites as well:

Another quote on the subject from a different site:

"I am a retired state police commander. I commanded a district which had the highest fine producing fixed scales in the state. In additiona I was one of 2 of the first Troops in the state to be certified as motor carrier safety inspectors. By IL statute only the ISP has the authority to conduct MCS inspections. I taught truck weight and MCS law at our academy.
Simple answer to your question. The sticker on your truck is placed there by the manufacturer. It's like the tag on your mattress. It's required by law to tell the consumer what is in that product. After sales that sticker doesn't have to remain on the vehicle and there are a lot of vehicles legally on the road today which no longer has the sticker because of body repair, etc. The manufacturers do not make the laws. Think about this too. Do you think every Troop or weigh master out there has memorized what all the manufacturers stickers say on every style of truck made? Then toss into the mix 4X4 v 4X2, same model trucks but with different engines, same model trucks but with different axle ratings, or same model trucks but just different years. We don't care what the sticker says or even if there is a sticker. What the manufacturers put on that sticker is not law, it's just a to let the consumer know what that particular vehicle's design specs are.
The max weight laws are generally 20K on a single axle, 34K on a tandum axle and gross is 80K. These are federally mandated limits. I say "generally" because gross depends on the bridge length of your vehicle (distance between the front and rear axle) and the number of axles. The 34K can also vary depending the distance between the tandum axles. It could be more. Weight limits may also be posted less than the max on certain roads."

In summary everything I've been able to locate (aside from hearsay and opinion with no fact to back it up) seems to indicate that the only "enforceable" weight limits lie with your registration and tires, GVRW, GCWR and GAWR are simply manufacturers recommendations and have no legally binding authority (there was a statute in SK making them legally binding but as far as I can tell that was repealed in 2007)... Now I'm not saying overloading components is safe or necessarily intelligent (it may void warranties among other things) but I see nothing legally binding about manufacturers ratings...

I know there are people who claim to have been hassled over this exact issue but I have yet to see anyone show a copy of a warning or citation or even specifically refer to the section of code that they allegedly violated...  Not saying that I don't believe them but I would like to look over the law myself so I can have some knowledge on my side in the event that I get hassled for it rather than just taking someone elses word for it...

If anyone has received a citation for this I would love to see a copy of it just so I can see what section of code the alleged violation was included in...

Anyone who has any additional light to shed on the subject please chime in!


Interesting. I still recommend that you DO NOT load over what your axle rating states in your door jam, or your tire ratings either. Sorry for the short response, I'm mobile right now.

That's ok gary I appreciate any and all replies. When you get time to go through my post more thoroughly and give me your opinion that would be great and as always I reserve the right to be wrong! Just for the record I never overload my tires but as far as the axle goes (sterling 10.25) ford and sterling have 2 different ratings, according to one I have gone over, according to the other I haven't so your guess is as good as mine...  Keith

the 20k single axle and 34 tandem axle would be reffering to big trucks i believe. mine had a door sticker of 52k for the truck - 12k front  40k for both rears... but on tandems you can legally only load up to 34k.  as well the the trailer - 34k for tandems and 40k for a spread axle (im guessing due to the spread its two single axle ratings on 20k each to get the 40k total)

12+34+34 = 80k for a semi.... if you load over that (requiring an overweight permit) you can still have 40K on the drives, and 40k if you have a spread trailer.  you can keep increasing weight as much as you want you just have to keep adding more axles to compensate for the extra weight so that you never go over the mfg's weight ratting on the axles.    

hope that kinda explains it....

Yeah as far as I can tell those laws were enacted to apply to big trucks but I can't find a separate set of laws for small trucks... I might have to start stopping at scale houses as I go by and take a poll as I go cross-country, see what the enforcement thinks about the issue  

I'm going to tell the following story because I think it reinforces the opinion stated earlier that no one can be expected to know every combination and that most of the laws were written with big trucks in mind. Mostly I'm going to tell it because it made me laugh!

I was crossing from one state to another and pulled into the port. I drove the steer axle over the scale, then the drive axle and finally the trailer axles at which time I get a red light. I was empty so I wasn't expecting any issues but the light stayed red and red and more red as I sat staring at it intently. I finally decided the weigh master must have stepped away from the console while forgetting to give me a green light. At this point I took my foot off the brake and let the truck start rolling. I immediately heard someone start yelling, slammed on the brakes and checked the mirrors to see what was wrong. There were two officers by my right side trailer axles with a tape measure. I got out and explained to them that I was sorry but I had been focused on the light. No problem they said, they were just measuring the axle spread and for me to park and come in. When I got to the counter the mid 40 year old male officer explained that he had no issue with me but was using my trailer to demonstrate to the new officer in training that while I have three axles the spread does not meet the ten foot requirement. Now the new officer in training was a mid 30 year old rather attractive female and this guy was puffed up like a blow fish trying to impress her with his knowledge. I then asked him "By not having the 10' spread what does that mean to me in terms of what I'm allowed in your state?" His reply,  "We can only allow you the weight allowed for a two axle trailer." At this point I thought Uh Oh, a two axle single tire trailer won't be allowed much weight so I asked him "what does that mean to me in terms of weight allowed?" I think he puffed up a little more if that were possible and replied "thirty four thousand!" I thanked him very much and got out of there. I wonder if I'd of had the ten foot spread what they would allow me?

XCAV8R, good thing a drop axle wasnt involved, he would have sounded like Cliff Claven from the tv show ' cheers ' ! " I calculate by the hypothesis of the quadrilateral bisect of the asociles right triangle, counterbalanced by the offset of the hypoteneus of the pythagorean threum, at a ratio of the secant divided by a percentile of the trapezoid.....wanna sleep with me tonite sweetie???? I is smart !!!

XCAV8R: What state was that in?  Not gonna lie that sounds like some of the IL truck enforcement cops I've talked to haha although I have to admit some of them are pretty sharp, just depends on who you get I guess...

Axle weight ratings

I agree with Walkinman in that there may not be a statute that specifically limits weight on an axle per the manufacturer's specs. But I also agree with Gary in that one should not overload an axle assembly beyond what it is factory rated for.
The statement that Walkinman posted from a former state patrol officer shows that even they recognize that there is not a rule that covers this topic. I too would like to know if anyone who posts on here has been fined or warned about axle over-loading.

Dutch, you nailed it!!!! I'm pretty sure the officer didn't!

Walkinman, I specifically didn't name the state just to keep from having someone pass this on to them but it was not Illinois. Probably not a big deal I'm just a paranoid kind of guy!

XCAV8R, Can't say I blame you, I can be pretty paranoid myself (I think that helps me keep my record clean ) and I wouldn't want to get you in trouble I was just being nosey

I wasn't thinkng of me so much as the subject state just taking a harder look at us because they got made fun of. Like I said, probably not a big deal, just that continuing paranoia thing I've got going.

Hey sometimes paranoia can be a good thing haha it helps keep us out of trouble  

New gcwr definition?

Hi everyone! I enjoy this forum & have adhered to a lot of good advice I've found here. I know this topic has been discussed more than once here but was recently informed of an fmcsa amendment that has me concerned. Should it?

I don't think so because  the GCWR given by the manufacturer (Dodge for instance) clearly states  "Standard Configuration" in their spec sheet. I wouldnt say the trailers we pull are anything close to a Standard Configuration.  The window stickers on a Dodge also state, "Unless Optional Equipment is added". I take that to mean extra axles, larger axles, more brakes, etc. Forum Index -> Important For Beginners
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