Arcadia being towed by Ford Truck in a State Park.

Optimize Your RV's Cargo Capacity

Carrying capacity is a crucial consideration for every RV owner, yet it's a topic that often sparks confusion. In this guide, we'll break down the essentials of cargo carrying capacity (CCC) and provide you with the best practices for managing it effectively.

Understanding Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)

At the heart of cargo carrying capacity is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This rating specifies the maximum permissible weight of your RV when fully loaded, including passengers, gear, water, propane, and any other essentials. It's typically indicated on a federal certification label located on your RV.

If the total weight of the RV exceeds the GVWR, the RV is overloaded. Operating your RV while exceeding the specified weight ratings increases the risk of a crash, personal injury, and death. It is necessary to remove cargo (equipment, personal belongings, water, etc.) until the total weight of the RV no longer exceeds the GVWR before operating it.

The results of overloading can have serious consequences. Too much weight on your RV’s suspension system can cause spring or brake failure, handling or steering problems, irregular tire wear, tire failure, or other damage. An overloaded vehicle is hard to drive and hard to stop.

Calculating Cargo Carrying Capacity

To determine your RV's cargo carrying capacity, subtract the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) and LP gas weight from the GVWR. In Canada, this calculation also includes the full fresh (potable) water weight, including the water heater.

Best Practices for Managing Cargo

  • Even Weight Distribution: Proper weight distribution is essential for safe towing and handling. Distribute cargo evenly from front to rear and side to side to maintain balance and stability on the road.
  • Secure Cargo: Prevent items from shifting during transit by securing them properly. Use tie-downs, cargo nets, and storage compartments to keep everything in place.
  • Consider Added Accessories: While accessories like solar panels and extra batteries enhance your RV experience, remember that they contribute to your cargo weight. Factor in their weight when loading your RV to avoid exceeding its capacity.
  • Avoid Overloading: Overloading your RV can lead to premature wear and tear on tires, axles, and suspension components. Be mindful of the weight you're adding and prioritize essentials to stay within safe limits.
  • Check Tire Pressure and Condition: Ensure that your RV tires are properly inflated and in good condition. Underinflated or worn tires can exacerbate sway and compromise handling, so regular maintenance is essential.
  • Drive Responsibly: Fully loaded RVs require careful handling, especially on rough terrain and in adverse weather conditions. Drive at a safe speed, adhere to weight restrictions, and maintain control of your vehicle at all times.

Familiarize yourself with the following labels:

  1. Federal Certification Label: Positioned on the exterior left front of the vehicle, this label outlines maximum capacities for GVWR, GAWRR, and tires.
  2. Tire and Loading Information Label: Located on the exterior front left of the vehicle, this label specifies the maximum amount of cargo that can be safely added to the RV.
  3. Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) Label (US): Found on the backside of the screen door or the door jamb of the main entry into the RV, this label provides CCC information for the customer.

Mastering cargo carrying capacity is essential for safe and enjoyable RV adventures. By understanding your RV's limits, distributing weight effectively, and driving responsibly, you can maximize your vehicle's performance while minimizing the risk of accidents or breakdowns on the road. Remember to refer to the owner’s manual for additional information. For additional information, visit the full Owner's Manual.