Roads and highways have weight limits, as do all vehicles. State governments establish weigh stations mainly to monitor freight and other heavy loads, as excess weight can damage roads and other infrastructure. Pickup trucks often don’t cross any weight thresholds, but police officers can fine drivers for not weighing, so it’s important to know if you need to stop.
Pickup trucks do not need to stop at weigh stations, provided the combined weight of the vehicle and any accompanying load doesn’t exceed 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg). Depending on individual state requirements, pickup trucks pulling an RV or towing unusually heavy loads may need to stop.
I won’t cover all state requirements and exemptions here, but the rest of the article should clear some things up about weigh stations and pickup trucks.
Do Pickup Trucks With Trailers Stop at Weigh Stations?
Weigh stations look for a few different weight measurements, including the following:
- Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVM): This is the total weight of the truck, trailer, and all contents within. This number shouldn’t exceed state regulations or the truck and trailer’s maximum weight rating.
- Axle Weight: Each axle of a vehicle has its own weight rating. In most states, single-axle trucks are limited to 20,000 lbs (9,071 kg).
Pickup trucks with trailers stop at weigh stations in many states, though only if the truck, trailer, and contents weigh over 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg). You can check with your manufacturer to get your truck’s empty weight or visit a CAT scale to weigh both the truck and trailer.
States don’t want trucks traveling with loads that exceed the vehicle’s GCVM rating or towing capacity. This creates a potential danger for the driver, as well as for other drivers on the road.
You can visit a CAT scale and pay a small fee to find out the weight of your truck and trailer. If you are under 10,000 lbs (4,535kg), you don’t need to worry about stopping at weigh stations.
Commercial Trucks vs. Personal Trucks at Weigh Stations
Sometimes, you’ll hear people say that weigh stations don’t pay attention to pickup trucks that are privately owned and traveling for personal reasons.
The reason for this is that weigh stations are closely tied to the trucking and freight industries, and vehicle weight isn’t the only thing they are responsible for monitoring. Other things these stations look at include the following:
- Freight paperwork
- Hours of service compliance
- DOT (Department of Transportation) paperwork/compliance
- Overweight permits
- Taxes for load sizes
None of the above examples apply to privately-owned pickup trucks. In many cases, weigh stations may have better things to do than concern themselves with your pickup truck and trailer. Some may even get annoyed at you for bringing your personal vehicle through.
That said, fines related to weighing stations can be hefty, especially if your outfit is above the weight limit. Exiting off into the station is wise if you suspect your truck and trailer exceed 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg).
Other Vehicles Required To Stop at Weigh Stations
Some of the most common vehicles required to stop at weigh stations include the following:
- Semi-trucks and trailers
- Large RVs
- Commercial passenger vehicles
- Moving trucks (if over 10,000 lbs/4,535 kg)
- Agricultural vehicles
Some states, like California, require all commercial vehicles to stop. For example, vehicles with a USDOT number or CDL requirements commonly stop at weigh stations.
Pickup Trucks With Irregular Loads May Need To Stop
Police officers and state troopers often hang around stations while they are open. They do this to address legal issues onsite or to catch truckers who try to skip the weigh station altogether.
Perhaps officers are less likely to pull over a pickup truck and trailer for weight-related reasons, particularly those with normal-looking loads. However, pickup trucks pulling RVs or mobile homes, for example, will draw more attention to themselves.
Many states require heavy RVs to stop at weigh stations, so if you are pulling one behind your truck, chances are you’ll need to stop as well.
Also, police officers can wave you into the weigh station, or, if you drive past, they might pull you over and have you turn around. Typically, this would only happen if you hauled something a police officer thought might exceed weight restrictions.
Can You Avoid Weigh Stations?
While weigh stations are there to keep the roads and drivers safe, they aren’t always difficult to avoid. In fact, these stations often close at night and during hours of heavy traffic.
You can avoid weigh stations if you want to, although doing so is not advised and is potentially illegal. Skipping a weigh station when you are required to stop might result in expensive fines or, for commercial vehicles, penalties for the company.
If you are hauling heavy objects with your pickup truck but don’t want to bother with the weigh station, you can:
- Drive through while the station is closed. Not all stations have strictly-defined hours. Some are open very infrequently, and others appear to be open 24/7. Hours of operation will vary from state to state.
- Choose an alternate route. While this might add miles to your trip, you can usually get around a weigh station by taking an alternate route.
- Take your chances driving past. Avoiding a weigh station when you are obligated to stop isn’t advised, and if you get caught, police officers can issue a fine.
When in Doubt, Check State Weigh Station Requirements
Weight limits and weigh station requirements vary from state to state, so if you are traveling across multiple state borders, you’ll want to be aware of the shifting rules.
Along with highway patrol personnel, state transportation departments can answer questions related to weighing in. You can tell them about your vehicle and what you’re hauling, and they should tell you whether or not you’ll need to stop at open stations.
Pickup trucks aren’t the primary targets for weigh stations, but it won’t hurt to double-check if you are hauling something heavy.
If you are driving your personal pickup truck, chances are you don’t need to stop at weigh stations (even with a loaded trailer).
However, this is only true for vehicles weighing less than 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg). While most states are more concerned about commercial vehicles, they often require personal vehicles above this weight limit to stop as well. It’s difficult to reach this weight with a standard pickup truck unless you’re pulling something unusual.
Regardless, always be aware of the combined weight of your vehicle and its contents, and check local weight restrictions.
- Curt: Towing Capacity Guide
- U.S. Department of Transportation: Compilation of Existing State Truck Size and Weight Limit Laws
- Ford: What is the curb weight of my Ford?
- CDL Jobs: What Truckers Should Expect at a Weigh Station
- CamperGuide: Do RVs Have to Stop at Weigh Stations?
- Aghabegian & Associates, PC: What Is the Purpose of Truck Weigh Stations?
- Liquid Trucking: What to Expect at Weigh Stations
- HowStuffWorks: How do truck weigh stations work?
- CAT Scale: CAT Scale Locator