Accurate and legal load weights are the responsibility of the truck driver, not the shipper. It is up to you, as a professional, to ensure that you don’t exceed the allowable weight limit for where you are.

Know Your Limits in the U.S.

For your average tandem tractor-trailer, your maximum gross vehicle weight is 80,000 pounds in the United States.

Tandem Axel Max weight – 34,000 pounds

Steer Axel, classified as Single Axel, Max Weight – 12,000 pounds. Although technically the legal limit is 20,000 pounds, you enter dangerous and unsafe territory by placing that much weigh on the Steers.

Know Your Limits in Canada

For your average tandem tractor-trailer, your maximum gross vehicle weight is 87,080 pounds in Canada.

Tandem Axel Max weight – 37,480

Steer Axel Max Weight – 12,125

Scaling Out

Many public scales are set up with three platforms to check your three axle groups at once. These scales provide you with the individual values of each axle as well at the gross vehicle weight.

At some shipper/receivers, you’ll find that the scales weigh the entire vehicle and you must manually calculate the weight per axel. It’s not all that complicated and by following the steps below, you’ll be ready for any scale you use:

  1. Stop with only your steer axle on the platform to get your steer axle weight.
  2. Continue until both the steer axle and the drive tandems are on the platform. This gives you the tractor weight.
  3. Subtract the steer axle weight from the tractor weight, and you have the weight for your drives.
  4. Continue onto the platform to get your gross vehicle weight.
  5. Subtract the tractors weight from the gross vehicle weight and you have the weight of the trailer tandems.

If you are overweight on your axels, you’ll need to slide your tandems. If your gross vehicle weight is over, you’ll have to have part of your load removed.

More Tips for Scaling

  • Never slide your tandems while you’re on the scale. You’ll damage the scale.
  • Make sure to account for fuel. The weight of the fuel is distributed almost exclusively on your steer tires. For more information on calculating your fuel weight, read Watch Your Fuel Weight.
  • In the winter months, chains and a build-up of snow and ice will add to your weight.
  • At Len Dubois Trucking, we recommend that our drivers use CAT Scales, especially in the spring. Other scales are known to have issues with accuracy due to the increased moisture and questionable maintenance.