Vehicle weights


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Westies are often loaded very heavy and knowing your actual vehicle weights is important to safety. There are various warnings and tips under the tires posts about maximum safe load and weight distribution. Throw in some rough roads and hard driving, and you've exceeded limits. It has big effects on handling, tire wear and comfort.

Your Westy has (or should have) a sticker in the driver's door jamb giving a maximum GVWR -- Gross vehicle weight rating. This is the maximum amount the vehicle, with all its cargo, liquids (coolant/fuel/etc.) and passengers, can weigh.

This maximum allowed number includes all of the liquids such as fuel, coolant, oil and the camper's water tank. That's nearly 300 lb. on my '90. It also includes the passengers -- you do the math on that! All that's before you've loaded the first item of cargo or equipment. DO NOT assume the listed empty weight + your estimates of load are correct -- every vehicle I've ever seen weighed was considerably more than estimates -- often by over 25%!

There are several ways to get your vehicle and weight distribution measured. Many truck stops have scales. For about $10 they will weigh your Westy. It's quick and painless -- just drive onto the scales and stop for a second or two while they take the readings. They will give you front axle, rear axle and total. Although this doesn't give per wheel distribution, it's probably good enough for most.

I've discovered a "free" weighing at my local land-fill. When commercial haulers dump, they are usually charged by weight. So they drive over scales. Ours have the display right out where it can be seen from inside the car. These may only give you a total wieght, though if you catch the attendant in a good mood and not busy, they may be willing to give you numbers with front wheels only, all & rear wheels only so you can do a little estimating.

I weighed mine, by the wheel, at a local race shop. Race teams are very fussy about weight & distribution, so you might see if there's a local shop with the equipment that will do it for you. NOT necessarily applicable to your vehicle -- mine is a '90 Syncro with many options -- it weighed (Empty, full tanks) 4512 lb. By wheel: 1149 LF, 1105 RF, 1150 LR & 1094 RR. Loaded for a 2 mo. Yukon trip it was 5279 without passengers.

Another possible source is your DMV office. Their truck enforcement division has portable wheel scales. Have a connection? See if they have an officer or station that will do it for you.

Has anybody tried one of the big truck weigh stations on the Interstates. Again, if open and NOT busy, they might do the favor. (I think I'd call the State DMV and check first.)
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Copied from Towing topic to expand on weights and weighing vehicle.

There are THREE weights involved in towing. The first is maximum tow load which is given in the vehicle owners manual. That is the weight of the trailer and everything in it.

The 2nd is the maximum tongue weight, also given in the owners manual. That is the weight the trailer will put on the hitch. A trailer is really a 3-point load carrier -- the trailer wheels and the tongue or hitch ball. In the VW acceptable range, a bathroom scale is adequate but you must have the trailer exactly level (use a bubble) -- you'd be suprised how much it shifts if the tongue is not level with the hitch. Tonque weight should be 10-15% of total trailer weight. More or less will cause tracking problems and can become unstable and dangerous. DO NOT estimate -- almost every weighed trailer is far over what you 'think' is in it or calculated from manual data sheets. I wise investment of a couple of trips to the truck stop scales.

The 3rd is the vehicle maximum GVWR. This will be the vehicle, all its occupants and contents including engine fluids AND the trailer tonque weight. Again, weigh the vehicle in its loaded condition. I guarantee you have underestimated by a long shot.

You can not exceed ANY of the three limits above. Even within those limits, you should consider the extra strain on the engine and adjust driving accordingly.
 
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rayona

New member
A lot of rural weigh stations are nothing more than a scale with a large digital meter to one side (nobody around). Sometimes you won't even notice the weigh station at all. Look on well traveled two lane highways in rural areas (connecting towns in the mountains maybe?).

In southern Oregon, I drove my 78 westy onto the scale to find I was around 2700 lbs. or so (it was a while ago). Sure this means you do your per axle weights yourself, but it's simple and quick.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
:cool: I'm a firm believer in weighing any tow. Real weighing at a CAT scale truck stop. Nothing is as it seems. My last attempt was humorous. CAT scales have become so automated that a truck just drives on the unattended scales, and then presses a button on the intercom to give his truck number, data and billing. Then pulls into a special parking area to go inside and get his certified ticket & pay.

Yesterday, I weighed my car carrier with tractor inside. I'd been up to bush-hog and do site preps where I hunt. I couldn't reach the truckers' scale consol from my pick-up. I had to get out, just barely reaching the call button and then had to yell up to the intercom. I could see the driver of the big rig behind me rolling his eyes! But I got exactly what I needed -- steer axle, drive axle, trailer axles. Measuring tongue weight with a Sherline scale after, and I found I was dead on the money for my 10-15% tongue weight.

Weighing your Westy would be just as easy -- be prepared to yell at the intercom, or perhaps go inside first (don't block the scales) and let the clerk know what you're doing. He'll tell you how to straddle the front & drive axle platforms and presto, a very accurate weighing of front, rear & total of your Westy. This CAT scale was $8.50; 15 minutes from weigh to pay. A bargain!
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
'63-'67 Vehicle weights

VW used to publish their vehicle weights in the shop manuals. Wish they had continued with the later models. The unladen weight '63-'67 Kombis (basis for camper) was 2,469 lb. and the payload (passengers, camping equipment, liquids & cargo) was 1,643 lb. GVWR was 4,112 lb. Far cry from the 5,515 GVWR of a Vanagon, huh?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Type II Bay Window

From a 1978 owners manual:

Unladen -- Sta. Wagon = 3042 lb., Camper = 3296 lb.
Payload -- Sta. Wagon = 1918 lb., Camper = 1665 lb.
GVWR -- Sta. Wagon = 4960 lb., Camper = 4951 lb.
Max front axle -- Sta. wagon & Camper = 2227 lb.
Max rear axle -- Sta. wagon & Camper = 2800 lb.
Max roof weight w/ VW rack -- Sta. Wagon = 220 lb., Camper = 110 lb.
Max. tow weight -- w/o trailer brakes = 1322 lb., w/ trailer brakes = 2645 lb., w/ Automatic Transmission w/ or w/o brakes = 1322 lb.
Max tongue weight -- All models 110 lbs.
 
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MichaelRpdx

New member
In rural areas there are state operated weigh stations. These are operated on an infrequent basis. The good part, at least in Oregon, is the scale displays are solar powered. So if the weigh station is "closed" you can pull up and weigh yourself. This is free and easy to do. There's typically enough space around the scale to allow you to weigh each wheel independently.
 

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