California Department of Transportation

truck

truck with map

 

Truck Weight - Quick Guide

The following four steps will help you determine the maximum weight your vehicle is allowed.

STEP 1 -- DETERMINE WHICH MAXIMUM WEIGHT APPLIES TO YOUR TRUCK

This table below shows three types of weight limits. The lowest maximum weight limit on this list is the limit that will apply to your truck. (For example, if the Declared Operating Weight for DMV in #2 is 20,000 pounds, then the truck cannot exceed 20,000 pounds, and may not reach the maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds in #3.)

#
WEIGHT TYPE
PURPOSE
FOR MORE INFORMATION
1 Manufacturer's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). To preserve the vehicle. Consult your owner's manual or the manufacturer.
2 "Declared Operating Weight" This declaration to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) determines the fees paid to DMV, and this declared weight may not be exceeded. See this DMV website: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/commercial/cvra.htm#pti.
3 The axle weight and gross weight limits on the pavement . To preserve the pavement. Read this Caltrans web page.

STEP 2 -- SEE THE BASIC RULES FOR WEIGHTS ON THE PAVEMENT

See the table below for the basic weight rules:

 
DESCRIPTION
MAXIMUM WEIGHT
Gross Vehicle Weight The maximum weight limit per vehicle or vehicle combination (for example, a truck tractor-semitrailer combination). 80,000 pounds*
Axle Weight The maximum weight limit per single axle, including the steering axle. 20,000 pounds*
Tandem Axle Weight The maximum weight limit per tandem (double) axle. 34,000 pounds*

*However, you may not be able to reach those maximums, because you must still comply with the maximum axle group weights, which depend on axle spacing. To determine maximum weights based on axle spacings, see the Weight Chart in Step 4.


STEP 3 -- MEASURE THE AXLE SPACINGS ON YOUR TRUCK

To use the weight chart in Step 4, you will need to know your axle spacings. This table below shows a typical example of axle spacings (see the red numbers) on a 5-axle truck tractor-semitrailer:

Axles
Steer Axle
(#1)
First Drive Axle
(#2)
Second Drive Axle
(#3)
First Trailer Axle
(#4)
Second Trailer Axle
(#5)
SUM
(Axles 1 to 5)
Spacings (Distance between axles)
21 feet
4 feet
36 feet
4 feet
65 feet

You may also use this diagram as a guide: Axle Group Diagram.


STEP 4 -- USE THE WEIGHT CHART IN CVC 35551 TO DETERMINE YOUR MAXIMUM ALLOWED WEIGHTS

Example: To use the chart in CVC 35551, you must group the axles in every possible combination. In this table below is an example of a truck that cannot reach the 80,000-pound maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) because it is shorter than the usual truck combination.

Axles
Steer Axle
(#1)
First Drive Axle
(#2)
Second Drive Axle
(#3)

First Trailer Axle
(#4)

Second Trailer Axle
(#5)
SUM
(Axles 1 to 5)
Spacings (Distance between axles)
14 feet
4 feet
28 feet
4 feet
50 feet
Maximum Weight 11,000 pounds*  
34,000 pounds
34,000 pounds
 
GVW (Axles #1 to #5)
79,000 pounds
 

*The steer axle may reach 20,000 pounds in theory, but may not on this vehicle because the tandems have reached their maximums, and the GVW may not exceed 79,000 pounds.

Weight Chart in CVC 35551: Fill out a table for your vehicle that is similar to the table above using the maximum group axle weights from the CVC weight chart below.

Distance in feet between the extremes of any group of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

4

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

5

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

6

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

7

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

8

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

9

39,000

42,500

42,500

42,500

42,500

10

40,000

43,500

43,500

43,500

43,500

11

40,000

44,000

44,000

44,000

44,000

12

40,000

45,000

50,000

50,000

50,000

13

40,000

45,500

50,500

50,500

50,500

14

40,000

46,500

51,500

51,500

51,500

15

40,000

47,000

52,000

52,000

52,000

16

40,000

48,000

52,500

52,500

52,500

17

40,000

48,500

53,500

53,500

53,500

18

40,000

49,500

54,000

54,000

54,000

19

40,000

50,000

54,500

54,500

54,500

Distance in feet between
the extremes of any group
of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

20

40,000

51,000

55,500

55,500

55,500

21

40,000

51,500

56,000

56,000

56,000

22

40,000

52,500

56,500

56,500

56,500

23

40,000

53,000

57,500

57,500

57,500

24

40,000

54,000

58,000

58,000

58,000

25

40,000

54,500

58,500

58,500

58,500

26

40,000

55,500

59,500

59,500

59,500

27

40,000

56,000

60,000

60,000

60,000

28

40,000

57,000

60,500

60,500

60,500

29

40,000

57,500

61,500

61,500

61,500

30

40,000

58,500

62,000

62,000

62,000

31

40,000

59,000

62,500

62,500

62,500

32

40,000

60,000

63,500

63,500

63,500

33

40,000

60,000

64,000

64,000

64,000

34

40,000

60,000

64,500

64,500

64,500

35

40,000

60,000

65,500

65,500

65,500

36

40,000

60,000

66,000*

66,000

66,000

37

40,000

60,000

66,500*

66,500

66,500

38

40,000

60,000

67,500*

67,500

67,500

39

40,000

60,000

68,000

68,000

68,000

Distance in feet between
the extremes of any group
of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

40

40,000

60,000

68,500

70,000

70,000

41

40,000

60,000

69,500

72,000

72,000

42

40,000

60,000

70,000

73,280

73,280

43

40,000

60,000

70,500

73,280

73,280

44

40,000

60,000

71,500

73,280

73,280

45

40,000

60,000

72,000

76,000

80,000

46

40,000

60,000

72,500

76,500

80,000

47

40,000

60,000

73,500

77,500

80,000

48

40,000

60,000

74,000

78,000

80,000

49

40,000

60,000

74,500

78,500

80,000

50

40,000

60,000

75,500

79,000

80,000

51

40,000

60,000

76,000

80,000

80,000

52

40,000

60,000

76,500

80,000

80,000

53

40,000

60,000

77,500

80,000

80,000

54

40,000

60,000

78,000

80,000

80,000

55

40,000

60,000

78,500

80,000

80,000

56

40,000

60,000

79,500

80,000

80,000

57

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

58

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

59

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

60

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

*For allowable weights on two consecutive sets of tandems 36 feet or more apart, see 35551 (b) under EXCEPTIONS - TWO TANDEM AXLES.

EXCEPTIONS - TWO TANDEM AXLES

35551. (b) Two consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry 34,000 pounds each if the distance between the first and last axles of the consecutive sets of tandem axles is 36 feet or more. The gross weight of each set of tandem axles shall not exceed 34,000 pounds and the gross weight of the two consecutive sets of tandem axles shall not exceed 68,000 pounds.

MEASUREMENTS

35551. (c) The distance between axles shall be measured to the nearest whole foot. When a fraction is exactly six inches, the next larger whole foot shall be used.

35551. (e) These gross weight limits shall include all enforcement tolerances.


STEP 5 (OPTIONAL) -- MORE INFORMATION

For more complete information on truck weights, see this Caltrans web page "Weight Limitations."


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are these weights for the vehicle only? No, the weight limits on this page apply to the weight on the pavement of the vehicle and load combined.

What is the maximum load I can put on the truck or in the container? The law regulates the weight on the pavement. Caltrans cannot provide weight limits for the load, as the load limits depend on many unknown factors, such as the weight of the vehicle and the weight distribution.

What are the fines for overweight? The overweight fines depend on a number of factors, including the amount of overweight and the county that the citation was issued in. These two links may help you determine the fines and/or where to pay the ticket:

http://www.ca.gov/Driving/LawsSafety/TrafficFines.html
http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/Final-2012-JC-BAIL.pdf

What are the weight tolerances for enforcement? Caltrans can only inform you of the law. Weight tolerances are an enforcement issue. The enforcement agency is the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You may contact the CHP Commercial Vehicle Section at (916) 843-3400.  Or you may call the weigh station you will be passing. The weigh station locations and contact information are in this Excel file at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/trucks/weigh-stations/locations.xlsx.

Which weight chart in the CVC should be used? The weight chart in CVC 35551 that is copied onto this web page is enforced by CHP at the weigh stations and elsewhere. There is an alternate chart in CVC 35551.5. This chart is rarely used. If you find that the alternate chart in 35551.5 has an advantage for you, then you may discuss the matter with CHP (see contact information above).

How can I get my truck weighed? The California Dept. of Food & Agriculture maintains a list of public weigh scales at: http://cdfa.ca.gov/dms/publicscales/. These are private companies that will weigh your truck for a fee. If you need a weight certification, e.g., for DMV, you should call ahead to make sure they provide certificates.

Where can I read the CVC weight section? The weight section of the CVC is at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=35001-36000&file=35550-35558.


CONTACT US

 

Caltrans Legal Truck Access Branch
Casey Robb
Manuel Fonseca
General number (916) 654-5741

E-mail: Legal Truck Access.
E-mail: legal.truck.access@dot.ca.gov.

Return to the Caltrans "Legal Truck Access Branch" page.

Revised 5/15/14.