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Old 09-16-2011, 10:04 AM   #1
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Red face RV Weight and Restrictions Questions

My husband and I just purchased a 2003 33' Winnebago Sightseer. We know that, loaded, we should not exceed 18 thousand pounds. The problem is, we don't know the empty weight of the RV. Even after looking through our manuals, asking the previous owner and searching online, we still can't find the answer.

We're planning a trip in October and would like to take our kids and grandkids. As crazy as it may sound, that will be roughly 8 people(including us). We're concerned about exceeding the seatbelt limit, as well as the weight limit. We've worked out sleeping and space arrangements, and that won't be a problem. I guess we're just wondering if any of you have traveled exceeding load and passenger limits. We have 5 seatbelts and 8 people potentially going. We just can't say no to our kids and grandkids!

Any advice or suggestions? What are the potential risks of doing this?
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:10 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrobinson View Post
My husband and I just purchased a 2003 33' Winnebago Sightseer. We know that, loaded, we should not exceed 18 thousand pounds. The problem is, we don't know the empty weight of the RV. Even after looking through our manuals, asking the previous owner and searching online, we still can't find the answer.

Any advice or suggestions?
Since you've already purchased the RV, take it to a set of scales and get it weighed. You can find these scales at most truck stops (among other scale providers, look for a CAT scale sign) as well as farmer's exchanges, landfills, aggregate sellers, state weight/inspection stations, etc. Then you'll be dealing with the ACTUAL weight of the RV. Brochure weights, title weights, etc. are notoriously inaccurate.

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Old 09-16-2011, 10:37 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by mrobinson View Post
We're concerned about exceeding the seatbelt limit, as well as the weight limit. We've worked out sleeping and space arrangements, and that won't be a problem. I guess we're just wondering if any of you have traveled exceeding load and passenger limits. We have 5 seatbelts and 8 people potentially going. We just can't say no to our kids and grandkids!

Any advice or suggestions? What are the potential risks of doing this?

I don't know where you live or where you plan to travel but you should be aware that most states require a seat belt for the driver and each passenger. Where I am from, in the northeast, these seat belt laws are actively enforced.

When you say, "kids and grandkids", that leads me to believe that your "kids" are old enough to drive. Have you considered taking a second or even a third vehicle along as a lead or follow car? Even if you are already planning on towing a second vehicle, when you get to destination and begin to use that vehicle for side trips, you will likely find that you still don't have enough seat belt capacity unless your towing some sort of huge SUV.

Just some thoughts to ponder.
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:44 AM   #4
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First, welcome to irv2.
In the real world you most likely won't be checked for seat belts if you aren't stoped for a violation or in an accident. For your peace of mind and the kids safety, you may be able to install extra belts or have someone do it for you.
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:21 AM   #5
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These are my thoughts for you to accept or reject---at your disposal.

One seat belt suggestion is to travel with as many as belts provide in the MH vehicle and then have someone follow in another vehicle (get some cheap radios and the kids can talk back a forth---more fun). You will want to stop often with all those aboard so you can switch off car to MH and vice versa.

If you intend to tow a vehicle then do not tow it use it for passengers. With all those people around it might be a good idea to have a smaller vehicle in case of an emergency.

You need to weigh your rig completely full of what you will carry including passengers to make sure of your weight on each axle. If you cannot get everyone together---then you need to make a very good estimate for the weight on each axel.

Preferably weigh each corner of the vehicle seperately---but this is sometime difficult to find a place to do.

Highway (Interstates) departments often leave weigh scales on when not is use and sometimes you can go into a closed scale and weigh front and back for free and even side to side, it just take some maneuvering around the scale. Or a Flying J or Truck stop will have CAT scales (brand name) and for a fee you can weigh----$7 to $12 dollars.

Not exceeding 18,000 pounds is critical but so is not exceeding the weigh limit for each axel. Example 12,000 rear---6000 front (hypothetical) what ever the limit is for your vehicle. There should be a plate in your vehicle with these weights posted usually in a cabinet on a wall door jamb etc; or you should call the manufacturer to make sure you know the front and rear weight limits.

This is extremely important to make sure your tire pressure is correct for the load---otherwise you increase the possibility of blowout, poor handling, even suspension failure. It is important.

Kids and grandkids (we have ten G-kids) sounds like a fun trip? Of course the fun is determined finally when everyone is home safe. So use your best judgement.

You can probably get a bunch of people to say they have exceeded load and passenger limits and nothing happened-------IMHO the answer would be so what? Only you can determine how much risk you are willing to accept and for whom, everything from potential tickets, potential down time to potential accidents, potential harm or injury.

Risk grows expoentially--driving down the highway has risk, driving a MH down the highway has another level, full of kids and g-kids another, driving w/o seatbelts another, over weight another and so on---it adds up. My suggestion would be to travel with as few risk as possible.

Even with every precaution taken stuff happens----the fewer the precautions the more likely stuff will happen. I suppose that the vast majority of people--even those traveling with an abundance of risk---arrive home safely-----but safety is avoiding the exception and doing everything reasonable to make this a safe and memorable trip for all.


Look I'm not a purist--nor a spoiler. But in my house if I even suggested that we travel w/o seat belts for g-kids/kids and overweight my wife (the grandmother) would kill me.

She uses her best judgement and I respond to fear.

This sounds like a wonderful trip, the inaugural trip in the new motor home, we used the rendevous method to accomplish our first trip---everyone arrived and returned safe and sound.

We wish you well and safe travels.
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:51 AM   #6
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I don't know of any state that requires a seat belt for every passenger in a motorhome. Or a bus either, even a school bus. The seat belt laws that apply to passengers cars do NOT automatically apply to motorhomes. Most states require seat belts only in the driving area of a motorhome or bus. Passengers behind that area can be unbelted and move around at will.

As to whether you choose to allow unbelted passengers, that's up to you, but I don't recommend it. People moving around in an RV can be thrown around, sometimes rather violently, if you have to stop quickly or swerve. A motorhome is top heavy and and can lean suddenly and sometimes quite a bit.
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:34 PM   #7
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extra seat belts are not hard to install. i replaced all of ours in the back of the rv to better match the seat fabric. ok, the belts were pretty ratty, too. anyway, installing belts in seats that did not have them was simple. just match the mounting hardware from the nearest seat. i added another belt to the couch, and one to the dinette.

as for getting the weight right, you gotta actually weigh it. find a scale. you will sleep better.
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:42 PM   #8
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I don't know of any state that requires a seat belt for every passenger in a motorhome. Or a bus either, even a school bus. The seat belt laws that apply to passengers cars do NOT automatically apply to motorhomes. Most states require seat belts only in the driving area of a motorhome or bus. Passengers behind that area can be unbelted and move around at will.

As to whether you choose to allow unbelted passengers, that's up to you, but I don't recommend it. People moving around in an RV can be thrown around, sometimes rather violently, if you have to stop quickly or swerve. A motorhome is top heavy and and can lean suddenly and sometimes quite a bit.
I'll agree with Gary on this. I was on a jury once where a woman was injured while laying on the bed in the back of a MH, hubby hit the brakes and was rear ended by a truck in a construction zone. Nothing was ever said about the passenger not having a seat belt on. BTW, they were suing the State DOT, and the trucking company. I worked for the State DOT at the time too so I was surprised to be left on the jury. I also knew the main witness for the State too, I brought that up in pretrial and still I was left.
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:24 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forum and congrats on your new rig!

You've gotten some really good advice so far IMO.

* You don't need to know the empty weight of your rig...just a baseline that you can work with when adding the weight of people, etc. Get it weighed and then calculate how much head room you've got left.

* I sure wouldn't build exceeding the GCWR into my travel plans... but some do.

* I agree that seat belts aren't legally required but you should seriously think about the need for them.

* I really like the idea of driving a second car for a number of reasons. You'll have transportation when you arrive... everyone will have seat belts... and, you might find out once you get weighed that you don't have very much room to add cargo and people.

Best of luck to you. We're glad you found us.

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Old 09-16-2011, 05:49 PM   #10
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Welcome mrobinson,
Good advice above. Get the rig weighed.

Mr D, are you going to leave us in suspense? How did the case come out????
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Old 09-16-2011, 06:56 PM   #11
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Mr D, are you going to leave us in suspense? How did the case come out????
X2 !!
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:34 PM   #12
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Because we fulltime, we weigh ours once a year to make sure that we are not over loaded. When you weigh it that should include the weight of those who will be in the motor home while traveling.....
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:21 AM   #13
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I have 10 seat belts in mine...

Driver, Pass, chair, 3 on couch, 4 in booth...

Sleeps 6, carries 10.. go figure.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:36 AM   #14
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Welcome mrobinson,
Good advice above. Get the rig weighed.

Mr D, are you going to leave us in suspense? How did the case come out????
Her husband was found to be at fault as he rear ended another vehicle and then the truck rear ended him.
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