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Transitioning from a fifth wheel to a truck camper was a huge decision for us. However, it wasn’t a decision that we took lightly.
We knew that truck campers could be very heavy and that we would need to consider this when selecting which camper worked for us and our 2012 Dodge Ram 3500. We had heard horror stories of drivers pushing the limits of their vehicles and causing serious damage.
But can a truck camper break your truck in half? Let’s take a look!
What Is Payload Capacity?
A vehicle’s payload capacity is the total weight you can add to a vehicle. This includes the weight of passengers, cargo, and any weight from a trailer.
Exceeding this number can cause damage to the suspension components and drastically increase the stopping distance. The payload capacity is often the weakest link in the numbers that make up a vehicle’s towing capabilities.
Why Does Payload Capacity Matter?
Knowing your vehicle’s payload capacity is important because it helps you stay within its safe operating range. Exceeding the payload of your vehicle can not only cause unsafe driving conditions and damage but can also void your vehicle’s warranty.
There is never a situation where it is acceptable to exceed the payload capacity of your vehicle. Depending on the situation, this may require you to break up a heavier load into multiple trips or leave some gear at home for your camping trip.
Either way, you must ensure you stay under the payload capacity.
Can a Truck Camper Break Your Truck in Half?
A series of images documenting one owner’s experience went viral not that long ago. In the images, you see a 2020 Ram 3500 that threw in the towel and bent under the weight of a massive Eagle Cap truck camper. So can a truck camper break your truck in half? You bet!
Unfortunately, it appears that this driver was misinformed regarding the payload capacity of his vehicle. He was quoted multiple times stating that his truck’s payload capacity was approximately 7,800 pounds.
However, while the 2020 Ram 3500 has a maximum payload capacity of 7,680 pounds, this driver’s specific vehicle wasn’t close to that. It was likely closer to 5,850 pounds, which put him nearing the payload capacity with nothing but the empty truck camper sitting on it.
The constant shifting weight of the heavy truck camper likely caused the truck’s frame to weaken over time. The frame severely bent and threw a wrench in the owner’s travel plans.
If you needed an excuse to weigh your vehicle to ensure you’re under the payload capacity, now you have one!
Do Warranties Cover Damage from Overloaded Trucks?
Unfortunately, warranties do not cover damage from overloaded trucks. As a result, you’ll be footing the bill for any damages or repairs. The driver that went viral is likely looking at a $17,000 repair bill to get his truck back into working order.
Unless you have a large stack of cash burning a hole in your pocket, we strongly recommend you keep your vehicle warranty intact and avoid overloading your truck.
Tips for Avoiding Truck Camper Weight Problems
You can do a handful of things to avoid experiencing truck camper weight problems.
Let’s look and see what you should do to keep your truck camper and vehicle safe during your adventures.
Know Your Vehicle’s Payload Capacity
If you don’t know your vehicle’s payload capacity, how will you know what weight you need to stay under?
However, unless you want to make the same mistake as the driver that went viral, check the payload capacity specific to your vehicle. You can’t simply punch in the year and make of your vehicle into your favorite search engine and get an accurate answer.
The easiest way to find the payload capacity of your vehicle is to check the sticker inside the driver-side door. Typically, this yellow sticker lists essential information specific to your vehicle, including the payload capacity.
Weigh Your Rig Regularly
The only way to know that you’re not exceeding the limits for your vehicle is to weigh your vehicle regularly. We recommend finding a CAT Scale at a truck stop to check your vehicle’s weight when it’s fully loaded.
Make sure you fill up on gas and have everything you typically take on a trip. This will cost approximately $12, but the information you’ll receive is worth every penny.
Pro Tip: Before you hit the road, make sure you weigh your RV! Here’s How to Weigh Your RV at a CAT Scale
Leave Stuff at Home
If you’re up against your vehicle’s payload capacity, you’ll need to leave some stuff at home.
You may want to bring all the equipment and toys with you during your adventures, but it’s not always possible. You’ll need to evaluate whether or not some things are worth bringing with you on your adventures.
Remove Unused Equipment
The easiest way to reduce the weight of your truck camper is to remove any unused equipment. If you’re not using equipment or items on your camper, remove them.
While many people enjoy having TVs and other electronics in their campers, it’s not always necessary, especially if you have a laptop or tablet. Why have multiple electronics that do the same job?
Use Aluminum When Possible
Consider using aluminum if you plan to renovate or modify your truck camper. Aluminum is substantially lighter than other metals and can do the job in many instances. However, while aluminum will do the job in many instances, it’s not perfect.
If you need it to carry the weight of a hefty load, it may be better to use a sturdier and more capable piece of metal.
Keep in Mind: Are Airstream Too Expensive for You? Then you need to see these Airstream Alternatives
Avoid a Costly Mistake with Your Truck Camper
We hope you now see that payload capacity and staying within the capabilities of your vehicle is essential. You should always stay within the towing numbers, especially the payload capacity.
You don’t want to cause damage to your vehicle or be on the hook for paying for the damages out of your pocket. Any money you spend repairing damages to your truck is less money you can spend on future adventures.