Getting axle weights correct is a driver’s legal responsibility for each load and for safety first, stability, and to reduce damage to highways. There are 5 axles to be brought to correct weight. Not taking the time to do so can result in dangerous conditions that affect braking, steering, and overall stability when driving, and a fine.
It’s important to know the total weight of the freight you are loading and the weight of your truck empty, so you have an idea of total weight when loaded. Observe the loading of the freight to get a feel for how the weight is distributed. Secure the load so it can’t shift in transit and scale the truck. The scale ticket will show you the steering axle, drive axles, and trailer tandems and total gross weight of truck and load.
If your steer axle is over the weight limit, you will need to adjust the fifth wheel back to put more weight on the drive axles, lowering the weight on the steer axle. The first step is to lower the landing gear until it lifts the load off the fifth wheel so the wheel can slide. Set the brakes and unlock the fifth wheel either by a switch in the cab or by climbing out and manually unlocking the fifth wheel lock. Start the truck, leave the trailer brakes on and release the tractor brakes. Then gently drive forward sliding the fifth wheel toward the rear. A general rule of thumb is each cog shifts about 100 pounds. Count how many cogs you need to move and mark that spot with chalk. Move the wheel to the desired sweet spot. Apply the tractor brakes and lock the fifth wheel.
When you slide the trailer axles forward it transfers more weight onto the trailer wheels. Sliding them backward takes weight off the trailer and transfers it to the drive axles. Each hole in the truck frame transfers approximately 250 pounds of weight if your trailer holes are spaced 4 inches apart. If your trailer holes are spaced 6 inches apart, each hole will shift 400 pounds per hole. Calculate how much weight you need to shift and mark the desired location. Unlock the trailer tandems. Keep the trailer brakes on. Release the tractor brakes and you can slide the trailer box along and lock the tractor brakes while you check your progress. Adjust as necessary until you reach the calculated adjustment. If you’re a pro and are satisfied with the outcome, go on your way.
But if you’re a newbie or rookie, scale again just to be sure you are as close to accurate as you can get. Another scale ticket cost is far less than if you go down the road and get a citation and fine. Motor on and read this whenever you need a refresher.