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Old 06-30-2012, 01:42 AM
dmanlyr dmanlyr is online now
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Informational posting on WA DOT number / licensing

Greetings fellow Washington memebers.

Lately as Wa has instituted a mandatory Federal DOT number (by June 30th) as well some other changes in the COMMERCIAL truck laws, people like me have been caught in the middle ground.

Having spent exhaustive hours with the Federal DOT, the WA state DMV, as well as the WSP Commercial vehicle enforcement, it turns out there is some misinformation out there.

We have gone over various (and there are many) FMCSR's, WA RCW's and WA state statues. Including many phone calls and in person meetings.

I carry a CDL, I work for a company that requires a tickect and collision free record for future employement, so being somewhat familiar with FMCSR's and WA RCW's, I looked at my own, private, personal fleet to make sure I would not recieve any tickets as I have two trucks that could be considered "Commercial" Clean up my act so to speak, and not feint ignorance, which really does not pass the red face test in front of a judge.

First in my 1970 C600, currently at 26k,

Second is my 1990 F250, and I plan on retagging it at 18k or 20k (WA state does not charge weight fees on trailers, the weight of the trailer must be covered by the trucks licensed weight fees, both commercial AND private)

Note that this applies to any truck licensed vehicle, even the smallest that may tow a trailer.

So I am not going to write a novel as to everything discussed, but it comes down really to one word, "Commerce" in my case.

Private owners, with there own privatly licensed vehicles carring or pulling there own privatly owned "stuff" or trailer are not in "Commerce". I do not own a business nor operate a farm, so since I am using such vehicles in a NON Commerce manor, hence NONE of the Federal Commercial vehicle rules nor State Commercial RCW's apply.

Note that if I owned or operated a farm and used such vehicles in such a enterprise, this would be a usage that is Commercial and does require a federal DOT #.

Nor do I have to have a federal DOT number to license or drive my trucks on WA state roads.

There is one state statute (not a RCW) that could apply to certain vehicles, and keep this in mind, it is that a CDL license is required for vehicles over 26,000 lbs, and ANY trailer over 10,000 lbs when pulled by a CDL required vehicle. There is some additional wording as to passenger carring vehicles and such, but the main gist is that you are required to have a CDL license for a Privatly owned vehicle if it fits the statues requirements, but the vehicle itself in not considered a "Commercial" vehicle.

There is however one gray area, and this is regarding scale houses. Remember, white background with black lettering signs (speet limit, lane restictions, etc) are absolute and directly tickable if ignored / not followed.

Sp in driving down the freeway, I approach a scale house, it says "Trucks over 16k must use the right lane" Then you are weighed in motion, and if over 16k, can be directed to the scale house. These signs are white with black lettering and as such, MUST BE followed. BUT, and this is the area of grayness, the signs on the scale house access road are also white with black lettering, clearly stating "Commercial vehicles only" Again, this MUST BE followed, BUT as noted above, I am NOT a commercial vehicle.

This one raised a chuckle from WSP commercial enforcement in Olympia. Basicly I can be ticketed for not stopping at scale, but I can be also be ticketed for stopping. <groan>

Best thing to do as discussed, Clearly mark the truck as a private, non commercial, non commerece and proceed thru the scale and see where things go, but do not pass by the scale as that is the first "sign / directive" you see.

When licensing your over 16k truck, the DMV will now ask for, and may tell you that you are required to have a federal DOT number in order to purchase your tags. NOPE. There is a exemption for PRIVATLY owned, non Commerce, non farm vehicles, and as such NON Commercial and in no need of a federal DOT # which is required for. This exact situation has been verified by the Olympia DMV office. Your local DWV agent may not understand the law totally as I had to get out my FMCSR and review WA state RCW's with my local agent last year when I bought my tags for my C600.

Some of you may not be concerned, but for those striving to follow some of the newer and newest requirements and laws, this may help.

David
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:16 AM
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So from what i understand this applies to people who drive trucks. Not regular road vehicles like my bronco?

I hope my brother and his short hauling company knows this info.
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Old 06-30-2012, 11:20 AM
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I researched this a bit a few years ago after I got my travel trailer. The State laws are a mess. I even sent emails and called the WA State Patrol's Enforcement division and didn't get much help. The only thing they could confirm was that any vehicle hauling any size trailer (even the smallest of small) must obey the Truck speed limits.

Reps sent...

Question - so if the weight of the trailer is to be covered by the truck's license, is this effectively basing the license on the GCWR of the truck? I was surprised how little is discussed regarding the GCW of the truck and trailer.

A follow-on question - All the state signage I've seen always says "GVW" or "GVWR" which to me is the weight of the truck, not the GCW…which includes the weight of the trailer. Which does the State look for?

Another Question - I'll go check my registration. If it is for less than my truck+trailer am I "under-licensed"?
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Old 06-30-2012, 04:26 PM
dmanlyr dmanlyr is online now
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Originally Posted by GruesomeJeans View Post
So from what i understand this applies to people who drive trucks. Not regular road vehicles like my bronco?

I hope my brother and his short hauling company knows this info.
You are correct, only trucks, or truck licenced vehicles, like a GeoMetro / Ford Focus, etc that is used in a light package / delivery / courier service, many times these carry a truck license so they can legaly use the "truck only loading zones"

Most of these fall under the "under" 4000lbs catagory of truck licencing, but there, eveen as passenger cars do pay a weight based fee as they are considered "trucks" under WA DMV licencing as they have truck plates.

David

EDIT: If you did not buy your Bronco new, then you should check to make sure that smeone has not plated it as a "truck". If so, then, yes, these "truck" rules would apply to you.
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:56 PM
dmanlyr dmanlyr is online now
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Originally Posted by onug View Post
I researched this a bit a few years ago after I got my travel trailer. The State laws are a mess. I even sent emails and called the WA State Patrol's Enforcement division and didn't get much help. The only thing they could confirm was that any vehicle hauling any size trailer (even the smallest of small) must obey the Truck speed limits.

Reps sent...

Question - so if the weight of the trailer is to be covered by the truck's license, is this effectively basing the license on the GCWR of the truck? I was surprised how little is discussed regarding the GCW of the truck and trailer.

A follow-on question - All the state signage I've seen always says "GVW" or "GVWR" which to me is the weight of the truck, not the GCW…which includes the weight of the trailer. Which does the State look for?

Another Question - I'll go check my registration. If it is for less than my truck+trailer am I "under-licensed"?
Thank you for the reps, yes I agree the laws are a mess, leftovers from a time when the average non commercial user might have had at best a 1/2 ton truck and a 4k trailer to be convcerned with. There was no way 50 years ago when many of these more modern laws became law that anyone would have figured that any homeowner would really have ever been driving down the road in a F450 with a 20k or better trailer... this was all commercial terratory for years.

That was also the case for years on one ton pickup trucks, they all maxed out at 10k MAXIMUM GVW, to avoid that 10,001 lbs and over "commercial" status.

The same truck as a Cab and chassis might have had a 2-4k higher rating, because they figured that the average homeowner would not buy a cab/chassis and therfore they were selling to commercial drivers and owners, therfore the full capacity of the dually could be used, and the GVW #s reflected this.

I have also found that different people perceive or interprupt the "rules" differently. That is why the federal and state governments have a "definitions" section, in such that the definition of the word "vehicle" means exactly "this". Even the hard working Commercial enforcement officers can get defining the definitions incorrect. This I have found out first hand. So back to the "defining" definitions section of the FMSCR's and RCW's to get a clear consise meaning of the law or rule as written.

Ok, so a "vehicle" under the definition can either be powered or not. A truck is considered a powered motor vehicle. A trailer is consider a unpowered vehicle, but the key is that it is still a vehicle.

So, since WA state does not charge for the "tonnage" part of the plate fee on a unpowered vehicle (we call them trailers), it has to be collected on the powered vehicle towing the unpowered vehicle.

So you have TWO GVW's to be concerned with, the powered and unpowered vehicle(s). According to definition, a powered vehicle (truck) and unpowered vehicle(s) become a combination vehicle, with its own GCW. And since as noted, WA state does not charge the weight based part of the fees on the unpowered vehicle part of the combination, those weight based fees not collected become due on the combination vehicle.

That is why you see semi tractors licensed at 80 k, even though they cannot carry that much weight by themselves (bobtail) unless hooked to a unpowered vehicle. Most semis are then licensed at as much as possible, because they have no idea of what trailer they may hook up to and what that trailers weight may be.

RV's are exempt from truck laws as they are not registered as a truck, but as a RV.

RV trailers pulled by a truck? Technicaly according to the DMV, the towing trucks legaly licensed weight fees must cover the weight of the trailer.

To recap, powered vehicles licenced weight must cover the unpowered vehicles weight, even though that GCWR licenced weight exceedes either vehicles individual GVWR as you are now dealing with a combination.

Now, thats talk about legal definitions of GAWR's and GCWR's. Years ago these were "suggested" numbers only. These numbers were commonly found on what was reffered to as the "warrenty" plate. IE Ford recommends these maximums, and if you exceed them, no warrenty, but the important thing to remmeber is that these were recommended numbers, not absolute numbers and you could not directly be ticketed for exceeding them.

Now, we have what is called the "safety compliance sticker" This is a LEGAL document which MUST contain certain information, among that information is the VIN and GAWR's / GVWR. This is in no way a "warrenty" plate. The numbers on the safety compliance sticker are ABSOLUTE, LEGAL LIMITS not recommendations. If you exceed them, you can be ticketed directly for exceeding either the individual GAWR's or the GVWR.

And yes, this plate is the EXACT one that the scale house looks at if stopped for overloading.

As a LEGAL document, the safety compliance sticker cannot be altered. In fact it is designed such that if altering or removal is attempted, it will self destroy.

This is why, regardless of what someone does to "beef up" there half ton to haul more weight has not added one legaly usable pound of capacity. Swap in a 8 lug 3/4 ton axle, nope the safety compliance sticker still shows the 5 lug half ton GAWR.

So how do some trucks as built have a higher GVWR that from Ford? Well, that takes a speciality shop, a incomplete vehicle shop such as a custom body builder, a RV manufacture who finishes a incomplete vehicle. These are licensed shops / builders. They have the legal authority to certify and add there own safety compliance sticker in addition to the safety compliance sticker that Ford, as the builder of the incomplete or complete vehicle applied.

A good example is a tag axle motorhome. Ford sells a incomplete vehicle to say ABC RV company. ABC RV adds a 5k tag axle and extendes the chassis. to accomodate the tag axle. The incomplete vehicle safety compliance stickers shows, say for example a 16k GVWR. ABC RV would then issue and install there own "complete" vehicle manuafactures safety compliance sticker in addition to the incomplete sticker, reflecting the higher 21k rating.

However, Ford still will only warranty that chassis at 16k, and the Ford factory warrenty stops at the point the chassis mods were made. This has caused a lot of RV industry issues, Ford Warrenties this part of the frame, ABC RV warrenties this part of the frame... and you can see the finger pointing that goes on between Ford and ABC RV if somethign shoud go drasticly wrong.

Ok, so now we know that from a legal perspective, your trucks GAWR's and GVWR is fixed at what the safety compliance sticker says, and you can be directly ticketed for exceeding them, and these are the numbers that the scale house will look at.

Trailers fall under the exact same rules as listed above, they too have a safety compliance sticker, with the same legaly binding weights, and as well the same responsibilities.

The last number to be concerned with is the "recommended" GCWR as supplied by Ford. This number is NOT found on the safety compliance sticker as it is not a "legal, or absolute" number, and as such is not required to be on the safety compliance sticker.

This is found in Ford's trailering guide and in your owners manual. This is again a recommendation. Not legaly binding, nor directly tickable for exceeding. Have a collision though and if said collision is a direct result of a overloaded, unrecommended condition, you can be cited. Also, if a sharp lawyer for the injured party picks up that you have exceeded all normal recommendations, in civil court you can loose your shirt. Your insurance company could also use this "unrecommeded, improper loaded, loading above normaly requonized safety limits, or any other of a multitude of reasons", while not directly criminal, from a civil / contractual obligation can be cause for denial of claim, termination of coverage, etc.

Ok, now we fianlly, if you are still reading, WA DMV's part of the licensing fees. The DMV will let you licence your F150 for say 26k. Does this mean that in any way, in any life, in any even remotly possible mannor that you can legaly load your F150 as such. NO. But the DMV will be more than willing to let you pay the extra weight based fees, even though you cannot use them.

So to directly answer your last question, if your truck has GVW of 9k, you are pulling a 10k GVW trailer, and both "vehicles' are loaded to there maximum GVW's, the combination wouldl be at 19k. If the "powered" part of the comination is not licenced for at least 19k, then yes, you are underlicensed by definition.

Would you be stopped for such, only at a scale house, and now that anythign over 16k has to stop, there is a good chance that you may recieve a talking to, and WSP may electe to ticket you as well.

Another example, say you have the same combination as above, with the same individual vehicle GVW's, but instead the loading comes out at 7k (same 9k GVW) on the truck, and 12k on the 10k GVW'd trailer, but the licensed weight in this case is 20k on the powered vehicle. Does this mean that you can be stopped? Ticketed? YES and YES. Not from a licensed weight perspective, but for exceeding the unpowered vehicle's GVW. You caould even be red tagged, and forced to correct the overload condition BEFORE further travel on a public road is allowed. Thats right, at the scale house, and it gets better, you only have a limited amount of time to correct such illegalities before your trailer couold be impounded.

Best just to know the following -

GAWR's on both powered and unpowered vehicles
GVWR's on both powered and unpowered vehicles
Have a properly licenced powered vehicle to cover the combinations GCWR

And...

The tare weight on the powered and unpowered vehicles.

**Tare weight by definition is the unladen weight (also called base, curb, scale, etc) with full fuel tanks, normally required safety and non safety equipment, but no persons or there personal gear and NO cargo load**

And the weight of passengers, there suitcase / bags / your dog(s) any any cargo so that you don't have to try and explain how you didn't realize that 'ole blue you favorite hound put you over the GVW.

<whew>

I hope this helps. It could change next week!

What I have been told is directly from the head offices, and I have found differning interpitations in the field. Trust me, I have been making the rounds.

I would also highly suggest that you never ARGUE at the scale house, if the compliance officer has a different thought pattern than you, try to get the rule book out and explaing your point ONCE, then let it go and you will have to go to the main office / before the judge. Arguing will only increase everyone's fustration, and trust me not all scale officers appreciate a trucker trying to tell them something when the officer thinks that he knows better, even though his individual inturpitation of the law is incorrect.

The one, and only one time that I was ticketed at a scale house as a CDL driver was exactly this. I later recieved a letter recinding the ticket as it was given in error. I stated my side one time at the scale, and was met by a rather blank "who do you think you are questioning me" stare. Funny thing though, when I called that states DMV to "correct my oversite and get the proper licencing in place", I was told exactly, why did he ticket you? That was stupid!? There words, not mine, I would never refer to any hard working compliance officer as stupid. I have found them all to be diligent, and very knowlagble, but just like me, a human that can have fobiles every once in a while.

And as a disclaimer, this ONLY applies to WA sate from a licencing / indivdual RCW's point, but from a FMSCR and "safety compliance sticker" point, it is all 50 states

David

Oh, and yes, one of the most understood and ignored is that ALL vehicles pulling ANY trailer MUST obey all truck laws, such as speed (you can NEVER go faster than 60mph with a trailer in WA) and lane usage (you CANNOT drive, even to pass in the left lane of a freeway that has more that two (three or more) lanes in each direction.

Yest I see people all the time flying down the left lane at 70+ mph with a huge trailer (or the smallest)... WOW what contempt / ignorance / plain stupidity. Oh well.....
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Old 07-01-2012, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmanlyr View Post
You are correct, only trucks, or truck licenced vehicles, like a GeoMetro / Ford Focus, etc that is used in a light package / delivery / courier service, many times these carry a truck license so they can legaly use the "truck only loading zones"

Most of these fall under the "under" 4000lbs catagory of truck licencing, but there, eveen as passenger cars do pay a weight based fee as they are considered "trucks" under WA DMV licencing as they have truck plates.

David

EDIT: If you did not buy your Bronco new, then you should check to make sure that smeone has not plated it as a "truck". If so, then, yes, these "truck" rules would apply to you.
No its far from new. Though i can visit the DMV sometime and see what they say.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by GruesomeJeans View Post
No its far from new. Though i can visit the DMV sometime and see what they say.
All you have to do is look at your registration, if there are no additional weight based fees above the normal fess, then you do not have a truck license.

Most every Bronco was not licensed as a truck unless specificaly asked for or changed later by request.

Every Bronco that I have owned has always not had a truck license.

David
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:35 PM
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Oh ok, as far as i have seen there isn't anything extra on it, but i will be sure to check soon. I have to replace my insurance card anyways, now i have a reason to get up
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:49 PM
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I had a CDL up to a short time ago and your explanation of things Dmanlyr seems right on to me. One thing I might add to the trailer in the left lane is no vehicle over 10k combined GVW can be out in the left lane in WA when there are 3+ lanes.

And if such a vehicle is in the left lane of a two lane hwy a delay of five cars or more is cite-able though I don't know if that is even enforced or on the books anymore.

Something just came to mind and you might have stated this but isn't ANY vehicle on a state hwy that is 10k or over limited to 60 mph?

Further don't even get me started on steer tire tread width interpretations as it applies to front axle loading. That's something I used to run into driving tankers.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:29 PM
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Informative thread, thanks for your research. I started looking into this - actually just heard about it a couple of days ago.Washington seems to be using GVWR totals - truck plus trailer. There is enough information here to muddy the water a little more.

WA State Licensing: DOT numbers for intrastate commercial vehicles
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:29 PM
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Informative thread, thanks for your research. I started looking into this - actually just heard about it a couple of days ago.Washington seems to be using GVWR totals - truck plus trailer. There is enough information here to muddy the water a little more.

WA State Licensing: DOT numbers for intrastate commercial vehicles
The one thing to rememeber is none of this applies to private vehicles., that are not owned by a business and used solely to transport personal items, and are not hired to carry others items.

Excluding farm use, the definition of a Commercial vehicle is one in "Commerce".

The Federal DOT says this. The Olympia office was real quick to say not in Commerce, NOT commercial. It even states this quite clearly on the DOT number application web site.

The Washington State WSP belatedly says this. while individual scale operators need a tune up on this, WSP patrol main Olympia Commercial Support office agrees that not in Commerce, means NOT commercial.

The Washington State DMV is clear on this, and they even have a "private" classification for such vehicles to bypass the DOT number requirements when licensing vehicles over 16k. They realize that if the vehicle is not in Commerce, it is NOT commercial.

There is definatly some confusion out there on what is Commercial use. Just because something weighs over 16k DOES NOT mean Commercial use, Commercial use is again, excluding the Farm use classification, defined as in "Commerce".

Now, certain vehicles require a CDL, but that also does not mean that the vehicles are Commercial, just that they require a higher drivers license requirement to be driven. Again, if such vehicles are not in Commerce, they are NOT Commercial.

Definatly a lot of miss information out there!

David
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by hydrosmith View Post
I had a CDL up to a short time ago and your explanation of things Dmanlyr seems right on to me. One thing I might add to the trailer in the left lane is no vehicle over 10k combined GVW can be out in the left lane in WA when there are 3+ lanes.

And if such a vehicle is in the left lane of a two lane hwy a delay of five cars or more is cite-able though I don't know if that is even enforced or on the books anymore.

Something just came to mind and you might have stated this but isn't ANY vehicle on a state hwy that is 10k or over limited to 60 mph?

Further don't even get me started on steer tire tread width interpretations as it applies to front axle loading. That's something I used to run into driving tankers.
Yes, so true. I was basilcly trying to define the differences in WA state on what needed a DOT number, something the state has not made real clear, nor trained its Commercial Support officers on as well.

The one thing that I can add is that you can use the HOV lanes with a trailer, as long as the trailer and towing vehicle add up to less that 10k combined. Of course, how you get there say on I-5 with three lanes + the HOV when you cannot drive or be in the left lane with a trailer is my best guess. Pretty much if you are in the HOV in that case is a red flag that you have broken the law!

I can see it on 167 and I-405 though as they are ony two lanes + HOV.

Remember, the HOV lane is NOT considered the left lane, that would be the nect general purpose lane to the right.

David
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:17 PM
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WOW quite the write up, reps sent.

That said I do have a question, one for everyone. You did a great job explaining the black and white letter of the law, but the true application is a grey area. We all know with the law so complicated these days the reality comes down to what is actually believed and enforced.

So technically I break quite a few laws with my truck, mud flaps, etc. Weight I'm sure is one of them but I have never been even asked a question by LE about it.

So that said, what would really be useful to me is to know at what point I will get the attention of LE. And if so, where will I actually get in trouble wether or not I was technically breaking the law.

I have no idea the technical official weight ratings of my 87 F350, there are no stickers left. All I have is my registration, or an internet search. All my registration says is *Sclwt 5104* and *Gwt 8000* So I can only assume these are my legal weights. All this is well and good and none of it puts me even close to being looked at until I add a trailer. I regularly tow a car hauler trailer with a 7000 weight rating. Now 8000+7000 is only 15k also not enough, but well I excede these limits regularaly. Truck with load 10k + trailer which gets up to 10k on a regular bases. So I'm breaking the law yet again it seams, didn't even think about it until now. But what's the odds I would be stopped? And what can I do about it?

Not to concerned about the situation above, but I got more to come. When I put my biz name on the side of my truck and am towing a customers vehicle or company sponsered race car on the trailer? So then I'm both commercial and over weight. What are the odds I'll be stopped? And it sounds like at that point I will need to go thru all this red tape to be technically legal? Suggestions?

This brings up my most recent trailer research to, I've been looking up trailer laws, one term is "two vehicle" not sure if that's toying vehicle + trailer or toying vehicle and 2 trailers?

So on my 87 is it likely I am legally limited to 8000 combined? and if so is there ANY way to increase that? The truck will easily do way more then that, and even more as I make upgrades and frankly I'll break the law before I buy another truck just to get a sticker.

Hmmm could I have a builder that can do their own sticker look at or "modify" my truck and print me a sticker?

As far as I'm concerned as long as I'm safe it's nobodies biz. The truck is plenty safe, it's safe load limit right now limited by the tires (3970lbs each, SRW), I kinda push the trailer at times, it hauls the load fine but the electric brakes aren't strong enough to lock up when I push it. Hence my trailer research, think I'll build one.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:17 PM
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