Does My Moving Truck Need to Stop at a Weigh Station (And Should I Be There When It Does)?

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated November 10, 2021
Man unloading moving truck outside of house
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You calculated the moving costs and reserved a moving truck as part of your moving plans, but did you also consider weighing your moving truck? Calculating the weight of a moving truck is essential, especially if you hired a moving company. Thinking of a DIY move? Your rental truck might need weighing, too. Here’s how to determine if your moving truck qualifies for a weight scale and whether you should be there when it happens. 

What is a Weigh Station?

Weigh stations are dotted along major highways to help the Department of Transportation (DOT) or highway patrols make sure commercial trucks’ weights are compliant with state and federal laws. Older scales require the truck to stop for an accurate measurement, but new weigh-in-motion scales let the drivers cruise right on through the scale. 

What Trucks Have to Stop at Weigh Stations?

State laws for commercial and non-commercial moving trucks dictate whether your moving truck needs to stop at a weigh station. To verify, visit your state Department of Transportation website or ask your moving company.

Hired Commercial Moving Trucks

If you hire a professional moving company and use their trucks, it will likely need to get on a scale during the move to ensure the truck meets safety standards. Your state may also collect taxes on the weight of the goods. Talk to your moving company about how they handle any weighing fees incurred along your route.

Personally Rented Moving Trucks

Rental trucks can forgo weigh stations in most states because they’re not considered a commercial household goods carrier. However, there’s a grey area to consider if your non-commercial moving truck weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Some states require a stop at the weigh station for this amount. Verify with your rental company or check out your state’s DOT website. 

Weighing Your Moving Truck, Explained

Moving companies usually base your cost estimate on the distance of your move, the services you’ll need (like packing and materials), and the total weight of your goods. Since a local move costs $840 to $2,240, and an interstate move ranges between $2,200 and $5,700, you’ll want to watch your costs where you can. Or, if possible, consider the costs of DIY moving

How Your Moving Truck’s Weight is Calculated

For an accurate total weight, they’ll weigh the truck when it’s empty to document its initial weight. After your boxes are loaded, the driver should weigh the truck again to tally its total weight. This number calculates your final moving fees. 

Where and When to Watch The Weighing

It’s your right, under federal law, to watch when a truck is weighed on a certified scale, both before loading and again after it’s packed. If you waive that right, you must do it in writing. If you want to watch the weighing, you’ll have to work out the scheduling with the moving company beforehand. Whether you choose to waive your right to be present at weighing may depend on how your move is priced (more on this below).

Talk with your moving company about where to meet the driver for the weigh-in. You might not have to go to an official weigh station on the highway; certified truck scales are at truck stops, travel centers, and public scales. Wherever you go, don’t forget to get a copy of the weight tickets.

Pricing Your Move According to Weight

Movers carry sofa from moving truck to house
Chris Ryan/KOTO - stock.adobe.com

These are three types of estimates moving companies use.

1. Non-Binding Estimate

This is a quote based on the mover’s survey of the total weight of the shipment before moving. Your final payment will be tallied later when the actual weight in the truck is calculated. If the initial weight estimate is too low, you’ll pay the original estimate plus 10% more for the extra weight. 

2. Non-Binding to Exceed Estimate

Also referred to as “guaranteed price” or “price protection,” this contract doesn’t require you to pay any overages beyond your quote. If your shipment weighs less than expected, you’ll only pay for the shipment’s actual weight, potentially saving you money. 

3. Binding Estimate

Under a binding estimate, you’ll pay the quoted price, even if the actual shipment weighs more or less than the original quote. The good news is that you lock in the quoted price. The bad news is that you won’t save any money if your shipment weighs less. 

Many homeowners who sign a binding estimate opt to skip the weigh station watch party because the payment was established upfront, so the weigh station results won’t affect the final cost.

Is it Worth Watching the Weighing of Your Moving Truck?

Moving pros agree that watching the weighing process is worth it (unless you choose a binding estimate). Accurate weight tickets protect everyone from mistakes and miscommunication. Most importantly, watching the weighing of your moving truck helps you keep your budget on track. 

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