California Axle Weight Limits

Axle spacings and weight calculator

Max Legal Weight for GVW under 80,000 lbs and Max Permitted Weight for GVW over 80,000 lbs

Vehicle configuration

Maximum Legal Weight Allowed

  • Single Axle - 20,000 lbs. (Alternative method of computation: 18,000 lbs.)
  • Alternative method of computation, limit on steering axle: 12,500 lbs.
  • Tandem Axle (Two Axle) - 34,000 lbs. (Alternative method of computation: 33,600 lbs.)
  • Tridem Axle (Three Axle) - Not defined in statute but subject to provisions
  • Gross Vehicle Weight - 80,000 lbs. (Alternative method of computation: 76,800 lbs.)

With respect to trucks operating on the NHS in California, two provisions in State law allow trucks to exceed some elements of Federal limits:

  1. Log trucks are allowed to exceed the Federal limit for tandem axles of 34,000 lbs. by 1,500 lbs.
  2. Between September 15 and March 15 each year, cotton trucks that meet certain criteria are allowed an additional 6,000 lbs. above the Federal limit of 34,000 lbs. for tandem axles.

Maximum Permit Weight Allowed

Axle groups with an axle spacing over 10 feet mounted to a common frame must be steerable. For more information regarding Maximum Permit Weights on axle groups, view California Weight Charts.

Single Axle:

20,000 pounds in general. (per CVC Sec. 35550)
20,000 pounds maximum on a steering axle.
22,500 pounds on a single drive axle of a 2-axle tow truck.
28,000 pounds on a single-axle mechanical distribution unit (MDU) heavy haul configuration and some fixed load applications.
Note: No Single Axle shall exceed 30,000 pounds.

Tandem Axles:

46,725 pounds with 4’-6” axle spacing, 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
58,406 pounds with 4’-6” axle spacing, 10-foot width, 8 tires per axle.
60,000 pounds with a minimum with a minimum 5’-9” axle spacing, 10-foot width, 8 tires per axle.
Note: The maximum allowable axle spacing for a tandem axle is 8’-0”.

Tridem Axles:

51,450 pounds with 9’-0” axle spacing, 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
52,500 pounds with 10’-0” axle spacing 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
Note (1): The maximum allowable axle spacing for tridem axles is 10’-4’.
Note (2): For Tridem Bonus Purple Weight, see Policy TPPM 2009-02 (PDF).

Lift/Drop Axles:

Lift axles do not qualify for extralegal weight and must be raised. See Policy TPPM 102-99 Lift Axles.
Note: Axle weights must be within 10% of the average axle weight of the group for spring suspensions. 

The California Department of Transportation is authorized to issue permits for the operation of vehicles that exceed State weight limits by up to 25 percent. Excess weight loads cannot be transported on highways for distances exceeding 75 miles. Permits may be issued for a single trip or for continuous operation, and the permitting authority may limit the number of trips, establish seasonal or other time limitations, or otherwise restrict vehicle operation. Permits allowing loads in excess of State weight limits do not apply to routes on the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (Cal. Vehicle Code §35780, §35788, and §36782).

Source of information:

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