CDL Practice Tests: Weight & Balance

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Question #673 (1 of 10)

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Using the following numbers for your calculations, how much weight will come off your drive axles?

Miles per gallon: 6
Miles travelled: 360
Percentage of fuel weight on drive axles: 30%

  • 210 pounds
  • 144 pounds
  • 200 pounds
  • 300 pounds
To calculate the percentage of a value, you simply multiply the total value times the percentage you're looking for, and then divide by 100.
If you're getting 6 miles per gallon and you travel 360 miles:

360/6 = 60 gallons of fuel

60 gallons x 8 pounds per gallon = 480 pounds of total fuel burned off

Since 30% of the weight of fuel goes on our drive axles, we need to know what 30% of 480 is:

30 x 480 / 100 = 144 pounds coming off the drive axles
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Question #663 (2 of 10)

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You weigh the truck immediately before and after fueling. Based on the following, determine what percentage of the weight goes to each set of axles:

Before fueling:
steer: 11,450, drives: 33,100, gross: 76,700
After fueling:
steer:11,850, drives: 33,300, gross: 77,300

  • 75% went on the steer axle
    25% went on the drive axles
  • 73% went on the steer axle
    27% went on the drive axles
  • 88% went on the steer axle
    12% went on the drive axles
  • 67% went on the steer axle
    33% went on the drive axles
To determine the percentage of fuel weight added to the steer axle, take the weight added to the steer axle, divide it by the total fuel weight added (determined by the change in the gross weight), and then multiply that times 100
To determine the percentage of fuel weight added to the steer axle, take the weight added to the steer axle (400 pounds), divide it by the total fuel weight added (600 pounds), and then multiply that times 100

400/600 = .67

.67 * 100 = 67% fuel weight to the steer tires

100% - 67% = 33% went on the drive axles.
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Question #625 (3 of 10)

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Which of the following techniques will not change the weight distribution across your axles?

  • Raising the center of gravity height of the load
  • Changing the weight distribution of the cargo along the length of the trailer
  • Adding or burning off fuel
  • Sliding your trailer tandems forward or backward

There are several ways to distribute or redistributing the overall weight of the vehicle across the different sets of axles. You will affect weight distribution by:

  • Changing the weight distribution of the cargo along the length of the trailer, or moving the cargo around after the truck has been loaded. This will distribute the weight mainly between your drive axles and trailer tandems
  • Sliding your trailer tandems forward or backward will redistribute the weight mainly between your drive axles and trailer tandems
  • Sliding your 5th wheel will redistribute the weight mainly between your steer axle and your drive axles
  • Adding or burning off fuel will mainly change the amount of weight on your steer axle and somewhat on your drive axles also, depending upon the placement of your fuel tanks.
If you move the center of gravity either toward the front or rear of the trailer, it will change the weight distribution across the axles. But raising or lowering the center of gravity of the load will not change its weight distribution across the axles.
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Question #622 (4 of 10)

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What can be the result of too much weight on the back of the trailer?

  • A "pendulum effect" causing the rear of the trailer to sway back and forth while driving down the highway or jackknife going around a curve
  • The steer tires won't grip properly
  • You won't be able to fuel up properly without being overweight
  • The steering will feel "heavy" and sluggish
Too much weight toward the back of the trailer can lead to a "pendulum effect", causing the rear of the trailer to sway back and forth while driving down the highway or jackknife going around a curve
Balancing the weight of your truck properly across the axles is a legal requirement because there are so many safety factors involved.
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Question #678 (5 of 10)

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You're loaded heavy with 1/2 tank of fuel onboard. Using the following numbers, where should you move the 5th wheel to get it setup properly?

steer axle: 10,800 pounds
drive axles: 34,700 pounds
Weight transfer: 500 pounds per hole

  • Move the 5th wheel forward 1 hole
  • Move the 5th wheel back 2 holes
  • Move the 5th wheel back 1 hole
  • Move the 5th wheel forward 2 holes
The best way to make sure the 5th wheel is set properly is to scale the truck with a minimum of 1/2 tank of fuel and a very heavy load. Under those circumstances, you will want the 5th wheel positioned so that the steer tires are as close to 12,000 pounds as possible without going over, and the trailer tandems as close to 34,000 as possible without going over.
Moving the 5th wheel forward takes weight off the drive axles and puts it onto the steer axle. If we move it forward 2 holes and it transfers 500 pounds per hole, then we wind up moving 1000 pounds from the drive axles to the steer axle:

steer axle: 11,800 pounds
drive axles: 33,700 pounds
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Question #650 (6 of 10)

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You receive a scale ticket and your drive axles are 31,700 and your trailer tandems are 35,100. Based upon a trailer with 6 inch slider rail hole spacings, what is the minimum number of holes you would have to slide the tandems to get the weight legal, and what would the final weights be?

  • Slide tandems back 4 holes - 33,300 tandems - 33,100 drives
  • Slide tandems forward 3 holes - 33,900 tandems - 32,900 drives
  • Slide tandems back 3 holes - 33,900 tandems - 32,900 drives
  • Slide tandems forward 4 holes - 33,300 tandems - 33,100 drives
The two main hole spacings you'll find are 4 inches and 6 inches. You can estimate that you will move 250 pounds per hole for 4 inch spacing, and 400 pounds per hole for 6 inch spacing.
With 35,100 pounds on the trailer tandems you must move a minimum of 1,100 pounds off the trailer tandems. To shift weight off the trailer tandems and onto the drive axles, you slide the trailer tandems back toward the rear of the truck.

With 6 inch spacing you're moving 400 pounds per hole so you need to move 3 holes to shift a minimum of 1,100 pounds (400 x 3 = 1,200).

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Question #669 (7 of 10)

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Based on the following figures, how much fuel can you legally add while remaining legal on the drive axles?

Percentage of fuel weight to drive axles: 30%
Weight Before Fueling: Steer: 11,275, drives: 33,750, gross: 77,220

  • 88.5 gallons of fuel
  • 104.13 gallons of fuel
  • 112.75 gallons of fuel
  • 110 gallons of fuel
Once you know your current axle weights and the percentage of fuel weight that goes on the drive axles, you can use this formula to calculate the amount of fuel you can take on:

We know that 30% of the weight of fuel will go to the drive axles and you have 250 pounds you can add to the weight of the drive axles and remain legal. So plugging these numbers into the formula, you get:

250/30 = 8.33
8.33x100 = 833
833/8 = 104.13 gallons of fuel you can add
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Question #657 (8 of 10)

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Where in the trailer could you place cargo so that the weight applied to the trailer tandems is greater than the weight of the cargo itself?

  • Slightly in front of the halfway point between the tractor drives and trailer tandems
  • Directly above the front axle of the trailer tandems
  • In the overhang portion of the trailer behind the center point of the trailer tandems
  • Directly above the drive axles
Because the trailer pivots up and down at the kingpin above the drive axles, the floor of the trailer acts as a lever pushing down against the trailer tandems when freight is loaded into the overhang portion of the trailer. The further back you load the freight into the overhang portion of the trailer, the more leverage it creates. The net effect of this leverage is that you're putting more weight on the trailer tandems than the cargo itself weighs, and you will actually take a little bit of weight off the drive axles at the same time.
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Question #620 (9 of 10)

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What is the Federal Standard for maximum weight on a tandem axle vehicle?

  • 30,000 pounds
  • 34,000 pounds
  • 37,000 pounds
  • 27,000 pounds
  • 20,000 pounds single axle weight
  • 34,000 pounds tandem axle weight
  • 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
  • Bridge Formula Calculations
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Question #664 (10 of 10)

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You weigh the truck immediately before and after fueling. Based on the following, determine what percentage of the weight goes to each set of axles:

Before fueling:
steer: 11,100, drives: 32,600, gross: 71,400
After fueling:
steer:11,850, drives: 32,850, gross: 72,400

  • 67% went on the steer axle
    33% went on the drive axles
  • 75% went on the steer axle
    25% went on the drive axles
  • 65% went on the steer axle
    35% went on the drive axles
  • 80% went on the steer axle
    20% went on the drive axle
To determine the percentage of fuel weight added to the steer axle, take the weight added to the steer axle, divide it by the total fuel weight added (determined by the change in the gross weight), and then multiply that times 100
To determine the percentage of fuel weight added to the steer axle, take the weight added to the steer axle (750 pounds), divide it by the total fuel weight added (1000 pounds), and then multiply that times 100

750/1000 = .75

.75 * 100 = 75% fuel weight to the steer tires

100% - 75% = 25% went on the drive axles.
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About The Weight And Balance Section

This section was created by Trucking Truth to help people understand how to load cargo, scale the truck, and understand the laws about truck weight limits. These materials will not be on your written CDL exams but it is critical that every truck driver knows these materials.

Types Of Weight Limits

There are four basic weight limits: single axle, tandem axle, bridge formula, and gross vehicle. The Federal Standards are as follows:

  • 20,000 pounds single axle weight
  • 34,000 pounds tandem axle weight
  • 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
  • Bridge Formula Calculations

Why Do These Different Weight Limits Exist?

There are a long list of critical safety issues which require putting limitations on the gross weight, axle weights, the weight distribution across the length of a vehicle, and the weight distribution across a minimum number of axles.

  • Putting too much weight on a small area of the road surface can cause ruts, cracks, and potholes
  • Putting too much weight on a small area of a bridge surface can cause structural damage to the bridge
  • Too much weight on your steer axle can lead to a "heavy steering" feel and may cause the truck to react improperly to steering inputs
  • Not enough weight on your steer axle can lead to a loss of traction for your steer tires
  • Improper weight balance between your tractor drive tires and trailer tandems can lead to poor traction and an increased risk of jackknifing
  • Too much weight toward the back of the trailer can lead to a "pendulum effect", causing the rear of the trailer to sway back and forth while driving down the highway or jackknife going around a curve
  • Overloading a tire beyond it's maximum tire load capacity can cause tire damage and blowouts
  • Overloading the suspension system of the truck can cause damage to the suspension system which could easily lead to loss of control of the vehicle

So as you can see, it's critical in so many ways to make sure that we follow the weight limits in strict accordance with the law. It is incredibly dangerous to overload a vehicle or to have the weight improperly distributed across the axles.

Methods Of Weight Transfer

There are several ways to distribute the overall weight of the vehicle across the different sets of axles. You will affect weight distribution by:

  • Changing the weight distribution of the cargo along the length of the trailer, or moving the cargo around after loading the truth. This will distribute the weight mainly between your drive axles and trailer tandems
  • Sliding your trailer tandems forward or backward will redistribute the weight mainly between your drive axles and trailer tandems
  • Sliding your 5th wheel will redistribute the weight mainly between your steer axle and your drive axles
  • Adding or burning off fuel will mainly change the amount of weight on your steer axle and somewhat on your drive axles also, depending upon the placement of your fuel tanks.

Limitations On Weight Transfer

There are several factors that will reduce the amount of weight we can transfer between the different sets of axles on the truck:

  • Federal laws limit the maximum weight on any set of axles and the gross vehicle weight - 20,000 pounds single axle, 34,000 pound tandem axles, 80,000 pounds GVW
  • The bridge law formula limits the maximum amount of weight you can carry across any set of axles based upon the number of axles and the spacing between them (we'll discuss this formula soon).
  • The maximum legal length allowed between your trailer kingpin and your trailer tandems will limit how far back you can slide your tandems
  • The load rating of the tires you have will determine the maximum amount of weight allowed on any particular tire
  • The load rating of the suspension system will limit the amount of weight you can have on any axle

The Bridge Formula

bridge law formula and regulations for trucks

Congress enacted the Bridge Formula in 1975 to limit the weight-to-length ratio of a vehicle crossing a bridge. They accomplished this either by spreading weight over additional axles or by increasing the distance between axles.

The idea here was to prevent putting too much weight on a relatively small area, causing damage to the road surface and bridge structure. By requiring trucks to spread the weight across a longer distance and distributing the weight across more axles, you help prevent damage to the bridges and roadways.

Compliance with Bridge Formula weight limits is determined by using the following formula:

W = the overall gross weight on any group of two or more consecutive axles to the nearest 500 pounds.

L = the distance in feet between the outer axles of any group of two or more consecutive axles.

N = the number of axles in the group under consideration.

Altering The Weight Distribution

The primary factors which will affect the weight distribution across a truck's axles are:

  • The position of the trailer's tandems
  • The position of the tractor's 5th wheel
  • The overall weight of the cargo in the trailer and the horizontal (front-to-back) position of its center of gravity
  • The amount of fuel onboard and the placement of the fuel tanks

In the coming pages, we'll go through these one at a time and learn to apply each one individually. Later we'll put them all together and show you how to get your truck's weight distribution legal out on the highways, coast to coast, under any circumstances.

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