CDL Practice Tests: Weight & Balance

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Question #663 (1 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

  • 73% went on the steer axle
    27% went on the drive axles
  • 67% went on the steer axle
    33% went on the drive axles
  • 75% went on the steer axle
    25% went on the drive axles
  • 88% went on the steer axle
    12% 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 (2 of 10)

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

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

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 #670 (3 of 10)

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Using 7 miles per gallon as your fuel mileage and 8 pounds per gallon for the weight of fuel, how much total fuel weight will you burn off in 210 miles?

  • 180 pounds
  • 270 pounds
  • 210 pounds
  • 240 pounds
To figure out how many gallons of fuel you'll burn off, simply divide the number of miles travelled by the miles per gallon

Number of miles travelled / miles per gallon = gallons of fuel burned off
210 miles travelled / 7 miles per gallon = 30 gallons of fuel burned off

30 gallons x 8 pounds per gallon = 240 pounds of fuel burned off
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Question #662 (4 of 10)

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What is the correct method of determining what percentage of fuel is distributed between the steer axle and the drive axles?

  • Weigh the truck after running 100 miles, then immediately fuel up, and then re-weigh the truck to see what percentage of the added weight went to the steer axle, and what percentage went to the drive axles.
  • Weigh the truck, then immediately fuel up, and then immediately re-weigh the truck to see what percentage of the added weight went to the steer axle, and what percentage went to the drive axles.
  • Weigh the truck, then drive exactly 100 miles, and then re-weigh the truck to see what percentage of the added weight went to the steer axle, and what percentage went to the drive axles.
  • Weigh the truck immediately after fueling, then run exactly 100 miles, and then re-weigh the truck to see what percentage of the added weight came off the steer axles.
In order to accurately determine what percentage of fuel weight goes to your steer axle versus your drive axles you can simply weight the truck, then immediately fuel up, and then immediately re-weigh the truck to see what percentage of the added weight went to the steer axle, and what percentage went to the drive axles.
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Question #636 (5 of 10)

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What is the maximum legal weight for the drive axles or trailer tandems?

  • 20,000 pounds
  • 26,000 pounds
  • 34,000 pounds
  • 12,000 pounds

The legal weight limits for each set of axles is:

  • Steer axle varies by state
  • 34,000 for the drive axles
  • 34,000 for the trailer tandems
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Question #640 (6 of 10)

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Which of the following are not a primary factor affecting weight distribution across the axles?

  • All of these factors affect the weight distribution across the axles
  • The position of the trailer's tandems
  • The amount of fuel onboard and the placement of the fuel tanks
  • The position of the tractor's 5th wheel

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
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Question #635 (7 of 10)

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What is the main factor affecting the low-speed offtracking of a tractor trailer?

  • The length of the trailer, regardless of the position of the trailer tandems
  • The ratio of the length of the tractor to the length of the trailer
  • The distance from the trailer kingpin to the center of the trailer rear axle
  • The distance from the steer axle to the drive axles

When a combination vehicle makes a low-speed turn - for example a 90-degree turn at an intersection - the wheels of the rearmost trailer axle follow a path several feet inside the path of the tractor steering axle. This is called low-speed offtracking. Excessive low-speed offtracking may make it necessary for the driver to swing wide into adjacent lanes to execute the turn (that is, to avoid climbing the inside curbs or striking fixed objects like telephone poles).

This performance attribute is affected primarily by the distance from the trailer kingpin to the center of the trailer rear axle, otherwise known as the wheelbase of the semitrailer. To prevent trucks from being too long to maneuvering safely around turns encountered in cities and towns, the maximum length allowed from the kingpin to the trailer tandems is set by the individual states.

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Question #655 (8 of 10)

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If unsure of the exact location of the center of gravity of your cargo, where would you rather have the center of gravity located if you couldn't get it centered?

  • A little closer to the front than to the rear
  • About 15 feet behind the tractor drive axles
  • About 5-10 feet in front of the trailer tandems
  • Directly centered above the trailer tandems
If unsure of the exact location of the center of gravity of your cargo, you'd rather have the load a little closer to the front than to the rear. You can slide the trailer tandems forward as far as you would like to compensate for too much weight on the nose of the trailer, but the kingpin to trailer tandem length limitations will prevent you from going too far back with your trailer tandems.
A lot of times you'll be loading mixed cargo which will make it quite difficult to determine the exact center of gravity of the load. So when you're making your best guess, try to make sure it's a little forward of the center point between the drive axles and trailer tandems. That will give you the best chance of being able to adjust the trailer tandems so that the load will be legal.
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Question #641 (9 of 10)

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Which of the following has the greatest affect on the gross vehicle weight?

  • The position of the trailer's tandems
  • The position of the tractor's 5th wheel
  • None of these affect the gross vehicle weight at all
  • Moving the cargo toward the front or rear of the trailer
The final key point to understand when it comes to weight transfer is that none of the methods of redistributing weight between the different sets of axles, including sliding your 5th wheel, sliding your tandems, or moving the cargo around will have any affect on your gross weight.
The only way to affect the gross vehicle weight is to add or remove weight from the vehicle. The methods of weight transfer we've discussed will move weight from one area of the vehicle to another, but will not affect the gross weight of the vehicle itself.
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Question #644 (10 of 10)

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What affect will sliding the trailer tandems forward have on the weight distribution?

  • You will put more weight on the steer axle and take weight off the tractor's drive axles
  • You will put less weight on the trailer tandems and put more weight on the tractor's drive axles
  • You will put more weight on the trailer tandems and take weight off the tractor's drive axles
  • You will take weight off the tractor's drive axles and put more weight on the steer axle
By sliding the trailer tandems forward, you will put more weight on the trailer tandems and take weight off the tractor's 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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