The Ins and Outs of Using a CAT Scale – An Open Invitation


CAT (Certified Automotive Transport) scales are specialized truck scales used to weigh commercial vehicles and trailers. They provide certified weight measurements that are recognized across North America.

CAT scales are predominantly used by truck drivers and trucking companies to measure weights and avoid overweight penalties. Commercial truck drivers are required by law to ensure their vehicle weight remains within legal limits. Exceeding these limits can result in fines, so frequent weight checks at CAT scales are a critical part of responsible trucking operations.

What is a CAT Scale?

A CAT Scale is a specialized truck scale used by truck drivers and trucking companies to weigh commercial vehicles and their loads, especially tractor trailers ( CAT stands for “Certified Accessible Truck Scale.”

CAT Scales consist of a large platform or pad that a vehicle drives onto. The platform contains electronic load cell sensors to accurately weigh the entire vehicle and its cargo. The scale calculates the vehicle’s gross weight, axle weights, and net payload weight (

Truck drivers use CAT Scales to ensure their vehicle weight is legal, distributed properly between the axles, and to maximize payload efficiency. Knowing precise weights helps prevent overweight citations, accidents from improper load balancing, and maximizes profitability from hauling cargo.

Who Operates CAT Scales?

CAT Scales are operated by several different companies and independent weighmasters across North America. The major operator is CAT Scale Company, which operates over 2,200 permanent scale sites across the United States and Canada (CAT Scale Operators’ Manual). CAT Scale Company is headquartered in Walcott, Iowa and has been operating weigh scales since 1979.

In addition to corporate-owned locations, CAT Scale Company has over 350 independent operators who run CAT Scale sites under license. These independent weighmasters go through certification training with CAT Scale Company to operate the scales uniformly (Locations – CatScale).

The majority of CAT Scale locations are situated at truck stops and travel centers for easy access by truck drivers. They are also found at highway weigh stations, grain elevators, feed mills, and logistic centers. Major truck stop chains with CAT Scales include Love’s, TA, Petro, and Flying J.

Using a CAT Scale

Using a CAT scale is a simple process to weigh your vehicle properly. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Drive your vehicle onto the scale platform slowly. Make sure your entire vehicle fits on the scale.
  2. An attendant will guide you into position and ensure your vehicle is centered on the platform.
  3. Once in position, the attendant will weigh your vehicle axle-by-axle. The scale systems are highly precise.
  4. After weighing is complete, the attendant will print out a detailed weight ticket for your vehicle.
  5. The weight ticket will show individual axle weights and gross vehicle weight. It’s an official certified document.

Getting an official weight ticket from a CAT scale is critical to avoid potential fines and stay legal when hauling cargo. By law, trucks cannot exceed maximum axle and gross vehicle weights. CAT scales allow truckers and RVers to weigh properly and distribute load to stay within legal limits.

You can also get digital weight tickets emailed or texted using the Weigh My Truck app at many CAT scale locations. This adds convenience when you need to weigh regularly.

Benefits of CAT Scales

CAT Scales provide several key benefits for truck drivers and fleets, with the main advantages being to avoid overweight fines and optimize truck loads while maintaining legal weights.

Weighing trucks on CAT Scales helps drivers avoid costly overweight fines from law enforcement agencies. As noted on the Weigh My Truck site, CAT Scale’s certified weighings provide documented proof of a truck’s weight, which can prevent fines if a driver is pulled over after legally using a scale. Having printed weigh tickets helps demonstrate compliance.

Additionally, using CAT Scales enables truckers to optimize their loads to the maximum legal weight limit. By knowing a vehicle’s precise weight before hitting the road, loads can be adjusted to take full advantage of weight regulations while remaining within legal restrictions. This maximizes the payload on each haul.

CAT Scale weighings give drivers reliable weight data to maintain compliance with state weight laws. By ensuring trucks remain at or under the legal weight thresholds, CAT Scale users avoid violations that lead to citations and penalties from transportation authorities.

Limitations of CAT Scales

Though CAT Scales provide many benefits, there are some limitations to be aware of:

CAT Scales are not available everywhere. According to the CAT Scale FAQ, there are over 1,500 locations but they may not be conveniently located for every route. Drivers may need to plan weigh stations into their trip.

Weighing takes time and costs money. Each weigh costs around $15 according to the CAT Scale Company brochure. Drivers are allowed one free reweigh within 24 hours according to the CAT Scale FAQ, but additional reweighs cost $4 each time. This can add up for multiple loads.

Keeping axle weights legal is an ongoing balancing act. As noted on the How To Weigh page, drivers need to adjust their load placement and distribution to keep within legal limits. This may require several weighs to achieve proper balance.

Who Can Use CAT Scales?

CAT Scales are open for use by any vehicle, including commercial trucks, RVs, cars, and more. However, they are primarily designed with commercial truck drivers and trucking companies in mind. According to the CAT Scale website, their scales “provide vital data that helps truckers maximize payloads, avoid costly overweight fines and improve trucking efficiency.”

While large commercial vehicles make up the bulk of CAT Scale customers, the scales are also available and useful for smaller vehicles like RVs, cars, and pickups. For example, RVers can use the scales to weigh their vehicle and ensure they are within towing and payload limits. Drivers of smaller vehicles may find the scales helpful for weighing their car before a move.

In summary, CAT Scales are open access and can be used by any type or size of vehicle. However, trucks engaged in commercial operations are the primary target customer and make up most of their business.

Tips for CAT Scale Use

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of CAT scale usage:

Strategic weigh timing – The weight of your truck can fluctuate throughout the day and at different locations. According to, you may get different weights in the morning versus afternoon due to changes in fuel level. Try to weigh at consistent times to get the most accurate readings.

Technology like apps – CAT Scale offers a free app called Weigh My Truck which allows you to find CAT Scale locations, record weights, and track trends over time. Using the app can make weighing more efficient.

Choosing scale locations – Opt for CAT Scale locations that are flat, straight and have plenty of run-up room to get an accurate reading. Avoid weighing on inclines or declines which can impact the reading per

Following proper positioning and process – Carefully follow the weighing instructions and tractor/trailer positioning from to ensure you get a valid weight.

Weighing often – Frequently monitoring weight rather than sporadically can help identify any issues with load levels or weight fluctuations.

The Future of CAT Scales

As CAT Scales continue to grow in popularity, we’re likely to see increased adoption rates and more locations in the future. According to the CAT Scale website, founder Richard Horan believes “the sky’s the limit” for the company after 45 successful years so far ( With over 1,600 locations across North America already, CAT Scale aims to continue expanding its network of certified scales in truck stops, freight companies, and other high-traffic areas.

Technology improvements may also be on the horizon. While CAT Scale’s mechanical load cell scales have proven accurate and reliable for decades, the company may look to supplement with advanced digital scales or integrated software to improve efficiency and provide more detailed data analytics to users. App and website upgrades could also allow for better scale location searches, rewards programs, and load documentation integrations.

By staying ahead of the curve on technology while continuing to expand their geographic footprint, CAT Scale is positioning itself well for the future needs of truckers, shippers, brokers, and others in the transportation industry who rely on accurate weight data.


In summary, CAT scales provide an important role in legal and optimized trucking by providing certified weight measurements of tractor-trailers. Throughout this article we’ve explored what CAT scales are, who operates them, how to properly use them, their benefits and limitations, who can legally use them, and tips for getting the most accurate measurements. Proper weight distribution in tractor-trailers is crucial for safety, compliance with weight limits, and fuel efficiency. By using CAT scales, truck drivers can ensure their rigs are loaded properly before hitting the roads.

Though CAT scales require a small time and money investment, these certified measurements protect truck drivers from weight violations, accidents from improper loading, and wasted fuel from carrying excess weight. Both commercial and private truck owners can benefit from utilizing CAT scales as part of their standard operating procedures. As technology advances, CAT scales will likely become even more accurate and efficient at providing weight measurements through automation and digital integration.

In the world of trucking and logistics, CAT scales play an integral role in safety, compliance, and optimization. Understanding when and how to properly use these scales provides professional and amateur truckers alike with greater peace of mind.

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