Axle Scale vs. Truck Scale—Which Do You Need?

a semi on an axle scale

Weigh stations, a crucial part of the transport sector, are strategically situated along numerous freeways across the United States. Inspectors from the Department of Transportation use these designated checkpoints to assess the weight of vehicles.

Most commercial goods in transit are taxed based on weight and are subject to safety guidelines regarding overweight cargo. To help with this, weighbridges have axle scales or truck scales for weighing large commercial vehicles. 

Here is further insight into these scale types and how to choose between axle vs. truck scales.

What Is an Axle Scale, and What Is It Used for?

Closeup of a Roughdeck axle scale

The axle scale is a measuring tool that individually weighs the truck axles. This type of weighbridge scale includes two or more scales, each positioned under one axle. The sum of individual axle measurements gives you the total gross vehicular weight.

A top-quality axle scale can provide readings within a 0.25% error margin. These scales can weigh light or heavy-duty vehicles, including cars, buses, motorhomes, and trailers. While most axle scales can weigh vehicles up to 80,000 pounds, larger models have a maximum weighing capacity of 200,000 pounds.  

Axle weighing scales are an economical and accurate means of weighing loaded trucks at:

  • Demolition worksites
  • Interstate entry points
  • Shipment terminals
  • Lumber or logging sites

What Is a Truck Scale, and How Is It Used?

A dump truck on a Rice Lake Survivor truck scale

A whole truck scale is a large, regularly calibrated platform for weighing vehicles. It is common in solid waste, grain, construction, chemical, and aggregate industries. 

The scale’s electronic weighing system digitally calculates and displays the total truck weight on a screen.

Dynamic vs. Stable Axle Scales and Truck Scales

A large semi with a load being weighed on an axle scale

Both scale types have dynamic and stable models. The dynamic (or, weigh-in-motion) feature allows the scale to measure moving vehicles. As the wheel load runs over the scale’s sensors, it exerts pressure on the buckling metal plate underneath.

Stable axle and truck scales, on the other hand, take readings of vehicles at a complete standstill. There are also portable and stationary versions of each scale type. You can opt to temporarily install the portable scales on concrete, asphalt, or compacted gravel and later move them to any new location you choose. The stationery models stay in place.

When compared by cost, axle scales are significantly more economical than truck scales. They take up less material and are only a third of the truck scale’s size. 

Regarding application, axle scales aren’t legal-for-trade, so you can’t use them to sell products based on weight. On the other hand, whole truck scales are NTEP-certified for legal trade and are the preferred alternative for commercial use.

Axle Scale vs. Truck Scale—An Expert Can Help You Decide Which is Right for Your Needs

A truck driving along a road on a sunny day

Axle and truck scales are economical, accurate, and durable options for evaluating loaded vehicles. They help prevent the losses and fines associated with underweight and overweight vehicles while promoting road safety.For a variety of top-quality axle scales and truck scales, check out American Scale. Our renowned catalog of under-the-wheel weighing solutions and scaling technology includes axle scales and whole truck scales. Contact us now for information on our numerous weighing and calibration options.