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RV Glossary

Glossary of RV-Related Terms

Each industry has its own commonly used terms and the RV industry is no different. If you think about it, an RV is really a "house on wheels" with the combined elements of a "stick house" and "motorized vehicle". This Glossary is designed to take the mystery out of common technical terms used by RVers, RV service technicians, RV dealers and RV service providers.

Go forth and communicate with confidence.

120 AC/12 DC/LP-gas
The power sources on which RV refrigerators operate; 120 AC is 120-volt alternating current (same as in your home in North America); 12 DC is 12-volt direct current (same as in motor vehicles); LP-gas is liquid propane gas. Some RV refrigerators can operate on two of the three sources, others on all three.
Adjustable Ball Mount
An adjustable ball mount allows the ball to be raised, lowered and tilted in small increments to allow fine tuning of the spring bar setup and to compensate for tow vehicle "squat," which occurs after the trailer coupler is lowered onto the ball.
Airbag
In RV terms, a sort of shock absorber positioned at the forward and rear axles of a motorhome.
Airstreaming
Using an Airstream travel trailer as RV of preference. Towing an Airstream travel trailer.
Alquilar una Autocaravana (Spanish)
Rent or hire a caravan / RV.
Anode Rod
The anode rod is usually an aluminum or magnesium rod placed in a gas water heater tank and is used to protect against corrosion of the tank. It is sometimes called a sacrificial anode since it dissolves slowly and sacrifices itself to protect the metal tank. As the anode reacts with substances in the water, it undergoes an electrochemical reaction and draws corrosion to itself rather than the glass lined steel tank. The anode rod should be inspected at least yearly.
Arctic Pack
Also spelled Arctic Pac and Arctic Pak, an optional kit to insulate RVs for winter camping. An RV that has been equipped with extra insulation and heat pads for holding tanks for wintertime use, also cooler in the hot climate areas.
Articulation Point
A joint between two objects which allows movement. In the case of RV's, an articulation point is where two vehicles are coupled together by a ball or fifth wheel hitch. When a truck is pulling a travel trailer or fifth wheel, a single articulation point exists. If a boat is towed behind the trailer then two articulation points exist.
Autocaravana (Spanish)
Caravan or Recreational Vehicle.
Auxiliary Battery
Extra battery to run 12-volt equipment.
Awning
A roof-like structure made of canvas or other artificial materials which extends from the RV body to provide shade. Awnings are generally placed over entrances. Some extend and stow manually while others are operated electrically.
Axle Ratio
The final drive gear ratio created by the relationship between the ring and pinion gears and the rotation of the drive shaft. In a 4.10:1 axle ratio, for example, the drive shaft will rotate 4.1 times for each rotation of the axle shaft (wheel).
Back-up Monitor
Video camera mounted on rear of motorhome to assist the driver visually with backing up the motorhome, via a monitor mounted in the driver's compartment or in a central area of the cab where it can be viewed by the driver from the driver's seat. These monitors are usually left in the 'on' position to also assist the driver with the flow of traffic behind the motorhome and in watching a "towed" vehicle.
Back In
A slot in an RV park with a single entrance, designed to be backed into with the RV.
Ball Mount
The part of the hitch system that supports the hitch ball and connects it to the trailer coupler. Ball mounts are available in load-carrying and weight-distributing configurations.
Basement
The storage compartment of RV's under the main living area. Basements are generally found on motor homes and fifth wheel trailers.
Basement Model
An RV that incorporates large storage areas underneath a raised chassis.
Batwing Antenna
TV antenna on the roof on an RV characterized by two horizontal elements. Batwing antennas are generally raised and rotated with a hand crank from inside the RV living compartment.
Black Tank
Holding tank connected to the toilet, designed to hold sewage until it can be dumped into a septic system.
Black Water
Waste (sewage) from the toilet that is flushed into a black water holding tank, usually located beneath the main floor of the RV.
Blind Back-In
When backing a trailer into a RV site situated on the passenger side of the RV. On this side it is much more difficult to see where you are backing.
Blueboy/Blue-Boy/Blue Boy
Term for portable waste holding tank, often this plastic tank comes in a bright shade of blue, hence the term.
Boondocking
Boondocking is camping far away from civilization without any facilities such as water or electricity; roughing it. In a more general sense it has come to mean camping or parking anywhere without facilities, relying strictly on the comforts provided by the RV. Many RVers refer to spending the night in an interstate rest area, shopping center parking lot, or truck stop, as boondocking.
Bowtie
Reference to Chevrolet because of the "bowtie" trademark.
Box
Reference to motorhome's "living space" on a class A, built from the chassis up.
Brake Actuator
a device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. Most Brake Actuators are based on a time delay, the more time the tow vehicle brakes are applied the "harder" the trailer brakes are applied.
Brake Controller
A control unit mounted inside the vehicle that allows electric trailer brakes to become activated in harmony with the braking of the tow vehicle. This device can be used to adjust trailer brake intensity, or to manually activate the trailer brakes.
Breakaway Switch
A safety device that activates the trailer brakes in the event the trailer becomes accidentally disconnected from the hitch while traveling.
BTU
British Thermal Unit - A measurement of heat that is the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F. RV air-conditioners and furnaces are BTU-rated.
Bubble
Loose term for defining a variety of conditions; such as when describing the level of RV sitting. (example: my RV is 'off-level' a half bubble; referring to a 'bubble-leveler' tool). Can also be used to describe a delamination condition.
Bumper-Pull
Slang term regarding the hitch or towing method for a conventional travel trailer or popup; receiver and ball-mount type hitch.
Bump Steer
A term used to describe a condition where the front axle feels to be rapidly bottoming out on the jounce bumpers and transferred back through the steering column and steering wheel. There can be several different causes to the problem with different cures for each condition. Sometimes a simple fix such as shocks or a steering stabilizer; sometimes more detailed corrections needed for correcting serious manufacturing oversights.
Bumper-Mount Hitch
This type of hitch is available in two configurations: A bracket with a ball mounted to the bumper or a ball is attached to the bumper (typically on pickup trucks). These hitches have very limited RV applications.
Bunkhouse
An RV area containing bunk beds instead of regular beds.
Bus Conversion
A passenger bus converted to an RV.
Cabcover
The part of a type C mini-motorhome that overlaps the top of the vehicle's cab, usually containing a sleeping or storage unit.
Camber - Wheel alignment
Camber is the number of degrees each wheel is off of vertical. Looking from the front, tops of wheels farther apart than bottoms means "positive camber". As the load pushes the front end down, or the springs get weak, camber would go from positive to none to negative (bottoms of wheels farther apart than tops).
Camper Shell
Removable unit to go over the bed of a pickup truck.
Caravan
A group of RVers traveling together with their various RVs. Large caravans often space RVs five minutes or so apart with CB radios used for communication between the various RVers. The end vehicle is sometimes called the "tailgunner" and is the occupants watch out for a caravan member that may have had road trouble in order to assist however possible.
Caravan or Camper (Europe)
This is a term that refers to the various types of RV's (Recreational Vehicles).
Cassette Toilet
Toilet with a small holding tank that can be removed from outside the vehicle in order to empty it.
Castor - Wheel alignment
The steering wheels' desire to return to center after you turn a corner.
CB Radio
Citizens Band radio is a general use, short distance, two-way radio primarily used by truckers. CB's are also helpful to RV drivers to call for help in an emergency and listen for driving conditions. Many CB's on the market today also have weather channels with alerting features.
Chassis Battery
Battery in motorhome for operating 12 volt components of drivetrain.
Chucking
A sometimes violent back and forth motion experienced during towing. It is usually caused by an unbalanced trailer, uneven roadway or an hitch incorrectly setup.
Class 'A' Motorhome
An RV with the living accommodations built on or as an integral part of a self-propelled motor vehicle. Models range from 24 to 40 feet long.
Class 'B' Motorhome
Also known as a camping van conversion. These RVs are built within the dimensions of a van, but with a raised roof to provide additional headroom. Basic living accommodations inside are ideal for short vacations or weekend trips. Models usually range from 16 to 21 feet.
Class 'C' Motorhome
An RV with the living accommodations built on a cutaway van chassis. A full-size bed in the cabover section allows for ample seating, galley and bathroom facilities in the coach. Also called a "mini-motorhome" or "mini." Lengths range from approximately 16 to 32 feet.
Coach
Another name for a motorhome, bus type or Class "A" RV.
Cockpit
The front of a motorized RV where the pilot (driver) and co-pilot (navigator) sit.
Condensation
Condensation is a result of warn moisture laden air contacting the cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels. Those added roof vent covers help to prevent cold air from dropping down through the vent while still allowing moist air to escape. Using the roof vent fan when showering or the stove vent fan when cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.
Converter
An electrical device for converting 120-volt AC power into 12-volt DC power. Most RVs with electrical hookups will have a converter, since many of the lights and some other accessories run on 12-vold DC.
Coupler
The part of a trailer A-frame that attaches to the hitch ball.
Crosswise
A piece of furniture arranged across the RV from side to side rather than front to rear.
Curbside
The side of the RV that would be at the curb when parked.
Curb Weight
The weight of a basic RV unit without fresh or waste water in the holding tanks but with automotive fluids such as fuel, oil, and radiator coolant.
Detonation
Also known as "knock" or "ping," this is a condition in which some of the unburned air/fuel in the combustion chamber explodes at the wrong time in the ignition cycle, increasing mechanical and thermal stress on the engine.
Diesel Puller
Term for front engine diesel motorhome.
Diesel Pusher
A motorhome with a rear diesel engine.
Dinette
Booth-like dining area. Table usually drops to convert unit into a bed at night.
Dinghy
A vehicle towed behind a motorhome, sometimes with two wheels on a special trailer called a tow dolly, but often with all four wheels on the ground.
Dry Camping
Camping without hooking up to modern utilities as such provided at most campgrounds: water, septic/sewer and electricity.
DSI Ignition - Direct Spark Ignition
This term refers to the method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters. There is now a version of stove tops that light the burners with a DSI ignition.
Dual Electrical System
RV equipped with lights, appliances which operate on 12-volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.
Dually
A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.
Ducted AC
Is air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV.
Ducted HEAT
Is warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor. (similar to house heating systems)
Dump Station
Usually a concrete pad with an inlet opening connected to an underground sewage system at a campground or other facility offering dumping service to RV travelers.
DW
Dry weight. The manufacturer's listing of the approximate weight of the RV with no supplies, water, fuel or passengers.
Engine Oil Cooler
A heat exchanger, similar to a small radiator, through which engine oil passes and is cooled by airflow.
Equalizing Hitch
A hitch that utilizes spring bars that are placed under tension to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axles. The hitch is also known as a weight-distributing hitch.
Exhaust Temperature Gauge
Gauge indicating engine exhaust gas temperature as measured by a probe inserted into the gas flow. Temperature is generally measured directly after the exhaust manifold or after the turbo. Useful in preventing engine overheating.
Fifth-Wheel Trailers
Fifth-wheel trailers are designed to be coupled to a special hitch that is mounted over the rear axle in the bed of a pickup truck. These trailers can have one, two or three axles and are the largest type of trailer built. Because of their special hitch requirements, fifth-wheel trailers can only be towed by trucks or specialized vehicles prepared for fifth-wheel trailer compatibility.
Filon
Fiberglass sheeting used in RVs with fiberglass sidewall construction. For additional info about fiberglass sidewalls visit http://www.filon.com.
Final Drive Ratio
The reduction ratio found in the gear set that is located farthest from the engine. This is the same as the axle ratio.
Fiver
Another name for fifth wheel.
Floodway (Australian)
Where water in a flood crosses the road.
FMCA
Abbreviation for Family Motor Coach Association.
For Hire (Europe)
This is the synonymous of "to rent" in the United States.
Frame-Mount Hitch
Class II and higher hitches are designed to be bolted to the vehicle frame or cross members. This type of hitch may have a permanent ball mount, or may have a square-tube receiver into which a removable hitch bar or shank is installed.
Fresh Water (Potable)
Water suitable for human consumption.
Full Hookup
Term for campground accommodations offering water, sewer/septic and electricity; also refers to a RV with the abilities to use 'full-hookups'.
Full-timing/Full-timers
Living in one's RV all year long. These RVers are known as full-timers.
Galley
The kitchen of an RV.
Gas Pusher
Slang for rear gasoline engine mounted chassis on motorhome.
GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating)
The manufacturer's rating for the maximum allowable weight that an axle is designed to carry. GAWR applies to tow vehicle, trailer, fifth-wheel and motorhome axles.
GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating)
The maximum allowable weight of the combination of tow vehicle and trailer/ fifth-wheel, or motorhome and dinghy. It includes the weight of the vehicle, trailer/fifth-wheel (or dinghy), cargo, passengers and a full load of fluids (fresh water, propane, fuel, etc.).
Gear Vendor
Brand name for an auxiliary transmission designed to give the driver control of the vehicle's gear ratio and being able to split gears for peak performance and at the same time have an overdrive.
Generator
An electrical device powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.
Genset
Abbreviation for generator set.
GTWR (Gross Trailer Weight Rating)
Maximum allowable weight of a trailer, fully loaded with cargo and fluids.
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
The total allowable weight of a vehicle, including passengers, cargo, fluids and hitch weight.
Gaucho
Sofa/dinette bench that converts into a sleeping unit; a term less used now than formerly.
Gooseneck
A trailer and hitch configuration connected to the tow truck directly above the rear axle by way of a standard ball hitch in the truck bed and a vertical, slender arm on front of the trailer. Gooseneck hitching is common on horse and utility trailers, but rarely found on RV's.
Gooseneck Adapter
A device that attaches to the fifth wheel trailer's king pin and extends down about two feet. It couples with a ball hitch mounted in the bed of a truck, enabling the fifth wheel to be towed like a gooseneck trailer.
Grade
The degree of inclination of a road. A grade of 6% or higher is considered steep.
Grey Water
Used water that drains from the kitchen and bathroom sinks and the shower into a holding tank, called a grey water holding tank, that is located under the main floor of the RV.
Half Ton
Truck rating originally conceived to indicate cargo carrying capacity of a half ton (1,000 lbs). Today, tonnage rating is no longer an accurate indication of cargo carrying capacity-it is more of a relational indication among trucks in different categories. Common one half ton pickup truck models are the Chevrolet 1500, Dodge 1500, Ford F-150, and GMC 1500.
Hard-sided
RV walls made of aluminum or other hard surface.
Heat Exchanger
A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in your furnace the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger that is sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger, where it is warmed and the blown through the ducting system for room heating. The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.
Heat Strip
A heat strip is an electric heating element located in the air conditioning system with the warm air distributed by the air conditioner fan and ducting system. They are typically 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer) and have limited function. Basically they "take the chill off".
Heavy Duty Truck
Commercial truck designed for heavy duty. Heavy trucks are suitable for towing the heaviest of trailers, though they are rarely used for RV towing. A few examples: semi trucks, Chevrolet Kodiak C8500, Ford F-750, GMC TopKick C8500.
High Profile
A fifth-wheel trailer with a higher-than-normal front to allow more than 6 feet of standing room inside the raised area.
Hitch
The fastening unit that joins a movable vehicle to the vehicle that pulls it.
Hitch Ratings
Hitches are rated by the manufacturer according to the maximum amount of weight they are engineered to handle. Class I travel trailer hitches are rated for towing as much as 2,000 pounds. Class II units are for loads up to 3,500 pounds. Class III has a rating of 7,500 pounds, and Class IV is for loads of up to 10,000 pounds. Class V hitches are designed for towing loads up to 14,000 pounds. These ratings based on class category may vary depending on the manufacturer. Fifth-wheel ratings range to 25,000 pounds. The weight rating refers to the total weight of the trailer/fifth-wheel, with freshwater tank full, propane tanks full, all supplies on-board and ready to travel.
Hitch Weight
The amount of weight imposed on the hitch when the trailer/fifth-wheel is coupled. Sometimes referred to as conventional trailer "tongue weight." Hitch weight for a travel trailer can be 10-15 percent of overall weight; fifth-wheel hitch weight is usually 15 to 20 percent of the overall weight.
Holding Tanks
Tanks that retain waste water when the RV unit is not connected to a sewer. The gray water tank holds wastewater from the sinks and shower; the black water tank holds sewage from the toilet.
Honey Wagon
Euphemism for the sewage pumping truck. Honey wagons are used to empty RV holding tanks in places where full hookups and dump stations are not available.
Hookups
The ability of connecting to a campground's facilities. The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer. If all three of these hookups are available, it is termed full hookup. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds.
HP
Abbreviation for "horse power". Is a unit of work equal to 33,000 foot pounds per minute, 550 foot pounds per second, or 746 Watts.
HR
Abbreviation for Holiday Rambler, a well-known RV manufacturer.
Hose Bib
The fresh water campground faucet.
House Battery
Battery or batteries in motorhome for operating the 12-volt system within the motorhome, separate from the chassis. They may be 12-volt batteries or 6-volt batteries configured for 12-volts (requiring 2, 4 or more).
Hula Skirt
Term used for a type of dirt skirt accessory some RVers use on the back of their motorhome to aid in the protection from debris thrown from their rear wheels to the vehicles directly behind them or being towed behind them. This dirt skirt is usually the length of the rear bumper and resembles a 'short' version of a Hawaiian 'hula-skirt', hence the term.
Inverter
A unit that changes 12-volt direct current to 110-volt alternating current to allow operation of computers, TV sets, and such when an RV is not hooked up to electricity.
Island Queen
A queen-sized bed with walking space on both sides.
Jackknife
90% angle obtained from turning/backing fifth wheel or travel trailer with tow vehicle. Jackknifing a short bed truck towing a fifth wheel without the use of a slider hitch or extended fifth wheel pin box can result in damage to the truck cab or breaking out the back window of the truck cab from the truck and fifth wheel "colliding".
King Pin
The pin by which a fifth wheel trailer attaches to the truck. It slides into the fifth wheel hitch and locks in place.
King Pin Weight
King Pin Weight (also called Pin Weight) is the actual weight pressing down on the fifth wheel hitch by the trailer. The recommended amount of King Pin Weight is 15%-25% of the GTW.
KOA
Kampgrounds of America, a franchise chain of RV parks in North America that offers camping facilities to vacationers and overnighters.
Laminate
A sandwich of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering, adhesive-bonded under pressure and/or heat to form the RV's walls, floor and/or roof.
Landing Gears
See Leveling Jack
Landing Legs
See Leveling Jack
Leveling Jack
A jack lowered from the underside of trailers and motor homes for the purpose of leveling the vehicle. A leveling jack is designed to bear a significant portion of the RV's weight, even lifting it off the ground on certain models.
Leveling
Positioning the RV in camp so it will be level, using ramps (also called levelers) placed under the wheels, built-in scissors jacks, or power leveling jacks.
Light Duty Truck
Personal truck designed for light duty, typically rated at one ton and below. Light trucks are suitable for towing small to medium trailers. A few examples: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, Dodge RAM 1500.
Limit Switch
Furnace safety switch, a normally closed switch that opens if it gets to hot, opening turns off power to the gas valve and igniter board.
Limited-Slip Differential
A differential that is designed with a mechanism that limits the speed and torque differences between its two outputs, ensuring that torque is distributed to both drive wheels, even when one is on a slippery surface.
Livability Packages
Items to equip a motorhome for daily living, which may be rented at nominal cost from rental firm, rather than brought from home. Include bed linens, pillows and blankets, bath towels, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, cutlery.
LP Gas
Propane; abbreviation for liquefied petroleum gas, which is a gas liquefied by compression, consisting of flammable hydrocarbons and obtained as a by-product from the refining of petroleum or natural gas. Also called bottled gas, LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and CPG (compressed petroleum gas). LPG is heavier than air in gas form and about half the weight of water in liquid form.
Lug Nut
Nuts that keep your wheels on. It is important to make sure they are torqued (tightened) to the proper amount of foot pounds regularly.
Macerator
A device that attaches to the sewer outlet on the RV. It has a small pump inside and usually cutting blades to chew up the solid waste and then pump it down a smaller than normal sewer hose (garden hose). One advantage of this is the waste can be pumped up hill.
MDT
See Medium Duty Truck
Medium Duty Truck
Commercial truck designed for medium duty, typically rated above one ton. Medium duty trucks are built with heavier frames, brakes, and transmission compared to light trucks. A few examples: Chevrolet Kodiak C4500, Ford F-450/F-550, International 4200.
MH
Abbreviation for "motorhome".
Minnie Winnie
A brand model of Winnebago.
Motorcoach
Term for motorhome on "bus-type" chassis.
NADA
Abbreviation for National Automotive Dealer's Association.
NCC (Net Carrying Capacity)
Maximum weight of all passengers (if applicable), personal belongings, food, fresh water, supplies -- derived by subtracting the UVW from the GVWR.
Nonpotable Water
Water not suitable for human consumption.
OEM
Abbreviation for "original equipment manufacturer".
Overtake
Refers to passing another vehicle on a roadway.
Park Model
Type of RV that is usually designed for permanent parking but is shorter in length than a traditional mobile home. All the amenities of a mobile home but not built for recreational travel.
Part-timers
People who use their RV for longer than normal vacation time but less than one year.
Patio Mat
Carpet or woven mat for use on ground outside of RV. Used whether or not a concrete patio pad is available where camping.
Payload Capacity
The maximum allowable weight that can be placed in or on a vehicle, including cargo, passengers, fluids and fifth-wheel or conventional hitch loads.
Pilot
A pilot is a small standby flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat. Pilots can be used in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.
Pin Weight (also called King Pin Weight) is the actual weight pressing down on the fifth wheel hitch by the trailer. The recommended amount of King Pin Weight is 15%-25% of the GTW.
Pitch-in
Term for a RV campground "get-together", usually means "pitching-in" a covered dish or casserole.
PO
Abbreviation for "pop-up" camper.
Pop-out
Term for room or area that 'pops-out' for additional living space in RV. This type of expanded living area was more common before the technology of slide-out rooms became popular and available.
Popup/Pop-Up
Folding camping trailer.
Porpoising
A term used to define an up and down motion with a RV.
Potable Water
Water suitable for human consumption.
Pressure Regulator
See Water Pressure Regulator
Primitive Camping
Also known as "dry camping", boondocking. Camping without the modern convenience of full-hookup facilities of city/well water, sewer/septic and electricity. Primitive campers rely on 'on-board' systems for these conveniences; generator, batteries, stored water, etc.
Propane
LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration. Also called bottle gas, for manner in which it is sold and stored.
PSL (Australian)
Prevailing Speed Limit.
Puller
Slang for front engine motorhome. Term most often used to refer to front mounted diesel engine motorhomes.
Pusher
Slang for rear engine motorhome. Term most often used to refer to diesel engine motorhomes.
Pull-through
A campsite that allows the driver to pull into the site to park, then pull out the other side when leaving, without ever having to back up.
Rear Differential
A set of gears found in the rear axle of vehicles, designed to distribute drive shaft power to the two wheels. It applies power to both wheels while allowing each to spin at different rates during cornering.
Reefer
Slang for "refrigerator". Refrigerators are often found in either a "two way" or "three way" operating mode. Two way: has a gas mode and an AC mode. Three way: has a gas mode, AC mode, and 12v DC mode. The coolant used in RV refrigeration is ammonia. The two most common manufacturers of RV refrigerators are Norcold and Dometic.
Receiver
The portion of a hitch that permits a hitch bar or shank to be inserted. The receiver may be either 11/2-, 15/8- or 2-inch square; the smallest being termed a mini-hitch.
Recreational Vehicle
Vehicle or trailer with living accommodations used for traveling and recreational activities.
RIG
What many RVers call their units.
Road Train (Australian)
Like a semi-trailer, only longer, much longer! They are common in the Australian outback, a prime mover with as many as five or more trailers. The road train is designed to haul 150 tonnes and can be 160 meters in length.
Road Wander
Term used to describe a lack of ability to maintain the motorhome in a straight, forward travel without constant back and forth motion of the steering wheel.
Roof Air Conditioning
Air conditioning unit mounted on roof of RV, to cool the RV when it is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by separate air conditioning units which are components of the engine, or they may be cooled by a roof top if a proper size generator is installed.
RV
Short for Recreation Vehicle, a generic term for all pleasure vehicles which contain living accommodations. Multiple units are RVs and persons using them are RVers.
RVCG
Abbreviation for the RV Consumer Group organization.
RVDA
Abbreviation for Recreational Vehicle Dealer's Association.
RVIA
Abbreviation for Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.
Safety Chains
A set of chains that are attached to the trailer A-frame and must be connected to the tow vehicle while towing. Safety chains are intended to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of hitch failure, preventing the trailer from complete separation. They should be installed using an X-pattern, so the coupler is held off the road in the event of a separation.
Sani Dump Station (Sani-Dump)
Usually a concrete pad with an inlet opening connected to an underground sewage system at a campground or other facility offering dumping service to RV travelers. In USA it is often called an RV Dump Station while in Australia it is called a Dump Point.
Screen room
Term for screen enclosure that attaches to the exterior of a RV for a "bug free" outside sitting area. Some screen rooms have a canvas type roof for rain protection as well.
Self-contained
An RV that needs no external connections to provide short-term cooking, bathing, and heating functions and could park overnight anywhere.
Sewer Donut
Small round rubber ring used to make a tight seal between your sewer hose and the campgrounds sewer hole. In some regions (states/provinces) they are mandatory.
Shank
Also called a hitch bar or stinger, the shank is a removable portion of the hitch system that carries the ball or adjustable ball mount, and slides into the receiver.
Shore Cord
The external electrical cord that connects the vehicle to a campground electrical hookup.
Shore Power
Electricity provided to the RV by an external source other than the RV battery.
Sideout
A unit that slides open when the RV is parked to expand the living area.
Slide-in
Term for a type of camper that mounts on a truck bed, because often this type of camper "slides-in" to the truck bed.
Slide-out
Additional living space that "slides-out" either by hydraulics, electricity or manually, when the RV is setup for camping.
Slider
Slang for slider-hitch.
Slider-hitch
Referring to a sliding hitch used on short bed trucks for enabling them to tow fifth wheels, allowing them sufficient clearance to jack-knife the trailer.
Snowbird
Term for someone in a northern climate that heads/migrates "south" in winter months.
Soft-sides
Telescoping side panels on an RV that can be raised or lowered, usually constructed of canvas or vinyl and mesh netting.
Solar Panel
Device containing an array of solar cells which convert sunlight to electricity. Typically mounted on the roof of RV's and used for charging the batteries.
Spring Bar
Component parts of a weight-distributing hitch system, the spring bars are installed and tensioned in such a manner as to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle and to the axles of the trailer.
Sport Utility Trailer
See Toy Hauler.
Stabilizing Jack
A jack inserted under or lowered from trailers and motor homes for the purpose of stabilizing the vehicle. A stabilizing jack is not designed to bear a significant portion of the RV's weight, only a small amount to reduce movement during occupancy. Stabilizing jacks are generally found toward the back of trailers, under the king pin of fifth wheels, and under some slides.
Starting Battery
See Chassis Battery.
Sticks N Bricks
What (Fulltime) RVers call a regular type of house.
Stinky Slinky
Slang for the sewer hose, constructed from a spiral wire covered with vinyl. One end attaches to the RV piping and the other into the local sewer dump facilities.
Stinger
See shank.
Streetside
The part of the vehicle on the street side when parked.
Sway
Fishtailing action of the trailer caused by external forces that set the trailer's mass into a lateral (side-to-side) motion. The trailer's wheels serve as the axis or pivot point. Also known as "yaw."
Sway Control
Devices designed to damp the swaying action of a trailer, either through a friction system or a "cam action" system that slows and absorbs the pivotal articulating action between tow vehicle and trailer.
Tailgunner
The end RV or vehicle in a caravan.
Tail Swing
Motorhomes built on chassis with short wheelbases and long overhangs behind the rear axle are susceptible to tail swing when turning sharply. As the motorhome moves in reverse or turns a corner, the extreme rear of the coach can move horizontally and strike objects nearby (typically road signs and walls). Drivers need to be aware of the amount of tail swing in order to prevent accidents.
Telescoping
Compacting from front to back and/or top to bottom to make the living unit smaller for towing and storage.
Three Quarter (3/4) Ton
Truck rating originally conceived to indicate cargo carrying capacity of three quarter tons (1,500 lbs). Today, tonnage rating is no longer an accurate indication of cargo carrying capacity-it is more of a relational indication among trucks in different categories. Common three quarter ton pickup truck models are the Chevrolet 2500, Dodge 2500, Ford F-250, and GMC 2500.
Thermocouple
A thermocouple is a device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame is extinguished the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner.
Three-way refrigerators
Appliances that can operate on a 12-volt battery, propane, or 110-volt electrical power.
Tip-out
Term for room (generally in older RVs or smaller trailers) that "tipped-out" for additional living space once RV was parked. Newer larger RVs mainly use 'slide-out' rooms.
Toad
Term for a "towed" vehicle. Use to describe the small vehicle (sometimes a large vehicle) you see being towed behind a large RV. Sometimes referred to as a 'dingy.
Toe - Wheel Alignment
Toe is the measure of whether the front of the wheels (looking down from the top) are closer (toe-in) or farther (toe-out) than the back of the wheels.
Tongue Jack
A jack lowered from the frame of a travel trailer, directly behind the tongue, for the purpose of leveling the trailer. A tongue jack is designed to bear a significant portion of the trailer's weight, called the Tongue Weight (10% - 15% recommended).
Tongue Weight
Tongue Weight (also called Tongue Load) is the actual weight pressing down on the hitch ball by the trailer. The recommended amount of Tongue Weight is 10%-15% of the GTW. See hitch weight.
Touring Houses (United Kingdom)
This is the name people in the United Kingdom give to USA Trailer Houses.
Tow Bar
A device used for connecting a dinghy vehicle to the motorhome when it's towed with all four wheels on the ground.
Towcar
A car towed by an RV to be used as transportation when the RV is parked in a campground.
Tow Rating
The manufacturer's rating of the maximum weight limit that can safely be towed by a particular vehicle. Tow ratings are related to overall trailer weight, not trailer size, in most cases. However, some tow ratings impose limits as to frontal area of the trailer and overall length. The vehicle manufacturer according to several criteria, including engine size, transmission, axle ratio, brakes, chassis, cooling systems and other special equipment, determines tow ratings.
Toy-hauler
Term for fifth wheel, travel trailer or motorhome with built-in interior cargo space for motorcycles, bikes, etc. The term toy hauler describes an RV designed to carry toys-small cars, dune buggies, four wheelers, motorcycles, etc. Distinguishing features of a toy hauler is the large door in the back which opens down to create a ramp, dedicated garage area or fold-away furniture in the main living compartment, and often a third axle to support the heavy toys.
Trailer Brakes
Brakes that are built into the trailer axle systems and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism. The overwhelming majority of RVs utilize electric trailer brakes that are actuated when the tow vehicle's brakes are operated, or when a brake controller is manually activated. Surge brakes utilize a mechanism that is positioned at the coupler, that detects when the tow vehicle is slowing or stopping, and activates the trailer brakes via a hydraulic system (typically used on boats).
Transmission Cooler
A heat exchanger similar to a small radiator through which automatic transmission fluid passes and is cooled by airflow.
Travel Trailer
Also referred to as "conventional trailers," these types of rigs have an A-frame and coupler and are attached to a ball mount on the tow vehicle. Travel trailers are available with one, two or three axles. Depending upon tow ratings, conventional trailers can be towed by trucks, cars or sport-utility vehicles.
Triple towing
Term for three vehicles attached together. Usually a tow vehicle pulling a fifth wheel and the fifth wheel pulling a boat.
TV
Abbreviation for "tow vehicle".
Umbilical Cord
The wiring harness that connects the tow vehicle to the trailer, supplying electricity to the trailer's clearance and brake lights, electric brakes and a 12-volt DC power line to charge the trailer's batteries. An umbilical cord can also be the power cable that is used to connect to campground 120-volt AC electrical hookups.
Underbelly
The RV's under floor surface, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.
UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight)
Weight of the vehicle without manufacturer's or dealer-installed options and before adding fuel, water or supplies.
UTQGL (Uniform Tire Quality Grade Labeling)
A program that is directed by the government to provide consumers with information about three characteristics of the tire: tread wear, traction and temperature. Following government prescribed test procedures, tire manufacturers perform their own evaluations for these characteristics. Each manufacturer then labels the tire, according to grade.
Wagonmaster
A leader, either hired or chosen, who guides a caravan of recreational vehicles on a trip. The wagonmaster usually makes advance reservations for campgrounds, shows, cruises, sightseeing and group meals.
Wally World/Wallydock
Slang term used by RVers to describe a Wal-Mart or overnighting on the Walmart Parking lot in your RV.
Water Pressure Regulator
Device installed on water hose attached to city water to limit the water pressure entering the RV. Most regulators limit water pressure to 40-45 psi.
Weekender's
People who own their RV's for weekend and vacation use.
Weight-Carrying Hitch
Also known as a "dead-weight" hitch, this category includes any system that accepts the entire hitch weight of the trailer. In the strictest sense, even a weight-distributing hitch can act as a load-carrying hitch if the spring bars are not installed and placed under tension.
Weight-Distributing Hitch
Also known as an "equalizing" hitch, this category includes hitch systems that utilize spring bars that can be placed under tension to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axles.
Wet Weight
Term used by RVers to describe the weight of a RV with all storage and holding tanks full. i.e., water, propane, etc.
Weights
GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating. The maximum allowable weight each axle is designed to carry, as measured at the tires, therefore including the weight of the axle assembly itself. GAWR is established by considering the ratio of each of its components (tires, wheels, springs, and axle) and rating the axle on its weakest link. The GAWR assumes that the load is equal on each side.
GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating. The maximum allowable combined weight of the tow vehicle and the attached towed vehicle. GCWR assumes both vehicles have functioning brakes, with exceptions in some cases for very light towed vehicles, normally less than 1,500 pounds. (check your chassis manual or towing guide).
GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded vehicle, including liquids, passengers, cargo, and tongue weight of any towed vehicle.
NCC: Net Carrying Capacity. The maximum weight of all personal belongings, occupants, food, fresh water, LP gas, tools, dealer installed accessories, etc., that can be carried by the RV. (Technically, the GVWR less the UVW equals the NCC.)
Payload Capacity: The maximum allowed weight that can be in or on a vehicle, including all cargo and accessories, fuel freshwater, propane, passengers and hitch loads.
UVW: Unloaded Vehicle Weight. The weight of a vehicle as built at the factory with full fuel, engine (generator) oil and coolants. It does not include cargo, fresh water, LP gas, occupants, or dealer installed accessories.
  • Water (weight): 8.3 lbs. per US gallon
  • LP gas (weight): 4.5 lbs. per US gallon
  • Driver (estimated weight): 200 lbs.
  • Passenger (estimated weight): 130 lbs.
  • Gasoline: weighs 6.3 pounds per US gallon
  • Diesel fuel: weighs 6.6 pounds per US gallon
  • Propane: weighs 4.25 pounds per US gallon
Wheel Chocks
Slanted blocks, usually made of plastic material but sometimes wood, used to prevent the RV from rolling when parked.
Wheelbase
Distance between center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle. If a motorhome includes a tag axle, the distance is measured from the front axle to the center point between the drive and tag axles.
Widebody
Designs that stretch RVs from the traditional 96-inch width to 100 or 102 inches.
WiFi
See Wireless Internet.
Wireless Internet
Technology that enables computers equipped with wireless network cards (also called WiFi) to connect to the Internet without requiring wired connections such as phone lines or cables. This service generally requires an additional fee and a sing-up process.
Winnie
Nickname for Winnebago, a well-known RV manufacturer.
Winterize
To prepare the RV for winter use or storage. The process of introducing non-toxic antifreeze into the water lines of an RV for winter storage to prevent freezing and line breaks.
Work Camper/Workamping
A person living in an RV and working. Many spell it as "workamper" after the web site and service by that name.
Yaw
Fishtailing action of the trailer caused by external forces that set the trailer's mass into a lateral (side-to-side) motion. The trailer's wheels serve as the axis or pivot point. Also known as "sway."
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