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RV Lingo

Dictionary of RV Terms

RV Types, Terms & Prices

Recreation Vehicle (RV)
A motorized or towable vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation andcamping. RVs do not include mobile homes, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and conversion vehicles. RVs are sold byrecreation vehicle dealers.

Towable RVs

Designed to be towed by family car, van or pickup truck. Can be unhitched and left at the campsite while you explore in your auto.

TRAVEL TRAILERS

Conventional Travel Trailer

  • Wide range of floor plans and sizes
  • Affordable homelike amenities
  • Sleep up to 10
  • Typically $8,000 to $65,000 new

Fifth-Wheel Travel Trailers

  • Spacious two-level floor plans
  • Towed with a pickup truck
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $13,000 to $100,000 new

Travel Trailers with Expandable Ends

  • Ends pull out for roomy sleeping
  • Lightweight towing
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $4,000 to $13,000 new

FOLDING CAMPING TRAILERS

  • Fold for lightweight towing
  • Fresh-air experience with RV comfort
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $4,000 to $13,000 new

TRUCK CAMPERS

  • Mount on pickup bed or chassis
  • Go wherever your truck can go
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $4,000 to $26,000 new

Motorized RVs

Living quarters are accessible from the driver’s area in one convenient unit.

MOTORHOMES

Type A Motorhomes

  • Generally roomiest of all RVs
  • Luxurious amenities
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $58,000 to $400,000 new

Type B Motorhomes

  • Commonly called van campers
  • Drive like the family van
  • Sleep up to four
  • Typically $41,000 to $74,000 new

Type C Motorhomes

  • Similar amenities to Type As
  • Optional sleeping space over the cab
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $48,000 to $140,000 new

Sport Utility RVs

Available motorized and towable (as travel trailers or fifth-wheels).

  • Built-in “garage” for hauling cycles, ATVs, and other sports equipment
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $21,000 to $58,000 New

Conversion Vehicles

Van, Pickup Truck and Sport-Utility Conversions

Conversion vehicles are manufactured by an auto maker, then modified for added comfort and recreation use by a company specializing in customized vehicles. These changes may include windows, carpeting, paneling, seats, sofas and accessories. Ideal as RV tow vehicles, conversion vehicles are sold by auto dealers rather than by RV dealers. Typically $27,500 to $60,000 new.

Dictionary of RV Terms

Arctic Package
A feature on an RV that adds additional insulation and heat pads/strips for the holding tanks and water lines, to enable the RV to be used in cold weather.

Axle Ratio
The ratio between the pinion and ring gears in the differentials that multiply the torque provided by the engine. It is the number of driveline revolutions required to turn the axle one time. As an example, with a 4.10:1 axle the driveline turns 4.1 times for each full axle revolution. The higher the number, the more torque and thus more towing power. However, the higher the number the slower your vehicle speed.

Backup Monitor
A camera in the back of a motorhome, with the monitor positioned somewhere on the dashboard for the drive, to aid in backing up the motorhome. It is also used while driving to see the traffic behind and to keep an eye on your towed vehicle

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 area below the floor of the RV, which is accessible from the outside. Basement storage usually refers to storage in a Class-A or Class-C motorhome.

Boon docking
Also known as dry camping, boon docking refers to camping without any hook-ups, namely camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities. You can still have electric from your RV batteries and water from your freshwater holding tank.

Black (Water) Tank
The Holding tank that holds all water and waste that goes through the toilet.

Brake Controller
A control unit mounted inside the vehicle that allows the electric brakes on the trailer to become activated in harmony with the braking of the tow vehicle. The controller can also be used to manually activate the trailer brakes.

Break-Away System
A system designed to automatically lock the trailer brakes in the event of a hitch failure, where the trailer may break away from the tow vehicle.

Bump Out
Another term for slide out.

British thermal unit (BTU)
A measurement of heat that refers to the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree F. (Fahrenheit). RV conditioners and furnaces are BTU-rated.

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-volt DC

Coupler
The part of the trailer that attaches to the ball of the hitch.

Delam
A shorten word for delaminating. Delaminating is a condition found on a fiberglass RV where the fiberglass skin of the RV separates from the body of the RV. This is usually the result of an undetected water leak, which over time, causes the luan backer that the fiberglass is bonded with to rot. When this backer rots, there is nothing to hold the fiberglass to the body of the RV and this is where you will notice the delam bubbles on the outside walls of the RV.

Diesel Puller
The term for a motorhome with the diesel engine mounted in the front of the vehicle. Also known simply as a Puller.

Diesel Pusher
The term for a motorhome with the diesel engine mounted in the rear of the vehicle. Also known simply as a Pusher.

Dinghy
The term for a vehicle that you are towing with your motorhome. It is also known as a Toad.

Dry Camping
Also known as boon docking, dry camping refers to camping without any hook-ups. It is namely camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities. You can still have electric from your RV batteries and water from your freshwater holding tank.

Dry Weight
The weight of the RV without any fuel, freshwater, propane or passengers.

DSI
Direct Spark Ignition. Usually found on hot water heaters. DSI means that the gas pilot does not have to be manually lit with a match or lighter. The gas pilot is lit by an electric spark which is activated by the push of a button.

Dually
A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.

Dump Station
A facility for dumping or emptying your black water and gray water holding tanks.

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. This hitch is also known as a weight distributing hitch.

Fiver
Another name for a fifth-wheel RV

FMCA
Family Motor Coach Association

Fresh (Water) Tank
The holding tank that can store all of the fresh water that will be used in the sinks, shower and toilet while dry camping.

Full Hookup
The ability to connect to all three of the campground’s facilities; electric, water and sewer.

Full-Timers/Full-Timing
The term used for people who live in their RV fulltime, or at least the vast majority of their time.

GCW
Gross combined weight. Actual total weight of motorhome/tow vehicle + full tank of fuel, full holding tanks, full LPG tanks + cargo weight + passenger weight + the loaded weight of dinghy or trailer (or anything else being towed).

GCCWR
Gross combined chassis weight rating. This is the chassis manufacturers’ maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded motorhome (see GVW) + the loaded weight of anything being towed by the motorhome (this equals the GCW). Please note that the GCW must never exceed the GCCWR of the motorhome.

Gel Coat
A finish that is applied to fiberglass. A gel coat finish will give the fiberglass a shiny almost mirror like appearance. With gel coat you will not be able to see the fibers of the fiberglass. Gel coat finished fiberglass is more expensive that traditional filon fiberglass but has a fancier appearance while protecting against fading of the fiberglass.

Generator
An electrical device powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, sometime by propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

Genset
An abbreviation for generator set.

Glass
Slang term for fiberglass.

Gray (Water) Tank
The holding tank that is responsible for storing all the water and waste that go through all the sink and the shower drains.

GVW
Gross vehicle weight. Actual total weight of motorhome/trailer + full tank of fuel, full holding tanks, full LPG tanks + cargo weight + passenger weight.

GVWR
The maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded motorhome or trailer including passengers as stated by the manufacturer. Please note that the GVW must never exceed the GVWR.

Heavy Duty Wiring
Term used for wiring a brake controller into a vehicle.

Hitch Rating
The weight, assigned by the manufacturer, that the hitch is designed to handle.

Hitch Weight
The amount of a trailer’s weight that rests on the tow vehicle’s hitch. For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer. For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

Holding Tanks
There are three different holding tanks on most RVs: fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank. See a detailed description of each of these tanks elsewhere in this list.

Honey Wagon
Slang term for a septic truck or portable black water tank.

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 are available, it is called full hookups. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV.

Hula Skirt
A skirt placed on the back bumper of a motorhome to stop debris that is thrown from the rear wheels from damaging vehicles behind the motorhome, either the vehicle you are towing or other vehicles behind the motorhome.

Inverter
An electrical device for converting 12-volt DC power into 120-volt AC power.

Jack Knife Sofa
Term used for an RV sofa which unfolds (jack knifes) to where the seat and backrest of the sofa are used for a bed.

PDI
Pre-delivery Inspection. Most RV dealers will perform a PDI on new RVs before they are delivered to the customers.

Slider
The slang term for a slider-hitch.

Slider Hitch
A sliding hitch used on short bed pickup trucks to enable them to tow fifth wheel trailers. It allows them sufficient clearance to make turns without having the trailer hit the cab of the truck.

Stab Jacks
Slang term for stabilizer jacks.

Stick & Tin
Slang term for RVs that are manufactured with wood frames and aluminum skins.

Tip-out
The term used for an area or room in an RV that manually tips out for additional living space. The tip-out was generally used in older RVs. Newer RVs mainly use a slide-out.

Toad
The term for a vehicle that you are towing with your motorhome. It is also known as a Dinghy.

Tow Bar
A bar used for connecting a towed vehicle to the motorhome for towing with all four wheels on the ground.

Trailer brakes
Brakes that are built into the trailer and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism.

Transmission Cooler
A heat exchanger similar to a small radiator through which automatic transmission fluid passes and is cooled.

Triple Towing
The term used for three vehicles attached together, usually a tow vehicle pulling two separate trailers. A typical configuration might be a tow vehicle pulling a travel trailer with a boat behind that.

UVW
Unloaded vehicle weight. The weight of the RV without cargo, passengers, fuel, empty holding tanks and empty LPG tanks. Also known as dry weight.

Weight Carrying Hitch
A hitch designed to accept the entire hitch weight of the trailer. This hitch is also known as a dead weight hitch.

Weight Distributing 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. This hitch is also known as an equalizing hitch.

Wet Weight
The weight of the RV with the fuel, freshwater and propane tanks full.

Wide Body
The term for an RV exceeding the normal eight feet width. Wide bodies are usually 102” (8’6”) wide.