Glossary A-Z of Motorhome Terms

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240AC/12DC/LP Gas

The power sources on which 3-way refrigerators operate; 240 volt alternating current (same as in houses); 12DC is 12 volt direct current (same as motor vehicles). Some motorhome/RV refrigerators can operate on two or three sources, others operate on all three.


5th Wheel

A cross between an American RV and a caravan - the caravan is pulled by a dedicated pickup with a special towing coupling (or wheel), the caravan is similar to the living section of an American RV, and may feature slide-outs to give increased space. The towing vehicle can be decoupled and used independantly of the 5th wheel caravan.


A Frame Towing

Separate framework used to tow a (small) car behind a motorhome. Not considered completely legal in either the UK or Europe, something of a gray area.



May refer to the 'anti-lock braking system' on motor vehicles, but can also mean 'acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene', which is a type of plastic sometimes used for exterior body panels on motorhomes and caravans.


Accord technique

A system used by Renault to indicate that a motorhome has met its requirements for manufacture procedure.



A motorhome built on a base vehicle from the chassis up. The ultimate motorhome with all its bodywork designed and built by the motorhome manufacturer for a totally integrated look. Usually with an easy-to-use drop-down bed in the cab, larger models will also have a fixed bed at the rear. Many makes/model priced at well over £50,000, and some at more than double that figure. Wide cabs with huge windscreens give a fantastic feeling of space.

Related Words  C-ClassHigh top

Agreed value

If you have added lots of accessories or worked hard on major modifications to your motorhome, you may wish to have the insured value of your vehicle reflect it's true worth.  Insurance can include an Agreed Value upon request at no additional cost on most motorhomes


Air Conditioning

Whilst a motorised fan can be helpful on a sunny day, an air-conditioning system brings particular benefits to the traveler in hot regions. There are two types of air conditioners: Water evaporative units and Refrigeration units.


Air Rides

Proprietary name for spring assists fitted to the rear axle, intended to improve handling characteristics of the motorhome


Aire De Service

Term used to describe indepependant motorhome service points which usually have the following facilities:- CDP, Fresh Water tap, Mains hookup. Found often in France


Aires bollard

facility where a motor caravan can fill the water tank, and empty waste water and toile.



Chassis extension used to increase improve length, payload and handling of coachbuilt motorhomes.


Alu Step Pro

Step for caravans and motorhomes with folding legs for easy storage, has large anti-skid surface.



A framed tent structure which can be attached to a motorhome and left as a free-standing unit in its own right if you drive away.


Approved repairer

 repairer we have approved and authorised to repair your motorhome following a claim.



A proprietary design of fresh water container. Basically a barrel with a handle to allow it to be pulled along the ground, rather than needing to be carried. Often used as a generic term for such devices


Artic Package

An RV that has been equipped with extra insulation and heat pads for holding tanks for wintertime use.



Like a large blind, awnings usually wind out from 'cassettes' fitted to the side of a motorhome


Awning Carpet

A term used to describe the groundsheet in an awning usually referred to those which are porous, and hence less damaging to the underlying grass


Awning Rail

The slot around the periphery of the caravan side into which the awning is threaded to provide its main attachment to the body.



The ratio between the pinion and ring gears in the differential that multiply the torque provided by the engine. It is the number of drive line revolutions required to turn the axle one time. As an example, with a 4.10:1 axle the drive line 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 also means less speed.


Back In

A slot in an RV park with a single entrance, designed to be backed into with the RV.


Base vehicle

The vehicle - usually either a panel van or a chassis cab - that provides the base for a motorhome conversion. Leading base vehicle suppliers include Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen



A common term for a series of low-level exterior-access lockers on a American RV motorhomes.


Battery Charger

Required to keep a leisure battery charged. Most motorhomes include a charging facility which operates from/via the mains hook-up, and slso have the ability to recharge from the motorcaravan's or towcar's alternator while traveling. Less commonly, solar panels, portable generators or even small windmills are used to provide power fpr recharging.


Batwing Antenna

TV antenna on the roof of  RV is characterized by two horizontal elements. Batwing antennas are generally raised and rotated with a hand crank from inside the RV living compartment



Refers to the number of people a caravan or motorcaravan can accommodate for sleeping.


Bi - Pot

Bi- Pot is a simple, strong self-contained fresh water flush portable toilet. A very simple system that is both strong and easy to clean. A quality motorhome product.


Black Water

Water from a toilet system held in an onboard holding tank until a means of disposal is available


Blown air heating

A method of heating the living quarters of a motorhome. Common trade names are Carver, Truma and Propex.



 boondocking is camping far away from civilization without  facilities such as water or electricity; roughing it. In a  general sense it  means 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.


Brake Actuator

A device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. Most Brake Actuators a based on a time delay, the more time the tow vehicle brakes are applied the "harder" the trailer brakes are applied.


Brake Controller

a device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. The Brake Controller senses the amount of braking force of the tow vehicle and applied a proportional force to the trailer braking system.


Brake Controller

Electronic device mounted in the tow vehicle to control the trailer brakes.  connected to the tow vehicle brake system to sense when braking needs to be applied to the trailer. It has a lever for manually engaging the trailer brakes


Breakaway Switch

A safety device that activates the trailer brakes in the event a trailer becomes accidentally disconnected from its hitch while traveling.


Break-away System

Referring to a system that allows the "towed vehicle" to break-away from the towing vehicle in the event of an accident, an add-on safety feature.


British thermal unit (Btu):

The quantity of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Air conditioners and furnaces are rated in Btus.



A sleeping place, usually higher up than a conventional bed. Often (but not always) this can be folded or removed to provide additional living space



A brand of motorhome, see our manufacturer links



A personnel carrier but commonly used term for all Splitties or Bays campervans



Gas usually in blue bottles. Most commonly used by UK motorcaravanners, although many switch to propane in severely cold weather conditions.



refer to one of two things: 1) a Class C motor home, or 2) the sleeping area  over the cab in Class C motor homes and truck campers.


Cab-over bed

sleeping area that spans the driver’s and passenger’s seats in many coachbuilt motorhomes. Can be used for storage when not in use.



The main supplier of propane (red) gas cylinders and significant seller of butane (blue) gas.


Camber - Wheel alignment

Camber  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).



A term usually used for 'van conversions, either with a fixed roof, elevating roof or a High-top.



Trade name of Butane gas supplier.


Captains chairs

The drivers and passengers seats at the front, or cockpit, of a motorhome. The chairs often swivel to face the living area.


Caravan Holiday Home

 a caravan holiday home as a form of caravan which is transportable, but which does not meet the requirements for construction and use of road vehicles, and which cannot be towed on public roads. A caravan holiday home is based on a registered site with service connections. This also refers to caravan holiday homes as static caravans.



An old brand name often used erroneously today as a generic term for a motorcaravan.


Carbon monoxide

Odourless toxic gas


Carbon monoxide/CO alarm

Device used to detect carbon monoxide



Chemical toilet


Cassette Blind

roller blind which fitted as part of the window assembly, often along with a flyscreen, may operate in tandem (one behind the other) or in push-pull (blind one way insect screen the other way)



(Wheel alignment): A steering wheel's tendency to return to dead center after the driver turns a corner



Camping Club



Camping and Caravanning Club.



C-Class or Coachbuilt, a motorhome construction style.

Related Words  A-Class


Chemical Disposal Point, a drainage area used for the disposal of toilet waste (Black water



Chemical Disposal Point, a drainage area used for the disposal of toilet waste (Black water).


Chassis cab

A combined chassis and cab from a commercial vehicle manufacturer, on which many coachbuilt motorhomes are built


Chemical toilet

Most modern motorhomes have them, with more upmarket models having a fully plumbed-in flushing version. Brand leader here is Thetford who have the Cassette model with its own removable holding tank plus, more recently, a swivel-bowl version


Chock level

The chock is optional, but is used with Level Up to secure the wheels of a motorhome during long stopovers.


Citroen Berlingo

Front wheel drive. Panal van, platform cab, Multi-space estate. 1.4 petrol (75bhp), 2.0-litre common-rail turbo diesel (90bph).  Five speed manual gearbox.


Citroen Relay

Front-wheel drive. Panal van, All common-rail turbo-diesels. 2.2- litre (100 and 120bhp, 3.0 litre  (157bhp). Five and six-speed manual gearboxes. various payloads/wheelbases.



Certificated Location, small sites which are often on farms. Limited to 5 caravans or motorhomes, open to CC members only.


Class A Motorhome

An American 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

Class B

Class B Motor Home


A motor home created from a mini van. Most models have raised roofs, but otherwise the living space is constrained by the dimensions of the van.


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.



Sometimes referred to as C-class, this is the type of motorcaravan conversion built on a chassis cab.



May refer to a conversion of a passenger bus or van to a home on wheels



The driver/passenger area in the front of the motorhome, where many of the motorhome's system and instrument controls are located.


cockpit(aka CAB):

The driver/passenger area in the front of the motorhome, where many of the motorhome's system and instrument controls are located.


cold cranking amperes (cca):

The number of amps available to start an engine when the ambient temperature is cold. Used for rating SLI battery capacity.


Compulsory Excess

If you make an insurance claim, this is the amount you agree to pay yourself to repair your motorhome



Condensation is the result of warn moisture laden air contacting with the cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels, roof vent covers help to prevent cold air from coming through the vent while still allowing moist air to escape. Using the roof vent fan when showering or the cooker vent fan when cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.


Control panel

Used as the description for the panel of electrical switches and gauges governing 12V and mains electricity systems.



the transformation of a base vehicle into a motorhome



Literally the transformation of a base vehicle into a motorhome



When the motorhome is connected to an AC power outlet, this electronic device automatically converts 240 volts AC to 12 volts DC to run 12-volt equipment. At the same time, can recharge the 12-volt batteries.



UK vans come with a caravan style hob / grill / oven. most European vans have a hob 2 or 3 burner, an oven is an option.  It is often very hot in Europe and cooking inside makes it hotter, so we often cook outside, either a BBQ or a separate gas ring or two.  In the UK we opt for an oven and use it.  A microwave oven is great but if not on a hook-up you'll need lots of battery capacity and a big inverter.


Corner Steady

The jack built into the corner of the motorhome, which is used to stabilise the body of the vehicle once you're on a pitch. This helps the structure withstand the weight of people moving around inside, and helps prevent it rocking in the wind.


Corner Steady Locks

An anti-lift mechanism which prevents thieves from hitching the caravan to a towing vehicle.  approved security devicescan be  fitted to your motorhome or touring caravan.



Unit converted by A-class builders


crowned roof

A motorhome roof that is curved, rather than flat. A curved roof has the potential to be stronger and provide for better water runoff.


crowned roof:

A motorhome roof that is curved, rather than flat. A curved roof has the potential to be stronger and provide for better water runoff.


curb side:

The side of the motorhome that is closer to the curb.


curb weight:

The weight of the vehicle empty (without payload and driver) but including engine fuel, coolant, engine oil, tools, spare tire, and all other standard equipment. Curb weight is determined without water in the tanks or water heater and with empty LP-gas containers.



In campervans a Splittie or Bay changed externally or internally from its original form


Daihatsu Hijetta

These are micro motorcaravans, they have a rising roof system to increase headroom, and they include the ultra compact vehicle the Citroen Berlingo


Damon Intruder

An American motothome, large with all mod-cons.


DAMP Meter

A device which measures the moisture content of materials, and thus allows leaks to be detected.



Location of company in Essex that converted late Splitties, Bays & Wedges



A specialist retailer of motorhomes



The seperation of the bonded layers of material making up a sandwich construction panel, usually due to poor bonding during manufacture, or as a result of water ingress


Design Compatible Converter

 term used by Volkswagen to show a particular motorhome design meets their requirements


Designated passenger seats

Number of seats for passengers which have seatbelts fitted



 based company that converted Splitties from 1956 & Bays from 1979


diesel engine:

Powers many long and heavy type A motorhomes and bus conversions. More powerful and durable than petrol engines. Built tough -- getting up to 250,000 miles from a diesel sometimes without any repairs i


Diesel Pusher

Term used to describe the larger diesel powered American RV motorhomes



A popular style of seating arrangement where two settees face across a table



Towed vehicle. Also known as a "toad





Down Payment

A down payment is the amount required to put down for a new or used RV loan


Drinking Water

Fresh water for drinking stored in an internal tank or separate container


Driving Restrictions Motorhomes


Driving motorhomes

Are you thinking of buying or hiring a motorhome (motor caravan) to get to your holiday destination? Or maybe you want to import one from another country. Before you decide you'll need to check the categories on your driving licence and the size of motorhome you are going to drive.

Check your driving licence before you drive

Maximum authorised mass

Total weight of a vehicle plus anything it can carry safely

You'll need to make sure your driving licence has the right vehicle category, for you to drive a motorhome.

Category B

With this category on your driving licence you can drive vehicles with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of up to 3500 kilograms (kg), with eight passenger seats, and with a trailer no heavier than 750kg. 

It’s also possible to tow a trailer heavier than 750kg if the MAM of the vehicle and trailer together is no more than 3500kg. The trailer must also be lighter than the vehicle towing it.

To tow a heavier trailer than mentioned above you'll need category B+E.

Category C1

With this category you can drive vehicles with a MAM over 3500kg but less than 7500kg with a trailer no heavier than 750kg. To tow a heavier trailer you'll need category C1+E.

Category C

With this category you can drive vehicles with a MAM over 3500kg with a trailer no heavier than 750kg. To tow a trailer that weighs more than 750kg you'll need category C+E.

The size of the motorhome

The biggest motorhome you can drive in Great Britain is 12m long and 2.55m wide. There is no height limit but if the motorhome is over 3m tall the height must be on a notice visible to you as the driver.

If there is a need for you to measure the vehicle there are some parts that you don't need included in your measurements.

When measuring the length don't include the:

  • driving mirrors
  • rearward projecting buffers made of rubber or other resilient material

When measuring the width don't include the:

  • driving mirrors
  • lamps
  • reflectors
  • distortion in tyres due to loading


dry camping

Camping without the use of an external power source



(Direct Spark Ignition): 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.



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 Rear Wheels

A truck having two wheels on each side of the rear axle for a total of four wheels.



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



Commonly used term for Splittie or Bay but can apply to all VWs



Someone who partakes in owning or driving a Dub



 air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV


dump station:

A facility where holding tanks can be emptied, for a fee or  free. Dump stations are operated at public sites (rest areas, service stations) and at campgrounds throughout the United States



Blown air heating


Eberspacher combitronic

This is a diesel-fired central heating unit contained in a neat pod, it is easy to install and use. Diesel from the vehicles fuel tank, and mains electricity can both be utilised to provide hot water and blown-air heating.


Electronic Alarms

An audible security device for your caravan and motorhome. These may use a combination of passive infrared (PIR) detectors and motion sensors, these will cause an alarm to sound if a thief enters or tries to move the caravan/ motorhome


Elevating roof

A type of motorhome describing a van conversion with a lift-up roof section. Sometimes referred to as rising roof or pop-top, the roof may have solid or material sides An elevating roof motorhome/motorcaravan usually starts life as a panal van, but a roof that lifts up to provide standing room means that height is kept low on the road. That means that most models (but not all) will fit into some garages and under car park height barriers. Popular base vehicles include the very car-like Volkswagen T5 and the excellent Renault Trafic. This type of camper makes a great multi-purpose vehicle, especially if you are a city dweller.


End kitchen

Ccommon term to describe floorplans which put the kitchen across the rear. usually adjacent to a caravan door on one side and washroom on the other.


European Use / Green Card

If you drive your motorhome abroad, this is insurance designed to make it unnecessary to apply for insurance at the border of each country. It confirms that you have at least the minimum legal insurance cover.
Insurance is the transfer of risk by an individual, such as yourself, for your motorhome, or an organisation, such as your business, to the insurance company. You or your organisation will thus be known as the policy holder for the motorhome. The insurance company receives payment in the form of a premium and will compensate you in the event of losses or damages sustained by you or your motorhome



Trade name for a specific type of blown air heater. Sometimes used as a generic term for such systems.



Flame Failure Device


Fibre Glass

A form of plastic material commonly used for exterior body panels. Also known as GRP or glass reinforced plastic.


Fifth Wheel Trailer

Form of motor caravan connected by means of a fifth wheel coupling,also treated as an RV



The trade name of fiberglass sheet often used in the lamination of RV panels. Manufactured by the Kemlite Company, Inc.


fit and finish:

Generally refers to the level of quality in which a motorhome is constructed. A manufacturer who utilizes advanced manufacturing processes  able to build components to smaller “tolerances”; the result  higher level of fit and finish. Consumers will notice  everything fits well and has a quality level of finish -- upholstery, cabinets, driveability



Another name for fifth-wheel RV


Fixed roof

A type of motorhome where the base vehicle roof remains unchanged from the original after conversion


Flame Failure Device

An FFD ensures any gas escape is kept to a minimum if a flame goes out accidentally



Interior design of a motorhome. Where furniture units are placed in relation to each other.



Mesh fittings for windows doors and roofvents, to keep out the bugs.


full hookups:

 campsite that offers water, sewer, and electricity


Full Service Pitch

Pitch with individual fresh and waste water, electricity and (sometimes) TV connection


Full Timing

This is where a motorhome or caravan is used as a permanent dwelling. Some insurance Co do not insure this type of risk



A person who travels and lives in a motorhome most of the year.



A kitchen area - usually not as well equipped as the norm



In motorhome terminology a garage is a huge locker incorporated into the vehicle's design which means it can cater for carrying bikes, motorbikes or sometimes even cars.


Gas Bottle

Butane or Propane gas cylinder


Gas Drop Holes

Ventilation. LPG is heavier than air so holes through the floor below gas-powered appliances allow any gas out of the motorhome/campervan/motorcaravan/camper


Gas Locker

Compartment for the storage of gas cylinders. Usually sealed from the habitation area (although not always on some campervans)



Having a generator gives you the possibility to camp without having to hook up to electricity.



Abbreviation for generator set


Glass Reinforced Plastic

Plastic material commonly used for exterior body panels.  cf GRP, glass fibre, or glass reinforced plastic


goose egg

he oval membership emblem that FMCA members display on their motorhome. This metal plate enables members to identify one another as they travel, simply by reading the number embossed on the plate and looking it up in FMCA's membership directory or in the "For Members Only" area of The goose egg increases public awareness of FMCA and promotes friendship among motorhomers. FMCA has issued more than 300,000 membership numbers.



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.


Gray Water

Disposal water from sinks and shower. In some units, this is held in a holding tank separate from black water


gross combination weight rating (GCWR):

 Maximum allowable combined weight of a motorhome and attached towed vehicle and everything in and on them, recommended by the manufacturer.


Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR):

The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer and two vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.


Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

Maximum to which a vehicle can be loaded, according to the manufacturer. Includes dry weight of the vehicle plus all fuel, water, supplies and passengers.


gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR):

The weight specified by the chassis manufacturer as the maximum loaded weight of the vehicle (including driver, passengers, liquids, and cargo). Usually posted on the inside wall near the driver's seat



Glass-reinforced plastic, but more commonly known as glass fibre (not fibreglass, which is a trade name).


Habitation Area

That part of the caravan which comprises the living space, as opposed to the external-access gas lockers, or a motorhome cab.


Habitation Code

Code of Practice 201, a joint initiative between the SMMT and NCC. Designed to ensure European harmonisation for methods and standards of construction of motorhomes



Pitch with a hard surface: gravel, asphalt, concrete etc



A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in the furnace - the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger,  warmed and the blown through the ducting system for room heating. The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.



Heat strip  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.  just "take the chill off"


High top

A style of motorhome construction

Related Words  A-ClassC-Class


A large coachbuilt, with a bed over the cab of the motorhome


Holding tanks

Tanks that hold water. There are three different holding tanks on most RVs; fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank. The fresh water tank holds fresh water that can be stored for later use. The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste 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.



Connections to a campsite's facilities. The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer Full hookups refer to a combination of water, electricity and sewer.



Usually meaning water ingress, a possible problem caravan bodies have let water seep in at the joins, result of worn sealant.



Needed if you intend to use your motorhome all year round. Usually some kind of foam for insulation between aluminium exteriors and backed plywood inner walls



A device that converts a DC power supply to AC, typically conerting 12v DC to 240v AC



An extreme turning manuever that risks damage to the tow vehicle and the trailer when the trailer tongue or body swings into contact with the tow vehicle. Jack knife accidents usually occur while backing up.


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



;A name used by both Ford and Volkswagen to signify base vehicles that are made to a motorhome specification with factory-fitted windows


Kombi (Combi)

User configurable van/personnel carrier first launched in 1951



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.


Lap and diagonal

Preferred three-point seat belt as used in modern cars and motorhomes


Lap belt

Seat belts fixed in only two positions. Avoid where possible



A thin plywood constructed of Asian hardwoods. In coach construction, lauan is a popular panel lamination component. It is smooth, strong and relatively stable


Leisure Battery

Sometimes termed auxiliary battery. Supplies the power for the caravan electrical systems.


Levelling system

Portable or built-in fixtures and associated controls that level the motorhome while parked. Some motorhomes have a 12-volt automatic levelling system using jacks underneath the chassis; the system controls are near the driver’s seat. Owners of earlier models may simply insert wood or plastic blocks underneath the tires to elevate the vehicle. Levelling is one of the first tasks after settling in at a campsite, and can affect refrigerator performance, water drains, and the stability of various items.



Left-hand-drive vehicle. May be preferable if you'll use your motorhome for touring Europe.


Limited mileage

If you do not drive excessive miles in your motorhome,  Insurance allows you to have a cheaper premium based upon an agreed maximum annual mileage.



Items to equip a motorhome for daily living,  may be rented at nominal cost from a rental firm, rather than brought from home. Items like  bed linens, pillows and blankets, bath towels, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, cutlery.



The term used for a coach-built design which does not incorporate an overcab bed.



Liquefied petroleum gas, such as propane and butane.



Derived from lorries with overcab sections, in motorcaravans, it refers to the section over the cab which usually accommodates a double bed


Mains hook-up

A campsite facility whereby, if your motorhome has the facility, you can plug into a mains electricity supplly.


Micro camper

Term often used to describe a small motorhome or camper.



Small bus/personnel carrier first launched in 1950



The annual test required for motor vehicles. Caravans do not currently require an MOT. Motor caravans require the same MOT as a car ('Class IV').



Term for national automotive dealer's association.



 self-propelled, completely self-contained vehicle that contains all the conveniences of a home, including cooking, sleeping, and permanent sanitary facilities, driver’s area  accessible  from the living quarters



National Automobile Dealers Association (USA).


National Caravan Council

The trade association for caravan manufacturers, suppliers and dealers.


net carrying capacity (NCC), or payload:

 Maximum weight, including all  belongings, food, fresh water, LP-gas, tools, dealer-installed accessories and occupants that can be added without exceeding the GVWR. Can be computed by subtracting the empty weight of the vehicle from the GVWR.



A German Motorhome maufacturer



Abbreviation for original equipment manufacturer



A type of awning for a motorhome


Omni Stop

An innovative yet simple accessary ideal to keep plates and items in place as you travel


Overcab bed

A sleeping area that spans the driver’s and passenger’s seats in many Coachbuilt motorhomes. Can be used for storage when not in use


Owners Club

Dormobile Owners Club


Owners Club

Eagle MotorCaravan Owners Club
Eldiss Owners Club


Owners Club

Friends of Bambi Group


Owners Club

Gem Italian Owners Club
Glendale Owners Club


Owners Club

Hillman Commer Karrier Club
Holdsworth Owners Club
Hymer Club International
Hymer Club UK


Owners Club

International Carvanning Association
Irish Motor Caravanners Club
Isle of Man Motorcaravan club



Owners Clubs

Adventure Owners Club
All Avondale Owners Caravan Club
American Motorhome Club
American RV Club
American RV Enthusiasts
Amigo & Friends Association
Autohomes Landliner 91 Club
Autohome Owners Association
Auto Sleeper Owners Club
Auto Trail Owners Club
Avondale Caravan Owners Club
Autocruise Owners Club


Owners Clubs

Bambi Owners Club
Benimar Owners Club
Buccaneer Owners Club
Bürstner Owners Club


Park model

Type of RV  usually designed to be parked permanently but is shorter that a traditional mobile home. All the amenities of a mobile home but not built for recreational travel.



Power-assisted steering.


pass-through storage:

 Exterior compartments that span the full width of the motorhome, accessible from either side.



The amount you can put into a motorhome. Specifically the difference between its maximum gross weight and kerbweight



Pre-Delivery Inspection. A complete check of a motorhome carried out by a dealer before a vehicle is handed over to its new owner.


Personal belongings

Items taken from the home on motorhome and caravan holidays. Some can be covered on a motorhome or caravan policy, yet it is advisable to check that such items are not already covered under your household insurance policy


Pitt Conversion

Peter Pitt, London company converting Splitties from 1956 to 1966


Pop-up Trailer

Also known as a folding trailer or tent trailer, great for first timers due to its simplicity and relatively low cost.


Porta Potti

Trade name, but used generically to describe a portable toilet.



Gas used in colder conditions. Usually supplied in red cylinders.



Term for camping space (whether in campground or not) that only requires the driver to "pull-through" or "drive-through" to access the camping spot, and upon leaving, you again just drive forward to leave or exit the camping space.



An American RV motorhome with the engine at the rear



A chain link with a space, allowing a chain to be attached to it. The space can be closed with an attached threaded collar, thereby making the link once again integral



 campervan, bus or Kombi with a canvas fold-back sunroof



Residual Current Device. Part of the motorhome's electrical system which will 'trip' if there is a fault


Rear Differential

 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


Recognised converter

A term adopted by Volkswagen meaning a motorhome manufacturer has met its requirements in terms of motorhome conversions and company status


Recreational Vehicle

A motorized or towable vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living accommodations for travel, recreation and camping. RVs come in all shape and sizes for any budget or need. They range from camping trailers costing a few thousand dollars to luxurious motorhomes with prices well into six figures. RVs refer to multiple RV and RVers refer to their


Renault Holdsworth Rainbow

A small and economical motorhome



American Slang for an RV.


Road Tax

More correctly known as vehicle excise duty. Caravans do not currently pay road tax. Motorhomes below 3,500kg gross vehicle weight are taxed at the same rates as cars, while those over 3,500kg are taxed as private heavy goods vehicles.



A convenient portable fresh water tank with wheels that make transportation easy even on gravel


Roof Air Conditioning:

Air conditioning unit mounted on the roof of an RV to cool the unit when it is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by air conditioning units which are components of the engine.



Recreational vehicle is a motorized or vehicle that is pulled or towed that combines transportation and temporary living accommodations for travel, recreation and camping. They range from camping trailers costing a few thousand dollars to luxurious diesel pusher motorhomes with prices well into the six figures


Safari Room

An awning that has panels which can be affixed to create a complete room protected on all sides



Name given by enthusiasts to the deluxe Microbus Splittie from 1951


Sandwich construction

A standard method of constructing the walls/ roof/floor for many coachbuit motorhomes. The sandwich for a sidewall is usually of an aluminium or glass fibre exterior, backed plywood interior and insulation filler such as Styrofoam


Sat Nav

Satellite navigation units come in many different forms, some build in, some as handheld units, add-ons for PDA's or even for the latest generation mobile phones. Prices for the cheapest units start at £150, and provide both on-screen street level positioning & voice guidance. Maps are available for the UK and most of Europe. Some of the top names are Garmin, Tom Tom and Navman, and the latest units also include optional links for live traffic information and weather information.


Screen Room

A screened enclosure attached to the exterior of an RV  provides a bug-free sitting area outside. Some screen rooms have a canvas type roof for rain protection as well.


Security Devices

Electronic alarms and tracking devices are often classified by the Thatcham Vehicle Research Centre. For more information about Thatcham apporved devices visit their website.
Also  the Sold Secure approval of devices such as wheelclamps and hitchlocks as these will have gone through meticulous testing in order to get this stamp of approval



A motor caravan which is converted by a private individual or a converter that is not recognised by some insurances. although some accept such vehicles if you shop around for an insurer that does.


Shore Power

Electricity provided by an external plug to external power source



Sometimes used for beds. Improves ventilation to mattress cushions



Sometimes used for beds. Improves ventilation to mattress cushions.



Additional living space that "slides-out" either by hydraulics, electricity or manually, when the RV is setup for camping.


Slide-out unit, or slider

Found on some American motorhomes, this is literally a slide-out section to create extra lounge space when parked up



The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders - a body which has incorporated a Motorcaravan section since 1984. Represents the motor industry at government, European, consumer group and media levels. Also operates an arbitration service for consumer disputes. Leading UK motorhome manufacturers are members of the SMMT as well as the National Caravan Council



 Type of toilet where toilet where chemicals are not used, utilising forced air system instead.


Space heater

Type of heating equipment used in the living quarters



1st generation VW transporter with the iconic split winds



Home is often considered the safest place to store your caravan or motorhome. At home, security such as a locking gate or drive post can greatly reduce caravan and motorhome theft.
Or consider using a storage site. The Caravan Storage Site Owners Association (CaSSOA)(link) regulates the standards of storage sites. 
Some insurance co offer up to a 30% discount for approved security devices fitted to your motorhome or touring caravan.


Storm Damage

Not all insurers cover storm damage to awnings and with some awnings costing in excess of £500 it is important to check that cover is included. There are companys that do cover storm damage to awnings provided the awning is covered in your sum insured.



 Panels that generally comprise the floor of a motorhome's storage area. Basement floor.


supplemental braking system:

 A separate functioning brake system designed to control the brakes of the towed vehicle to help slow and/or stop the combination of coach and towed vehicle. A motorhome's braking system is rated for opeation at GVWR -- not GCWR. Therefore, some chassis manufacturers recommend that a separate functional brake system be used when towing a vehicle that exceeds a given weight, as low as 1,000 pounds.



Usually refers to a fitting to one or both cab seats which means they can be turned around to face the rest of the living quarters when the vehicle is parked


Tax Axle

A dead axle behind the drive axle that helps support the weight of the overhang and gives you a little more GVW capacity so you don't have to put the full load on the drive axle. Most tag axles are good for supporting 4,000-5,000 lbs


Tent Trailer

A pull-behind trailer that folds up similarly to a tent. The upper portion is usually made of canvas.



Period of time which the conditions of a contract is carried out. RV loan terms are usually fifteen  15  or twenty  20  years



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



A motorhome may have thermostatically-controlled luxuries such as an oven or heating


Thetford Cassette toilet C - 400

This is the top of the range toilet, it has a cassette tank on wheels and an extendable handle, much like a wheeled suitcase making trips to the toilet disposal point so much easier.



Splittie, Bay or Wedge without a solid metal roof (no pop)



 "toad" is an RV'ers term referring to a vehicle that is towed behind a motor home. Some vehicles can be towed without any modifications - others cannot be towed at all, or at least without extensive alterations.


tow dolly:

A short, two-wheel trailer coupled to the motorhome for transporting a car or other towed vehicle with two of the vehicle's wheels off the ground. The towed vehicle is driven up the dolly ramps so that two wheels rest on the dolly and the other two wheels  on the ground,  not applicable for certain rear-wheel-drive vehicles.


towed vehicle:

Car, pickup truck, or sport utility vehicle pulled behind a motorhome using a tow bar, tow dolly or trailer. This auxiliary vehicle often is more suitable to drive on country roads or  towns rather than a large motorhome. In addition, the motorhomer does not have to "break camp" to go into town, may be referred to as a dinghy or toad


Toy Hauler

 toy hauler is applied to both fifth wheels and travel trailers,  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.



Tracking Devices

Tracking devices offer the best way of quickly recovering a stolen caravan or motorhome. Tracking devices utilise satellites to guide the police to the location of your stolen vehicle. Some insurance co offer up to a 30% discount for approved security devices fitted to your motorhome or touring caravan.



A device that makes it possible to tow a vehicle with all four wheels totally off the ground.  Eliminateing concerns about transmissions, odometer mileage accumulation and backing into campsites, but loading and unloading can be cumbersome and time-consuming. The motorhome owner  must find a place to store the trailer on arrival  at a destination


Travel Trailer

A towable trailer that hitches onto a ball mount on the tow vehicle and designed as living quarters for recreational travel. For additional details see


Travel Trailer Coach

Truck Camper

Truck Camper 

Living quarters designed to slide into the bed of a truck. The camper is fastened to the truck frame during transport and slides out onto its own legs at the camp site.


tubular steel roll bar:

In coach construction, a steel cab component that can enhance the structural integrity of a cab assembly at the roof level.


Type 2

Normally a Bay. Confusingly though, original Splittie was also coded as a T2


Type 25

3rd generation VW transporter also known as a Wedge from 1979


Ultra - Box

The most spacious rear boxes for Carry-Bike. Italian Design for motorhomes and minivans made with a top quality ABS-Plus to provide high resistance against impacts and weather conditions plus protection against ultraviolet rays.


Umbilical Cord

 Wiring harness that connects a tow vehicle to a 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



The RV's underfloor surface, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.


unloaded vehicle weight (UVW):

The weight of a vehicle  built at the factory with full fuel, engine oil, and coolants. Does not include cargo, fresh water, LP-gas, occupants, or dealer-installed accessories



In coach construction, one of several methods of applying pressure to the adhesive system within a lamination, such as a motorhome's walls. Other methods include rotary presses (nip rollers) and flat presses


Van conversion

Usually a motorhome manufacturer will have added a High-top or elevating roof section as part of the conversion


Vehicle bulbs

Virtually all European market vehicles use 12 volt bulbs. However some commercial vehicles use a 24 volt system, and some early American cars and older motor cycles use a 6 volt system. Most riding light bulbs have a wattage of between 3 and 10 watts. The most commonly used bulb types are Festoon -  Miniature screw - the bulb screws in to the bulb holder and Bayonet - with two pins on the side. Where a bulb has two elements (like a combined stop and tail light bulb) the two pins will be offset so it is impossible to put the bulb in the wrong way round, it is possible to buy a bulb by description a 12v 8w festoon bulb, it is sometimes hard to read the markings on the side of the bulb, if in doubt take the old bulb in to the dealer.



short walking tour around the exterior of the motorhome to make sure it is safe and ready for travel.



Accessibility gap between the front driver and passenger seats


Wally World

Slang term used by RVers to describe a Walmart


Waste water tanks

The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.


Watling Motorack

The simplist way to transport a scooter, comes with loading ramp, ratchet straps and lighting board.



Name given to 3rd generation VW transporter from 1979 with angular front


welded tubular steel:

In coach construction, steel that has been rolled into a shape (round, square or rectangular) with a projection welded seam. Iused as a subframe between the chassis and coach bodywork.  produced by steel mills and shipped in straight lengths of 20 to 24 feet.


Westfalia (Westy)

Camper conversion company in the German state of Rhine-Westfalia


wet weight:

The weight of an empty motorhome with the fuel, fresh water, and  LP-gas tanks full but with waste water holding tanks empty. For an indication of how much  weight that can be added to the vehicle, including cargo and passengers, subtract the wet weight figure from the GVWR. 




The distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels on a motorhome. If a motorhome has a tag axle, the wheelbase is measured from the front axle to the centre point between the drive and tag axles



A security device intended to prevent one of the road wheels rotating. Some insurance co offer up to a 30% discount for approved security devices fitted to your motorhome or touring caravan


Wide Body

The term for an RV exceeding the normal eight feet wide.  Wide Bodies are usually 102" (8' 6") wide.



A motorhome that is wider than 8 feet.


Wild camping

Term used for staying overnight away from a campsite. Illegal in many countries, but permission may be granted by individual landowners



Brand name for American motorhomes



Preparation of a vehicle's systems for winter



Refers to the "fish-tailing" action of a 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".


Zig unit

Trade name, but almost a generic title for an electrical distribution system/control panel in motorhomes.


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