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RV Glossary

Learn commonly used RV Terms with the Joplin RV & Marine Glossary.

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ACCESSORIES: Packages, Options, and add-ons listed on the order form. These are listed under the accessories tab in unit inventory.

ADJUSTABLE BALL MOUNT: Hitch with unique ability to be adjusted up or down according to needs of the unit.

ALUMINUM FRAME: RV side walls made of aluminum instead of wood , created a lighter, water damage resistant and stronger unit. 

ANODE ROD: An anode rod, when used in a water heater, attracts corrosion causing products in the water. These products attack the anode rod instead of the metal tank itself. The anode rod should be inspected yearly and changed when it is reduced to about 1/4 of its original size. The rods are used in steel water heater tanks only. An aluminum tank has an inner layer of anode metal to accomplish the same thing. Anode rods should not be installed in an aluminum tank.

AUTOMATIC LEVELING: Feature on some of our units, rv levels itself electronically

AUXILIARY BATTERY: An extra battery to run your 12-volt equipment.

AWNINGS: Extensions of canvas or faux canvas that provides shade to space beside the recreational vehicle so the RVer can set up chairs or a picnic table under shade. Some awnings have side enclosures called screen rooms. Awnings can be motorized or manually operated. Some even come equipped with wind sensors to automatically close if the wind gets too strong.

AXLE RATIO: The final drive gear ratio created by the relationship between the ring and pinion gears and the rotation of the driveshaft. In a 4.10:1 axle ratio, for example, the driveshaft will rotate 4.1 times for each rotation of the axle shaft (wheel).


BACKUP 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.

BALL MOUNT: Supports the hitch ball and connects the trailer coupler. Ball mounts come in two types: load carrying and weight distribution.

BASEMENT: The large storage area underneath your RV’s floor accessible from outside storage doors.

BLACK WATER TANK: Waste (sewage) from the toilet "oval office" is flushed into a black water holding tank, typically located beneath the main floor of the RV.

BOONDOCKING: Camping in an RV without benefit of electricity, fresh water, and sewer utilities. 

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.

BREAK AWAY SYSTEM: This is a safety device switch, cable and small battery, somewhere on the hitch, which automatically powers the brakes of the trailer, if the hitch fails and the trailer comes loose. The idea is that the brakes come on and stop the "runaway" trailer.

BTU: British Thermal Unit ; measurement of power on furnaces and a/cs in the unit (13.5 BTU or 15 BTU)

BUMPER PULL: A an old term for Travel Trailer

BUNKHOUSE: An RV area containing bunk beds instead of regular beds.


CAPTAIN’S CHAIR: The driver’s seat of a motorhome, it often includes comfortable designs that make it more luxurious than a traditional vehicle driver’s seat.

CARGO WEIGHT: The total weight of all passengers, food, clothing, liquids, accessories, etc.. that you might put into your RV.

CHASSIS: This is the frame your RV sits on and includes the wheels as well. In motorhomes, the chassis also includes the engine.

CONTROL PANEL: A panel where you can control and adjust the RV’s systems for climate, water, and power. Many modern RVs include touchscreen panels and/or apps for ease of use.

CONVERTER: Converts 120 volt AC power to 12 volt DC power and also charges your 12 volt battery.

COUPLER: The part of a trailer A-frame that attaches to the hitch ball.

CURB WEIGHT:  Weight of unit with all fluids and equipment but without passengers or their cargo


DINETTE:  Special table made for the v industry that has the functionality to turn from table into bed.

DRY CAMPING: Camping out in the boondocks or wilderness with no hookups.

DRY WEIGHT:  The weight of the RV when it's finished being built; doesn't include supplies, water or fuel weight.

DSI: Direct Spark Ignition, used in propane-fired appliances. Burners are lit with an electric spark and monitored by a flame sensor.

DUCTED AC:  A/C is equally distributed throughout the rv via air ducts.

DUCTED HEAT: Describes an RV wherein heat is supplied through ducts in the floor and vents throughout the RV

DUMP STATION: A designated area for legal dumping of the black and grey water tank. This is often found at RV campgrounds but there may be dump stations at other sites as well.

DUMP VALUES: The valves used to control the dumping of your holding tanks.


EXTERIOR SIDEWALLS: The exterior construction of your RV, often sidewalls are aluminum or another metal.

EQUALIZING HITCH: A hitch utilizing spring bars 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 (also known as 'weight-distributing hitch').


FLOORPLAN: The layout of trailer (example...Bunkhouse)

FRESH WATER: Water suitable for human consumption.

FRESH WATER TANK: The tank that holds fresh water that is used in the shower, taps, and other onboard water-based functions.

FULL BODY PAINT: Refers to the exterior of the RV that has a automobile type paint job covering the entire body of the RV.

FULL TIMERS: Customers who have plans to live in the RV full time - rather than for recreational use.


GALLEY: The kitchen of an RV.

GARAGE: Seen in toy haulers, this is an area of the RV that is used for transporting outdoor equipment. It typically uses a ramped door for easier loading and unloading.

GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating; the total allowable weight on each individual axles wihch includes the weight of tires, wheels, breaks and the axle itself

GENERATOR: An electrical device powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power in the absence of shore or solar power.

GOOSE NECK: A platform sitting on the bed of the truck with a ball that connects to a trailer's Gooseneck Coupler 

GREY WATER TANK: The tank under your RV that holds wastewater from the shower and sink

GVWR:  Gross Vehicle Weight Rating; The maximum weight your RV can be to ensure safe traveling. Includes the vehicles chassis, body, engine, fluids, fuel, accessories, passengers, cargo, etc.


HARD SIDED: RV walls made of aluminum or another hard surface.

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 WEIGHT: The actual 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 18 to 20 percent of the overall weight.

HOLDING TANKS: The general term used to refer to the fresh water, black water, and grey water tanks of your RV.

HOSE BIB: A tap providing fresh water at a campsite.

HOOKUP: The method for connecting your RV to the available amenities at a campground or RV resort. Options may vary, with full hookup offering the most features.


INVERTER: A unit that changes 12-volt direct current to 110-volt alternating current to allow operation of computers, TV sets, and the like when an RV is not hooked up to shore electricity.


JACKKNIFE: 90 percent angle created by turning towable with tow vehicle. Warning: jackknifing a short bed truck towing a fifth wheel without the use of a slider hitch or extended pin box can result in severe damage to the truck.

JACKS: Manual, electric or hydraulic secured to the frame of an RV and used for manual or automatic leveling.


KING PIN WEIGHT (PIN WEIGHT): The actual weight pressing down on the fifth wheel hitch by the trailer. Generally, the recommended amount of King Pin Weight is 15% – 25% of the gross trailer weight (GTW)


LAMINATE RV:  Refers to the outside wall construction of the unit , generally fiberglass sheeting treated with a gel-coat and then laminated.    

LEVELING:  Refers to the process of making a parked RV level when setting up camp/display

LOFT: A raised interior space of the RV, may be located above another room. This may contain a sleeping space or other features.

LP GAS: Liquid Petroleum, another term for Propane.


MANUFACTURER: Company who we purchased the RV from - builders (Example: Forest River, Hearthland...)

MAX CAPACITY: The max number of units a profit center can store on their lot

MAX TOWING CAPACITY: The maximum weight limit that can safely be towed by your specific vehicle. This weight is calculated by adding the RV’s GVW with weight of all passengers, cargo, and liquids in your tow vehicle.

MSRP: Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price

MSO: Certificate of origin of the RV ; The Title


NCC (NET CARRYING CAPACITY): Maximum weight of all supplies, food, fresh water and passengers (if applicable) derived from subtracting the UVW from the GVWR.


PAYLOAD CAPACITY: For Trucks the amount of weight you can safely add to the bed of the truck. Your Fifth Wheels Hitch Weight or Pin Weight plus the actual weight of hitch plus any other accessories you have in the bed of the truck must not exceed the Payload Capacity amount. Confirm Payload Capacity with your vehicle’s manufacturer.

PDI: Pre Delivery Inspection; work done to a unit to ensure it is camp ready

PIN WEIGHT: This is often referred to as the weight/pressure applied from fifth wheel king pin to the hitch in the bed of your truck.

POTABLE WATER: Water that is safe for drinking.


QUICK DISCONNECT: A couple style connection that is quickly and easily disconnected on RV propane, water, and electrical systems.


RIG: Commonly used when referring to large Class C, Super C and Class A diesel motorhomes.


SLIDE-OUT: Additional living space that "slides-out" either by hydraulics, electricity or manually, when the RV is setup for camping. Frequently referred to simply as a "slide".

SLEEPING CAPACITY: The number of sleeping spaces in an RV. There are several different types of sleeping arrangements available. Examples include standard queen and king size beds, hide-a-bed or jack-knife sofa beds, convertible booth dinettes, fixed bunk beds, and drop-down bunks.

STABILIZER JACKS: These are typically lighter, manually operated, jacks only used to stabilize a trailer or motorhome that has been leveled with blocks under the wheels.

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.


TONGUE JACK: A jack that is mounted at the front of a towable RV and is used to raise or lower the front of the RV.

TONGUE WEIGHT: The weight/pressure applied from the trailer tongue/coupler to the conventional/bumper hitch on your vehicle.

TOW BAR: A device used for connecting a dinghy vehicle to the motorhome when it's towed with all four wheels on the ground.

TYPE: (ie Vehicle Typer) The category of trailer it trailer, fifth wheel, cargo....etc


UMBILICAL CORD: A wire providing an electrical connection between the towing vehicle and vehicle being towed.

UNDER BELLY: The bottom of the travel trailer or fifth wheel

UVW: Unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) is the weight of the RV as manufactured at the factory. Does not include aftermarket accessories, water or supplies placed inside the RV


VIN NUMBER: A 17 digit unique code, including a serial number, used to identify RV’s.


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 BATH: A single bathroom structure that includes a shower at the top and a toilet with a lid at the bottom. This is common in smaller motorhomes such as Class Bs.

WHEEL BASE: The distance between the center lines of the primary axles on an RV.

WINTERIZE: To prepare the RV for winter use or storage. Usually, the term refers to preparation specifically related to the water tank, walls and windows of the RV.

WIDE BODY: When the width of a travel trailer, fifth wheel or motorhome is manufactured wider than the standard 96 inches.

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