Towing & RV Glossary

Here you’ll find definitions of terms commonly used for RVs and recreational towing.

5th Wheel Hitch: A type of hitch used primarily for towing large and heavy trailers. It connects to the bed of a truck for added stability.

Auxiliary Transmission Cooler: A device that helps cool the transmission fluid in a vehicle, especially useful when towing heavy loads.

Back-In Site: A type of RV campsite where the RV must be backed in.

Ball Mount: The part of the hitch system that supports the hitch ball and connects it to the trailer.

Baseplate: A device that’s custom designed for each vehicle model, used to connect a tow bar to the towed vehicle.

Berth: A sleeping area in an RV.

Black Water: Waste water from the toilet in an RV.

Boondocking: Camping without any hookups, often in remote locations.

Brake Controller: A device installed in the tow vehicle that controls the brake system on the trailer.

Chassis Battery: The battery in an RV used for starting the engine and running the automotive systems.

Class A RV: Class A motorhomes are the largest and most luxurious of the motorized RVs. They are built on a specially designed motor vehicle chassis and resemble a bus in design, with a flat or vertical front end and large windows. Class A RVs typically offer ample living space and are equipped with all the comforts and amenities of a home, such as a full-sized kitchen, bathroom, and separate bedroom. Many also have additional features like slide-outs to expand living space, air conditioning, televisions, and even laundry facilities.

Class B RV: Also known as “campervans,” Class B motorhomes are the smallest of the motorized RVs and are built on a standard full-sized van chassis. These vans are often outfitted with a raised roof and a small kitchenette, a compact bathroom, and a sleeping area. Despite their size, Class B RVs are designed to maximize space and often include innovative storage solutions. They are easier to maneuver and park than their larger counterparts, and they can often be used as a second vehicle.

Class C RV: Class C motorhomes fall in between Class A and B in terms of size. They are built on a truck or van cutaway chassis with an attached cab section, and they typically have an over-cab area that can be used for sleeping or storage. Class C RVs offer more living space than Class B motorhomes but are smaller and often easier to handle than Class A motorhomes. They usually include a separate bedroom, full kitchen, and full bathroom, along with additional amenities like entertainment systems.

Converter: A device in an RV that converts 120-volt AC power into 12-volt DC power.

Dinghy Towing: Also known as flat towing, this term refers to towing a vehicle with all four of its wheels on the ground.

Dry Weight: The weight of an RV or trailer without any passengers, cargo, liquids, or additional equipment.

Dual Battery System: An RV feature with two batteries; one to start the engine and the other to power the RV systems.

Dump Station: A facility where black water and gray water tanks can be emptied.

Fresh Water Tank: A water tank in an RV which stores potable water.

Flat Towing: Also known as Dinghy Towing, this term refers to towing a vehicle with all four of its wheels on the ground.

Full Hookup: A campsite that offers connections to electricity, water, and sewage.

Galley: The kitchen area in an RV.

Gooseneck Hitch: Similar to a 5th wheel hitch, this type of hitch connects to the bed of a truck and is used for towing heavier trailers. It’s characterized by a tight turning radius and the ability to tow heavy loads.

Grey Water: Waste water from the sinks and shower in an RV.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The maximum weight that a vehicle can safely carry including its own weight plus passengers, cargo, and any towed load.

Hitch Ball: The ball-shaped attachment to a hitch onto which a trailer coupler is attached.

Hitch Receiver: The part of the hitch assembly that attaches to the vehicle and accepts the ball mount.

Hitching & Unhitching: The process of attaching or detaching the trailer and the tow vehicle.

House Battery: The battery in an RV used for running the coach or living portion of the RV.

Inverter: A device in an RV that converts 12-volt DC power into 120-volt AC power.

Leveling Jacks: Devices used to stabilize and level an RV when it’s parked.

Motorhome: A type of self-propelled recreational vehicle (RV) that offers living accommodation.

Payload: The maximum weight that a vehicle can carry, including passengers and cargo, but not including the weight of the vehicle itself.

Pin Weight: In a fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch, it’s the amount of weight that is directly over the axle(s) of the tow vehicle.

Pop-Up Camper: A type of lightweight RV that can be collapsed for easy storage and transport.

Propane System: An RV’s system that provides gas for cooking, heating, and running other appliances.

Pull-Through Site: A type of RV campsite where the RV can be driven straight through instead of having to back in.

RV (Recreational Vehicle): A motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities typically found in a home.

Safety Chains: Chains that provide a secondary connection between the trailer and the tow vehicle, used in case the primary hitch fails.

Slide-In Camper: A type of RV that is designed to be loaded onto, and unloaded from, the bed of a pickup truck.

Slide-Out: A portion of the RV that can be extended outward to increase living space when parked.

Stabilizer Jacks: Devices that are used to keep an RV from rocking while it’s parked.

Tag Axle: An extra axle located behind the drive or main axle to help support additional weight.

Toad: Slang term for a vehicle that is towed behind an RV. Usually a small car or SUV.

Tongue Weight: The weight that the trailer exerts downward on the hitch of the vehicle.

Tow Bar: A device used in towing that connects the tow vehicle to the vehicle being towed.

Tow Dolly: A two-wheeled trailer used to tow a front-wheel-drive vehicle behind a motorhome.

Tow Vehicle: The vehicle that pulls a towable RV.

Towing Capacity: The maximum weight that a vehicle can tow.

Trailer Sway Control: A feature or device that helps to stabilize a trailer and prevent it from swaying side to side.

Travel Trailer: A non-motorized towable RV that is attached to a vehicle using a hitch.

Weight Distribution Hitch: A type of hitch that distributes the weight of the towed load evenly across the axles of the vehicle and the trailer.

Wet Weight: The weight of an RV or trailer with all tanks filled and including typical cargo.

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