Useful words and phrases
When you’re just starting out, all the new words and phrases around caravan and motorhome holidays can seem a little scary. We’ve put together a list of common phrases and vehicle parts to help you out because starting a new hobby doesn’t have to be difficult!
Actual Laden Weight (ALW)
The total weight of the caravan or motorhome and its contents, when moving. The only reliable way to determine this is on a weighbridge.
A tent-like structure of fabric over a supporting framework, which can be attached to the side of a caravan or motorhome, or be free-standing. Many motorhomes are also built with permanently fixed roll-out blinds, some of which can be supplemented with zip-in side panels.
Sometimes known as a ‘divorce in a bag’.
A sleeping place. So, a 4-berth caravan would have four places to sleep.
A type of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) commonly used for caravanning when temperatures are above freezing. Usually sold in a blue cylinder.
Cassette Toilet (Chemical Toilet)
A form of chemical toilet found in modern caravans and motorhomes, where the waste holding tank can be accessed and emptied from outside. Maybe don’t wear your favourite shoes while doing this.
The winding device built into each corner of a caravan or motorhome chassis that is used to stabilise the body once set up on a pitch.
Full Service Pitch
A pitch with individual provision for fresh water supply and waste water disposal, in addition to mains electricity and sometimes TV aerial connection – so you won’t miss the Great British Bake Off while you’re away…
A portable, pressurised container for the storage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
Gas Cylinder Locker
A compartment on the motorhome for the storage of gas cylinders.
Grey Water/Grey Waste
(see Waste Water) Waste water from sink/shower.
Gross Train Weight
Also known as Combined Weight. The maximum permitted weight of an outfit. This is often the sum of the gross vehicle weight and the braked towing limit.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
The weight of the vehicle loaded to its maximum, as defined by the manufacturer. See also MTPLM.
A pitch with a hard surface made of gravel, asphalt, concrete etc, rather than grass. Hardstanding pitches can come in handy if you’re out in the winter months.
Usually a bollard on your pitch where you can plug in to the mains electricity. Also known as EHU (electric hook-up).
LAV or LV
Leisure Accommodation Vehicle or Leisure Vehicle: A general term including caravans, motorhomes, campers and trailer tents.
The process of making sure that your caravan or motorhome is level when on a pitch. No one wants a wobbly caravan!
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
The fuel used to power the cooking hob/oven in most leisure vehicles.
MAM (now MTPLM)
Maximum Authorised Mass: the maximum weight limit as defined by the manufacturer.
MIRO (formerly referred to as the MAM)
Mass in Running Order: the weight of the motorhome ex-factory with fuel and water, but without any passengers or touring equipment. Previously called Unladen or Ex-Works Weight.
Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. The maximum weight which the chassis, as specified by the manufacturer, can legally carry.
A term used to describe your caravan and car, motorhome and trailer etc. as a whole – whichever vehicle you use on your holiday.
Also called User Payload. It’s the difference between the MTPLM and the MIRO and is the weight you can add to the leisure vehicle, in the case of a motorhome including passengers.
A type of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) usually stored in red cylinders and suitable to use all year.
A small dome or ridge tent that you can put up next to a caravan or motorhome as a place to sleep for children. Or your dog. Whoever is more important.
Residual Current Device (RCD)
A safety device which disconnects the mains electricity supply in the event of a fault.
A safety device which controls the pressure of LPG coming out of a cylinder, and going into the vehicle’s supply system.
A form of spanner used to set nuts and bolts to a specified tightness.
(see Grey Water) Waste water from sink/shower.
The distance between the front and rear axles of a vehicle.
A security device to stop a road wheel rotating or the wheel being removed.
Motorhome and campervan terms
Type of motorhome where both the cab and living area are integrated and have been built by the converter, not the base vehicle manufacturer.
The vehicle used as the platform on which a motorhome is built.
A common type of base vehicle on which a motorhome may be built, consisting of a complete, driveable chassis with enclosed cab area.
When referring to motorhomes, indicates any form of construction where the habitation area is built on to a chassis cab.
The manufacturer who builds a motorhome from the base vehicle.
Does what it says on the tin. A feature of some smaller motorhomes and campervans which provides extra headroom, but gives a low profile to reduce wind resistance on the road and for garage storage.
The living space of a motorhome, as opposed to the external lockers or cab area.
A type of motorhome with an added a fixed roof for more headroom.
The empty weight of a motor vehicle, as defined by the manufacturer.
A 12V battery similar to a car battery, which powers the 12V lighting, water pump(s) etc. in the motorhome.
A form of coachbuilt motorhome without an overcab area.
A term used to describe motorhomes with a bed over the cab.
Motorhome Service Point
A facility on a campsite where motorhomes can fill the drinking water tank and empty the waste water tank.
RV or Recreational Vehicle
An American term for a motorhome.
A type of motorhome based on a panel van.
Vehicle Identification Number.
Since motorhome water tanks and containers are kept at low level, your motorhome will have a pump to deliver water to taps and the water heater.
A-Frame or Drawbar
The triangular part at the front of a caravan chassis in between the main body and the hitch.
A branded design of fresh water container that can be pulled along the ground.
A thin steel cable linking the caravan handbrake to the vehicle’s towbar.
Also known as the hitch.
The mechanism that allows a caravan to be attached to a tow ball. Also known as the coupling head.
A security device that prevents the caravan hitch being used.
This is the vertical load that the caravan hitch imposes on the car’s tow ball.
The fixture on a tow that holds the breakaway cable.
Rear Suspension Aid
A device that improves the standard suspension of a vehicle. Useful when trundling through the countryside.
A caravan with a single pair of wheels on one axle.
A safety device acting around the caravan hitch which can help to control instability.
The end part of the tow bar that the caravan hitch fits over.
Tow Bar (or towing bracket)
The framework attached to a towing vehicle that supports the tow ball.
Additional rear view mirrors so you can see around the extra width of a caravan.
A caravan with four wheels on two axles.