Caravan and Motorhome Glossary
Whether you’re a brand new caravan or motorhome owner or a long-standing enthusiast, the associated terminology and jargon can be fairly difficult to keep up with. From talking about A class and B class and C class, to the huge choice of layouts through to grey water, it can be a minefield to navigate. In our caravan and motorhome glossary you have a thorough guide to the top jargon used in the caravan and motorhome world, for beginners and experienced caravan and motorhome owners alike.
In this glossary you will find the most useful terms, from A-frame to water ingress and more. So, without further ado, here they are…
Caravan and motorhome jargon
This is the largest type of motorhomes that are generally between 29 and 45 feet long. A Class motorhomes often sleep from six to eight people and are usually built on a single chassis and may have more than two axles.
This is the triangular part of your caravan that protrudes from the front of the chassis. It is where the hitch sits, allowing you to hitch the caravan to your vehicle.
This is a specific type of heating system that is often found in higher-spec motorhomes and caravans. This system works similarly to a closed home central heating system. It makes use of a pump and boiler as well as convector panels, radiators, and towel rails. An Alde system will often have a digital control panel.
This is a high-tech, emergency control system that helps stabilise the caravan whilst you’re towing it. This system offers anti-snaking assistance. It registers swaying movements on the axle using a sensor and it then intervenes before the caravan is able to snake by gently applying the caravan’s breaks. This helps stabilise the caravan and guide it back into place.
An approved workshop is a caravan or motorhome workshop that has been approved by the National Caravan Council (NCC), The Caravan and Motorhome Club, and The Camping and Caravanning Club. This is known as the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) and is the only one that is supported by all of the major UK caravan and motorhome manufacturers. These are good options for anyone in need of repairs or other work on their model.
This is an easy one. The awning is the name for an additional shelter that is fixed to the side of the caravan or motorhome. It then winds out to provide you with additional shelter once you’re pitched up. You can also get more full awnings that are more like big tents that fix to your motorhome or caravan.
This is the name for the rail on the outside of your caravan or motorhome that attaches to the awning.. You can attach your awning by sliding it through the rail, which holds it in position.
The axle is a rod or shaft that rotates your caravan or motorhome’s wheels. It also supports the weight of your vehicle. Caravans tend to be manufactured as single or twin axle models, meaning they have one or two axles. Single axle caravans tend to be smaller and more lightweight than their larger, heavier twin axle alternatives.
This is an external gas socket on the caravan. This allows you to connect a barbecue or alternative gas cooking appliance to your caravan with ease.
These are the smallest motorhomes available on the market. People often refer to B class motorhomes as campervans. They tend to sleep up to four people and have limited space.
These are models that are slightly bigger versions of B class motorhomes. These models often feature more amenities and can include stand-up showers, kitchens, and separate living and sleeping spaces.
This is a type of practical driving test that a person must pass in order to be able to tow larger caravans. Passing this test allows you to drive a vehicle that weighs up to 3,500kgs pulling a caravan that weighs between 750kgs and 3,500kgs. The total weight of the car and caravan must not exceed 7,000kgs.
These are simply hidden storage areas that are located beneath the seating in the caravan or motorhome.
These are the seats in your caravan or motorhome that come with seatbelts, meaning they’re safe for sitting in whilst travelling.
This simply refers to the number of people a caravan or motorhome can sleep. So if a caravan has four beds it will be referred to as a four-berth caravan.
This is a type of heating system that warms a caravan or motorhome by circulating hot air throughout the interior. They usually do this via vent holes near the floor and can be powered by gas or electricity.
This is a safety device that allows the caravan to stop should it break away from the vehicle during towing. This is a thin steel wire that is often covered in red coating. It is attached to the caravan and wraps around the tow bar. In the event that the caravan does disconnect from the vehicle that’s towing it, the breakaway cable applies the brakes on the caravan to try and prevent the caravan from continuing to roll, helping avoid serious damage.
The cab is the driving area of a motorhome. It is where the driver and passenger seats are located. In some cases these seats will swivel into the lounge area offering more seating in the living space.
This is the most popular choice of gas bottle you’ll find in a motorhome or caravan.
This is a type of toilet that has been built into the caravan or motorhome. These toilets often flush and have a holding tank that collects deposits. In most cases this holding tank can be emptied from the exterior of the caravan. Cassette toilets often make use of specialist chemicals that are hygienic and help break down waste.
The Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) is an official association that provides accreditation to sites where people can store their caravans whilst not using them. All CaSSOA-approved sites have been independently assessed for security features, access, and amenities to make sure they provide superior levels of protection from theft.
This is the name for medium sized motorhomes that sit between A and B class models. C class models often look like larger versions of campervans and will commonly have an overhead cabin above the cab.
The Chemical Disposal Point (CDP) is the name for a designated dump station on a campsite where you can empty your cassette toilet.
This is the name for the metal frame that acts as the foundation for your caravan. The body of the caravan sits on top of the chassis.
Sometimes referred to as the caravan’s VIN, this is a unique set of 17 characters that helps list the nation in which the caravan was made, the manufacturer, and the year in which it was made along with some other useful information.
This is the name for a type of lounge layout that features a forward and rear-facing seat with a table between. These seats will often feature seatbelts.
This is the name for the process of removing all of the water from the fresh and waste water tanks before storing your caravan or motorhome. This is a very important process if you’re storing your model over winter as it helps prevent the water from freezing and damaging your pipes.
This is the name for a bed that tucks away neatly at ceiling level when it’s not in use. It then drops down when someone needs to make use of it.
Electric hook up
This is the name for a cable that you can use to plug your motorhome or caravan into the mains supply in order to power your devices whilst pitched up.
This is a double bed that usually sits in the back corner of a caravan or motorhome. A French bed usually features a cutaway section at the foot end, which allows you easier access to a washroom.
This is the term for any waste water that is created as a result of using the caravan’s appliances. This does not include your toilet waste. Grey water collects in a separate tank to the toilet waste and you can empty it in the UK in any gutter or drain.
These are a specific type of mats that can slip beneath a motorhome’s driven wheels. This can help prevent wheelspin and help avoid you getting stuck in muddy conditions.
The gross weight is the maximum weight of a motorhome or caravan. It is. the maximum weight the vehicle may weigh once it has been loaded with people and equipment.
This is simply the name for the caravan or motorhome’s living quarters.
This is the main door to the habitation area of your caravan or motorhome.
The hitch is the very front of a caravan chassis. It drops onto the tow ball and locks in place when you connect, or ‘hitch up’, the caravan to your car.
This is a handy device that cuts in and prevents the engine from starting if a person tries to start your motorhome without the keys.
The inverter is a unit that you can use to allow any 12v batteries you have to power 240v appliances. This comes in handy if you want to power certain devices, like hairdryers, from a 12v battery.
Isofix is a relatively new addition to motorhomes but has been present in lots of cars for years. It is the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. Some motorhomes have this in passenger seats allowing you to effectively and safely fit a child’s safety seat in your motorhome.
This is a wheel-based mechanical system that is located on the front of the caravan. It helps you lower the hitch onto the towball during hitching and is also handy for smaller manoeuvres. When the caravan is not hitched, the jockey wheel keeps it level and steady.
This is often called the auxiliary battery and is what provides your living quarters with electricity. These batteries provide 12v of power to the caravan’s electrical systems, allowing you to plug in appliances and equipment. The leisure battery usually charges when the caravan is attached to an electrical hookup.
Sometimes referred to as chocks, levelling ramps allow you to drive your motorhome onto them to ensure it is level. These are extremely helpful as a lot of camping pitches will be uneven and the more level you can make your motorhome, the more comfortable you will be.
Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a type of gas that is used in caravans and motorhomes. It is usually butane or propane and can be used to light cookers, heating systems, and hot water systems.
The Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass is a weight that is deemed safe to load a caravan to. This is the maximum weight your caravan should be after you have added all accessories and belongings. The weight is often listed on the caravan’s habitation door.
A caravan’s Mass in Running Order (MiRO) is the caravan’s weight once it has been fitted with all of its equipment and leaves the factory. The MiRO replaces old terms, such as 'ex works weight' and 'unladen weight'.
The National Caravan Council (NCC) is the trade body for caravans and motorhomes in the UK. It is an important player in the industry representing the supply chain and governing its policies.
The nosweight is the name for the downward force that the caravan’s coupling applies on the car’s towball. It is important to measure the noseweight because a caravan could be dangerous to tow if the noseweight is too low or too high.
This is the name for a rooflight/extractor fan that fills the caravan with fresh air and daylight in all weather conditions.
The overcab is the name for the part of the living quarters that sits above the cab of the motorhome. This is usually used as additional sleeping quarters.
The payload is the term for the maximum weight allowed for luggage and other items in your caravan or motorhome. This is sometimes referred to as the MTPLM minus the kerbweight.
This stands for Pre-Delivery Inspection and is a check that each caravan and motorhome gets before it leaves the workshop to be sold. This is to ensure that the model is safe and habitable.
This is your designated spot on a campsite where you can leave your caravan or motorhome overnight. A pitch can be grass or hardstanding. Hardstanding pitches are often made from concrete, asphalt, or gravel.
This is a fitting that allows the flow of gas from the gas cylinder to the gas-powered appliances on the motorhome or caravan.
This is a camera that is attached to the back of a caravan or motorhome that feeds to a screen placed in the cab. This is very helpful and makes reversing much easier.
This is the name for routine maintenance and system checks that take place on motorhomes. During servicing, a professional will check the systems, oil, lights, tyres, exhaust, brakes, steering, and more.
This is the name for the area of the campsite where you can stop your caravan or motorhome and fill up with fresh water and remove any waste water you have accumulated.
This is a section of bodywork that slides out at the side in order to create more living space once you have parked your motorhome up. This feature is most commonly found in American-style RVs.
This is a safety device that helps stabilise the caravan whilst towing. It helps prevent the caravan from snaking when on the road.
Lots of motorhomes feature swivel seats in the cab. These seats work as the driver and passenger seats when the motorhome is on the road and rotate to face into the living quarters to act as extra seating when the motorhome is pitched up.
This is simply the metal ball that sits on the end of the tow bar on the rear of a car. It is where the caravan’s hitch connects to the car during towing.
These mirrors sit on the end of your car’s wing mirrors to allow you to achieve a suitable rearwards view whilst towing your caravan. In most instances, these mirrors are required by law when you’re towing a caravan.
This stands for Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. This is a system that allows you to monitor the air pressure and temperature of your tyres from inside the cab. In many cases if a caravan is fitted with TPMS, you’ll be able to get a discount on your insurance.
The unladen weight is the name for the weight of the caravan or motorhome when it is not carrying anything. This weight basically includes the body and all of the parts that are essential. Some people refer to the unladen weight as the ‘empty weight’.
Waste water carrier
This is a container that sits on the outside of a caravan or motorhome and collects waste water (excluding toilet waste).
This is an issue that arises when water makes its way inside the body of a caravan causing damp.
Some caravans and motorhomes are fitted with wet lockers, which are storage areas where you can keep ‘wet’ items, like coats and boots. The wet locker tends to be accessed from outside the caravan or motorhome.
This stands for Vehicle Identification Number and is usually on the window of a caravan. This number highlights the caravan’s manufacturer, the year it was built, and other model information.