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RV Terms and Lingo - A Beginner's Guide

Caravan, Campervan or Motorhome? A Beginner's Guide to RV’s Caravan, Campervan or Motorhome? A Beginner's Guide to RV’s
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When first getting into the world of RV’s it can be hard to understand all of the terms and lingo used. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the ones you’re most likely to see.




Recreational vehicle. This can include caravans, campervans, pop-tops, camper trailers and motorhomes.



The RV set-up. "Did you see our neighbour's new rig? He's got a brand new Windsor motorhome!"



Caravans are portable homes secured to a chassis that are towed behind a vehicle. They are made from fibreglass/plastic composites, timber or aluminium and can be anywhere between 6 and 9 metres in overall length.



Campervans are portable homes built into a motorised van chassis. They are usually between 4.7 and 7.4 metres in length.



Motorhomes are portable homes fitted to the back of a motorised truck chassis. They can range between 6 and 8 metres in overall length.


Winnebago Motorhome

Pictured: Winnebago Coogee Motorhome.


Pop Top

A caravan or campervan that has an extendable roof, increasing the height inside the vehicle. It is usually extended when setting up at a destination, and compacted for travel.


Camper Trailer

A low profile RV that is secured to an a-frame and needs to be towed by a vehicle. It has expandable sections that fold out or are raised.



The number of people that can sleep and legally travel in the RV.


Free Camp

A campsite off the grid where RV owners who stay there need to be completely self-sufficient. Their vehicles must have their own access to power, water and be able to collect their grey and black water waste.


Fresh Water Tank

A tank installed on your RV that stores fresh drinking water.


Grey Water Tank

A tank installed on your RV that collects waste water from showers and sinks. It can be emptied into campsite drains, stored or run into the garden depending on the site. Each has different rules so check before you arrive.


Black Water Tank

A tank installed on your RV that collects the waste from the toilet cassette. It must be emptied at a dump point.


Dump Point

A designated point where grey and black water tanks can be emptied.


Dump Point

Pictured: A dump point used for empting grey and black water tanks.


Hitched Up

Another way of saying that the towed RV (caravan or camper trailer) is connected to your driving vehicle and ready to drive.


Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)

The maximum mass that can be towed by a fully loaded vehicle. This includes the tare mass and the weight of the load with passengers.


Gross Combination Mass (GCM)

The rating provided by the towing vehicle manufacturer of the maximum weight of the RV (including towing vehicle). This can’t be exceeded. 


Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)

The total allowable weight of the vehicle being towed (caravan). This includes the tow ball mass and payload.


Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)

The total allowable weight that the caravan can carry. This includes the caravan and its payload but not the tow ball mass.


Tare Mass

The total weight of the caravan without gas bottles, water in the tanks and luggage. 



The maximum weight the RV can carry. To find this, deduct the tare mass from the ATM. 


Tow Ball/Coupling Mass

The maximum weight supported by the towing vehicle on the towbar.


Tow Ball

Pictured: A tow ball attached to the back of a vehicle.



Feel like an expert yet? Great! Now if the only thing holding you back is an RV, click the link below to see our range of caravans, campervans and motorhomes for sale.



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