Glossary of RV Terms

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Term Definition
tail swing

All motorhomes built on chassis with short wheelbases and long overhangs behind the rear axle are susceptible to "tail swing" when turning sharply. As the motorhome moves in reverse or turns a corner, its extreme rear can move horizontally and strike objects nearby (typically road signs and walls). Drivers need to be aware of the amount of "tail swing" in order to prevent accidents.


Two or more sheets of glass set apart from one another with a vacuumed space between to prevent condensation and reduce heat loss.


a 5-speed automatic transmission designed by Ford to be used with diesel engines producing 650 ft.lbs. of torque. It is not your typical "light truck" transmission. Also found in all F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550, Expedition, and E-Series.

Tow / Haul

on Ford engines, Tow/Haul mode modifies the shift schedule, and provides engine braking in hilly terrain.

tow rating

The manufacturer's rating of the maximum weight limit that can safely be towed by a particular vehicle. Tow ratings are related to overall trailer weight, not trailer size, in most cases. However, some tow ratings impose limits as to frontal area of the trailer and overall length. Tow ratings are determined by the vehicle manufacturer according to several criteria, including engine size, transmission, axle ratio, brakes, chassis, cooling systems and other special equipment.


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

toy hauler

An RV with a garage for carrying motorized fun machines such as ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, jet skis, dune buggies or other toys. Toy haulers can be motorized or towable.


Thermoplastic Polyolefin

trailer breaks

Brakes that are built into the trailer axle systems and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism. The overwhelming majority of RVs utilize electric trailer brakes that are actuated when the tow vehicle's brakes are operated, or when a brake controller is manually activated. Surge brakes utilize a mechanism positioned at the coupler that detects when the tow vehicle is slowing or stopping and activates the trailer brakes via a hydraulic system.

transmission cooler

A heat exchanger similar to a small radiator through which automatic transmission fluid passes and is cooled by airflow.

travel trailer

Designed to be towed by a car, van or pickup by means of a bumper or frame hitch, the travel trailer provides all the comforts of home and is perfectly adaptable for weekend getaways, family vacations, and fulltiming.


a type of Ford engine. In a Class A, 6.8L 3-valve, V10, 362hp. In a Class C, 6.8L 2-valve V10, 305hp.

truck camper

A unit loaded onto, or affixed to, the bed or chassis of a pickup, the truck camper is popular for backroad journeys, accessing remote locales and family recreational camping.


A cap that is notched on both sides, allowing up to a 90-degree turning radius even with shorter bed pickups. A cap-mounted mirror gives the driver a solid view of the hitch from inside the truck for a more confident hookup.


Hitch Weight or Tongue Weight (TW) is the amount of weight pressing down on the vehicle’s hitch or 5th wheel connection when the trailer is fully loaded for travel. Tongue weight for a travel trailer can be 10-15 percent of overall weight; fifth-wheel hitch weight is usually 18-20 percent of the overall weight.

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