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Motorhome Jargon - What does it Mean?

The Southdowns Motorhome Centre guide to motorcaravan speak

A motorcaravan that has a purpose built body on a chassis. The living area and the cab are made by the factory.

Automatic energy selection. This is a feature of many fridges, that enables them to automatically switch between 12V, 240V and gas power sources.

A chassis extension used to improve handling and lower floor height. Double-floor Alko chassis are used to provide underfloor storage.

The number of sleeping areas provided by a motorhome. This is not always the same as the number of seats.

Captain's chair
Often used as driver's seats, these are comfortable, stand-alone seats that have a swivel base, arm rests and are easily adjusted.

Alternative name for a coachbuilt camper (see below).

Cassette toilet
Toilets featuring a holding tank accessed via a hatch on the outside of the vehicle. Waste can be disposed of by removing a slide-out cassette.

Certified location
Sites approved by the Caravan Club - sometimes known as CL sites.

Certified sites
As above but run by the Camping and Caravanning Club.

Chemical toilet
Bottles of chemicals are used to keep the toilet fresh.

A motorcaravan that has a body built on an chassis that retains the chassis manufacturers existing cab.

Common rail
A fuel injection system used on the latest turbo-diesel engines. These are claimed to increase fuel economy.

Delivery Charge
The cost of bringing a motorcaravan from the factory to the dealership, which is passed on to the customer.

A popular style for motorhome seating, a dinette features a table between two bench seats. This layout can often be converted to form a bed.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport. Their primary aims are to facilitate road safety and general law enforcement by maintaining registers of drivers and vehicles, and to collect taxation - vehicle excise duty (VED). The DVLA website can be found at

Earth Leakage Contact Breaker - also known as an RCD or Residual Current Device.

A price that excludes on-the-road costs such as road fund licence, delivery charge and number plates.

Flame Failure Device (FFD)
A device used on gas appliances to stop gas escaping into a vehicle if the flame goes out.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
The maximum permitted loaded weight of a vehicle. It is an offence to take a vehicle onto a public highway that has a total weight in excess of its GVW.

Heavy Goods Vehicle. This term is now being replaced with LGV, meaning Large Goods Vehicle.

A term used to describe items found inside a motorhome, ie watertanks.

Living Section
The sleeping, eating and seating area of a motorcaravan, not including the cab.

Low Profile
A coachbuilt motorhome with no sleeping area over the cab. The more streamlined shape is designed to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy.

Liquid Petroleum Gas - a green fuel alternative that can be used to power petrol vehicles and which is available at many UK petrol stations. If you own a large motorhome, this could be a way to cut your fuel bills.

An overcab area usually featuring an integral sleeping compartment.

Mains hook-up
Available on campsites to allow motorhomes to connect to a 240V electricity supply.

Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM)
A new term now used to describe Gross Vehicle Weight (see definition above). It means exactly the same thing but is considered less open to misinterpretation.

Payload is used by motorhome manufacturers to indicate how much a vehicle can carry. It is the difference between the Vehicle Unladen Weight (VUW) and the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

Pre-delivery inspection carried out by a dealer prior to delivery.

Private/Light Goods Vehicle.

Private HGV
Private Heavy Goods Vehicle.

Right hand drive.

Panels built around the lower edge of a motorcaravan which are often knock-resistant and may house storage lockers.

Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
Statutory off Road Notification (SORN) applies to any vehicle taxed on or after 31 January 1998. A declaration must be made by the vehicle's keeper whenever the licence is not renewed or is surrendered for refund. Keepers acquiring untaxed vehicles must license them or declare SORN if they are kept 'off road'. If your vehicle was not taxed on 31 January 1998 (ie classic cars, vehicles stored away for restoration, etc), you do not need to take any action until it is next taxed.

Vehicle Unladen Weight (VUM)
Vehicle Unladen Weight (VUM) normally means the empty weight as a motorcaravan left the factory, ie without water, fuel, gas bottles or persons on board. Your 'empty' vehicle is likely to weigh more.

Offered by manufacturers and dealers to cover certain items against defects for a set period of time. Look for a warranty that covers the base unit and the living area of the motorcaravan for up to three years.