15340 I-45 SOUTH | CONROE, TX 77384

7 RV Terms to Know

If you’re going on a road trip or extended camping trip, purchasing an RV can be a fun, exciting, and unique experience. Before you invest in a travel trailer or motorhome, though, there are a few RV terms important for you to keep in mind.

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Understanding More About Your RV

From slang terms to particular motorhome parts, take note of the following important terms describing any RV:

  1. Black/gray water tank
  2. Tow rating
  3. Sway bar system
  4. Tongue weight
  5. Part-timers/full-timers
  6. Hitch capacity

7 RV Terms to Know, Camperland Trailer Sales, Conroe, TX

1) Black/Gray Water Tank

In an RV, black and gray tanks are holding tanks for wastewater. Each tank holds wastewater from different areas of the RV. For example, the black water tank refers to the amount of wastewater from the toilet that your RV can hold. The grey water tank refers to the amount of water from the sinks and showers that an RV can hold.

Pro Tip: Make a list of dump stations you can stop on any road trip so that you can regularly empty both the black and gray water tanks. 

2) Tow Rating

The tow rating is the maximum weight that your tow vehicle can safely tow. The tow rating is given by the vehicle manufacturer and can be an important factor in the size of the RV you intend to rent or purchase.

3) Sway Bar System

An RV can sway side to side while moving on the road. This is expected, especially since an RV is normally towed by another automobile. A sway bar system is a specially-designed equipment piece designed to reduce the sway and stabilize the RV motion. Even wind gusts from passing vehicles won’t affect the RV to sway when this bar system is working properly.

4) Tongue Weight

The tongue weight is the actual weight that is pressing down on the hitch ball located near the rear axle of the towing vehicle. Since the RV has its own wheels as well, the weight distribution does not fully rest on the towing vehicle. Generally, the tongue weight is around 10-15% of the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). Steering can be impacted when there is excess tongue weight downward on the hitch ball. 

5) Part-Timers/Full-Timers

Part-timers and full-timers refer to the amount of time someone uses an RV. For example, full-timers live in their RV year-round. These motor homes require a full hookup, including an electrical hookup that is connected to an outsider power source called shore power, ac power and dc power, a sewer hose, and a freshwater tank. Part-timers, on the other hand, primarily use their RV for vacations and normally use their RV less than 50% of the time 

6) Hitch Capacity

The hitch is the connection between a tow vehicle and an RV. The hitch capacity refers to the towing capacity of the receiver vehicle’s hitch. Hitch capacity is organized into multiple classes to quickly identify the capacity of the hitch. For example, a Class II hitch is a moderate duty hitch and has a tongue weight capacity of 360 lbs. The heaviest duty hitch class is class V which has a tongue weight capacity of up to 2,000 lbs. 

To tow extremely heavy capacities, you can invest in a wheel hitch, which does not have a ball mount, and allows the towing vehicle to tow heavier loads. 


While the three abbreviations may look somewhat similar, these RV terms refer to different specifications for an RV:

  • GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) – the maximum allowable weight of a fully-loaded vehicle, whether it be the tow vehicle or RV.
  • GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) – the maximum allowable combined weight of the tow vehicle and the attached towed vehicle.
  • GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) – specified by the manufacturer, is the total allowable weight on each individual axle, which includes the weight of tires, wheels, brakes, and the axle itself.

Learning to Recognize RV Jargon

Whether you plan to use your RV full-time or part-time, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your RV to ensure you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Familiarize yourself with these key RV terms to start preparing for your next RV purchase in the North Houston area. 

To get more information about choosing the best RV for your family, contact our sales team today.