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Jargon Decoder

Hints & Tips

A-Frame – the triangular frame at the front of the caravan, between the hitch and the main body.

ABS – short for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene which is the plastic used to build caravan panels.

Actual Laden Weight – the total weight of the caravan and its contents when it is being towed, this weight must not exceed the maximum technically permissible laden mass or the MTPLM.

Awning – it can be attached to the side of a caravan to create more living space.

Berth – equates to how many spaces for passenger accommodation there are, therefore a four berth van means there is sleeping space for four.

Breakaway cable – provides a secondary coupling between the caravan handbrake and the tow bar via means of a thin steel cable. This is a legal requirement on modern trailers.

Cassette Toilet – a form of chemical toilet where the waste holding tank can be accessed from outside the caravan, can be removed for emptying without having to transport the whole toilet to the emptying point.

Chemical toilet – a self contained toilet, the waste material is held in a sealed tank and is emptied on a periodical basis. Special chemicals can be added to the tank and helps break down waste and keeps the system odour free.

Corner steady – used to stabilise the caravan whilst in use, normally built into the corner of the caravan.

CRIS – stands for The Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme which registers all caravans.

Dinette – the main seating area that can consist of facing seats with a table, usually removable, in between. This area can usually be converted into a bed.

Full Service pitch – the pitch has a fresh water supply, waste water disposal, TV aerial connection and mains electricity.

Gross Train Weight – this is the combined weight or total laden weight of the car and caravan, or 'outfit'. This weight should not exceed the amount of the caravans MTPLM and towcars Gross Vehicle Weight.

Gross Vehicle Weight – the weight of the vehicle when it is loaded to its maximum, this is normally stated by the vehicle manufacturer.

Hook up – a feature on a pitch which connects a caravan to the mains electricity supply.

Kerbweight – the empty weight of a motor vehicle, without fuel, passengers and luggage, as stated by its maker.

Mass in running order (MRO) – the total weight of a caravan equipped to the manufacturer's standard specification.

Maximum Authorised Weight – a maximum weight for which a caravan is designed when being used on a road fully loaded, this is usually applied to older models. Newer models use the term Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass in its place.

Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) – see above.

Maximum Towing Limit – the most weight a car may tow as specified by the manufacturer.

National Caravan Council – the trade association for all suppliers, manufacturers and dealers who are responsible for certifying that all new caravans produced conform to all relevant and European standards.

Nose weight – The maximum downward force your tow ball can bear or your caravan exerts.

Outfit – the caravan and towing vehicle considered as one body.

User payload – the weight of personal effects that a caravan can store. To work out the user payload subtract the MRO from the MTPLM.

Wet locker – storage area for mud-covered or dirty items which is isolated from the rest of the caravan.