Important Towing Terminologies Every RVer Should Know

rv and trailer hitches

If you are a new RVer, you may be worried about the heavy equipment, load distribution, towing equipment and of course the technical terms that you need to know and follow. Most of the important terminologies come in abbreviations, and most of them are required to be followed by law. In fact, knowing most of these terms would also help you in figuring out which RV or towing vehicle is right for you.

Here are some important terminologies that you should be aware of:

Breakaway Cables

Breakaway cables are attached to the trailer and the vehicle, and perform the function of engaging the trailer brakes in case the trailer starts to separate from the vehicle.

Drivers are supposed to know when the breakaway cables have tightened and are engaging the brakes.

Ball Height

When the trailer coupler is hooked to the towing vehicle, the ball should be at a specific height. This is known as the ball height.

The ball height entirely depends on the type of trailer being towed.

Curb Weight

Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle with all its components, including fuel. This does not include the weight of the passenger or the luggage.

Tare Weight

Tare weight is the weight of the trailer, which is written on the trailer itself before it leaves the manufacturing facility. Again, this does not include passengers, luggage or any sort of modifications that the dealer performed on the trailer.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

GVWR refers to the total weight a towing vehicle can pull, which includes the weight of the trailer, passengers and any other luggage. This is usually given on the vehicle door, as it is a required by law.

Tongue Weight

Tongue weight is the total weight that the trailer places on the hitch. Tongue weight should be within 10% of the entire weight of the trailer. If it gets too high or too low, it would become difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.


The coupler is part of the trailer that goes over the ball and connects the trailer to the vehicle.

Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)

ATM is the total permitted weight of the trailer on its wheels and coupling. This includes everything that could possibly be stored inside the trailer.

Manufacturers usually have this printed on the luggage boot of trailer. This weight should never be exceeded as it would compromise the safety of the trailer on the road. The driver could also be held liable if they are found violating the ATM.

Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)

GTM is the maximum permitted weight that can be placed on the wheels of the trailer, and does not include coupling. GTM is also quoted by the manufacturer and is a requirement by the law.

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