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How To Avoid Being Locked Out Of An RV


A keyless entry system may prevent you from getting locked out of an RV. Photo via RV LIFE

How To Avoid Being Locked Out Of An RV

A quick Google search will reveal many blogs, articles, and stories about people locked out of an RV. Some of those articles will explain how they managed to break into their particular model. It seems that just about everyone who has owned an RV has locked themselves out of it at least once. So why is it so easy to do, and how can one avoid being locked out of an RV?

How RV lockouts happen

Three main reasons cause people to get locked out of their RV. They lost their key, the handle lock was engaged by mistake, or the key/lock was broken. The handle lock may be most common for new RVers who are not used to how RV doors lock.

Types of RV locks

Most RVs have two locks, a handle lock, and a deadbolt lock. The deadbolt uses a unique key to secure your RV when you are away. Just like a house, the deadbolt is engaged with a key on the outside and knob on the inside.

There is no way to engage the deadbolt without consciously using the key. That means it would be rather difficult for anyone to lock the deadbolt with the key inside the RV. The handle lock, on the other hand, is a different story.

A traditional RV lock – Photo via Youtube

Handle locks and master keys

The handle lock has been used for years to assist dealerships and others in the RV industry. It can be engaged with a switch on the inside or a key from the outside. The handle lock key is not unique to each and every RV. The lock uses a master key that opens basically all the locks in that model.

There is usually a letter etched near the keyhole. That letter corresponds to a master key of the same letter. This way, RV dealers only have to carry around a few master keys to unlock their entire inventory, rather than a key for each rig.

All of that is well and good for dealers, but it makes the handle lock rather useless. Consider that there are approximately 21 master keys used most often. In a full 100-site RV park, it’s probable that at least 4-5 other people will have a key to each other’s handle lock. 

Lack of security is not the only fault of the handle lock. It is possible to accidentally flip the locking switch to the lock position and still close the door. The unlucky RVer who discovers this quirk will be locked out if they don’t have a key. There are a few stories found in RV forums like iRV2.com of pets who like to jump on the door to watch their people leave, accidentally flipping the handle lock switch with their paws.

Avoid being locked out of an RV

Being locked out of your RV can induce a feeling of panic. It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to solve the problem is to never be locked out in the first place. There are a few things RVers can do to avoid being locked out of their RV.

Keep spare keys

Many products on the market attach to your vehicle or RV and allow you to stash a spare key. For those who aren’t comfortable placing a key outside their rig, keeping a spare set of keys in a tow/towing vehicle is an option.

Having a set of keys in your vehicle works well if you lose your RV key. It won’t help much if the car keys are locked in the RV as well, though.

For added security, lockboxes with codes that are used on homes for sale can be locked onto multiple places outside an RV. Just make sure that you not only store a spare deadbolt key but have a spare handle lock key too.

Get a keyless entry system

Regardless of what type of handle or locking system you use, it is always a good idea to have a spare somewhere. Installing a keyless locking system will ensure you will most likely always have access to your RV. Instead of a key, they use a number code or wireless key fob to lock and unlock the rig.

“Keyless entry locks are an ideal choice not just for home security measures but for convenience. Once you start using a keyless lock you’ll wonder why you waited so long to enjoy the many benefits they offer.”

Rene Agredano shared in her article titled Keyless RV Door Locks: Are They Worth It?

Maintain your lock

If your lock is getting hard to turn or not working properly, it may be a good idea to take a look inside. It may need some lubrication or screws may have vibrated loose.

Keeping your locks maintained and lubricated can prevent you from getting locked out of your RV
Screws that may come loose. Source: RVlife.com

What happens if you get locked out of an RV?

Most people don’t start googling about being locked out of their RV until they are already locked out. It makes sense, considering if everyone preemptively knew they were going to lock themselves out, they would take action to prevent it. Taking the above steps can go a long way to prevent RV lockouts.

If you find yourself on the wrong side of your own locked door, there are several things to try. You may first check to see if you have left any windows partially open or unlatched. It may be possible to remove emergency exit windows with a screwdriver.

It may also be possible to remove the lock or the whole door with tools. Some RVs have ways in through the lower compartments that are only covered by a piece of loose plywood under a seat or the bed.

See also: 11 Mods and Upgrades We Recommend for Most RVs

Levi Henley

Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, workamp around the country in their 26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines, they recently published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips on their own blog henleyshappytrails.com as well as videos on their YouTube Channel, also called Henley's Happy Trails.

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