Locked out of the RV? Learn How To Get Back Inside (Solved)

As embarrassing as it is, everyone’s locked themselves out of something at one point. Be it a house, a car, or an RV, the feeling is equally dreadful. Whether you are locked out because of a malfunction of some kind or a lost key, there are some tricks to getting back into your RV.

Quick Answer

How to get back into your RV depends heavily on the reason you got locked out, as can be expected.

If you’re locked out of your RV because you lost your keys, the first choice would be to call a locksmith, assuming you already retraced your steps and tried to find them. Alternatively, sometimes campgrounds will carry universal keys for common makes/models. Assuming you haven’t altered your locks, they may be able to help.  

Another common cause of a lockout is a malfunctioning lock or a jammed door. Sometimes locks won’t turn, or your key can get stuck, and maybe the door is jammed and won’t open. If your RV has a Global Lockset, this can be a common problem. Before panicking, jiggle your keys a bit to see if you can get in. If that still doesn’t work, there is a common fix for all problems.

Whatever the issue, you can always check your windows or emergency exit, if you have one. If either happens to be unlocked, or you can jimmy a window’s lock with a hanger or string, you may be able to crawl through. If your door has a window that can be opened (in the same fashion), you might be able to slip an arm in and unlock it from the other side.

As you can see, there are plenty of available solutions to get back inside your RV. Which one to use depends entirely on your problem and your specific RV. Let’s take a look at some more detailed causes and solutions.

What to do When Locked out

The first thing to do is not panic. Getting locked out of your vehicle is, while embarrassing, a common mishap. There are plenty of available options to get back inside, and most are at little to no cost.

Common Causes That Lead to a Lockout

There are a multitude of reasons that lead to you being locked out of your RV. Some of them aren’t even your fault. Here are the most common:

  • Lost or missing keys
  • Damaged or malfunctioning entrance door locks
  • Jammed lock or door

Each of these can happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, your door may even automatically lock sometimes when you leave, causing the awkward mishap of your keys now locked inside. And then, when you go to open it, the keys make the telling click, but the door won’t unlock. Any of these scenarios can be incredibly frustrating.

Ways to Access Your RV

Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks to access a locked RV. Many of these can be done by anyone, and at little to no extra cost.

1. Retrace your steps

This is perhaps an obvious tip, but if you are missing your keys, try to think of the last place you had them. If you can’t remember, backtrack through your day and check all locations you’ve been to or places you might have left them. Hopefully, you find your keys. If you can’t, or you think they might be locked inside, there are thankfully other options.

2. Contact Campground Staff

Some campgrounds and RV parks have sympathy for their visitors and weigh the likelihood that their campers may lock themselves out. The front desk may have a set of universal keys available for each brand/make of RV (at least the more popular ones). So long as you haven’t changed your locks from the default, it’s possible campground staff can help you out.

3. Check Windows and Doors

Make sure all windows and doors are locked and fully shut. If you have a partially opened window or an unlocked screen door, back door, or window, you can easily get back in. The crawl through the window might be tight, but you can make it.

If the windows are closed or locked, you might still be able to open or unlock them. Depending on the window, a metal hanger may be able to slip through and roll it down or unlock it. String might also be able to open a lock, depending on the type.

4. Check the Emergency Exit

Most RVs have emergency exit windows. Luckily, all it takes to open from the outside is a screwdriver. Then, all you have to do is crawl through and unlock your door.

5. Pick the Lock

If you’ve lost your keys and the other options are no longer available, you might have to pick the lock. A lock-picking kit is helpful for those who know how to handle one. Alternatively, an Allen wrench and small screwdriver can pick most locks, but again, you’ll have to know how to use them.

For the unskilled lockpicker, however, this can be a challenge. Not only is it not guaranteed to work, but you may also damage your lock in the process. So, this isn’t a great solution for everyone.

6. Call a Locksmith

Assuming your keys are still lost, can’t seem to get in through a window or back door, and you’re not comfortable with picking a lock yourself, it’s probably time to call a locksmith. Of course, this will cost some money, but it’s cheaper and better than trying to force your way in and damaging something.

If you happen to rent with RVshare, they have 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance that covers a locksmith or towing, if that becomes necessary.

7. Jiggle the Keys

If the lock is stuck or jammed, it might be as simple as wiggling your keys around to get it to click.

8. Try Lock Cleaner

Alternatively, the lock might be stuck or jammed due to some particles getting lodged in the way, preventing the lock mechanism from turning. Try a lock cleaner to get it moving again.

8. Push on the Left Door

RVs with the Global Lockset are known to have issues with jamming. The is due to a small lip that sometimes gets stuck or caught. If your lock has a “G” on it, try giving the left door a push, right by the handle.

9. Remove the Lock or Door

If you’re uncomfortable with picking the lock, there is another alternative: remove the lock, or even the door, itself. Sometimes, this is the simplest and best way to get back in your vehicle, avoiding potential damage and saving you the cost of a locksmith.

Keep in mind, this will require the right tools, so keep that toolbox stocked.

11. Call the Manufacturer

If you’ve run out of options and are still holding out on those locksmith costs, the manufacturer might have some other ideas for your specific RV make/model.

How to Avoid Future Lockouts

Now that you’ve figured out how to get back in your RV, here are some tips on how to prevent this mishap from happening again.

Keep a spare set of keys: The obvious solution is to carry a set of spare keys. If you are traveling with company, have someone else hold on to the spare(s).

Placing a spare inside a lockbox is another good and popular option. You can then put the lockbox in a secure location outside the vehicle. Some even come with magnets so that buyers can put them underneath their vehicle.

Know the history of your RV: If you’re renting your RV or bought a used one, make sure to ask about its history. In some makes/models, if the handle is turned or the door closes in a specific way, they are prone to automatically locking.

Maintain your locks: Age, overall use, and grime blockages can all contribute to a lock getting jammed. A little lubrication and some cleaning can go a long way in preventing a lockout scenario. Just use a little WD40 (for lubrication) and Loctite (for cleaning dirt and debris) every so often.

Adopt a coded locking system: Look into a coded locking system. Many newer models of RVs have switched to this system. It eliminates the need for keys entirely, making it an ideal choice for those who frequently lose them.

Hopefully, you know can now get back into your RV and will, ideally, never get locked out again.

How to Repair an Automatically Locking Door/Broken Door Lock

After years of use and a few slammed doors, a bent interior lever might be to blame for your door automatically locking and/or refusing to open. The interior lever is moved by the handle to unlock the door, so if this bends, it might lock to door automatically or cause the door to become stuck.

For the mechanically inclined, this is easy to fix yourself.

Step 1: Unscrew the interior door lock assembly there should be three screws securing it. Unscrew them with a star-bit screwdriver.

Step 2: Move the lock assembly – this will allow you access to the bar inside. Once unscrewed, it should simply swing out of the way.

Step 3: Unbend/bend the lever – use pliers to bend the lever back into position.

Step 4: Put it all back together – put the interior assembly back into place and then secure the inner and outer assemblies with the three screws.

Frequently Asked Questions About RV Lockouts

How do I get a locked motor window open? In the instance that your RV has a powered window instead of a manual one, there is no real easy way to do this. It’s not the same as hooking a hangar around the manual lever.

What do I do when my keyless remote doesn’t work? Hopefully, you have a backup remote. This will allow you to get into your camper and test that the other one is bad.

In the instance that you only have one remote, or it is confirmed to have gone bad, the first step is to check the battery. The battery may need changing or been damaged. If the battery isn’t the issue, you will need to have a professional examine it. Your remote may need to be reprogrammed or replaced.

Are RV locks and keys universal? Many locks will be universal, in some way. A lot of makes/models have master keys to make showing easier. These keys are called CH751 keys. The upside is, if you lose your keys at a campsite, they might have a master key set. The downside, however, is that other campers may have access to your RV.

You can talk to the manufacturer or a locksmith to get the system changed. Or, you can choose to leave it knowing it’s harder to lock yourself out this way.

Are entry door locks on a camper the same as deadbolt locks on a house door? While they bear a similarity, there are some differences. The outside of the door will have a standard lock, just like a normal door. However, the handle will be more like a van or a car.

Another difference is that an RV’s doors cannot be locked from the inside. This is a safety precaution in case of a fire or hazard.

Wrap Up

At the end of the day, there are plenty of ways to get back in your RV when locked out, so don’t panic. While some of them are less pleasant or expensive, it’s not the end of the world. Always look for your keys and try your windows or back door first, as these are the simplest solutions. Hopefully, you get lucky and a window was left unlocked or ajar.

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