I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. My camper door jammed, and for some reason, the key won’t seem to budge.
Even worse, maybe you lost your key altogether. Whatever the reason, all you know is that you are locked out with no way back into your camper.
How do you get back into your camper without a key?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic way to get back into your camper without a key. You will have to call a locksmith or replace the lock yourself. There is also the option to try and break in via other means, but they will result in more expensive repairs down the line.
Without a key to unlock your camper door, it is easy to get frustrated and want to force your way inside. In most cases, this should be an absolute last resort.
Not only will we give you a few options to try if you get stuck in this situation, but we will also detail how to prevent this from happening in the first place.
What To Do If You Get Locked Out Of Your RV
In the moment, it can be tempting to try and pick the lock or even break into your RV by force.
Both of these options could get you inside, but they can end up causing damage to the door.
There are two main reasons people get locked out of their campers: misplaced keys or the lock is jammed.
We will detail how to solve each problem and then discuss a couple of other recommended solutions.
1: What to Do if You Lost Your Keys
Losing or misplacing keys may be one of the most common reasons someone gets locked out of their camper.
The best thing to do if you are someone that often does this is to have spare keys on hand.
However, if you don’t, the best thing to do is to spend time searching for the keys.
Go back through your day and think about where you could have lost them. Even consider retracing your steps.
If you are unable to find the keys, go talk to the campground office and see if anyone turned keys into them.
If you have factory-installed locks on your RV, there is a good chance that someone else in the neighborhood has the same keys as you.
Yes, this is alarming, but many RVs have universal locks to both their doors and storage areas.
These keys are called CH751. You can ask other RVers or the campground office if they have one of these keys on hand. Then, you can use that key to get back inside.
2: What to Do if the Lock is Jammed
The next most common reason you’re stuck outside your RV is that the door or lock itself if jammed.
What I mean by jammed is that you’ve been able to unlock the deadbolt, but the door still will not open for some reason.
So, the key works, but the door and lock don’t seem to be functioning correctly.
This is a common issue, especially for new RV owners that have the Global Lockset.
If you have a Global lock, it will have a “G” on it. These types of locks get “stuck” because there is a small lip that gets the opening function stopped up.
All you have to do is push on the left of the door near the handle while you’re trying to open it, and it should unlock.
If you have an older model camper, parts of the lock system can also get jammed due to use and age. You may need to wiggle the key around a bit to get it to work.
There are also products like WD40 and lock cleaners (Loctite) that can help the lock turn smoothly again.
How to Unlock Your Camper Door Without a Key
If you are unable to get back into your camper using the suggestions above, then there are a few other things you can try.
We’ve outlined the three next most effective ways to unlock your camper door without a key below.
1: Use the Emergency Window
Most campers will have an emergency window that you can use to exit your RV in case of a fire or other emergency.
A good rule of thumb, if you get locked out, is to double-check all entrances to see if they’re locked or not. There is always a chance you forgot to lock a window.
If you bought your RV from a dealer, they should have shown you how to use the emergency window.
Most emergency windows are intended to be opened from the inside. However, you can get in from the outside if you have a screwdriver.
Depending on the size of your rig, you may also need a ladder to access the window.
If you do not have a screwdriver, ask neighboring campers or the camp office if you can use it for a short time.
2: Call a Locksmith
If you’ve gone through the processes outlined above and for some reason, you still cannot get into your RV, then you may have to call a locksmith.
This will be the most expensive option (other than breaking your door or a window).
If there isn’t a locksmith in the immediate area, some towing companies will have locksmith services as well.
Make sure that when you’re consulting a towing company that you ask if they offer lock services before you ask them to come.
The good thing about this option is that if you have towing insurance, it will usually cover the cost of a towing company helping you unlock the door.
Some RV insurance providers offer specific lockout insurance as well.
The last option that I’ll explain today is removing the lock or picking the lock. Both of these involve the availability of tools.
This isn’t the most popular choice because of that reason. Either you won’t have the tools, or you are locked out away from your tools.
You can always ask to borrow tools from a neighbor or the campground staff.
They will likely have tools precisely for this type of scenario, and the staff may even be able to assist you.
To pick the lock, you may be able to jimmy the door lock open with an Allen wrench and a screwdriver.
This will most likely result in damaging the lock and requiring you to replace it.
The alternative to this is removing the lock. You can also choose to remove the entire door. Removing the lock is usually the easiest access point to enter, but you will need tools to do so.
I didn't go into a step by step process here because I felt like this could have its own article. Thoughts?
Ways to Prevent a Lockout in the Future
One of the best things you can do is to put in preventative measures to ensure you will not be locked out of your RV.
If you’ve experienced a lockout, then you’ll know what a pain it can be. Here are some of the best ways to prevent a future lockout.
Door Lock Maintenance
This was mentioned a bit earlier when we talked about if your door lock gets jammed.
One reason a lock is jammed is due to age or overall use.
When it comes to general maintenance, it goes a long way to lubricate and clean locks and door hinges.
To do this, keep some WD40 and Loctite on hand. WD40 will help lubricate the lock and hinges while the Loctite will keep the lock clean and debris free.
Consider a Coded Locking System
If you frequently misplace your keys, you may want to consider a coded locking system.
This will eliminate the need for a key. Now, since many of these are battery-operated, they do have a key for backup in case the batteries die.
Many newer RV models have already switched to a coded lock system.
They will also have a wireless keyfob that will lock or unlock the door when you are in range.
Use a Lockbox
This is one of the best alternatives if you need to store a spare key somewhere.
These are great because you can also hide ignition keys in here.
Lockboxes are a safe way to keep a key hidden and only accessible to people that have the code to open the box.
Be sure that you do not put your lockbox in plain sight. Most people know that spare keys are hidden in lockboxes, so if you leave it in the open, you’re inviting people to steal your keys.
A great place to hide the lockbox is in the compartment that houses propane tanks and batteries.
Most of the other storage boxes under the camper will have locks on them. So, choose the ones that do not lock for safety reasons.
If you put your lockbox in here, just be sure that you don’t attach it to a pipe of any kind.
Another alternative is to get a lockbox that uses a heavy-duty magnet. You’d be able to connect the lockbox to the underside of your camper and keep it out of sight.
This is a great option, but not entirely as secure. My fear would be losing the lockbox when I’m on the road and then getting locked out only to find it wasn’t there.
Other Frequently Asked Camper Door Lock Questions
Are RV Locks and Keys Universal?
Many RV locks will be universal. Manufacturers switched to using the same master keys to make it easier for dealers to show RVs without having to use multiple keys.
These master keys are referred to as a CH751 key. Both the entry door lock and storage bins are accessible with these keys.
So, if you buy a camper, travel trailer, or RV from a dealership, ask them about changing the lock.
If they do not use the universal key system, then you won’t have to worry about this.
However, it is strongly recommended to find out as having the same lock system as every other camper seems like a safety hazard for you and your belongings.
Are Camper Entry Door Locks the Same as Deadbolt Locks on a House?
They are similar, but they are not quite the same. Most RVs and campers will use a standard locking mechanism that utilizes a deadbolt type system.
The outside of the door will have a standard lock, and the main difference will be the door handle.
It will be flush with the door and be similar to the door handle on a van. When the door is locked, the handle will not pull forward.
The main difference comes from the inside. The inside of most RV door locks will have a manual locking mechanism.
You won’t be able to lock or unlock the door with the key from the inside.
This is a safety precaution in case of a fire as you cannot be locked inside the camper from the outside.
From market farming to wilderness survival guide to forestry technician and climbing instructor, Meg has an eclectic work history. But the common factor across all her pursuits is the outdoors. With a formal education in writing, Meg can translate her outdoor experiences into accessible and relatable content for any reader. Meg is based in Phoenix, AZ where she splits her time between writing and new desert adventures.