How to Unlock an RV or Camper Door Without a Key

Last updated on September 13th, 2021 at 12:20 pm. Originally published on May 7th, 2015

It’s happened to a lot of travelers at some point. After a day of adventure and fun, you return to your RV and discover that while you were hiking or kayaking or sightseeing…you lost the keys to the door. Or perhaps you accidentally locked them inside, or you have them but the lock is maddeningly stuck. The end result is the same – you can’t get into your motorhome.

How to unlock a camper door without a key

If you find yourself locked out of your RV, don’t panic! There are several possible solutions you can try to get back inside. 

What To Do If You Get Locked Out Of Your RV

The first thing to do when you discover you’re locked out is this – take a deep breath. It can be a frustrating discovery, but it is a fixable one. After you’ve taken a few calming breaths, try one of the following:

1.) Retrace your steps if possible

Begin by checking the places you’ve been while you had your keys, if you can. Check calmly through any backpacks, purses, or pockets and look inside your car if you took a vehicle out for the day. Look under and around your RV. If there is a campground host or office, check with them to see if anyone turned your keys in to them during the day. 

2.) Ask to borrow a neighbor’s keys

If you haven’t altered your RV door locks, you likely have a universal lock that can be opened with a CH751 key. That’s right, RVs are made with universal locks for doors and storage areas. Check with other campers, or see if the campground office or host has a CH751 key you can use to open your door. 

How to Unlock Your Camper Door Without a Key

If you can’t retrieve your keys and your RV doesn’t open with a CH751 key, you can try these steps for how to unlock a camper door without a key.

Check the windows

First, check to see if any of your windows are open and if you can get inside that way. Your RV likely also has an emergency window, to allow people to escape in case of fire. Although the emergency window is intended to be opened from the inside, you can often get it open from the outside with a screwdriver. If you don’t have access to your tools, check with a neighbor or the campground office to see if they can assist you. This probably isn’t the first time the campground office has had to help someone who’s been locked out!

Call a locksmith

If you haven’t recovered your key and still can’t get in, you can call a locksmith to help. Be sure to describe your problem and the vehicle you need to get into, so you can be sure the locksmith you selected can help. This is certainly more expensive than the above options, but it’s cheaper than breaking the door or window to get inside. If you rent an RV with RVshare, their 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance covers a locksmith, or towing if your RV needs to be taken to town before it can be unlocked. AAA members may also be covered, and other insurance companies might cover the cost as well.

Remove the lock – or even the door

Because this could damage your RV lock or door, it’s best left to the experts. If your campground host has lots of experience with this, or if you feel confident you can do it, this is an option. However, if you’re in doubt it’s best to defer to the experts and call a locksmith instead.  

If your lock is stuck

Perhaps you have your key, but the lock won’t turn, the key gets stuck, or the door is jammed and won’t open. This can be a common problem for RVs with the Global Lockset. You’ll know if you have a Global lock, because it will have a “G” on it. Global locks have a small lip that can jam and keep the door from opening. Push on the left of the door, near the handle, while you’re trying to open the door and it should come unlocked. 

Older RVs can often suffer from jammed locks as they age. Start by jiggling the key around to see if you can get it to click. You can also try WD40 or a lock cleaner to see if that gets the mechanism moving.

RV & Camper Lock Questions

How do I avoid getting locked out again?

To avoid a jammed lock that would prevent you getting into your RV, be sure to keep them cleaned and well-oiled with a lubricant like WD40 or Loctite. A little maintenance by checking your lock every so often and oiling if it needs it can prevent getting locked out at a bad moment.

To avoid getting locked out when you lose your keys, you may want to consider a lockbox. A lockbox lets you store your key somewhere else, perhaps in the compartment where you keep your propane tanks or batteries. After punching in your lockbox code, you can retrieve the spare set of keys and let yourself in.

You should also check and see if someone you’re traveling with can carry a spare key. If you lose yours, you’ll have one other person who should have keys to get in.

You may also want to consider getting a coded lock system for your RV. Simply punch a code into the lock and access your RV that way, rather than with a key. Most coded lock systems also have a backup key in case the battery in the system dies, so you’ll have that as an option as well.

Are RV Locks And Keys Interchangeable?

Many manufacturers do make the same locks for RVs because they discovered it was easier for dealers to show RVs without needing multiple keys. As we discussed above, these are called CH751 keys and can open a variety of locks.

You may want to talk to a dealer or locksmith about changing the locks on your RV so they’re not the same as everyone else’s and are harder to break into. Of course, that makes it harder for you to break into your own RV if you lock yourself out, but you also want to protect your valuables from thieves. It’s a tradeoff!

Although initially discovering you have locked yourself out of your RV can be stressful, a calm breath and following these steps can get you back inside.

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