Monday, January 30, 2023


Ask Dave: How do I adjust the RV door deadbolt so it works?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses the RV door deadbolt.

Dear Dave,
I have a 2018 Wildcat 4 season trailer. I have an issue with the deadbolt lock. The door handle lock works, but the deadbolt will not. How do I adjust the lock? —Michael

Dear Michael,
I have had this situation happen on several vehicle including a very expensive Super C! Typically what has happened in those situation is the door frame has either settled or twisted, and in some cases the door actually warped slightly. In the case of the misaligned door, we used a 2×4 placed across the door and physically bent it back. Seems rather crude; however, this is how Winnebago adjusted doors on the line and I assume still are doing it the same.

Start by marking where the deadbolt hits the strike plate

I would start by putting a color chalk mark on the deadbolt and then close the door and try the lock. The color chalk should show you where it is hitting on the strike plate. You can also leave the deadbolt extended and see where it hits while standing inside the rig and marking the top and bottom.

Also try leveling the rig and see if it makes a difference. We did several demonstrations while conducting Winnebago training sessions showing how much a chassis can twist. We built a 1-foot ramp and drove one wheel up on several other brands. As the rig twisted, the entrance door swung open as well as several storage compartments.

If your deadbolt aligns with the opening in the strike plate but does not go in far enough, then take a look at how straight your door is. Run a 4-foot level up and down to see if it is bowed. It could need adjustment in the middle. In that case, I would place a 2×4 across the top and bottom of the door opening. Push the door against them by pushing in the middle to bring that part in.

You can also use a file and make the hole in the strike plate larger to accommodate the deadbolt. My guess is the deadbolt is just slightly off center and you should be able to adjust the door or make the hole larger.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.


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Michael Theis
1 year ago

Thanks for providing this information. I have a warped door on my out-of-warranty Apex TT. I sent there customer service contact an email regarding how i planned on straightening it and described the same process you describe. They responded that customers can do whatever they want to do but recommended taking it to an authorized dealer.

Dave, your method is going to take money out of the mouths of poor starving dealers and prevent the RV from having a lengthy vacation away from its owner. Nonetheless, I would like to eat too so will use your process.

Mike Leslie
1 year ago

Our situation is a little different. The deadbolt will lock from the inside, or using the key on the outside. BUT the key will NOT unlock the bolt! The inside latch will unlock it. Any ideas?

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Leslie

Hi, Mike. Does this article from Russ and Tina De Maris help you at all? It’s too late at night for me to try to put 2 and 2 together, so I’m not sure if it’s regarding the same problem or not. “Important warning! Bad RV door part can lock your loved ones in the RV” I hope it helps, or that Dave can help you. Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane

Mike Leslie
1 year ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Thank you Diane. I followed your link to read it. It isn’t our issue but found some other ideas to try.

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Leslie

Thanks for letting me know, Mike. Good luck! Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane

1 year ago

I saw this tip someplace and it worked for me. It works if the bolt and striker are only slightly out of adjustment.

“Take a bar of soap and rub it on the bolt to provide lubrication. Repeat as necessary.”

It also works like chalk in showing where the bolt is hitting the striker plate.

1 year ago

While on a road trip, about 300 miles from home base, our door bolt broke. Very cheaply made cast “white” metal. No RV supplier nearby (within 50 miles) had a replacement door lock. Drive home with the door being held shut by only the dead bolt.
A better RV parts store only 45 miles from home had a new replacement. Disconnected the towd, wife went to dealer, picked up the part on the way home.
All happy now.

Tom Hodge
1 year ago

Something similar happened to us recently. While staying in a RV Park in full sun, on the curb side of the 5th wheel the door would not latch closed. After several slams I noticed the door latch was hitting the striker plate. My first thought was the rig somehow became out of level but that wasn’t the case. I finally settled on the full sun caused the door and /or frame to expand thereby creating the misalignment. A couple of new screw holes later and problem solved. I now have two positions for the striker plate.

Just passing on. Could happen to you.

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