Monday, December 5, 2022


Is it possible to get locked INSIDE your RV?


The game, “Ding, dong, dash!” made the rounds in our stix-n-brix subdivision a while back. What happened was some pranksters decided it would be funny to run up to a home, ring the doorbell, and then quickly run away. The game ended when one neighbor’s outside camera got a picture of the pranksters and made a call to the kids’ parents. No more “Ding, dong, dash!” in our neighborhood. At least for now. But this reminded me of something…

RV version of “Ding, dong, dash”?

Some time ago I read about pranksters in an RV park who locked several RVers inside their rigs. How? It was reported that kids flipped the RV’s door assist handle so that it folded against the door, blocking inhabitants inside. The door assist or grab handle is usually found on travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs. During travel, the handle folds and “locks” in place against the RV door. When parked, the handle is repositioned so that it can assist RVers using the entry steps.

True story?

I wondered if this event was true or perhaps an urban myth. If true, I hoped the RV industry had since responded with a safer grab handle configuration.

My own test

I decided to see if an RV version of “Ding, dong, dash” could lock us inside our rig (a 2018 fifth-wheel Vilano). My husband quickly volunteered to lock me inside. Eye roll. He positioned the assist handle so that it rested against our RV’s door, stepped back, and smiled. More eye rolling. I took a deep breath and, with some force, pushed the door open. The grab handle popped back into its assist position.

Video proof?

Here’s a video I found. It demonstrates that becoming trapped inside an RV by the grab handle simply isn’t possible—at least on the model tested. Check it out for yourself.

Try it on your RV just to be sure

It might be wise to perform a test on your own RV, especially if it’s an older model. Who knows? But the story originated years ago and may still apply to some RVs.

Let me know if your grab handle locks you inside your RV. Use the comments below. (And check your emergency exits to make sure you and everyone traveling with you know how to safely use them.)

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Steven N
1 month ago

Our toy hauler has two doors and only one of them has the grab handle that folds over the door so it isn’t an issue for us luckily.

Steve Carlson
1 month ago

Oddly enough I just got locked in my motorhome. We had stopped at a new Mexico information center & couldn’t open the door. I shouted out the window and the passerby got someone inside to come out. A locksmith was called but he couldn’t get it open. We found a R.V. Park & parts store and they drilled for several hours. About 4 hours later we were free. A bunji cord held the door shut until we got home & today I get to order a replacement door handle & lock. It’s always something.

1 month ago

Parked our motorhome in front of our daughter’s home we both went in the house the next morning not realizing that we locked the door from the inside the night before and didn’t unlock it when we went out..we locked ourselves out with both sets of keys on the inside..thankfully we had insurance that came and quickly unlocked it so we could get back on the road…first stop was a local locksmith for an extra set of keys and a magnetic box to put on the outside..could have been worse if we had been boondocking in the middle of nowhere..HIDE an outside key!

Thomas D
1 month ago

My first truck camper fits in the box with a little room left over. My buddy decided to close the tailgate and laugh his butt off while we tried to get out. Finally released us and I made a bracket that was bolted on to prevent that occurring again.

Tom Murphy
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Buy a wireless RV Lock. Work great!

Larry Lee
1 month ago

Accidently locked my wife inside once when I used the lower outside lock which is not accessible from inside. Thankfully I was not gone long. We are more careful now.

Jeff A
1 month ago

I believe I’ve said we have been locked in before. Short version, deadbolt became disconnected in lock position. Had enough tools to dissemble from inside

Jerry Lathem
1 month ago

Yes, the bolt on the door lock snapped and was spring loaded to hold the door locked, there was no way to move it. A YouTube video later showed a way to take trim off the door and with a butter knife, open the door.

Micheal Whelan
1 month ago

WE have been locked both in and out of our Tiffin by a faulty dead bolt. The dead bolt has a mind of its own and unexpectedly decides to “latch” itself during the unlocking process. If you didn’t notice this has occurred and you release the door latch the deadbolt gets in a bind. The only way to release it is to firmly close the door which releases the pressure from the dead bolt and it then works fine. I have repaired it twice and is now working as it should. I think it is time to invest in a new mechanism. Maybe one of the combination locks would be a good upgrade….

Dan M
1 month ago

My grab bar can’t lock me in but I did note that the handle, not the deadbolt, can only be locked or unlocked from the outside on my camper. So until I get a new lock (probably one of the keypad locks) if someone had the matching key on their rig they could lock my handle so I couldn’t open it from inside. I haven’t tested it by locking myself in but I have confirmed with the door open that I can lock the handle from the outside and not open it from the inside. But worst case that’s what the emergency exit windows are for I suppose.

David Fisher
1 month ago

We were locked in our class A. The entrance door lock inside mechanism failed and we had to get our neighbor to open it from the outside.

Chip S
1 month ago

Actually happened to us. A screw that holds the latch plate in place backed out and jammed between the door and deadbolt receptacle. Total disassembly of door lock still did not release the door – always using lock-tight on RV screws going forward.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

You may be inconvenienced by such pranks, but even if the handle IS fully secured to block the door (unlikely as shown), you cannot be locked inside your RV. At worst, every RV has a secondary emergency exit through a window. It may not be easy and certainly not convenient, but you can escape without any major fear of damage to your RV.

1 month ago

Our 2014 Thor Axis had an issue with the door mechanism. While at the KOA in Las Cruces our door would not open from the inside. The local mobile RV repair was able to release the door catch with the assistance of my expert inside door handle wiggling. As he was replacing the defective plastic part of the mechanism he noticed the passenger seat was not bolted down in the rear. We thought the rocking of the passenger seat going down the road was a feature.

1 month ago

I have the first type of grab handle, had me concerned till I saw the video. Thanks, that’s a relief.

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