Friday, December 8, 2023


Think your RV is locked when you turn the key? Not necessarily!

When you lock the door of your RV do you assume that it’s then secure? You might be wrong. There’s a good chance one (or more) of your closest neighbors could use his or her own RV key to open your rig. Here’s a story to illustrate how this can happen as found on the Keystone RV Trailer Owners Group at Facebook.

The original post by Ron S.
We are camping in Colorado Springs area and a strong storm rolled in with high winds. Several of our fellow campers left for the day and left their awnings out. There must have been about nine all together. While one guy was trying to tie down the worst ones flapping around, it was suggested by my son-in-Law that we all try our keys on their campers. Between the six keys we had, we got inside every camper, and put down the awnings. 

Take this as a good thing or bad. We figured out we saved about $30,000 in awnings. 

But I’m not sure I feel comfortable about my locks now. It’s a great way to help our fellow campers, but I’ve seen some that I do not want, no way, in my camper.

A member of the group responded:
One is a standard lock, and the other is a dead bolt. Your key will open many “door locks” but only one deadbolt. I think they leave out a few tumblers on the door locks. This became apparent to me when I left my unit at the dealership for repair, and locked both locks. I received a call from the service tech, that they could not get into the unit. He explained that if I had only locked the “door lock,” he could have easily gotten in, but the “dead bolt” required a unique key that only I had. He also mentioned that on the lot they only use the “door lock” at night to make it easier to open up all the trailers in the morning. —Gary H.

Have you had an experience like this? Please leave a comment.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Alan Wood (@guest_119621)
2 years ago

On my older (1998) Winnebago, the cargo doors are not CH751. I lost 1 of the cargo doors key and purchased a CH751 key and it would not work on any of the cargo doors. I had to order a new key from Winnebago.

Kenneth Veit (@guest_77287)
3 years ago

Also CH751 key on about every storage door out there on a camper

Kenneth Veit (@guest_77285)
3 years ago

Drove me crazy to have 2 different sets of keys for 2 different doors on my camper. I ran the key codes and both lock had the same wafers in different places. It was easy to rearrange to fit the one key. I’m a locksmith I should add.

Guy (@guest_77272)
3 years ago

I had to replace the door open lock system on my 2019 Open Road. Got the part from Tiffin and there wasn’t a key. I called to get the key and was told my the key-keys I had would work. When I asked how I was told my keys would not only work on the replacement but on probably most if not all of the Tiffin Coaches in the resort I was in. Haven’t tried to find out but found it very interesting to know my neighbors and I could open each others doors if we wanted to.

Fred (@guest_54904)
4 years ago

The tumblers have just a few pins. The number in the lock is the index number. Many keys with the same index number will open many other locks with the same index. Match the key index to lock body index and should open.

Ann Feifel (@guest_54769)
4 years ago

A little known fact: Even if you secure the door with the deadbolt, most cargo hold keys fit other RV cargo holds. Once in the cargo, it is quite easy to get inside an RV. Unless you change all the locks, it is likely that thieves can get in with their key. I know this because friends of ours needed something that they’d forgotten while boondocking. They went to another friend’s RV and got into the cargo hold with their key. Then, for interest sake, they went around and tried a few more RV’s. Their key opened a few of them. Good thing they are honest people, but there are a lot of dishonest people out there. These cargo hold locks are probably all made at the same factory with the same key fitting. How sad is that!!

Pat Terry (@guest_50884)
4 years ago

I would think people would be thankful for someone being considerate and putting in their awning. With mine, I very seldom lock my doors. We’ve been campers for over 50 years and have never had anything stolen or messed with at our campsites. I find that campers are the most considerate people in the world!!!! We’ve even left our tv on the outside , when we went on a day trip and it wasn’t bothered. Most people are great, but I realize there’s always that one bad apple that makes it hard for us to be trustful.

Alvin (@guest_50826)
4 years ago

I know we’re supposed to be nice on this page but when it comes to stuff like we’re talking about here it’s very hard. We can put a man on the moon but can’t give each RV’er peace of mind with individual locks? One small step alright, but not when it comes to simple locks on a recreational vehicle!

Monty Bonner (@guest_50774)
4 years ago

I don’t know for sure, but do know that Motorhomes have a dead bolt lock and what we called when young the night latch. The night (lower on most locksets) uses the same key. I found this out, because I had to replace the lockset on a past MH, as the OEM broke. Low and behold, I though I had locked myself out, by pushing down on the little red handle, but the old key I had for the other lock opened the door. The deadbolts locks are only keyed to one key, lose that, and you won’t get in unless you hire locksmith. I believe, but cannot verify, 5th wheel trailers have a different setup, but again I have been told the dead bolt key is unique to that unit, the other key will open all of them. And of course, we all know the compartment locks are CH-751 keys, I keep an old one on my keychain to help other folks who lose theirs. I changed all those locks on every RV/MH, I purchase, using a barrel key lockset, those cannot be duplicated easy.

NOTE: When using a key fob, and locking the door with it, it activates only the night latch lock, it does not operate the deadbolt, that has to be done manually with the key. Again with any electronic combination lock, it does not operate the dead bolt. I cannot speak to very expensive Coaches, i.e. Prevost chassis built coaches. I don’t know if a locksmith can re-key that lower lock, but I don’t think so. PTL engineering makes most of the locksets for MH’s, and maybe 5th wheels too. They also might have information on their website concerning this issue.

Awnings, never trust the wind sensor, or if new to you, test it and make sure it works monthly. Personally we don’t use ours much, when we do, when we go, the awning goes in. But I tested wind sensor when purchased, and know it works.

Manuals-I read every one of them for our coach, some are written well, some not so much, but even poor manuals can teach you something. I read them annually, you never know what you don’t know till you read it in the manual. FWIW-I also review the Drivers Manual from my state every two years, right around the time we take the AARP Safe Driving Class, just to make sure my state has not put in some gotchas. Because I have had CDL training, I also review the CDL manual too, and boy I learned lots of stuff I had forgotten, plus some laws significant to my state and restrictions for RV traveling through parts of the capitol city, so I suggest for you to do the same, you never know something might save your life.

Bd2 (@guest_50619)
4 years ago

The door lock key is common to many RV/trailers. The dead bold much less so. This common key issue is quite common on the 71 keys for the storage compartments [and battery compartments] too.

Garth Hart (@guest_50590)
4 years ago

A key doesn’t really do much. The type of lock used by most manufacturers is easily opened with a quick “bump”

Charles B (@guest_50537)
4 years ago

Also part of the discussion is leaving awnings out when not there. Every owners manual I have ever seen says never leave your awning out if you are not there to close it if winds come up. Yet we see lots of RVers with awning out all the time. We have personally had our awning supports bent and have seen awning blown over the roof of an RV as the mounting bolts were torn from the side of the RV. No one seems to read the owners manual. Never leave an awning unattended.

Bob P (@guest_119586)
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles B

What read the manual, we are far to smart for that. Reminds me of my late father, he always bought new cars but never kept them more than 2 years. I never gave it a lot of thought, I just thought he liked driving new cars. Until about a year before he passed I had the good fortune to get a truckload going to the Kansas City area so I was going to get to visit my parents. We arranged to meet where I could park overnight and go home with them. When they arrived he was driving a brand new Buick, I asked him what happened to the Chevy Impala(it was only 2 years old and had less than 20,000 miles) he replied well the warranty was about up so I traded it off. I told him every new car has a 60 month or 60,000 mile warranty on the drive train, he said “what”. He’d been trading cars every 2 years because he never read the owners manual and learned manufacturers had changed warranty periods 40 years ago. Lol

Wolfe (@guest_50465)
4 years ago

This may not change the vulnerability of the main door lock, but changing the CH751 cargo doors for combination locks is trivial.

This is also handy if you don’t want to carry your door key swimming or similar.

Deb Corbo (@guest_50346)
4 years ago

Does the key issue also apply to electronic door locks that have replaced the original locks? I know we program numbers to open with the keypad or use the key fob, but is the key to that also “generic”?? Hmmmm,

Jeff (@guest_50327)
4 years ago

I posted a article to RV travel tips a few months ago about changing your entry door lock with a Non Mastered lock. Both dead bolt and main door lock.

I have found only one company that makes Non Mastered locks. RV locks and more. Their 900 series security locks for RV s.

The only way you can get a replacement key is with a unique serial number marked on the lock. Without that serial number you cannot get a replacement key. So, dealers or anyone else can get a master key for your rig, cause no masters exist.

You can also get your baggage doors done the same way.

Protecting your property is KEY,. (horrible pun)

You all take care.

Gary Machholz (@guest_50511)
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

I recently changed to the 900 series digital lock. I really like it and the fact it is not “mastered.” I put combination locks on the basement storage and outdoor shower when we bought the trailer five years ago just to cut down on the number of keys.

tom, (@guest_50323)
4 years ago

I’ll start using deadbolt everytime I leave the coach. Nuts, wife was right again!
A friend recently had a vexing problem with her standard RV door lock. The internal link, inside the lock, that pulls the latch became unattached and would not allow the door to open. To add to the problem, the coach had an installed screen door that blocked easy removal of the entire assembly.
The original lock had to be drilled out to enable replacement. I’ll bet it was fun, finding a replacement lock set in a small rural town on a week-end to get the new lock.

Jeff Arthur (@guest_50389)
4 years ago
Reply to  tom,

Last year got locked inside as linkage to deadbolt came apart. Good thing I had a couple tools inside. Travel trailer with one door not a good thing

tom, (@guest_50411)
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Not travel trailer, Class C type. They were able to enter and exit through front doors. But, that is a bit difficult, especially as we age. My front doors are not good for me to exit into the rv parts of the coach. Manufacteur installed over-sized front seats and the driver side seat must be all the way back. Best thing, they are on an electric base.

Glen Cowgill (@guest_119506)
2 years ago
Reply to  tom,

Years ago, I was handed a key to a Ford car and told to tune it up. The owner told me the car is in the parking lot. I walked out to the parking lot and the key worked in the first white Ford station wagon I came to. On the way to the shop, I got stopped by the local police for stealing a car. I am standing there with police with drawn guns trying to explain that I was given the key so I could work on the car.
Come to find out that the Key I had fit 3 cars that were parked in this large office complex. What are the odds? From then on, I learned to get the license plate number and verify.

Bill (@guest_119564)
2 years ago
Reply to  Glen Cowgill

Apparently better odds than you would think. A few years ago, I went on a business trip, rented a generic car at the airport, drove to the hotel, and parked it. Next morning I got up, had breakfast, and drove away in “my car”. A few minutes later, I noticed a bunch of stuff in the car that wasn’t mine. Drove back to the hotel, found my car, and drove away. I have no idea if the “owner” of the first car noticed that it was gone. There were no cops on scene … yet.

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