Important warning! Bad RV door part can lock your loved ones in the RV

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R & T De Maris photo.

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
We’ve been RVing for nearly 35 years and we still fall into the “Learn something new every day” category. Sometimes it’s nearly an embarrassment to recognize how little you know. We’re sharing a “new thing” for us, and maybe it’ll be new for you. This “new to us” may spare you a bit of humbling, or it could actually spare a life.

The other day, the beautiful one of this team was snoozing. The other side had to run out on an errand. Wanting to ensure her security, he decided to lock the door. Outside, with the door closed, he put the key in the deadbolt keyhole. He flipped the key (as normal) to the left – to lock. He then simply pulled the key out of the lock (not normal). Off he went on his merry way. On return, he got involved in some sort of outdoor project, and paid no notice to the rig. That was until a banging and shouting sound came from within.

The beautiful one was inside, in a small amount of distress, as she couldn’t get the door unlocked.

If you’re experienced, you’ve likely already figured out the problem. When the mister went out the door and locked it, he didn’t return the key to the “center” position before removing the key. Instead, he flipped the key left, in this case to “locked,” and then pulled the key straight out of the keyhole. Doing so, he set the deadbolt to not respond to anything but the key. Attempting to flip the deadbolt lever from inside yielded nothing. In the photo, the lock at the left had the key removed while “locked.” This ensured nobody could unlock the deadbolt from inside. With the key removed while at center position, the deadbolt is locked, but from inside the door can be opened by flipping the deadbolt.

Happily this “lightbulb” experience didn’t come to grief. If in his absence something bad happened – a fire for example – the only way out of the rig would have been through an emergency exit. A serious situation, indeed.

We’re excusing this sudden flash of “new light” to inexperience. Yes, 30-some years of RVing, a good bit of it as full-timers, should have wised us up. But for 30-plus of those years, we’ve never owned an RV with this type of door lock system. The rig came to us preowned, and no manual covering door locks came with it.

After head-scratching on this for a while, it finally seemed to dawn as to why this type of “paddle” door lock works this way. Brain reasoned: If you’re in-and-out, or someone is in the rig, locking the deadbolt, then returning the key to the center position before removing it allows the dead bolt to be actuated from inside. Good for safety of occupants. If leaving the rig unattended, lock the deadbolt from outside, and pull they key without turning it back to center. The deadbolt is decidedly secure, and if some bad guy breaks out the door relight, they can reach inside but won’t be able to flip the deadbolt open – adding a bit of additional security to your rolling castle.

But, here we go with “Learn something new every day – TAKE TWO.” A sharp-eyed reader spotted this story a few hours after it went live. John told me, very politely, that no, this isn’t the way your lock is supposed work. Rather, it sounded to him as if we had a lock set that was under recall. Sure enough! Some lock sets from several years’ worth of products from Fastec Industrial apparently had a glitch. It was NOT the intent that the deadbolt latch should ever not be able to be opened from the inside. The folks at Fastec are sending us a recall kit, which we’re told will take about five minutes to make our lock system safe for occupants.

Take a minute. Take out your keys. Go and check your door lock system to ensure you don’t have a defective and unsafe lock. If you find that you can remove your key from the lock in the 9:00 position, follow this link to the recall notice and full information on how to put yourself to right. And thanks, John, for “unlocking” more possibilities!

##RVT957

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Jim Winnestaffer
2 months ago

Thanks for the information. I have a 2010 Montana and it has the defective lock. Have ordered a replacement. Thanks again.

Sharon B
2 months ago

My key lock is fine. Glad to see this article.

DAVE TELENKO
2 months ago

Ya know looking at the photo of the lock, it looks like the key is flipped to the right NOT the left, but what do I know!
Also we have a 2017 FR 34QS motor home & when you open the door from the inside, its possible to push down the lock when you open the door & lock it, so when you go out & close the door you’ve accidentally locked the door. If you were just going in & out & didn’t have your keys, well your in trouble. Thats the reason we have hidden both keys out side for those emergencies!
Snoopy

Tom
2 months ago

My door lock is “sticky.” Even with lube, it continues to stick and fail to release via key action. Once I had to go in through the driver’s door and open from the inside. PITA.
Finally removed the door lock pins and put locktite on them, then readjusted their strike point. Solved most of the problem, but you can see on both the pins and the latch plate where there is a small misalignment. Unfortunately, the door manufacturer did not allow for any adjustment of either one.

tim palmer
2 months ago

I sent info in for this recall years ago and never received the replacement lock I was supposed to get. Let’s see if they send it this time.

Bill
3 months ago

We had the deadbolt break on one of our motorhomes – the deadbolt was a cheap poorly designed pot metal casting which broke at the tab that the operating lever moved to unlock it. Fortunately, that motohome had a driver’s side door.

Wayne Girard
3 months ago

Once on my Class A Winnebago I was diligently lubing all my locks with teflon liquid. When I closed the door I heard a click and the door was locked. The teflon had removed all the friction holding the lock actuator up and it dropped into the locked position when the door closed! I had to use a solvent to remove most of the lubricant to restore enough friction to keep the actuator open when the door slams shut.

TOM BRAEUNIG
3 months ago

Even with a perfectly functioning RV door latch, it’s easy to lock someone in the RV. If you lock the latch handle, not the deadbolt, from outside. it’s impossible for someone inside the RV to open the door. The inside door lock only actuates the deadbolt.

Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  TOM BRAEUNIG

Our 2017 Winnebago Navion has handles inside for deadbolt and other lock.

Dave Helgeson
3 months ago

Russ,

Had a similar problem, but in my case the linkage dropped off. Check out the second part of this blog https://rvlife.com/rv-door-lock-tips/

Michael L. Logan
3 months ago

Something similarly happeend to us in our 2017 Winnebago Trend on a Ram ProMaster cutaway. The door latch would not work, locked or unlocked, tried everything. We had to use the front doors to exit and enter. Call Winnebago and was told that there had been a recall on the door latch by TriMark and to call them. I talked to them and they looked up my door latch number and stated it was not included in recall. Sent them a photo of door latch and they stated they would send me a new latch. I just had to remove the latch and replace with the new one. The barrel of the latch had broken and I had to physically retract the broken barrel to release the door.

Lisa D
3 months ago

Had the same problem with our 2004 Winnebago Vectra. Ended up having it replaced by a mobile RV repair guy. Pretty scary when you can’t get back in your coach, especially when you just finished walking your 2 large dogs and the RV park won’t let you leave them outside.

Jeff Arthur
3 months ago

2 years back had the the deadbolt linkage detach from the locking leaver. 4 of us were trapped inside until I got things dissembled. I be Sure to have tools inside for this at all times. If this would happen from the outside then there’s gonna be some damage getting in

John L.
3 months ago

Hi Russ,

The behavior of your lock which you described in your post sounds very much like a defect (not a feature) which triggered a nationwide RV deadbolt lock recall campaign several years ago.

You can see complete details here:

http://www.fastecindustrial.com/recall/default.html

Regards,

John