Safety issue? RVer’s door locks randomly, leaving him trapped inside

Dear Chuck,
letters to the editorWhile watching the NASCAR Bristol race, the TV commentators were making fun of Bubba Wallace (a young rookie driver) because he found himself locked in his RV when the drivers were told to return to their cars. Seems he was unable to get the RV door to open from the inside and had to bail out the emergency hatch in the bathroom. He was somewhat ridiculed for not knowing how to release the deadbolt from the inside.

I own a 2013 Fleetwood Providence 43M, purchased new in 2012, and I can tell you that I have been locked inside that RV five times since purchasing it; the most recent time was when we traveled to Kerrville to attend your “Meet & Greet”. Fortunately a fellow camper eventually walked by the front of the rig and we handed him the keys out the window and he let us out. On another occasion a younger guest had to jump out of the driver’s side window and unlock the passenger door.

The dealer and Fleetwood have been zero help with this random problem, which so far happens randomly when the electric door lock is used. NO AMOUNT OF TUGGING OR YANKING OR MANIPULATION OF THE TWO INSIDE MANUAL LEVERS WILL RELEASE THE LOCK WHEN THIS HAPPENS. Only the key from the outside will open the door. —Randy Haefli

Dear Randy,
That sounds like a very serious safety issue. What if a fire broke out and you needed a fast getaway? I’m curious to learn if other readers have experienced this problem. (Please leave a comment if that’s you). —Chuck

 

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13 Thoughts to “Safety issue? RVer’s door locks randomly, leaving him trapped inside”

  1. Becca Ray

    Had recent catastrophic failure of Trimark RV door lock on our Thor 2016 ACE 29.4. Took dog out for walk locking RV door as usual. Came back and used keys to turn deadbolt & spring latch locks as usual. Sounded like both tumblers turned, however door would not open!? No amount of turning key in lock or gently pushing/pulling on door handle/lock/frame would open door.

    Called Progressive for lock-out assist & after the first mechanic arrived & said he didn’t do locks (young man didn’t even try anything ?!), 2nd gentleman-a locksmith, worked on opening the door for nearly 2hrs. Note that 2 kids inside could not open door lock or any windows (closed due to developing windstorm).

    Turns out several hundred RV owners have told their own horror stories on-line about the continued historical failures of Trimark RV door locks. Seems the spring loaded latch portion of the lock is made of zinc, not iron, and so it fractures inside the locking mechanism so that you nearly have to destroy the RV door to get the broken piece to move!? Should there be a fire in the RV people would die, especially if you are locked inside with no tools to disassemble the lock entirely in order to get out!

    I have pics of the broken cheap soft metal spring latch. I called NHTSA (888-327-4236) to report this pending deadly situation. As I am shopping for a reputable replacement lock I noted that Thor and Trimark are still selling/using the defective deadly lock so everyone needs to check your locks or pray you never get locked in/out during an Emergency.

  2. Norb Schneider

    April 22,2018
    I have a 2006 Fleetwood Providence and was locked out. Fortunately my wife was inside and was able to open the door. I contacted a mobile RV repairman who said I needed a new lock assembly. After installing the assembly it still did not work correctly. His suggestion to correct the problem was to take it to the factory in Decatur, Ind.

  3. Tony Todd

    I have a 2015 American Revolution. Our problem is getting locked out at no rhyme or reason. We lock the door when we depart the coach with the FOB. When we returned and again use the FOB the door will not unlock. So we leave the drivers side window unlocked and with the use of a ladder I enter through the window to unlock the door. Prior to using the FOB, we used the key and that is when it starting not let us in the door. I called the company Tri-Mark who makes the locking mechanism. They instructed me to start using the FOB and that would remedy the problem….not. So now using the FOB the problem still exists.

  4. William Frederic

    We were locked inside our 2011 Monaco Monarch on two occasions. Having a passerby use the key to open the door worked. Both incidents were initiated by using the door handle first, then the dead bolt. The dead bolt lever moved but the dead bolt didn’t. I replaced the door lock assembly with the recommended newer version of the door lock and have not been able to replicate the dangerous lock-in. Fortunately the two lock-ins occurred months after a serious vehicle fire.

  5. Marmot

    I shut the door on my 2015 Jayco 18 SRB as I went outside. It locked me out. Luckily my storage door was not locked. I slithered into the storage compartment, lifted the bed and climbed out. I now keep a key hidden outside the trailer. It is a manual lock.

  6. Dave Savage

    I have turned this problem in to the NHTSB.
    I also posted. To the yahoo American Coach group and received 12 responses that had similar problems. This is s serious problem.
    Please anyone with this problem , turn it in to the NHTSB. National Transportation Safety Board
    My next steps are to fire departments.
    I am also looking for an attorney to file a class action.

    1. Clovis

      Dave,

      Please post the address you used to post this potentially dangerous problem to the NTSB.

      Thanxs,
      Clovis

      1. Clovis and Dave,
        The NTSB investigates “every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation – railroad, highway, marine and pipeline.”
        I believe the agency you would want to report safety concerns to is NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
        Here is a link to their website where you can file a vehicle safety complaint: https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/ .
        Here is a link to their main website, which covers everything they do: https://www.safercar.gov/ .
        And while we’re at it, here’s a link where you can enter your vehicle’s VIN to see if it has ever been involved in a recall: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls .
        We hope this information helps. —Diane at RVtravel.com

  7. Tommy Molnar

    We’ve never been locked IN, but once we had an extra key made for our trailer and when we tried to test it long after we left the store that made it, it got stuck in the door and would not lock, unlock, or even come out. Luckily our trailer has two doors so we could still use the trailer. When we finally got some reliable cell service (southern NV) we looked up ‘local’ locksmiths in Alamo, NV. I called this one place and found out he was in Reno. He had no idea why his name showed up on our search for locksmiths in Alamo. But, he offered to try to help via phone. He suggested we lightly tap the key with a small hammer (tack hammer) while trying to extract it. VOILA! Key out. The moral to THIS story? Check any new keys immediately to make sure they work. Duh . . .

  8. john stahl

    When my 2015 Newmar Ventana motorhome was about 1 1/2 years old I went out and then locked the door. Later when I tried to unlock the door it would not open. I had to call a mobile repair person. He got the drivers side window open and crawled in and opened the door from the inside. The deadbolt was too long and he cut off a quarter inch off the deadbolt and the problem was solved. No problem since. But I am a little ‘gun shy’ that it might not open again and might be where help is not near. Only time will tell.

  9. Dan from Indiana

    Locked in a couple times in our 2012 class A HR. Also shut door one time with key in the lock (a real lesson) and it jamed the lock. Thank god a large side window was unlocked, probably would have busted out a window to get in. Wife loves pic of me going in head first. Have your tech guys talk about the two pins on RV doors. I belive these pins cause alot of our problems.

  10. Don

    We had the problem of being locked inside 3 times with our 2018 Thor Ace. All 3 times someone on the outside was able to open the door with the key. All 3 times, the people locked inside were very familiar with the operation of the locks. When the dealer inspected the locks, he could find nothing wrong.

  11. Tom

    Had similar problem in our 2016 American Coach Tradition. Door was missing a plate among and possibly some other problem. Ours was fixed under warranty.
    Plus if one does not trip air seal valve for door the lock can be bound. This is to be expected since the air bladder puts pressure on the bolt and is how door noise is stopped.
    I have read on forums of another brand with the same or similar problems.

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