How To Rekey RV Locks
One of my greatest fears is losing my keys or locking them inside a car or RV. This is a very real problem and it can be serious for RV owners who are away from home and may only have a single key. If you’ve been locked out of your RV or the old key no longer works, you may want to know how to rekey RV locks.
This process involves replacing the pins in the old lock so that it no longer responds to the original key. If you rekey the lock correctly, it will respond to the new key that you can use to open the door. This is one of the easiest ways to replace the locks in an RV because you don’t have to completely take the door or the old handle apart.
Rekeying locks can be done by professionals, but it’s also surprisingly easy to do it yourself. This process is also completely legal (as long as you own the vehicle or house you’re trying to enter). In the guide below, we’ll show you how to rekey RV locks with as little hassle as possible.
Step 1: Look up RV lock specifics
Before you begin the rekeying process, look up the specifics of your lock’s brand, make, and model in your RV owner’s manual. The information should be listed there, but you can look it up online if it’s not.
It’s important to know this information because the rekeying process varies a bit depending on the brand. Some may require specific tools, while others purposefully make rekeying easier or harder to do.
It’s difficult for many manufacturers to find a balance between security and ease of rekeying, so look up the details to determine what items/kits you need to have in order to rekey the locks in your specific RV.
Step 2: Gather necessary rekeying equipment
Once you know some basics about the lock you’re dealing with, it’s time to gather your supplies. A lot of RV lock manufacturers have a specific rekeying kit that can be used to produce the best results. These kits will include the necessary replacement parts and tools that you need to rekey the lock. It will also include a new key, which is important because you’ll be changing the lock in order to fit with this new insertion.
If you believe you may need to rekey your RV lock in the future or just want to be prepared, it’s a good idea to buy a rekeying kit ahead of time and keep it in an easy-to-access place. Apart from a lock-specific rekeying kit, you’ll want to have:
- A small screwdriver
Step 3: Remove lock and lock cylinder
Now it’s time to move on to the lock itself. A large part of knowing how to rekey RV locks is about how to take the lock apart. The goal is to change the lock so that it no longer responds to the old key. To do this, you need to change the construction of the old lock.
Begin by removing the screws around the lock. Most RV locks use between 4-6 screws in the base plate, so you’ll need to be prepared to unscrew them. Once you’ve pulled the main lock body out of the door, you’ll want to examine it and remove the interior lock cylinder from the outer casing. The lock cylinder is the part that you’ll need to get into to move and replace the pins.
Most lock rekey kits will include a tool called a retainer ring. You can use this item to separate the lock cylinder from the rest of the body.
Step 4: Remove the old lock pins and install new ones
This next step is the most important part of rekeying an RV lock. The pins within the lock are the items that control whether or not the key unlocks the system. When the lock cylinder has been removed, insert the old key and turn it clockwise. Once that’s done, you can use a plug follower tool (which should be included in the rekey kit) to separate and remove the old pins.
If you don’t have the old key with you, you can manually remove the pins. It will be harder to do this, but follow the instructions on the rekey kit and the user’s manual for the best results. Don’t use too much pressure during this process because the pins could break or get stuck in the lock. You can use the tweezers to help you with the smaller pieces if necessary.
Once the old pins have been removed, you can work on installing the new ones that will work alongside a new key. Follow the directions on the rekey kit to learn which pins go in which slots. It’s a good idea to use tweezers for this part because of the delicate and small pieces you’re working with.
Step 5: Test the new pins with the new key
At this point, you’ve almost completed your crash course on learning how to rekey RV locks. All you need to do now is insert the new key and test it. If the pins have been installed correctly, the key should slide in and move all the pins in the unlocked position.
Try to lock and unlock the new setup a few times with the new key. It may be a bit stiff at first, but give everything a chance to loosen up. Adjust the pins as needed until everything works well. If you’re still having problems, you may need a new rekey kit.
Step 6: Return the lock to the RV door
Now that everything is set up to accommodate the new key, you can put the lock back together. Place the lock cylinder back inside the casing and screw the lock back into the door. Once everything has been reassembled, it’s a good idea to do one final check with the new key. Make sure you can easily lock and unlock the door before you call it a day!
If everything goes according to plan, you should have a fully functioning lock and key once again. You now know the basics of how to rekey RV locks. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this knowledge, but it’s a good thing to prepare for.
Step 7: Call for help if necessary
If the lock has become too badly damaged or you’re unable to replace it yourself, you can always try calling for professional help. Some RV roadside assistance plans may also be able to help you if you locked your keys in the RV or need help with the rekeying process.
It’s possible to learn how to rekey RV locks by yourself, but if you don’t have the skills or resources to see it through, call for help!
RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.