If your RV or travel trailer door won’t close without slamming, it can be really annoying. The same can be said if your camper door keeps popping open. Obviously, you want that door to stay shut and be secure, but what’s causing this frustrating door dilemma?
If your RV door is really hard to close, it could be that the latch is not well lubricated, your RV itself is not level, the door or frame is twisted, screws are loose, the strike plate is out of position, or the door components are rusty.
Keep reading for a detailed summary of each possible cause, how to fix the problem, and some essential RV door maintenance tips.
How To Fix An RV Door That Won’t Close Without Slamming
Below we have listed the most common problems that cause an RV door not to close, as well as how to fix these issues.
1. Door Not Closing Due to the RV Being Unlevel
If the RV is tilted towards the side where the door is, gravity is going to take effect. Gravity is going to pull that door open, particularly if the latching mechanism is not too good.
Of course, if the RV is leaning against the side where the door is, to close the door, you’re going to have to slam it extra hard. Therefore, the first thing that you should do is check to see if the RV is level. If the RV is not level, then you know what the issue is. The obvious solution here is to park your RV slightly differently so that it is level.
If it’s impossible to get the RV level, just turn it around so that it’s tilted away from the side with the door. You may also try to use the leveling jacks to level it out a little bit. However, as you are about to find out below, this in itself can cause issues that will then cause the door to not close properly.
2. The Door or The Frame Is Damaged or Twisted
Another issue that may lead to your RV door not closing properly without slamming is if either the door or the door frame is damaged or twisted in some way.
Obviously, if the door and the door frame don’t line up, particularly the latch and the strike plate, then you won’t be able to close the door properly.
Funny enough, this is something that often happens when the leveling jacks are used too aggressively. If you use the leveling jacks too aggressively and put too much weight on them, it may actually cause the frame or the door to bend.
In fact, there are some cases where travel trailer frames in general, the actual unit as a whole, have bent. Adjusting your RV entry door is one option here. This is going to take a bit of handyman ingenuity because you’re going to have to figure out whether it is the door or the frame that is bent or twisted, or both.
Once you figured that out, you’re going to need the appropriate tools to bend them back into place. You’ll probably need to remove them first, then use something like a hammer or anything else to bend the components back into their proper position.
However, that said, if the damage or the warping is very severe, chances are that you’ll just have to replace either the door or the frame, or both. Realistically, chances are that you’ll need to replace either the door or the frame, or both anyway.
3. There are Loose Screws That Need Tightening (On the Door Handle)
Your door might not be closing properly due to loose screws, particularly on the door and the door handle. If the screws on the latching mechanism are not tight or in the correct place, it will prevent the door from closing.
If there is a loose screw, it might completely stop the door from closing. Therefore, the easy solution here is to check that all of the screws are very tight and in their proper location.
If the door handle jiggles around, then you can rest assured that it is a loose screw that is the cause of the issue. On a side note, continuously slamming that door shut, especially if there is something like a loose screw, is just going to make this situation worse and cause even more damage.
4. An Out of Position Strike Plate
Another common issue is the strike plate being out of position. The strike plate is that little rectangular thing with a rectangular hole in it that is on the door frame, into which the latch of the door handle locks into.
If the strike plate is not in the proper position, then the latch can’t really get into it. If the latch can get into it, you’re probably going to need to use a lot of force. Therefore, just like with the door handle having loose screws, so might the strike plate have a loose screw.
This strike plate may shift over time. To inspect this, try closing the door very slowly to see if the position of the latch on the door handle meets up with the strike plate.
If the latch and the strike plate don’t match up, you’re going to need to remove the strike plate and reinstall it in the proper position, or just tighten the screws if they are loose.
5. Issues with the Latch
We did already mention the door latch and handle, but there’s a little more to it than it’s just being out of place or having these screws. That door latch, that little mechanism that pops out of the door, has a spring behind it. This spring may be old, rusted, or damaged.
If the latch does not protrude out of the door handle far enough, or it’s stuck back in the door handle, then it won’t be able to lock into the strike plate.
Therefore, take a closer look at the little latch to see if it easily pops in and out of the door handle. If that little latch doesn’t come all the way out, not as far as it should, or it doesn’t move at all, then you will need to likely replace it.
You may be able to lubricate that latch, although chances are that it could be an issue with the spring. You can always try lubricating the latch first to see if it works, but if it doesn’t work, you will most likely need to replace that latch or the whole door handle.
6. Rusted Components
There’s also always the chance that the door handle or the latch could be rusted. If the latch is rusted, it won’t be able to pop all the way out and get into the strike plate. If the door handle is rusted, then the end result is more or less the same.
Therefore, if you see that anything is rusty, use rust remover first, and then use high quality lubricant. However, if the rust or corrosion is extremely severe, you will probably not be able to remove it. If this is the case, you will need to remove and replace all rusted components.
How Do I Lubricate My RV Door Latch?
Seeing as this issue could very well be caused by the door latch not being lubricated or being rusty, knowing how to lubricate it is therefore required. The best product to use for this purpose is WD40 or any other such spray lubricant.
You’re going to point that nozzle of the WD40 right into the keyhole of the door latch. You want to spray lubricant around the handle, into the keyhole, and around the latch. You will then repeatedly twist the door handle to spread the lubricant around.
If the latch is stuck inside of the chamber, you might be able to pull it out using pliers, and then lubricate it behind and beside it.
If the latch is stuck on the outside and will not push in, try hitting it lightly with a hammer to push it in, and then lubricate it. That said, doing this might just get it stuck on the inside, but realistically it’s your only course of action.
If that door latch is 100% stuck and just rusted into place, or stuck due to physical damage, then lubricating it won’t help, in which case you will need to replace the latch, or maybe even the handle as a whole.
RV Door Maintenance Tips
Let’s quickly go over a few RV door maintenance tips so you can keep that door in good condition, so you don’t have to deal with this problem in the first place.
1. Don’t Be Rough
Sure, doors can be relatively durable, but if we’re talking about RV’s and travel trailers, it only goes so far. It just is not going to have the same durability as a real house door with a wooden frame. RV doors are relatively susceptible to breaking due to people being too rough with them.
Therefore, the best thing you can do to prevent this issue from occurring in the first place is to be gentle with the door. If the door doesn’t close properly, slamming it is just going to make things worse. You’re better off actually fixing the issue than just constantly slamming the door.
2. Clean the Door Regularly
Another way to maintain the door on your RV so it keeps closing easily is to keep the latching mechanism clean. That latching mechanism can get really dirty, and it can also get rusty.
Therefore, you want to use compressed air to blow debris out of the latching mechanism whenever possible. You can then also use whatever methods you have at your disposal to clean the latch.
The best course of action is to simultaneously clean and lubricate the latching mechanism using a silicone lubricant and a three-in-one oil. This will help prevent debris from building up and it will help prevent corrosion as well. Cleaning that latching mechanism a few times per year should do the trick.
3. Check the Screws
Seeing as this issue is often caused by screws being out of place, make sure that all components, including the door handle and the strike plate, are tightly screwed into place. Checking the screws only takes a few minutes, but it will help prevent this issue from occurring.
If the screws keep coming loose, use something like Loctite thread locker two keep the screws in place once you have screwed them back in. Regularly tightening the screws will help ensure that they don’t move out of place so much that this issue will occur.
4. Don’t Overuse the Levelling Jacks
The other tip we can provide you with here is to not overuse your leveling jacks. If you put far too much weight on those leveling jacks, it may cause the door frame to bend.
If you are using your levelling jacks and you hear some kind of squeaking or screeching sound, stop using them immediately as that sound is something bending.
If you’re having issues with your levelling jacks then see this article for help.
You should now know exactly why your RV door won’t close without slamming, how to fix the issue, and how to prevent it from occurring going forwards.