BC 3900 FLP Pre-purchase Research Questions

Greetings all,
My wife and I are seriously considering purchasing a new 5th wheel (our first RV) and we've circled the BC 3900 FLP as a serious contender in our considerations. We are still probably 18 to 24 months from making the purchase and I know a whole lot can change in that period of time, but I was hoping I might be able to get some insight from the community here. Over the many hours I've been crawling the forums here and looking at other sources of info on this trailer, I have seen some seriously concerning issues expressed.

I was curious to know if these are common across quite a bit of HL's line or if these issues are more the 1 in 1000 that are being expressed by the minority. The first issue I've seen focuses on craftsmanship or rather a seeming lack there-of in some individuals' experience. While I see many folks saying they've struggled with this or that on their coaches, they are also more than happy to drop another $50 to 80K on a new HL 5th wheel. That says as much or more than some of the negative experiences expressed. So I guess what I am wondering is if I were to purchase a BC 3900 FLP am I likely to experience many of the same issues I am seeing all over the forums here specific to this model? I've read a thread where someone purchased a new 5th wheel and that there was a lack of putty to some of the joints/holes around the ceiling and corners and they were already getting rot in the walls on a 1 year old trailer. My research has lead me to believe that this is a trailer-killing issue and can be expensive if not impossible to fix.

So my next question is, is there any super professional groups or individuals that can be hired that knows exactly what to look for on performing a Pre-delivery Inspection of a potential 5th wheel RV that anyone would recommend? I'm in the Atlanta, GA area. Additionally, I've seen that there have been serious issues with the A/C units being installed on many of these rigs and was wondering if there is a way to order one of these from the factory with a very different brand than the ones that seem to be notoriously failing? Seriously, 3 A/C units replaced within 6 months on a new rig. That is frightening to see when considering such a huge purchase as this.

Now all this being said, I did hear somewhere on one of the RV Blogs someone say that an RV has over 200,000 parts and it is a safe assumption that about 6 percent of those parts may be having issues at any given time no matter the brand or class of RV. Anyway, I'd love to hear some general thoughts and opinions on this sort of stuff and I sincerely hope it is ok for me to ask these questions here. I'd rather hear from the folks that are familiar with the brand and the lifestyle over a salesman who is wanting to sell an RV to a first-time buyer. Thanks for your insight!

-Regards,
Matt Brown
 
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danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Hi Matt-Brown,

Welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum and hopefully to the family.

I think everyone realizes that there's going to be a small failure rate on components, appliances, subsystems, that go into any RV. And as RVs are essentially hand built by human beings, there are going to be some human errors. We'd also like to believe that defects are randomly distributed across all builds such that everyone has 1 or 2 problems that have to be fixed in warranty. My observation is that it doesn't seem to go that way at all. Three owners will have no issues and the fourth may have 5. It seems like there's a certain amount of "luck of the draw" involved. This is just my observation from reading the forum.

Another factor is that when you read forums, what you're mostly reading about is the problems, not the non-problems, so it's easy to get a view that everyone is having all kinds of problems, which is not the case.

There are a limited number of suppliers to the RV industry, so you'll find Suburban and Dometic applicances on most all brands. When Dometic subs out their A/C manufacturing to China, and has a problem, you're going to find Air Conditioners getting replaced on all brands. Hopefully by the time you buy, that'll be old history.

Can you order a trailer and have Heartland substitute appliances from other suppliers? Probably not. Heartland does only a tiny amount of customization beyond the options listed.

What a lot of us have found is that Customer Service can be a distinguishing factor when making a purchase decision. The vast majority of us have found Heartland to be very supportive and very flexible. For example, on simple repairs, Heartland will often agree to ship you the part and let you install it yourself. And if you find it more convenient to use a non-Heartland Dealer for warranty service, with prior approval, you can usually do so.

Heartland also supports this forum and the Heartland Owners Club, providing for chapter and regional rallies and covering about 1/2 the cost of the North American Rally. This year, for example, there were about 250 rigs at the Goshen Rally, with great food, entertainment, seminars, tours, a meeting with Heartland Executives, giveaways, and free factory service on minor repair items (out of warranty).

Can you hire someone to help with a PDI? You might be able to pay a mobile service tech to help, but I'm not sure you need to. You'll get plenty of advice from owners here on this forum that'll help you do the job.

Hope this all helps.
 
Dan (or Ann),
Thanks you very much for the reply. As you pointed out, it is definitely in the forums where you hear folks vent about their frustrations concerning one thing or another with these 5th wheels and I've been trying to avoid panicking over some of the issues I've been reading some folks having. For my wife and I, it seems we may have found the perfect model for our needs in the BC 3900 FLP and so I'm trying to make sure I do as much due diligence in exploring the possible issues and challenges we may face to make one of these rigs work well for us.

I will say that the forums here have actually been a real help in continuing to promote our enthusiasm for this particular model due to the community we are finding here and the fact that out of the several dozens of posts with issues we've found here, we've also only spotted like two people who say they would not buy another Heartland and that says a lot right there. Mr. Tom Boles has a link in his signature for a PDI checklist that I have already downloaded and added to our arsenal of information when we go to make this purchase, and that is a big help as well. (Thanks Tom!)

Thanks much for the info! I'll probably be lurking around here for quite some time reading and assembling my notes and everything so when the day comes that when the DW and I can take that leap, we do it armed with knowledge. In the meantime, I really wish I was already an owner because you look like a great bunch of folks and I'd love to get out to a rally or two and have fun with y'all.
~Thanks again,
Matt
 

GOTTOYS

Well-known member
There will always be a few issues to deal with on any RV. A little missing putty on a nail hole or a a poorly fitting piece of trim can happen on any brand. Not something I would be too concerned about. Big Countries have an aluminum framework on the walls. How that could rot is beyond me. You will have to check the caulking on the roof and make sure everything is sealed from time to time. Heartland like most manufacturers has contracts to provide specific brands of air conditioners and appliances when they are built. Probably not possible to substitute. If the air conditioner goes bad the warranty on the air conditioner will repair it or replace. Mine have given me no trouble at all. Once again this can happen on any brand. Heartland products are as good or better than other makes in the same price range. The more you spend the better the product. I am not aware of anyone that can do an extreme pre- delivery inspection. You are bound to miss some things that won't be noticed until after you have used it. That's why it has a warranty. Most important if you are not prepared to do small repairs yourself and demand absolute perfection, maybe this might not be for you. Owning an RV requires a lot of maintenance and there will almost always be something that goes wrong with it. It's not like your house. It travels down the road at 60 plus miles an hour and hits the same bumps your tow vehicle hits. I've had my Big Country for 5 years. I generally spend around $1,000 a year on maintenance. It is what it is, as they say. Heartland is great to deal with if you have issues ..but they aren't perfect. Good luck..Don
 
Greetings GOTTOYS,
Aye, I definitely get there is always something that will be needed to be tweaked, tuned, and maintained on these and I really have no fear of doing that sort of work, I just want to be sure that I'm knowledgeable concerning all the myriad of things to look for when first purchasing. I also think that when someone spends in excess of $50K on something it should work pretty close to perfect for at least a while. When you buy a vehicle, if there was a major series of continuing issues with the vehicle, the manufacturer would not stay in business. It just seems that the reason it is expected to be different with RV's is because it is tolerated as an expected norm. As innovative as the human animal is, you'd think there would be some way to make sure that quality, durable A/C and water-sealed outer hulls to these things would not be such a challenge...

I'm a HAM radio operator and techie so I've already been crunching on plans for all of the electronic mods, auxiliary power upgrades, specialized power dampening and off-grid accessories that will make this rig the most super-awesome mobile communications center of all time! (Queue diabolical laughter) Err anyway, there are certainly some things that I'll be doing with the beast, such as some solar panels, generators, antenna work for HAM (ARES rigging sounds like fun and the HAMFests can be a blast), as well as wifi enhancements and onboard networking with a QNAPP system or some such... Anyway, thanks a ton for the feedback Don as I've learned something about the BC's walls from you there and I really appreciate it.
~Matt
 
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Bob&Patty

Founders of SoCal Chapter
Matt, you are way over thinking this. You have the right to question things but you can drive your self nuts doing it. You could buy a $million house and have problems. You could buy $2.5 million MH and have problems. I have been on this forum for 8 years and have owned our BH about the same time. Has it had issues...sure it has. Has our 500K house had issues...yes and more than the BH ever has had. Lets see 50K or 500K....the house looses in overall quality.

Your best bet would be to order (not during the winter) one equipped they way you want. Spend all day doing your PDI. Insist on it when you make the purchase AND don't sign any papers until the PDI is complete and any thing found is repaired before you leave. If you find something that needs repair and it cant be done right away...get a signed "due bill" listing those things. Fit and finish would be the most important things. If the dealer wont do it ...go somewhere else. Do not buy an aftermarket warranty of any kind and NO super bippy sealer packages.

As most people here know. To some people a loose screw can be an earth ending ordeal. Most people go get a #2 square bit and tighten the screw. Loose molding....go get your brad nailer. 5 minutes of time or 3 months in a shop. Your choice. If you are handy and have some basic tools...there's not much you can't fix yourself. Most of the time quicker and better than some RV techs will. Even my DW will fix a small issue without me even knowing it. These things are not difficult....they are a fiber glass box with someones else's stuff in it.

As Dan stated, HL will find a service center (no sales) near you to any warranty repairs. HL most likely will send you the part if you need one. I bet no other RV manufacturer will do that. I personally know people that have there coaches repaired by HL and they were WAAAY out of warranty maybe by 2-3 years.

Good luck and safe travels
 
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