Entry Switch Panel: For the models with white faceplates, the switch for the interior lights is toward the outside, and the switch for the exterior lights is toward the inside, which is counterintuitive. You can’t simply swap the two switches and plates around because their front plate corners are different, but you can swap the two switches behind the plates and carefully lift and swap the two adhesive labels between the plates. This was changed in 2005 coaches. After Swap
Awning Remote Control Box: If this box softly beeps, it means you've got a problem with the wind sensor on the roof. Ours malfunctioned when we washed off the roof and either water got in or the blast of water over-ranged the sensor (more likely). The sensor may work again after it dries out but ours didn't. Forget about opening the sensor housing because it's glued shut, and there is nothing to clean out anyway because it's a solid-state sensor with no opening for debris to get into. The replacement sensor stopped working, so it's just turned off, because it never really worked reliably anyway. Also, the remote controls stopped working for no apparent reason. To reset the remote, open the control box lid above the entry, press SW1 once, hold one of the “Open” buttons on the remote until the awning motor moves, then release. Picture
Thermostat: The Coleman Mach RV Comfort.ZC controller mode button became unusable after 8 years but maybe only a couple hundred presses. Replaced with an Omron B3F-1055 tactile switch (6x6x7.3mm, 260gf, $0.30) vs. $200 for a new controller.
Remote Entry Control Module: Other owners have reported that this module which sits on the floor in the center of the dash just inside of the snack tray box, has several openings which will get dripped on by the dash air conditioning hoses and fail with regularity unless remedied. I've unscrewed the module from the floor, placed a couple of Ziploc bags over it, and have left it sitting vertically with the connector and wires facing down so water would roll harmlessly off the plastic bags.Also, for some reason the driver doesn't get a rocker switch for the door lock, but the passenger does, although it's easier to flip the lever itself from that position. I had a book fall on the switch causing the actuator to burn out in the locked position. I needed to disassemble the handle assembly from the inside to get out of the coach. A new actuator was about $50. Now, the passenger-side switch is disconnected so this doesn't happen again. Would have moved the switch to the driver's side, but the wiring is overcomplicated, requiring six wires instead of three to be re-routed.
Driver’s Seat: It can actually swivel 180 degrees, but it takes a lot of maneuvering with the power seat controls and seat back angle. Just be aware that it’s possible despite interference from the driver's control panel on the left.
Driver Information Center: The rectangular DIC engine display is almost impossible to read, but for a limited time Medallion Systems offered a replacement for $75. Much better. Also, many owners reported average fuel economy stuck on 5.9 MPG. This is due to a Caterpillar software bug that can be remedied by a re-flashing of the engine’s computer, although even when corrected it will only show the average mileage for the entire engine life. Make sure your engine was registered to you by Freightliner (ours wasn't) so you get notified of updates.
Exhaust Brake Switch Location: This is a working control that needs to be where you can get to it easily without taking your eyes off the road. Could at least use a status light seen from ahead rather than at the current DIC position. Better placement switch-wise than on some other coaches however because you can almost rest your hand on it comfortably while driving.
Steering: The solid front axle was forged with zero "cross-caster", so road crowns are going to pull you off the road unless constant steering correction is made. I've installed a Roadmaster Reflex to solve the problem ($500).
Steering Wheel Rubber Boot: This boot is so tight on the U-joint that it's nearly impossible to get inside to lube the joint every 6000 miles without cutting an access slit in the side. The boot used to make noise, but it appears to have torn into two pieces cleanly and doesn't groan anymore when making a turn. It doesn't seem to be allowing debris to enter the interior though, and gluing it back together wouldn't last long anyway - the boot is simply too rigid and tight to allow full steering wheel turns repeatedly. To get at the grease zerk, heat the boot with a hair dryer or 1500-watt cube heater until it will slip down. Position the zerk facing forward so you can get the grease nozzle into the open part of the bend. Getting the boot back up is a challenge but is helped by squirting some WD-40 and rotating. When you get fed up doing this procedure one too many times, cut the slit.
Turn Signal Indicators: Most drivers can't see the turn signal indicator lights on the dashboard because the wheel is in the way. And although both the official circuit diagram and Freightliner help line say the flasher modules should be located on a bulkhead near the steering column, there apparently is no separate flasher module because this function is controlled elsewhere, so you won't be able to hear flashers. Some people have added a buzzer behind the instrument panel. I've added repeater LED lights in-between the gauges on the dash below the existing lights where they can be readily seen day or night. Picture
In-dash Radio/CD Player: The mode button implies there is an AUX input, but don’t bother looking for one because there isn't an AUX function on our model. Pity, because an MP3 player would work well here. I'm glad we didn't get a Sirius receiver with the coach because our portable satellite radio receiver re-transmits on FM, which can be received by all three coach radios (and outside the coach at reasonable range). MountFeedAntennaHowever, I've replaced the in-dash receiver (and the "home theater" amp as well) with one that can play MP3 discs and has a USB thumbdrive so we can play 10 hours of material on each disc without worrying about losing signals. Sounds better too, especially since I added a subwoofer amp and two 10" subwoofers.
Front 12v/Phone Outlet: The cheap white plastic faceplate cracked apart after a week, making the outlets unusable. It can be easily replaced with a metal faceplate from any hardware store.
Passenger Seat Heater Switch: This switch is far too easy to turn on by mistake. I've disconnected the red power wire to this switch because I can't envision ever wanting to use the seat heater.
Passenger 12v Fan: You shouldn't have to direct this fan away from the passenger to extend the electric sunscreen without breaking it. Also, these fans are unusually ineffective because of the blade shape.
Cup Holders: Two cup holders apiece for the driver and front passenger are redundant, yet there's no good storage place for the massive Woodall and Trailer Life Campground books. I made the center console into a reference book bin that slides out and holds all of our guides and maps, with the wood top piece remaining in place (using two steel L- brackets) to hold miscellaneous items as before. BinShelf
Coat Hooks: There's no good place to hang your jackets, coats, or hats unless you mount your own coat hooks. Picture
DVD Storage Compartment: Located above the driver's left, it can’t accommodate the wider of two common DVD case styles. If it were just a little deeper we could store all of our DVD's in a neat row. The door swings open if the coach sways, and can dump its contents on the driver's or passenger's head. I've added catches at the center bottom of each door to stop the door from opening too easily.Picture
VCR/DVD Equipment Cabinet: The door is free to swing around at will, although it needs to stay open for some remotes to work and to provide adequate ventilation. This area gets very hot even though there is a small air conditioning vent inside. I replaced the hinges with ones that are “self-closing” but have a detent so they can remain opened fully ($2 each at any hardware store, same hole pattern, nearly the same color, slightly wider), although I had to move the catch at the other end slightly to accommodate the shifting of the door panel. I did the same for the matching panel on the other side so we don't have to use two hands to work the slide-out and electrical controls. As for heat, drilled several 2" holes at the far end of the compartment in the shelf between the two levels, because the lower level is almost completely sealed and that's where the heat-generating amplifier is.
Front TV: From day one the TV rattled in its compartment. I added 2” L-brackets (with clear PVC tubing over the legs that touch the front of the TV) near the top of the set, which took out a lot of motion and squeaking. Picture After about a year the plastic around the front of the picture tube at the bottom will press against the glass tube and make the most annoying sound imaginable. You can spread the plastic bezel away from the tube with a couple of flat table knives and insert a thin layer of something between the bezel and the tube. Use something slippery because these two surfaces will move against each other as you travel. MaterialLocationFinally, from the factory the input from the DVD to the TV behind the set was mis-wired to the same input as the one on the front of the TV (Video 1). This made it impossible to connect a video device such as a camcorder to the front without the picture being unwatchable. You have to remove the TV completely to move the cables in the back from Video 1 to Video 2, as should have been done originally. But the above are moot points - you should have replaced the TV with a digital model by now.
Flooring: Check your carpet for staple mis-fires. Ours had about 20 staples around the coach that were sticking up and bent so badly they had to be removed. A few were straight enough to be hammered down. The salon carpet had to be re-stretched before delivery. After the re-stretching by the dealer we were left with a 1/4" chip out of the laminate flooring near the carpet. To repair, I cleaned the area with alcohol, made a form out of masking tape, used J-B Weld (two-part epoxy) and then used glazing paint of different colors to match the pattern and color. Can't be seen anymore. I also used J-B Weld to fix an annoying gouge in the Corian countertop. Expect a long-lasting impression in the carpet from the driver's side salon slide-out.The carpet could use another stretching toward the driver's side, but the slide-out would probably have to be removed to do it.
Screws: In the interior, almost all screws used are too short and rust easily. When the 1/2” screws become loose (gold- tone pin catches, slide rails for the cabinet under the fridge, cabinet hinges, etc.), replace them with 3/4” screws of the same diameter. And replace rusted screws with stainless steel.
Front Monitor Panel: Because the fresh water tank is long and shallow, a slight tilt of the coach inherently causes some inaccuracy in the fluid level monitor. But the inaccuracies in fluid metering in our coaches goes well beyond simply geometry - they can be way off for seemingly no reason. It routinely shows half a tank of fresh water while sucking air. You must not trust these sensors. One solution for the fresh water tank (which is hidden inside the chassis) is to tap into the line from the tank in the utility compartment with a 1/4" clear PVC tube about 3 feet long, with a cutoff valve at the end. Mount it vertically on the black panel for a visual indication of the actual level. Picture Be aware that the voltage monitor pushbuttons will report that the auxiliary batteries are about 0.2 volts lower than the mains, even though the voltage at the batteries is the same. Finally, there is no display of AC voltage (very useful to know), but you can buy a plug-in Digital AC Line Monitor (Prime Products $30) with ½” tall bright red LED numbers, and the rear-facing outlet over the passenger seat is a good location for it. Picture
Inverter Switch: If your inverter is already on, and you switch off the MAIN and AUX battery switches BEFORE turning the Inverter switch off, your 120v devices will lose power but the inverter will still run. Apparently, shutting off 12v power disables the Inverter switch circuit back to the Xantrex. You'll run down your batteries without knowing it, unless you specifically check the lights on the Xantrex Freedom itself in the basement. With an added Freedom Remote, the same applies, but with the added restriction that the PMS Inverter switch can turn the inverter on but never turn it off. You have to turn it off from the Freedom Remote panel.
Wood panels: The vertical wood strip on the front edge of the right salon slide-out came loose because there is no fastener other than a thin bead of sealant. I drilled a hole about a foot from the floor and used a stainless steel screw to fasten it firmly. The horizontal wood piece along the top of the right salon slide-out came loose at the right end because the mild steel screw had galvanically corroded against the aluminum beam it was attached to, accelerated by water leaking in from the top of the slide-out. I replaced the screw with a slightly larger diameter stainless-steel screw. In the bedroom, some decorative faux-wood foam pieces will loosen because they are only held by thin short staples.
Counter Height: On the 39J, utensils are only 23” off the floor instead of the residential standard 30”, making you stoop down every time you need a knife or fork, mainly due to an arbitrary water pump switch placement. And with no recessed kick panels and a galley counter height of 34” instead of the standard 36”, you have to stoop over to do the dishes, which makes it hard on your back muscles.
Kitchen Sink: The composite kitchen sink has several low spots, rather than having the drain at the lowest point. Nothing you can do for this. I replaced the rubber washer under the left sink strainer with a taller, narrower rubber spacer that allows the sink to drain consistently but catches debris before it goes down into the holding tank. Picture The horizontal PVC pipe connecting the two sinks allows black algae to grow, so periodic removing and cleaning of every surface above the water tap is required to avoid sulfurous odors. The filtered waterspout on the counter has a collar that controls water flow, but the slightest touch can start the flow that will run across the counter and into interior compartments. I replaced the waterspout with a hand-pump soap dispenser like on later models (very easy to do). Picture
Norelco Refrigerator: The temperature control on the front (from 1 to 9) doesn't directly control the inside temperature, but determines how hard the unit will work somehow. Thus, outside temperature changes will change the temperature inside the fridge without your being aware. Get a remote temperature monitor ($15 from Wal-Mart) to keep an eye on (or alarm on) temperature to prevent things from spoiling or freezing. But be prepared for the occasional interference from identical monitors in other coaches which confuses the unit. Picture To conserve propane, crank the control up (7-9) to lower the temperature as much as possible before you travel, then set the temperature extra low while traveling (3-5), and let the fridge act like a simple cooler for a few hours. The ice bucket is free to slide forward and backward in the freezer if you don’t restrain it somehow. Picture
Bathroom door: The overlap between door and jamb is so narrow that the supplied rubber cushion pads don’t stop the two wood surfaces from contacting directly. I determined where the actual wear points were, and applied circular felt pads cut in half (for more contact and adhesion area). PictureMost doors are slightly warped but there’s really nothing that you can do about it. The door lock squeaks when the handle is turned because there is no lubrication inside. I took mine apart and lithium-greased the offending surfaces and it's a lot less irritating. I was unable to find a replacement lock assembly from Valterra. Wanted to replace the internal springs with lighter force ones, but was unable to find the correct spring anywhere and the assembly is too easy to damage taking apart anyway. When the door is fully opened there is wood-to-wood contact near the hinges. I placed soft vinyl pads at the points of contact to avoid chafing/cracking the wood. Finally, there is no catch for the door in an open position, so depending on the tilt of the coach, the door is free to swing wherever it wants. I added the same catch as found on the cabinets above the sinks (brown pinch rollers) to the outside top of the door, so the door stays in place when fully opened - perfect as a visual barrier when showering and allows the bathroom fan to suck out steam from the shower directly. Picture
FanTastic Fans: The main salon fan really should have temperature control if you are in an area where temperatures go from too warm to too cool during the day. This allows you to leave the coach with the vent opened, and the fan will only come on when it gets too hot without pulling cold air in later. I was able to modify a residential thermostat control ($15) having an Auto/Manual switch that lets me set a high-temperature trip point for fan operation, and mounted it on the vertical wall of the fan. Picture You might consider replacing the fan with a FanTastic thermostat model (only $15 more than a fan without the thermostat), especially if you have pets inside the coach, or purchase an upgrade kit from FanTastic for your existing fan. If your top seal is sticking, making it hard to open the top cover initially, call FanTastic and they'll send you new seals for free.
J-Sofa: The thin spring clip that holds the right side of the J-sofa front panel was not designed to support the weight of the panel by itself. I wedged a 1/8” x 2" x 12” steel bar under the sofa frame on the right side to support the circular portion of the panel without being visible. Picture
Main Salon Door: The gold-toned pin catch to hold the door closed cannot accommodate normal chassis flex, so there will be times you cannot latch the door closed no matter how you have re-aligned the pin. Replace the catch with one of your own choosing, although the magnetic catch used in 2005 solves this. I also relocated the catch that holds the door open because, with its location at the top of the door, it would stress the door when trying to get it to catch, and required a lot of force. Now located near the middle, it's way easier to latch.
Toilet: After only a couple months it had developed several leaks. Check the tightness of screws, hose clamps, and the clamp sealing the bowl to the base. The main ball valve seal won’t close fully when the pedal is gently released, allowing the water in the bowl to completely drain. Lifting the flush pedal up fully after flushing is required to ensure the seal seats fully. Even if the floor gasket is tight, you can still get an odor if a fan is sucking air into the coach with everything closed up, because it will suck air from around the tanks (vented somewhere under there) into the room anyway. The vacuum breaker on the rear top will start leaking at some point, but can be replaced by Sealand part 385230335 ($30+) even though the application data does not reference our model 711.
Water Connections: Check all sink and faucet connections for tightness, or they'll leak under moderate-to-high pressure.
Shower Floor Pan: The drain is not the lowest point of the pan so we've got pools of water remaining, regardless of the level of the coach. Nothing we can do here. Also, there is no support under the entry area (just inside of the access panel), and continual flexing will undoubtedly crack the plastic. Doesn't look like you can get under the plywood support panel to fix this easily.
Shower Screws: The screws fastening the aluminum frame to the shower sidewall continued to loosen and fall out even after applying Loctite. Drill through with 5/32" bit and pop-rivet. The various white steel screws will rust, but can be replaced by stainless screws sprayed white.
Shower Faucet: Hot/Cold water controls are far too touchy – should be re-geared for low-pressure systems. The vacuum break at the end of the hose started leaking after 7 years. Replacing that part was easy ($5), but because it is off-center you need to be careful not to cross-thread it when installing.
Mattress: After a year the Restonic mattress pillowtop became permanently compressed. You can add a "memory foam" topper over the mattress (whose springs still work) that creates a very comfortable sleeping surface, although it adds substantial weight to the bed. Many people also go with Sleep Number beds, although there would be a chance for failure, either holding air or in the inflation system.
Bed Frame/Breaker Panel Door: The wood door to the breaker panel under the bed seemed badly warped, and would not stay closed. The actual problem was that the vertical support for the foot of the bed was coming away from the rest of the frame, being attached in the middle only by a few staples. I hammered the support back into place and added long screws tapped into the center stringers. Picture
Engine Pre-Heat Switch: This switch is lighted, but the light cannot be seen under the bed comforter. I added a repeater light directly below so it can be seen at all times. Picture
Soft Flooring: The plywood flooring under the carpet between the foot of the bed and the drawers is only 1/4" thick, and it was not fastened to anything except for an over-driven single screw under the drawers that split the soft wood. The floor would deflect about 3/16" along a one-foot long section near the cabinet, enough to notice. We Gorilla-Glued and screwed two aluminum pieces (1/2" x 3/4" L's) to attach the floor firmly to the bottom of the drawer cabinet. BeforeAfter
Wardrobe Mirror Doors: From the factory, the doors hung really crookedly against the sides when closed. Aligning them is fairly straightforward, but the final settings may require changing the locations of the side catches and locking pin. Just as well, because the white plastic rollers of the original side catches were always jumping out and disappearing under the bed anyway. Replace the side catches with the brown steel-framed pinch rollers found on the swing-out cabinet doors ($2 at any hardware store). PictureAlso, the doors were always jumping the track, because they are essentially heavy pendulums suspended from above, and a locking pin at the top has huge leverage forces working against it when the coach's rear end sways. I reconfigured the pin and mounted it at the bottom, and the mirrors haven't jumped the track since. Picture
Splendide Washer/Dryer: Several things here. Make sure everyone knows that you can't open the door until the LED on the right flashes slowly. If you have to buy a replacement handle ($35 total), you'll be supplied with a bright yellow warning sticker. Otherwise, you may want to make a little sign saying this near the handle, or someone will shear the handle off. Our door interlock switch was getting temperamental after a year or so, requiring a slam of the door to start the cycle. Every once in a while the cycle setting knob will start spinning by itself as if possessed, but it stops somehow and the unit operates normally. If the rear of the coach hits a bump, the unit may jump out of its low wood- strip base. If the top leans against the wood on the side, you can put weather-stripping in-between to stop the coach from shaking extra violently during the spin cycle. For the money, it really should have a buzzer that signals the end of the long 2-1/2 hour wash/dry cycle, and it really should have a moisture sensor to tell the dry cycle when to stop. By removing the wire loop from around the outer lip of the main seal (look for the spring at the bottom), you can get to the locking mechanism and remove the locking pin so the door can be opened to check progress at any time.
Gray Water Odor: For every drain connected to the gray tank there is an S-shaped pipe section nearby that is supposed to trap a couple inches of water, forming a vapor barrier. If a drain is rarely used or if the coach is jostled hard enough to displace the water in a trap, foul-smelling vapor will gradually fill adjacent areas. Run each faucet (and most importantly the washer/dryer if installed) if you notice a slightly sweet but sulfurous odor in the coach. Also, there are a couple of one-way air valves that allow the gray tank to drain quickly without sucking out the water in the traps which may not be screwed down well, or have defective rubber flaps that are allowing air to escape as the tank breathes. The black and gray water vent lines join together on the 39J so there's only one roof vent for both rather than the usual two. A roof-mounted vane-type sewer vent works well to keep odors outside except when there is no wind to create a venturi effect.
Windows: Every dual pane window began to fog after about 5 years. The only effective way to deal with this is to have someone take the assemblies out, clean, and reseal the panes. I like the seals Suncoast Designers (Hudson, FL) used, because they are probably four times larger than the cheap ones in the original Si-Ge windows and are heat- pressed. About $2k for ten window assemblies (didn't bother with the small kitchen or bathroom windows). Also, one of the crank vent windows in the bedroom settled down such that it couldn't be fully closed without pushing from the outside, and opening would then take special effort. I used a belt sander with medium grit belt to grind away the bottom edge and corner glass, taking care not to heat the glass and to keep the sander in line with the bottom edge so chipping was held to a minimum.
Day/Night Shades: If you raise and lower the shades by using the curved portion, you'll be twisting the rail, which causes the strings to wear faster than if you lift the rail without twisting it.In any event, because the shades stay in place with friction, at some point you'll break a string. Here's how to repair a 4-string shade like the ones Fleetwood uses.