Big problem with John Deere lawn tractorgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
We have a GT 235 John Deere lawn tractor. It has a 54" mowing deck and a 42" snowthrower. We've had absolutely no problems with it since we bought it two years ago. Stacy in Upstate NY
I wrote the above in July 2001--Man, was I wrong! We did have problems with the tractor in the beginning, it had electrical system problems within days of being delivered, and we went through three batteries before buying a "non-John Deere" battery. In April 2001, it had minor air intake problems, but in December 2001 my DH went to change the oil, fuel and air filters, plugs--regular maintanence, and put the snowthrower unit on the tractor. It was very cold that day and the tractor had sat in the mow of the barn since mid November. He started it so he could move it to a more convenient spot to change the oil, when all the sudden a horrible noise occured and the engine quit immediately. My DH is not a mechanic, his back hurt, and he was through messing with it for the day (there had been many times when it wouldn't start and we'd jump it from our SUV) Well, it sat almost a month before he decided to do something about it. Went out tried to start it--nothing. We called our friend that is a mechanic, he looked at it and since he absolutely wouldn't start, he couldn't figure out what it was without tearing it apart. The tractor was almost exactly 6 months out of warranty when it first quit.
On January 16, 2002 I e-mailed John Deere via their website, and the next day received an e-mail in return to call Kimberly in customer service. I called Kimberly (she would never give a last name) and explained the situation, she advised me to take it to the nearest John Deere dealer for diagnosis-John Deere may help with the repairs depending on what happened to the engine, but that they were in no way obligated as the warranty on ALL JD lawn and compact tractors is a *limited 24 months*. Fine, borrowed a trailer and got it to Lindsey's in Port Crane on January 19, 2002. We called yesterday, and spoke to the authorized JD mechanic, a rod broke and destroyed the inside of the engine-the engine is dead and must be replaced. A new engine, installed is $1325.00. We paid $6420.00 for the tractor, mowing deck, and snowthrower in 1999. I called Kimberly, Kimberly called Dave, and Kimberly called me back. Apparently, the oil was dirty (duh, we were changing the day the engine blew) and there was scoring on the crankshaft. So, the engine damage was our fault. Hubby went to get the tractor at the dealer (35 miles round trip) they hadn't put it back together, and wouldn't put it back together unless we paid for an hour's work, or let them replace the engine. We had decided to take the tractor back to the dealer where we bought it. Dave the JD authorized mechanic told DH that the tractor was "well maintained, and the engine problem was not our fault." He did not release the tractor and Ed came back home with an empty trailer. I called Kimberly and advised what the mechanic told us, she put me on hold for 10 minutes, then said the technician she spoke to said the dirty oil caused no lubrication to the engine so the rod failed and that it was definitely our fault. I said, (I was hot at this point) A trained, authorized JD mechanic said it's not, but your tech, who never looked at the engine, said it is--who's lying?" She then said she could authorize $500.00 toward the repairs *IF* it was in the shop by Friday January 25, 2002. I simply don't have $825.00 to pay for this repair by the 25th (two days) and then she hung up on me. I called back (I'm nothing if not tenacious) she told me- you know your options if the repair isn't under way by the 25th I'm recinding the $500.00 offer, and hung up again. I took this as a threat. I had asked her repeatedly for her supervisor's name, she said she was a supervisor, I then asked for her superior's name, she doesn't report to anyone. I asked for the President's name, telephone number, and fax number--she refused to give it to me although I asked several times. I found the corportate number on the JD website, called it and asked for the President's fax number and was quickly, and nicely, given it. I then asked for the telephone number of the head of customer service and again was given the information quickly. At that point, I got nasty. I faxed a three page letter to Bob Lane, CEO of Deere and Company detailing that we had bought a lemon and now we're getting squeezed. After that I called the manager of customer service and told her exactly what Kimberly had done. Then I sat back to wait for a call from the President's office...they never even called as a courtesy to tell me they were looking into the problem. In the meantime, DH called the dealer where we bought the tractor and told them what had happened to it. They said that Kimberly at customer service had just called them to say that the tech at her office said the problem was due to our neglegience--effectively polluting the impartial evaluation of the engine that we wanted from them. I was livid at that point, and faxed an addendum to my previous letter detailing what had happened. DH went back to the first dealer to get the tractor, they refused to put it back together without an hour and a half's worth of repair time paid for in advance. DH asked if they'd charge to put it in boxes--nope, they'd do that for free. So, the tractor is home, in pieces, in the mow right now. Today, the dealer where we bought it is coming to get it (at least they had the decency to come get the piece of sh*t)
I'm not asking JD to pay for the entire repair--I feel comfortable with us paying $250-300.00 out of pocket. We paid a lot of money for what we thought was a dependable, reliable piece of equipment so we could avoid this happening. This is a top of the line, $6000 tractor! and it's barely 2 1/2 years old. John Deere use to stand for a quality product...no longer, now we're only paying for a name. The customer service is a joke, I've dealt with many products but I've never been hung up on, threated, and then out of spite the dealer was called to refute what really happened to the tractor. We seriously don't need this stress right now, Ed's surgery is coming up fast, it's snow storm season, and I've had to pay to have the driveways plowed twice already.
I'll never buy another John Deere product, I just wanted everyone to know about our problems with this company so that you can make an informed decision if you're in the market for one of their products.
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 24, 2002
Sorry for your problems,but it seems the way it goes these days.I have run many different brands of tractors and they all have some problems Whenever a saleaman tells me that their equipment is trouble free I point to their shop and ask why do they have a shop if their brand doesn't break down?I've never seen where John Deere is better than anything else,the big part is a companys willingness to backup their product.I use mostly 30 to 50 year old tractors and seem to have less problems with them than folks useing the newer ones,but know what you mean when pay a top price and get discount quality service.
-- Gary (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
Wow, Stacy, I know who to call if I ever get in trouble with a company! :) You *really* know how to talk to them! Congratulations on not backing down! Even if you don't get anywhere with them you gave it your best. I think you'll get some response from them, though, with all of the noise you made. Hope so, anyway. Good luck!
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
John Deere dumped a bunch of their dealerships in my state. Looks like they also dump on their customers. Another Enron in the making?
-- bw (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
Thanks, Jennifer. My DH says my motto is, "I have not yet begun to fight"- I prefer "Battle! from the movie, "Micheal" and my song should be Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" It really takes a lot to raise my hackles, but once up--look out! If you ever need help just let me know (grin).
You're right, Gary, the older tractors were made much, much better than current models-and they were easier to work on. I just feel that a new lawn tractor isn't a disposable item and should last longer than 30 months--we haven't even finished paying for it yet. I hate debt, and that damn tractor and the mortgage are the only debt we have. So, now I get the priviledge of paying for a useless John Deere tractor plus paying for snow plowing of my driveways.
Most companies are wonderful about backing their products--Hunter fan sent me a brand new fan to replace a 6 month old defective one, and I forgot to fill out the warranty card! The replacement fan was a nicer model. Reebok sent a pair of sneakers to replace a pair of defective ones, along with a very nice letter of apology. I could go on and on.. I'm very surprised about John Deere's refusal to stand behind their product.
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 24, 2002.
I can't believe that "dirty oil" would cause you to blow a rod. Just curious, but what weight oil was in the tractor that cold December morning? If you had a summer weight oil in the tractor, and then let it sit for a month in a cold shed....well, that oil coulda been like tar on that cold December morning and caused the rod to blow due to lack of lubrication. I've had good luck with Troy Bilt. I owned a 26-inch cut, 8HP walk behind mower for two years (it had a 7 year warranty). I had a problem and need a part...a simple 4-inch pulley is all I needed. I waited for six months for that pulley. Finally, after phone calls and letters, they said that my particular mower was no longer built and they could not get me the proper pulley. So they gave me a brand new model mower!!! The new mower was a 9HP and 32-cut walk behind. It's suggested retail price was just over twice what I paid for the original mower! Troy-Bilt has my business. --Happy trails, Cabin Fever in Minnesota, dontchaknow.
-- Cabin Fever (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
I would contact the Company that made the Engine. They are the ones that screwed up. John Deere only bought it from them. Hope it wasn't made in China.
-- Mel Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
We always used what the John Deere manual specified, in this case it's "Plus-4" a superior, fuel efficent, all season engine oil--at least that's what it says on the bottle. "Plus-4" is a John Deere product. It's SAE 10W-30 weight oil, price marked is $1.89 a quart! Wow, that's high.
The oil was changed in November 2000, and the tractor with mower, was very lightly used this summer because of a drought in our area. I doubt we mowed the lawn 10 times last summer. The manual advises to change the oil according to hours used, rather than a time period.
My husband actually waxed the body of this mower, he loved this tractor. He'd wash off the mower deck and leave out to dry a couple times a month, and really babied this tractor. We have pictures of him in a JD cap, yellow shirt and green shorts on it! Now we're taking pictures of it dead in the mow.
Well, it's 10:15 am, Eastern time and no call from John Deere...
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 24, 2002.
What is the brand, horsepower, how many pistons, ect?
-- mitch hearn (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
The tractor is a John Deere GT235 lawn tractor with a Kohler 18hp 2 cylinder engine--30 months old.
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 24, 2002.
Check with Northern Tool or check around at local mower shops that engin is one of the most popular used in mowers!!Should be able 2 find a good used one!! If u cant email me and ill find one for you!! Grizz!
-- Grizz in Western Maryland (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
JD must have more problems with these engines than they want to admit. Northern sells a "17 HP Kohler Replacement Engine for John Deere Tractors". Their discount price is $1,619.99. One would think they would at least offer to not charge for change-out labor.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
dirty oil over that short of time shouldn't cause a broken rod. If anything you would have wore out the rod bearings or wrist pin first and had rod knock before it broke. I had a JD 316 garden tractor that broke a rod but fortunately it didn't do any serious internal damage and I was able to just replace the rod.
-- Dave (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
Stacey two years ago I bouht a 18hp Kohler to power a belt drive generator the motor lasted one week i had to send it to dealar in Wis for evaluation the motor was so bad they could not believe it only had a few hours. I called kohlor they started the run around. They told me there was dirt in engine a would not warranty it. I had agood laugh first and told them that because shipping with engine apart there probley was and then told them i will turn it over to my attorney and hung up on them. They called back 5 min later and said they sending me a new engine. I ended up with a 20hp instead. this motor only lasted about a year and half. Call kohlar and see what they will do Kohlor is in Kohlor Wisconsin
-- bob vadnais (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
God Stacy, what a nightmare! I am proud of your tenaciousness-- don't people realize that being rude to us just makes us fight harder???? I identify with that husband tractor pride thing, too. I just think it's so cute, the TLC my husband gives HIS tractor. He sure is terrible about vehicle care, that falls to me, but STAY AWAY FROM HIS TRACTOR! (Seriously though, he is kind enough to let me drive it, sometimes!) I truly want to hear how this mess turns out...let us know...and don't get discouraged, just stay mad!
-- Debbie in Mo (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2002.
That is the problem with the new John Deere models and other brands. They are just too complicated/expensive for the backyard mechanic to fix. We swear by our 1978 210 model. Any electric circuits and hydrolic this or that, computer generated info., etc. just won't help you be self-sufficient. Other brands have done the same, so that there are no 'after-market' parts that are cheaper since they aren't from the company. This just makes maintainence more for everyone. Sorry you had such a %$#@ experience. Perhaps a quality used mower will suit your needs. That way the kinks are worked out!
-- Anne (Healthytouch101@wildmail.com), January 24, 2002.
Kohler has had problems with the scaled up designs. I talked to them about their standby natural gas powered electric generator which use those engines and the tech admitted they'd had problems. That was in 1999. It's too bad, you got stuck with one of those engines by John Deere.
They know those engines were junk. Keep after them. They've gotten too complacent. Two years ago when I was in the market, I checked out info on the internet and there was no way I was going to buy a JD tractor. Not when they had to replace the entire axle on some of them.
The fact that I'd had two bad experiences with their Fairmont, WV dealer who charged me for work they never performed, didn't help.
If there's anything we can do to help please post it.
-- Darren (email@example.com), January 24, 2002.
Thank you all for your support. I've heard nothing from John Deere, I sent the first fax to CEO Bob Lane on January 23, 2002 at 1:32 pm- nothing, not even a courtesy call that they're reviewing the situation.
However, we did get a call late yesterday afternoon from the dealership where we purchased the tractor--they WILL NOT come get it as was promised the day before. We had company at the time so DH did not get into it with the owner of the dealership--he will today. Nothing was said about the dealership kicking in some money toward the replacement costs, although the John Deere customer disservice said they might. We'll discuss that with them today as well.
I have the number to call Kohler customer service, we'll see if they are any more consumer oriented than John Deere.
I'm just shocked that John Deere, who supposedly "stands behind their product" (DH says, Yup, they stand behind their tractors--about 100 yards) doesn't even have the decency to return a phone call.
Well, I'm hopeful that today will turn out to be more productive.
Thank you again for your support, it really helps in a situation like this.
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 25, 2002.
If anyone else is concerned about this and has knowledge of the Kohler problems call John Deere at 1-800-537-8233 and give them your two cents worth.
-- Darren (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 25, 2002.
When you talk to the John Deere folks, slip in that you're in the process of buying a brand new medium-size farm tractor and had narrowed the choice to between a John Deere and Kabota. If JD won't stand behind their equipment, then it looks like Kabota will have another sale since you have only heard good things about their products and services.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), January 25, 2002.
I'm always griping about research and knowing what you're talking about, well, I pulled a dumb one. It's a Briggs and Stratton 18 hp engine, not Kohler. DH is partially to blame for the mixup. We took the tractor to an authorized Kohler mechanic (the Kohler customer service was very nice) and the mechanic said it was B&S not Kohler (duh-DH had a very sheepish look)I don't think they actually laughed at him though. Well, at first glance, the mechanic said it the engine may be able to be repaired, we may not have to replace it- we'll know more on Monday.
I still haven't heard one word from John Deere and I've sent three faxed letters to the corporate office. I'm shocked, I've never had a company at least contact a consumer with a complaint. I figured that a company that is supposedly so customer oriented would, at least, contact me to find out why I'm so upset. It's a sad time when a company won't back it's product.
Thanks to all of you for your help. It is greated appreciated.
Stacy in NY
-- Stacy (KincoraFarm@aol.com), January 26, 2002.
I'm in the lawn care business and have the exact same lawn tractor. It's about the same same age too. That's the year they started putting Briggs and Stratting engines in that modle. I havn't had any major problems yet, but I hope I don't have to go though that.It seems alot of companies don't like dealing with unsatisfied customers only the ones that are giving them more money.
-- Ronnie Deeder (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 27, 2002.
Stacy, I find this is all very interesting especially since the very tractor I am most interested in purchasing is the GT 235 with the 18 HP V-twin Briggs & Stratton engine. I am reconsidering at this point based on the treatment you have received! We had a defective axle on our 96 Chevy truck just before our 36,000 mile warrantee expired and the dealer we bought it from put a completely new axle in no questions asked. I am really surprised and appalled by Deere's treatment of this situation; very unprofessional. Either they must be going through some rough times right now, or they must have had a large batch of bad motors (not likely) and maybe that's why they are not willing to stand behind their product and just replace it for free. For kicks, I will forward this to a friend of mine who works for Deere in IA and see what his response is.
From everything I have read, I don't see any reason why your motor on your tractor would have failed unless there was some preexisting defect that just took some time show itself. I would suspect that its a pretty rare occurrence. Have you talked to the Briggs and Stratton folks?
For what it's worth, I have a motorcycle mechanic brother who builds race bike motors in NH who could probably fix the motor for you really cheap. He could probably even soop it up for you! Then he'll already know how to do it if the engine in mine ever blows (if I even go with Deere).
I think I'll take your posting into some of the nearby dealers and see what their reaction is and use that as a gauge as to whether I want to go with Deere or not. Whatever happens, good luck in getting this taken care of and sorry to hear that you have been treated so poorly.
-- Rich Lounsbury (email@example.com), March 01, 2002.
I was days away from buying a JD 4300 compact tractor. I realize that it is a completely different product than your lawn tractor, but I don't want to take any chances on having to deal with a customer service department like you describe.
The one and only thing that swayed me to the JD over Kubota was the reputation and respect that JD has always commanded. However, the sad thing is I know that a company can change its philosophy and that may be what is happening to JD.
Kubota will be glad to get the $23k that I planned to spend on the JD and you can take a tiny amount of comfort in knowing that your effort to publicize your situation resulted in killing at least one sure sale.
-- Madwest (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 16, 2002.
I was in the process of buying a 4300 also and you've convinced me to take a look at the kobata's, I sure don't need that type of headach.You would think that a Company would learn that backing a product will sell the product.
-- Richard Lunsford (email@example.com), March 22, 2002.
I also considered buying the John Deere GT235. For reasons other than your post I opted to order the Simplicity Conquest. So far on all of the message boards I have frequented I heard nothing but good things about them. But I am glad I saw your post. I am also sure that it will have an impact on the customer service policies of companies like JD. Long live the Internet. If nothing else it has enabled us all to share our experiences with products. Manufactureres will have no choice but to improve.
I hope you were able to resolve your situation favorably.
-- Akin (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
dear sir:- i hope fine u dear sir plz all computer parts used and new rates answer plz my email address. aftar will be wait tommorrow
-- sohail khan (email@example.com), March 31, 2002.
Wow, sorry to hear about your problems with your JD product. Was narrowing my search for a new LT down to the JD or a Craftsman. Both have Kohler engines, since I won't touch a B&S, but I thought there was some customer service benefit to going green. Did your msg open my eyes to that misconception! So, I will probably go back to Sears, who's products have almost never failed me, and on the rare occasion that they did, the company was responsive and customer satisfaction ruled the day.
-- Skip (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 03, 2002.
AS SOON AS ISEEN KOHLER THATS THE PROBLEM MY JOHNDEERE 317 USED TO HAVE A KOHLER AND I HAD A LOT OF TROUBLE SO I BOUGHT A BRAND NEW ONAN AND I HAVE BEEN RUNNING IT SINCE 1992 THE MOWER MY DAD BOUGHT IT USED I WHEN IWAS IN 3RD GRADE AND IM 30 NOW I DONT THINK YOU SHOULD HOLD IT AGINST JOHNDEERE SO STRONGLY BUT MORE TOWARD KOHLER THERE THE ONES THAT BUILT THE ENGINE ME AND MY LITTLE 317 ARE STILL GOINGIT HAS 2800 HOURS ON IT AND I PLAN ON IT MOWING MY BIG YARD ALL SUMMER !!!!
-- ROBERT GROSSMAN (GROSSMRJ@APCI.COM), April 15, 2002.