John Deere Tractor Model 445 Test Tractor

Purchased from: All Seasons (John Deere Dealership), Cedar Rapids Iowa
purchase price: ($7,600 + tax = $8032) -- Tractor + 40 loader + 48” deck
Tractor S/N: M00445C054191 So anyone that ends up with this tractor knows what it is. And Doesn’t overpay for this piece of junk (e.g. Grey market tractor) if they find it forsale somewhere. Basicly it was a pile of parts JD engineers did who knows what too before it was sold to All Seasons by JD Horicon.
(JD FrakenTractor-Prototype/LifeCycle test tractor?)

My thanks to All Seasons for doing an excellent job in making things right. Customer satisfaction does mean something to them. To my knowledge, John Deere Corporate did not help All Seasons in making this tractor right (with the replacement) even though they obviously played a part in the original mistake of selling the “test tractor” to the dealer. Not to mention Raul’s unhelpfullness when I raised the issue originally with JD that my tractor was a problem. Ultimately though, a chance meeting with a JD engineer did start the correct wheels in motion so that the owner of All Seasons became aware of my dissatisfaction.

This is what All Seasons did to make things right.
2001 Model 445 with 274.5(engine hrs) + four 75# weights and rear chains
How does the tractor compare?
(2001 - 1997model) = 4 years newer tractor
4 * ~$900 a year depreciation = $3600 value
+ the Weights and rear chains makes up for the other issues.
(I’ll have to look up how much the weights and chains are..)

Another way of viewing how this tractor exchange is valued...
Average prices for a 2001 445 2 wheel steer, no deck are
$4210 - $4820 -$5790.
The replacement 2001tractor is nice enough its value should be toward the high end.
Trade value of the 1997 445 Tractor described on this web page -- ~$3,400
So, $5,700 - $3400 = ~$2,300
Again, I haven’t had a chance to check on how much the chains and weights would normally cost, but off the top of my head it seems that they add about another $400 value.


Again, My thanks to Dennis at All Seasons for taking the extra time to find an excellent replacement tractor. I’m looking forward to getting the rear chains soon. I just got stuck in the drive way trying to put my trailer away. To be honest its nice to have a tractor that I can be proud of owning. My own acessment is that the replacement tractor with weights and chains is a very sincere effort by All Seasons to make things right. I’ve also, already had a few people tell me that they plan on doing business with All Seasons now that some changes for the better have been made there.


The rest of this is just my blog about my original 445 tractor and how things started. I’ll probably leave this page up until I’m satisfied that all the people I’ve told about about this have read it and the people they’ve told. If I have time I might even put up something for people to vote on how they think things turned out... Kinda a straw poll. To be honest I had lots of doubts about how things would turn out along the road... If you see me at work let me know what you think... And certainly feel free to let Dennis or the new manager Julie at All Seasons know what you think. Just for the record, getting my tractor made right was never about money too me. Ultimately, it was up to All Seasons, and John Deere each in their own way to look as good as they wanted in this matter.
-Dave


__________________________________________________________
I was told this was a low hour tractor and the extra meters didn’t mean anything. Read this and look at the pictures and make up your own mind... When I first looked at the tractor they told me is was a 1998 model... Then the next time I went, they changed and said it was a 1997 model. It didn’t occur to me to ask why they would be confused about what model year it was. Anyhow, suffice it to say that eventually I bought the tractor because they convinced me that it was a low hour tractor that had been used awhile at JD Horicon then just sat around until the dealership purchased the tractor. I explicitly asked several times if the hour meter was correct. The salesman, and the manager both assured me the hour meter was correct and I would be getting an excellent tractor for my acreage.

Several months after I purchased the tractor, I found extra meters on the tractor. Anyhow, up until that point in time I’d just been checking the oil and mowing with the tractor. I was changing the oil and doing preparation for winter. When I brought up the extra meters to the salesman and manager at All Seasons, They told me the extra meters should have been removed. They didn’t mean anything. At that point, I was not happy with this answer since the one meter said PTO hours and they exceeded the Engine hours. When I bought the tractor the hour meter was about 122hrs. At this point, I should have taken the tractor to another dealer.... But, I was too trusting and they seemed to have a good story at All Seasons about my tractor being OK and I shouldn’t worry. Since they told me at the dealership that the extra meters should have been removed before the tractor was delivered to me I decided that I shouldn’t take it back to them for service... I just didn’t quite believe them... But I didn’t know enough about my tractor to know for sure or know if I had something to complain about.


The meters are under the left side of the tractor console. Its not guaranteed that other Horicon tractors had their meters installed the same place. However, its probably a good place to look first. But, I’ll tell more later about how to find out if your tractor was used by JD at Horicon before it was purchased by someone. The following picture shows the meters close up. PTO Hours: 497, PTO Engagement Count 21718. I did some testing earlier this year to confirm what the meters really were. After the 445 cam gear went out and the Mechanic at AG Land in Springville Iowa repaired it for me. Basically, his acessment of my tractor confirmed my worst suspicions about the tractor.


After the motor quit on me (cam gear etc. broken). I started complaining to John Deere. I complained about the motor and the fact that All Seasons had promised me a larger mower deck and they had not offered me one yet. After all, why spend $8,000 on a tractor with an “itty-bitty” deck. Anyhow, here is the response I got back from the John Deere customer advisor Raul R.
_____________

Mr. H........,

After receiving your e-mail, I contacted your local John Deere dealer
All Seasons Equipment at 319/363-3373 and talked to Jerry. He confirmed
to me that you bought this unit from them on July 3rd of 2002 as a used
unit. I shared with the dealer all the issues you conveyed to us on
your letter. Jerry is actually the person you need to discuss those
issues with you and he expressed to me he will be glad to talk to you.
Please, call him to address those issues.

Thanks,

Raul R.
Customer Advisor

______________________
Raul and I even conversed on the phone, and he was very adamant that I had to work out my differences with the Dealer... All Seasons offered me a new 60” mower deck for $1,100(+tax) and I had to trade in my 48” deck ($800 if you buy used). I finally accepted the deal, reluctantly after talking with Raul who was very adamant that this was the best deal I could get. I’ve since been told by three other dealers that they would have sold me a new 60” deck for my tractor for $1,225 (July 2004 dealer cost plus 10% =1,361). Gee, this was something to cheer about... I even had to wait 2 years for them to offer me this “great deal”. Plus, the John Deere Customer advisor was so very helpful (NOT) in getting me this deal for my $800 trade. Needless to say, I was still mad about my tractor hour meter and disgruntled about the mower deck. (note: dealer cost has gone up on this mower deck its now $1,344 plus approximately 10% for a cash sale.)

Even in the John Deere database they called my tractor “used”... If that was so they should have “honored” the implied warranty on my engine when the cam gear went out. Hmm.. Kinda strange how when the tractor was delivered it had less than 125 engine hours on the hour meter... But the dealer entered the last reported hours as 177... Hmm.




Anyhow, I don’t know if Raul looked up my tractor S/N... or if he even bothered. I’d pretty much given up on anything happening with my tractor. I pretty much felt like my trust in buying a John Deere was totally misplaced. I’d sat through two more sessions (four total this year) with the All Seasons manager, and a salesman telling me that my tractor was OK and that it really was a low hour tractor and that the extra meters didn’t mean anything... “they’re so cheap JD leave them on the tractors” and “JD reuses them on different tractors” were a couple of the stories I was told. This all left me with a bad taste, it was an extremely big disapointment that JD (e.g. Raul) blew off my concerns, and I wasn’t getting past the brick wall at All Seasons.

Chance struck at this point... I ran into a JD engineer and told him I had a piece of green junk in my garage that had John Deere on it. We talked a little, then later I send him my tractor S/N. Having extremely low expectations at this point. It suprised me when all of a sudden the “owner” of All Seasons called me in Sept 2004. He asked what they could do to make things right. So, that’s kinda where this story is now. All Seasons is working on making my tractor right.... But, given my prior experiences with John Deere and All Seasons... I have very low expectations. They will certainly try to get off as cheaply as they can in making my tractor right. I have no doubt from comments from the owner of All Seasons that they will try to get by as cheaply as possible. He’s complained about what making my tractor right is costing him... nary a concern for what the tractor “cost” me.

I’m not going to speculate how I ended up with a “bad” tractor. It may have been a collection of mistakes... But, for those people reading this and not understanding the importance of a correct engine hour meter. It’s basically like buying a car with the odometer rolled back.

All Seasons has offered me a 2001 model 445 with approximately 272 hours. Plus some equipment. They will have to move the 3pt, hydraulic control valve, and weights over to the new tractor. I’ve deceided to accept the tractor. It also seems that the equipment offered will almost square things up. I’ve had a few people asking me why I wasn’t getting a new tractor out of this mess. My answer is “ All Seasons, and JD can choose to look as good or bad as they want in making things right.” With that in mind. Feel free to visit this web page and see what the final tally is and make up your own mind on how you think I should have been treated.

-Dave



What I found out showing my tractor to other JD dealers.

This should have been done right away when I found the extra meters. Being very busy with trying to survive work and young kids at home I didn’t get motivated until Oct 2004. I took the tractor to five different John Deere dealers and showed it to them. A couple of the dealers where field tractor dealers, and since it was a slow time of the year they were more than happy to look in the JD database and tell me what the information in it told them about my tractor. Most of this just reaffirmed what the mechanic at Ag Land told me when he repaired the engine.

1. The extra meters were correct and functional. Given the PTO hrs and PTO engagement count, the salesmen at the dealers I showed my tractor at automatically added the PTO hours to the engine hours, and then fudged more hours on top of that based on tractor wear and tear. All the JD dealers below (and Ag Land) said the tractor I have had over 1,000 hours and maybe even over 1,500 hours given the wear on it.

2. Lots of “holy Smokes” when the mechanics saw the PTO engagement counts, and checking to confirm what they were wired in on.

3. The radiator was manufactured “AFTER” the tractor. The tractor was Manufactured on 6-may97, and the radiator was manufactured 11-3-97. This always caused some initial confusion on whether the tractor was a 98 model or not... Its a 97model 445. Everything points to something crushed the hood/radiator/engine hr meter and parts were replaced. I’d started suspecting that the hood and possibly side panels weren’t actually the ones the tractor was made with because the sun bleaching of the paint didn’t match between the hood and side panels. When I first got the tractor I’d had to buff a big faded spot out of the hood. And the Ag Land mechanic noted that someone had tried to repaint the hood.





4. The serial # plate was not a normal plate used by JD. Normally a tractor like this has an adhesive sticky plate on the frame. This one is riveted on. I don’t know if this is even the “real” S/N for the tractor. I didn’t want to break it off trying to find out. Note the stuff showing up above the riveted plate. (S/N M00445C054191)



5. The tractor had a number painted on the back fender... It looks like 91.


6. This is just the hour meter... The picture was taken at the same time I took pictures of the extra counters. Current engine hour reading: 259


7. The tractor was disowned completely in the JD database. What I bought, and wasn’t told was really what JD calls a “grey” market tractor. This sounds like I’m splitting hairs. But what it means is that any implied warranty item is unavailable for this tractor. For instance, it cost almost $900 (I’ll try to put the exact numbers up eventually) to repair the cam gear, rods and oil pump etc. that were broken when the cam went. JD has an implied warranty program because this is a known problem that they provide all the parts at JD cost. So, this implied warranty would have saved me half the engine rebuild costs. Matt D. The JD area representative gave me a hard time that I should have taken my tractor to a JD dealer and they would have “helped” me. Ha! what a joke. If he was thinking that JD would provide the parts at JD cost that wouldn’t have worked. The mechanics at Ag Land knew about this and “tried” to get me the free parts. Besides, when I hauled the tractor to Ag Land I’d already lost allot of trust in JD. (Note: Even JD and All Seasons called this tractor a used tractor... But, its really a “grey” market tractor)

8. NEVER pay more than the BOTTOM dollar for a tractor that was used at Horicon. Because dealers are allowed to remove the test meters... If they figure out it was used at Horicon before being sold to a customer... They will price it at the bottom $ amount according to the JD tractor bluebook. And, given any wear/tear they see the price may go lower. This is because the dealers DO NOT know how the tractors are used or abused at Horicon. This tractor was obviously an abused tractor. Some of the stranger things I’ve repaired where replacing the ball joints on the steering and they’d been replaced before because the reverse threaded ball joint was on the wrong side. I also replaced the PTO engagement switch... Whatever fails next on this tractor will be something in the transaxle breaking.

9. There is NOT a manufacture date or S/N on the engine hour meter panel. Even in the JD data base there isn’t a serial number for this “important” item. I plan to look at some other tractors like this... But, it only takes releasing two tabs and pulling a wire harness plug to remove the engine hour meter. You’d think JD would do something more to make it more obvious if the hour meter was traded or replaced. Given these tractors cost as much as a car, you’d think some of the things that car dealers do to protect the integrity of an odometer would apply. JD should at least be barcoding the engine hour panel and tracking it in the set of S/N’s for the tractor.

10. The transaxel number doesn’t match the build serial numbers. The tractor has “4 2002” stamped on the transaxel when the serial number should be. The number in the records shows 089175. I don’t know if this means the transaxle is a prototype or what... But this is certainly more of a frankenstein tractor than I previously thought. Most likely after looking the tractor over, whatever fell on it and crushed the radiator broke the transaxle too. JD should have known better than to sell this tractor to any dealer. No wonder why the warranty was completely canceled. This might also explain why the front tires were new enough when I bought the tractor it still had little rubber nubbies on them. We had the tractor completely apart this year, and couldn’t locate the transaxle tag that was supposed to be under the seat deck/fenders. It also took a couple of trys to get the right parts for the motor when we were repairing the cam gear. The motor aparently isn’t what the standard motor was supposed to be for this year of tractor. The mechanic and I both looked it over and couldn’t locate a proper S/N that we could match to what the tractor was built with.

11. Because the tractor isn’t a “true” low hour tractor. I overpaid by close to $3,500 for this tractor. That’s why it’s a piece of junk.

12-27-2004 Took the beast of a tractor into All Seasons. They have a newer tractor (2001 model 445 with about 272 hours on the engine). The tractor looks true, and I’ve had a the mechanic look it over, and I did with a couple of friends. All Seasons is also going to include six JD weights, and possibly a set of chains. The tractor has turf tires... which aren’t very usefull with a loader. But, I’d rather not have the Ag tires on the franken tractor moved over. My attitude is that I don’t want to look in my garage and feel that I am looking at the same tractor even though its the same model.

-Dave

The places that were most helpful with figuring out franken tractor:

Ag Land -- Springville Iowa (Excellent mechanics)

Rowley John Deere Dealer
Keystone John Deere Dealer
Monticello John Deere Dealer
(Not listed in any particular order)

Anyhow, like I said at the start of this web page... make up your own mind. All Seasons has found a replacement tractor. But, being very busy at work and personally with pre Christmas activities. I won’t be able to actually look at it myself until Dec 20th or shortly thereafter.


-Dave H


Dave’s tips on buying a compact tractor

A. When buying new. Treat it like a new car purchase. Don’t accept a 2003 model when they’ve started building 2004 models unless you get an extra discount on the purchase. The compact tractors lose approximately $900 -- $1000 a year in value. Not to mention how much value they lose depends on how hard they were used. Remember what the dealer would pay you on a trade is less than the selling price. They have to make some money to stay in business.

B. When buying a used tractor don’t be afraid to have a good independent mechanic look the machine over and tell you what they think. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t have problems with something. But it does give you something more to judge the tractor on that you are interested in purchasing.

C. If the tractor was used by the manufacturer... (i.e. Horicon) Immediately discount it to being a tractor that you would NOT buy. Ok... so that didn’t scare you off. Don’t pay more than a bottom dollar amount for that model year tractor. Make darn sure you have an independent mechanic look the tractor over and discount the price even further based on things that you expect to have to fix.

D. If its a used tractor. Take the Serial Number and look up the dealer service records on the tractor. Even if you are purchasing it from an individual... Do this. If the original owner is blank in the service records it means that John Deere used the tractor at Horicon... For what nobody knows.... Apply rule C. If the warranty was canceled the day it was manufactured ... Apply Rule C.

E. For a used tractor ask to see the “blue” book values. It never hurts to ask and see if the salesman/dealer will explain to you how they arrived at the selling price for the used tractor you are interested in. Banks typically have a blue book for cars. Rural banks should have one that covers tractors.

F. Compact tractors are expensive... Don’t kid yourself. This is like buying a car that you will keep around for 20years or more. Take your time and access the options. Having a decent compact tractor (equipment) will also save you lots of time on yard maintenance.

For more guidelines on purchasing a used tractor see:

http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/farm00.htm

I should point out counters can start anwhere... Take a guess at what count I probably started it at. Unfortunately I started the counter after most people I knew read the web page.

-Dave