Looking for some help here regarding my 2002 John Deere 7710 IVT AG tractor. To give you some brief history before I delve into the recent issue I had, I am a commercial landscaper by trade, but I use my tractors for an array of uses from farming, to snow-blowing, to cutting grass to hauling. I purchased this tractor brand new back in October of 2002 right from the production floor and it has been my "baby" ever since. At that time, it was one of the first tractors where an IVT transmission was offered as not only was it a new and upcoming system, but at the time it was quite pricey compared to the average super-quad. It has been well used, but has also been well taken care of and is currently sitting at just over 10 000 hours. All maintenance that has been done on this machine (other than engine oil changes, but always have used the John Deere recommended Hy-Gard oil) has been done by licensed John Deere dealers, which has gotten expensive in the last 5-7 years. In the past 5 years or so there has been a lot of work that has been done to this tractor, mainly concerning the pumps. I've had to replace 2 hydraulic pumps, an exhaust system, an air conditioning system, both driveshafts (one of which was because a co-op student used improper bolts that were too long and sheared the driveshaft in half), and have had to have work done to the fuel system; all of which was completed by my dealer.
Recently, I began to experience some transmission/power-steering issues which caused my steering to lock up and some very loud squeals throughout the machine. I had a John Deere mechanic take a quick look at it to see if he could diagnose it using their software programs and experience. He advised that we change the transmission oil. As he begins to change the oil we look in the pan and notice that there are shavings and some pieces of blue plastic mixed into the oil. The mechanic said he could not be sure what or where it was from and said that when he got back to the shop he would run it through D-Tech (a database that dealers use to get in contact with John Deere engineers) to find out what in the transmission is blue plastic and what needs to be done to fix it. After a couple business days, the dealer got back to us and said that D-Tech along with their manager concluded that the plastic originated from the vacuum pump that must now be broken. The shop foreman began explaining that it would make sense because the vacuum pump's job is to take air out of the system to prevent the transmission/pumps from starving, and if the vacuum pump is not working properly then air would be entering the system. They told us that they would need to pull apart the transmission to repair the vacuum pump and gave us a rough quote of 7000-7500 (51 hours of labour) dollars CAD. We agreed to such job and it began immediately.
Fast forward a couple of business days into the job and everything is going smoothly. The dealer had the transmission out and apart within 17 hours and had just begun to dissemble the inside of the transmission when pieces of blue plastic fell out. If I can attach pictures to this post I will. The blue plastic was not large, 4 inches long 2-3 inches wide and was cone shaped. The shop foreman was the technician taking lead on this project and the one doing all of the repairs. He located the vacuum pump inside the transmission only to find out that not only is it not broken, it is white plastic not blue. The foreman along with the manager are now both stumped on what or where this blue plastic has come from as there is nothing in this transmission that is blue and it is 100% impossible for it to travel from any other place in the machine. That being said, they reached out again to D-tech to try and retrieve some answers as to what this was. D-Tech got back to them saying they have no clue what it is or where it came from and that there is nothing in that transmission that is blue plastic. Now notice what just happened! D-tech just contradicted themselves or the dealer had lied about what the blue plastic was in the first place. D-tech is now saying they have no clue what the blue plastic is or where it was from; so, does that mean that the D-Tech did not originally say it was the vacuum pump, but it was actually the dealer that suggested that to us to give them justification for opening the transmission up, or was D-tech just guessing that the vacuum pump was blue??
This is where the problems begin. The dealer cannot find anything wrong in the transmission, everything is in place and working fine. They replaced a couple of bearings that they said were wearing and would have needed changing with a few thousand hours, but other than that nothing was repaired. The consensus was that the pieces of blue plastic were getting in the way of the pump, blocking the intake and that could have been the issue. The shop foreman said that it was possible that it was packaging from production of the tractor, and although it is 15 years old with 10 000 hours on it, it must have caught a gear or something that broke a couple of pieces off it. He assumed that during production someone forgot to remove the packaging inside the transmission it was then assembled with it inside. He furthered that assumption by explaining a similar situation had happened once before in a newer 7R series engine. At this point we explain that we do not want to pay for this job as there was nothing wrong the transmission and if it wasn't for this packaging there never would have been an issue. Premier (the dealer) agreed with us and said they wanted to set up a meeting with the John Deere field rep. We told them that we wanted the repairs to halt until this meeting took place. Premier did not listen and went ahead finishing the job anyways although the shop manager acknowledged and agreed to stop repairs. The John Deere rep meets with Premier within a few days and denies the claim due to the age and hours of the tractor. Now, at this point we are frustrated because although he is correct in saying the tractor is old and has many hours on it that should not discount the fact that this happened right from production and whether or not the tractor was brand new or 20 years old it was improperly manufactured. We explained to Premier that we wanted to discuss this decision directly with him. (Fast forward to today: I finally got in touch with him and have a meeting this upcoming Friday September 15. )
When you thought this story couldn't get any worse, it does. Shortly after Premiers meeting with this gentleman they tell us we can come and pick the tractor up. It is worth mentioning here that the dealership is about an hour away by car, and double by tractor; so, it is by no means close. We go up pick the tractor up and explain to them we are not paying the bill. They were fine with that and have been very cooperative with us so far, especially concerning the bill. The next day I had a job to tend to with the tractor and as I'm working with it, about a couple hours into my day, the exact same problem happens again, and this time I am able to get it on video. Nothing they did fixed the issue, which shows that not only was the blue plastic not supposed to be in the transmission, it wasn't even the cause of our problems. We call up Premier and they want to send a mechanic down to put some gauges on it to test, we agree. Now I don't want to get too much off topic as I know this is a ridiculously long post as it is, but it is worth mentioning that the same day I am having a horsepower issue with my other machine JD 7220 (4000 hours). Just before the mechanic arrives on scene where I am working my 7220 stalls in the middle of no where, on a hill in a spot where it cannot be towed out and I am unable to start it. We tell the mechanic to diagnose that tractor instead. He does his diagnosing and continues to try and start it, he assumes there is air in the fuel system at first so he bleeds all of the lines and the injector pump, but still it will not turn over. He tells us we need a new injector pump at around 4000$ as that is the problem. He said to have ours rebuilt it will be 3 business days, and of course this all happens on a Friday. We tell him we cannot wait as the tractor cannot sit here over the weekend and to go ahead and get a new injector pump. He goes up to the warehouse and calls us saying they do not have on in stock and we'd be looking at a 3 day wait. We tell him forget it, come back pull ours off and we will have it rebuilt. As he is loading up his van I am still trying to get it started. It all of a sudden starts for about 30 seconds. Long enough for me to restore power-steering to my tires, lift my implement and back up 10 feet, but it stalls again. We call him immediately telling him there is no way the injector pump is bad as it just started and it must be something else. He comes back down and pulls out the fuel pump only to find that it has some rubber/cloth lining (the nylon lining that protects a rubber hose) all around where the intake is. He cleans the intake, re-installs the fuel pump and it fires right up and have not had an issue since. The price of that job was a service call and 2 hours of labour (maybe 400$ at most) and here he wanted to sell us a 4000$ pump and we still would have had the same issue. Moral of the story is here again they improperly diagnose a problem and it would have cost me thousands more than it should have.
Back to my 7710, he never did get the gauges on the tractor and as of today I still need to have that done as the problem is still present. It gets worse. The other day the bill comes in the mail for the repairs of the tractor and the final price was $11 127.35, 3 627.35 dollars more than what they had quoted me, and there is no way it took them 51 hours as they had everything out and apart at 17, 17 to put back in would be 34 hours. I have the meeting with the John Deere field agent this Friday to discuss this issue. I'm looking for any insight you guys may have from any perspective whether it be legal, mechanical or just general knowledge of what this job should have entailed and cost. I'm prepared to take legal action with this, but would rather avoid that because of the cost or if there is a chance I won't win. If anyone has had or knows of anyone that has had a similar issue where plastic was found inside their machine that derived from production I would love to get in touch with them.
Really appreciate you guys taking the time to read this.