The Tractor Backlash

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John Deere, like Ford and GM and all the rest, is forced by the government to build tractors as complicated as new cars – and just as impossible for the average owner to service.

But people still have the choice not to buy them.

Many are beginning to exercise this choice.

The Minnesota Star Tribune reports that a growing number of farmers have had it with government-mandated tractors that get uppity when their owner try to fix them rather than pay a Deere dealer to fix them. Or they just brick themselves.

Yes, really.

John Deere made the astounding claim about two years ago that the people who buy its new tractors are really just licensees. You possess the tractor and are allowed to use it, but Deere owns the software that runs the tractor  . . . without which it doesn’t run.

Deere controls and can “update” the software at its whim, if you abide by its rules – which include you not attempting to service the thing in other than Deere-approved ways  . . . the only Deere-approved way being via an “authorized” Deere dealer.

Yes, really.

If you try to fix it yourself, the tractor knows – and soon (via Internet connectedness) so does Deere. Which sends the “update” to brick the tractor.

The StarTribune article reports that farmers are giving up on these new, non-serviceable (by them) tractors in favor of the old – which can be serviced by them – almost indefinitely.

Much less expensively – far more easily. Without any “connectedness.”

They are buying vintage tractors – some made more than 40 years ago – which can be fixed in the field with crescent wrenches, sockets and ball peen hammers rather than scan tools and WiFi.

And which only “brick” if you run out of diesel.

That’s the beauty of the pre-computer stuff. It never needs an “update” and you “diagnose” it by checking for spark, ignition and fuel. There are no codes to read. Just the occasional leak to fix or worn component to replace. Which doesn’t require a trip to the dealer because the manufacturer doesn’t claim it owns the codes and hasn’t got a proprietary lock on the tools – and won’t allow you to service the thing yourself, even if you had them.

You own the thing. Or at least, you have full control over the thing (no one really owns anything these days as we’re all forced to pay rent-in-perpetuity – property taxes – on just about everything).

The Tribune article notes that while a new Deere tractor – the big ones used on large farms – sells for $100,000 and more, a functionally similar, functionally superior older model can be picked up for half that or less. These haven’t got plastic on the seats, of course – and don’t come with a warranty. But it’s what happens when the warranty runs out that is steering farmers away from new Deere tractors.

“These things, they’e basically bulletproof,” Greg Peterson of the farm equipment data company Machinery told the StarTribune – referring to the pre-computer models that ran like a Deere . . . without running back to the Deere dealer.

Or tattling on you to the dealer.

“You can put 15,000 hours on it and if something breaks you can just replace it.”

Yourself.

I myself have an ancient Mitsubishi tractor. It was made in 1979 and so was made without anything electronic except for the sealed beam headlights and the 12V starter battery that rotates its mechanically injected diesel engine. A nuclear air burst – and electromagnetic pulse – will not stop this tractor.

And neither can Mitsubishi.

The dealer doesn’t have any idea where my tractor is, much less what I’m up to under its hood – and couldn’t do anything about it anyhow, the tractor not being connected to the Hive Mind.

Anything that breaks can be easily fixed – often with whatever’s handy. You can make it work – with a welder, some scrap metal and a little know-how.

Nothing is software dependent. Which is why it’s independent.

This tractor – like the older models ones being snatched up by frustrated farmers – is still running more than 40 years after it was built.

It will probably still be running 40 years hence. 100 years  hence isn’t inconceivable. If you know farm equipment, you know it’s common to find tractors from the ’40s and ’50s still in use out in the fields, today.

How long will a new Deere sail fawn – er, tractor – run? Odds are not nearly as long. Not because of its mechanicals but because of its electronics. Because of critical electronic components that can’t be fabricated at home or swapped from a parts pile at the junkyard.

And because junkyard parts sometimes no longer just bolt in place – even if they physically fit.

In many modern computer-controlled vehicles – tractors as well as cars – key components are specific to that particular vehicle and must be “coded” to work with it by the dealer. Believe it or not, you can’t even replace the battery or a headlight in some new cars (and probably also Deere tractors) without plugging the vehicle into a dealership computer.

Farmers – generally no-nonsense people who need their tractors to work, right now – not next week, whenever the deal can get to it – have had enough of this nonsense and are doing something about it  . . . by not buying into the nonsense.

Their example illuminates the way forward  . . . when it comes to cars.

It is probably impossible to get the government to stop mandating this and requiring that of new cars. And the car companies (like Deere) have cynically decided it’s easier – and more profitable – to go along to get along. Worse than that, actually. They have decided to go farther. The government isn’t mandating sealed hoods, “proprietary” software and diagnostic rigamarole; the corporations are.

Like the famers, we can say no them much more easily than we can to the government. Just stop buying the new stuff. Buy – and repair – the older stuff. Keep your money in your pockets – and the corporation’s noses out of your business.

It’s high time.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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167 COMMENTS

  1. I am a mechanic at a Deere dealer. At this point I am unaware that Deere forces software updates, at this point we at the dealer have to perform the updates some can be done remotely others need to be done through a wired connection. As far as turning into a brick a malfunction of the emissions will cause the engine to derate (lose power) until the problem is corrected.
    Much if not all of the over complication of current diesel engines is due to government regulations. I personally believe that manufactures of diesel engines including Deere do not care much as once the emissions warranty is off the customer is responsible for keeping the emissions system repaired. It is a fact that emission certified engines cost more to repair than their non certified counterparts, not just the extra parts added to control emissions but common parts such injectors, fuel pumps, etc. As a Deere dealer we can face a heavy fine for altering the emissions system of a certified engine. At this point Deere does not remotely or otherwise turn a machine to a brick.
    I find it interesting that Deere sells parts to “de-tier” an engine. Once this is done the machine must be exported to a country where the emissions standards are not what they are here and the machine can never be imported back. I have heard of individuals finding a tuner to either increase to power output of their certified engine or to remove components of the emissions system. I make no claim to have seen either of these.
    Finally I too will say that the comment from the Deere executive that the customer does not really own the machine rubs me the wrong way. When I read it I thought “what an a**hole”. If I were looking to purchase a tractor I too probably would look for a model built prior to the year 2000. While there is some electronic control of the engines and transmissions from around 1990 like autos built between 1990 and 2000 the systems are pretty basic and not overly difficult to repair.

  2. It’s not just Deere doing this. As I understand it, all the major farm equipment manufacturers are following the same model now.

    I’m not as familiar with the tractor market, but it seems to be somewhat less regulated than the automotive market. They are still stuck with the DEF rules, as others have mentioned, for Diesel engines over 25 HP, but on the whole they seem a little more free market.

    This means in a free market, such developments will lead farmers to purchase from companies that do not pull this sort of stunt OR purchase older equipment not subject to these sorts of limitations. As the big companies lose sales, they will have to consider market demands and reduce or eliminate such gaming. However, since farming has had to scale up to maintain efficiencies to turn a profit, the biggest customers for such equipment are the large farm companies and their economics are very different from the smaller farmers.

    To be clear, the tractor itself put many small farmers and long-term farm families out of business in the early 20th Century. Suddenly you could farm many more acres with far fewer laborers and less cost per acre while increasing yields. Farmers and farm laborers, which for most of human history made up the vast majority of human jobs, steadily declined. The freed up laborers moved into other markets, like industry, making technological advances and increasing output while lowering prices across all industries. This is not a bad thing. See also the Petition of the Candlemakers essay.

    I also must wonder how much the federal government’s screwing around with farm prices, subsidizing them and interfering with trade policy, has altered the farming market from where a true free market would be.

    My point is that the market will seek an equilibrium of sorts, given existing structures, limitations, and prices, and that hopefully the winners will not be putting such restrictive software licenses on their consumers.

    • Hi SJ,

      Even the small-scale stuff has been Cloverized. My neighbor has a new Deere compact tractor; the thing cost almost $30,000! My ’79 Mitsu can do pretty much everything his can and I can service mine with basic hand tools while he is forced to take his – on a trailer – back to the dealer. I’ve had a look under the hood of his and the Borg-like mess of unrecognizable stuff under there vs. the “right there” mechanically injected diesel under the hood of mine is a striking contrast. I should do a side-by-side video to show everyone what I mean. Stay tuned!

  3. Tier 4 is worse than just
    mobile equipement,urea(DEF) systems are now required on standby generators,I don’t know the KW where it becomes mandatory.The system requires 2 NOx sensors to monitor engine out and tailpipe out and if conversion efficiency is out of spec the unit shuts down just like oil pressure or overheat.Think about this as it affects all generators life safety or not.I have 40 years in the industry and keep seeing the nuclear grade stupid being passed down from corporate and govco down the chain.

    • dieseldoc, no doubt this extra complexity narrow the field of manufacturers and cuts out nearly all foreign competition.

  4. About 8 yrs ago, bought a 976 Versitile [Ford w/cummins] and gave 18k at a local farm auction. Works flawlessly, in beautiful shape. [Pulled out a Davey tree truck out of a sandy creek bottom sideways as he was in a weggie between RR pylons for 25 ft or so days after driving it home].
    This blue pig was less for more, than a lousy 25 hp JD. Just the green paint was always expensive except if it came in the Oliver green shades.

  5. Mark3 said it. This is a subscription sales model where they monetize your ownership of their product. You see that in software all over now.

    You don’t make as much money if you make durable, well designed tractors. When my brother brought a Deere for his property, the salesguy said his grandkids would still be running it. But they make more money if they tether themselves to your wallet with one hand, then with the other, lobby to keep companies like mahindra from being able to market a rugged jeep with internals simple as a butter churn.

    In my business, I’m having to essentially repurchase software every year. I have one package that is still autonomous, but they aren’t updating is as much, and soon it’ll be EOL.

  6. Agricultural vehicles and equipment are nowhere near subject to the same ludicrous regulations as their road-going counterparts. This is because they spend the majority of their lives on private property. Yet, John Deere et al still choose to try and ram proprietary, “maintenance free” (i.e. non-serviceable) shit down everyone’s throats! Perhaps if everyone stops purchasing new equipment from the manufacturers and forces them into “Chapter 11” bankruptcy, they’ll probably end up crying uncle and getting some stupid law passed that’ll either cost us more in taxes, or simply make using “vintage” equipment on properties exceeding a certain number of acres illegal (or both).

  7. Well gee, it seems like the only thing keeping Tesla out of the Deere market it branding at this point. Next up: The EV tractor that comes with REAL TRACTOR SOUNDS. Deere better copyright the sounds their tractors make.

  8. I have an old diesel LONG tractor that was made in Romania. NONE of the electronics work. I added a push button to the starter solenoid. Most reliable machine.

  9. Embarrassed to say I grew up less than 5 miles from John Deere world headquarters. My intuition tells me this will only get worse as GPS and AI will combine to create autonomous tractors for the massive factory farms that have swallowed up family, small, and medium-sized cooperative farms growing corn and soybeans with hybrids and GMOs seed and feed crops galore to feed into their feed lots and finishing operations. Combined with satellite services, the farmer becomes an employee of one of the most capital intensive businesses that actually produce things left in the United States.

    None of it would be robust enough to survive an EMP or any of a number of other disasters. And when the children raised there finally driven out, it will be back to the year zero trying to grow food in this country, especially at the rates we currently do (irrespective of its quality).

    • The last time we had an EMP was in the 19th century. It was caused by a solar mass ejection and drove the telegraphs crazy but had little or no other effect. Not all that long ago we missed a similar event by just a few days. Unlike the 19th century, today an EMP would be catastrophic whether caused deliberately or by natural causes. It is much more of a danger than any phony “climate change” scenario.

    • The average former IS rapidly becoming an employee. The more expensive a machine cost, the fewer that can afford them(had this conversation with a cotton farmer a few days ago). The goal is to hamstring the small farmer. It has been since 1930 at the latest. Once a few corporations own most of the productive farmland the deal will be done.

      If the public doesn’t come up with 15-20% of it as a fighting force to overthrow the govt, I fear Soylent Green will become a reality. Why would the plutocracy want anymore useless eaters? We saw this in the banking system long ago, part of establishing the plutocracy as the world governing body.

    • Kunstner had an interesting “fact” – I’ve not verified its veracity:
      Back in the Hunter-Gatherer days we used to expend 10 calories of energy for every 100 calories obtained.
      We now expend 100 calories for every ten harvested.
      That’s two orders of magnitude. Most of that energy is expended in the form of hydrocarbons. Anything that stops that will get the world down to Bill Gates’s preferred “sustainable” population of 500 million PDQ.
      Gather your calories while you may.

  10. Its about running small guys out of business. Because corporations (ADM, monsanto etc) own ALL the farms now – so Deere cares not what “farmers” want. Only what Corporations want. And the corps buy the crap. Just like when a modern 18 wheeler throws a check engine light – $7K easy – every time. Only big corporations work with that stuff and small owner operators – yep – thing of the past because of this crap.

    • Hmm. Sort of like healthcare/medical insurance. Almost seems like a plan. Good thing I’m not a crazy conspiracy theorist. Those guys are nuts.

  11. It will be interesting to see how Deere solves the problem of the failure of the power grid before it beats them to the bricking.

  12. Ive been seeing the same thing happening in the timber industry. Only the largest, highest producing logging contractors are buying new harvesting equipment. They then trade them out around year two before the software begins acting up.
    Everyone small and midsize are buying/running older , pre -software equipment. I know one guy who just picked up a 96 CAT stroke delimber for 25k and the guy selling threw in 20k of parts with it. New the same piece of equipment would 250-300k. Its a no-brainer for anyone trying to run a small business in a tough environment. We have reached tech -fatigue

    • Well, back in the 1980s I was running a 1938 Cat 🙂

      It had no software of course. Heck, it had no electrical system at all except for the magneto on the pony motor. The starter for that was a rope!

      • I recall old tractors like that. After HS graduation I worked road construction. I got learned up on the old diesels with gas start engines and hand clutches.

        • Really interesting when you are going down a very steep hill and the steering action reverses! Pull the right clutch to go left and the left clutch to go right. The brakes don’t begin to turn or stop it; that’s what the blade on the front is for.

          • Now, Cat has 2 modes, idle and WOT. You can slow it down via left and right deceleration pedals. That’s ok if you’re ripping rock or out in the pasture but when you get in a tight spot it sucks.

            • Going on 30 yrs ago, I drove an IH for a very little while. It had something like two automatic transmission shifters side by side to control each track: R 1 2 3 4. I hated it! Give me back my brakes and clutches 🙂

      • One of the best times of my young life was when at a bonfire kegger, a couple buddies and I figured out to start a big old cat like that. Fired up the pony, ground it a bunch getting it engaged, then running that cat over the bonfire and a couple junk cars, and knocking over a couple trees. Thank god we didn’t get caught and nobody got hurt!

  13. That’s why I have a 1949 McCormick Farmall. 6volt positive ground with a magneto and a hand crank if the battery goes bad. The sound of that old flat head is like a symphony.

    • I got ya beat, Randy.
      I’ve got a ’39 Farmall A with absolutely no electrical components other than the magneto.
      That, and when I am in the seat because I usually carry a flashlight in my pocket.
      It doesn’t even have a place to mount a starter.

  14. The electronic tractor issue probably has a lot in common with the electric car issue. It’s not just that government regulations encourage the manufacture of this stuff, but government money encourages it’s purchase. Just as electric car buyers get significant tax write-offs, farmers buying new equipment get to write that off, too. Even worse, farmers are in many cases getting direct cash from the government, or getting government-backed loans to buy this stuff with. Massive agribusinesses are dependent upon government ethanol subsidies, and they want the biggest tractors they can buy to grow that government corn that goes into your gas tank. A LOT of farmers have been on the big-government teat ever since the New Deal. The ones that aren’t are the little guys and truck farmers still using the sixty-year old tractors.

    I generally agree that it is preferable to use older, well-designed machines rather than rely upon whizbang electronics that hold you hostage to the manufacturer. But that’s a temporary solution. The fact is that there aren’t enough old cars, and tractors, for all of us to do that indefinitely. Old machines do break beyond repair, parts become obsolete or unobtainable, old cars and trucks rust out. I have a 20 year old Dodge truck that I have been able to keep running for 200,000 miles, but it won’t last forever. What am I going to replace it with??? The solution is for manufacturers to design and sell simple, reliable, affordable machines for today’s market. Hopefully Deere & Co. will learn something from the blowback…

  15. It will never end. Anything controlled by electronics will eventually become user un-serviceable and perpetually controlled by the maker or dealer. The stone age is looking better and better.

    • Hi Tom,

      It’s a very strange thing. We are transitioning away from machines making the average person more independent (and financially secure) to more dependent and debt-enslaved.

      No doubt this is intentional.

      • Tech controlling people: Also this tech is a hassle for women in the kitchen, so I opt for “rental appliances” which are non computerized/no BS w/o push button ice machines, etc. (I don’t care what friends have). Those with these hi tech appliances have more problems with them working, so they have to call a tech. Ladies (men too), shun them and go to stores that let you choose appliances w/o the push button BS. And hope they will always be avail. incl low tech washers and dryers. All this tech can make things way more complicated and expensive to maint. Gov can also spy thru these appl. on us serfs.

        • The old Frigidaire Unimatic washer is now legend. They are rare and expensive. Best damn washer I ever used. In this part of the country where houses had “mud rooms”, it was common to find one of those old units sitting beside a new one that was more gentle to clothes.

          Since my clothes were almost always filthy, I almost wept when I went to my parents house with the parts to fix their last machine and it was gone with a Maytag in its place. The Maytag was a flash in the pan.

          • 8, from what I’ve read the best current washers are the Speed Queen commercial units but even those have fallen prey to Uncle’s demands for “high efficiency.” They also now use electronics rather than the old-school electro-mechanical controls. Pretty pricey as well. Hopefully our 1980s-vintage washer and drier will keep working for a while.

            • Well, the electronic controls are technically better and cheaper. What everybody is rightly upset about is the disposable design philosophy, and the greedy/control freakish corporate business model. The electronics are innocent- drum switches are a PITA though they do have the advantage of being fixable, like a carburetor.

              • Hi Ernie,

                One of my primary objections to all of this is that it’s not necessary – and moreover, not a meaningful improvement. My 40 year old tractor has none of this stuff – and it starts reliably every time, even after sitting for months. I can’t remember when it last broke down or needed a repair. I change the oil/filter, hydraulic fluid/clean the filter and keep fresh diesel (with anti-crud) in the tank. That’s pretty much all it asks of me.

                How does adding a computer make this better?

                Even as regards cars. My ’76 TA drives very much like a modern car. I added an OD transmission, which is the main meaningful functional improvement in terms of everyday driving. If I replaced the carb with a TBI system, upgraded the brakes… it’d be almost indistinguishable from a modern car… except for the absence of touchscreens, digital displays and all the rest of that… none of which makes the car easier to drive or more reliable. The opposite, in fact.

                Am I on crack? Or is the rest of the world?

                • Hi, Eric.
                  Our carburetors are- analog mechanical computers. The valve bodies in our older automatic trannys are also analog mechanical computers.
                  I absolutely agree with you as to how it’s been used- to complicate systems unnecessarily, to drive corporate profits by making it uneconomical to repair older units.
                  But- and this but is bigger than Oprah’s- it just don’t have to be that way. EFI systems like Megasquirt, and Speeduino- work better than carbs just because they are self adjusting and adapt to conditions. And I don’t have to start them every week to keep the triple damned gasahol from going sour and destroying them. And electronic OD trannys shift, in my experience much better than the non electronic Ford AOD, for instance.
                  The electronic controllers are neutral- innocent- potentially very good technology. Look at the tuners for modern diesels- which can improve torque, HP, AND MPG. Half of my vehicle toys are stock- rock simple flathead or OHV, carbureted manual trans stuff. Or mechanical diesels. Some of what I’ve built or hot rodded has modern full independent suspension, 4 wheel discs, and electronic management. The 2001 Cummins 24 valve I just put together gets 22+mpg in a humungous Dodge 3/4 ton truck!
                  If you’re on crack, so am I… I know the hassles of electronics, but if they are aftermarket I can make them do what I want- which is just advanced hot rodding. But the cell phone-ization of cars for the last 10 years is appalling and economically unsustainable and is a fad which won’t continue.
                  My point was the old baby and the bathwater thing- the electronics themselves are not all bad.
                  Best,
                  EP

                • No Eric, you aren’t on crack. You simply have the same philosophy as the Amish, if I understand their philosophy on tech correctly. You consider its impact on your life, and you let in the tech that actually makes it better, rather than more complicated or expensive.

                  Too many people blindly let in the “latest and greatest” without considering the full effects on their life. I’m hardly a modern day Luddite; I made my living in high tech until I retired. I love my tech toys. But I remember that they’re toys. For the things I have to rely on, like vehicles say, I’m a lot less likely to have the new stuff. While we bought my wife a Jeep Cherokee, I’m sticking to my old pickup and even older Suburban. Her Jeep is nice, but God help you if anything breaks. I can fix my trucks in the driveway if I have to.

                  • TF, amen, amen, amen. The very reason I’m rebuilding my 93 Turbo Diesel. Mechanical injection, no computer and simply unplug the ABS part of the brakes.

                    Not one part on that truck I don’t have a tool for. Simple, but surprisingly sophisticated mechanically. A/C, power windows and locks(a must with a fast dog). Decent stereo(gotta have some tunes). Every handle is metal and it has a bumper with pushbars and a rear bumper made of drill pipe with a flush trailer tow mount. The fuel pump can be jumped across under the hood to fill the filter.

                  • Amen, Freeholder!

                    Naturally, we all have different subjective values – and a free market is the best way to sort out (and meet) these varying values.

                    I submit that the market is distorted – precisely because it isn’t free.

                    This pathological interest – and indulgence – of gadgets is possible only because of the financial engineering – that is to say, of a system that encourages debt and financial serfdom.

                    I submit that, if people were compelled by their means to live within them, almost all of this insanity would dissipate.

                    • eric, your comment here is the last I have received. Strange that. I don’t know how to account for it other than the G word.

              • My old romanian tractor has a rod that goes to the pump you pull to shut off the tractor. My newer new Holland (actually a rebranded LS) has a key – you turn off to make it stop. bottom line – Everything electronic – every switch is broken, every wire is cut on the romanian tractor and it still runs great. Let the key switch break on the new holland and yer screwed. Or the Saaaaafety switches on seats and shift levers and clutch etc… Honestly – which would you rather have?

          • Eightsouthman: I loved my basic former maytag, was 22 yrs old and left it with the house we sold several months ago, got a w’pool w/o the BS and works like I want. I think these two companies merged now.

            • laura, we use an ancient Maytag too. We had a Kenmore that lasted a very long time. It was the top of the line thing with all sorts of whistles and bells. Just a few months into it, it crashed this board that costs nearly as much as the entire washer. Fortunately it was under warranty. I kept rebuilding it till everything was so worn out it wasn’t worth the effort.

              Our well water isn’t particularly friendly to anything.

          • the older MayTags really worked…… for a LONG time. I still have a dryer I think dates from the early 1970’s. Had an older RCS commercial, still had part of the coin mech left on it, coin box gone. Reach down into the box and turn the big metal thing, the washer starts. I got it from a Mom who had bought it used from someone for thirty bux, she used it for at least ten years, It was “retired” from a local laundromat probably twenty years before that. How long it had ground up dirt and duds no one knows. I used the thing for thirty years, one day the agitator was not turning… it spun loose on the shaft. Pulled the nut lifted the thing off, the splines on the inside of the centre bore had been ground off. Found a used appliance store that had a good one, he said twenny dollah. I didn’t have the coin in my pocket, said I’d come back tomorow. I did, he was out on a call, The snarly od lady at the front counter told me I’d have to come back tomorrow. Oh but I know exactly where it is…. can’t I just nip round and get it? OH she growled. I did, she looked at it and said “THUTTY DULLAH. But HE said twenny…. THUTTY OR LEAVE IT. OK snarl to you, too. Sheesh, didja drink vinegar inyer mornin cuppa? I walked out, put ky thinking cap on. Hmmm.. all it needs is something to make the splines grab again….. I know, that plastic is pretty soft and ductile. I cut some eightinch pieces of small copper plated welding rod, bothered to grind a point on the first one, pounded that in between the shaft and the gone splines, kept doing that till I had about eight of them in there. Used it another ten years. Then a record breaking frost froze everything on the service porch, crasked something not easily repiarable. So it is now gone off to China and come back as a pallet of toasters. That thing was HEAVY. I stripped the heavy guts out of the (relatiely) think shell.. the gearbox for the thing was solid heaby industrialgrade cast iron. NOT the typical aluminium box of the Suzy Homemaker’s model.

            • This is the kind of repair I really appreciate. I’m an aluminum welding, brazing, jam nutting SOB. Got tired of the plastic in the endgate falling apart and used some high tensile wire and twisted it back together. Works better than ever.

              Yeah, I know, those chickenshit little pieces of plastic are cheaper and not worth a shit. I don’t want and won’t have a pickup newer than 98. Ford has those ridiculously complicated engines that always dropped #8 and Dodge had good engines up to that year, but not beyond, and everything in the cab just fell apart in the west Texas sun. Nothing like going down the road and having shitty plastic falling in the floor and fogging out like a dirt clod coming apart. The back windows had a really bad idea of just some RTV holding them in with nothing else. Good thing the first one I replaced was in a wrecked truck. Just add that onto the bill please.

              I wish the square body GM’s had as good suspension and sophistication in the front and inside as the next generation. The 2000’s and up half tons are just junk with Ford and Dodge being just junk in the engine compartment and unnecessary bs on things such as the speedo deelio on the rear-end that constantly took a dump.

              If that Turbo Diesel is hurt from sitting, I’ll rebuild it using the right stuff, turn the turbo up with my Heath boost control and install a Duramax intercooler and cooling fan.

              From now on, Detroit and the Japs can just KMA.

  16. My friend up the road runs a ’48 Ford tractor and has to fend off bids to buy the thing. He can run it on used cooking oil. The ’48 Ford tractors are worth their weight in bullion and I told him he’d better put a lock on it or one day somebody’s gonna show up in his yard with a flatbed when he’s not around and make off with it.

  17. My long-held opinion is that JD is little more than a prestige name, like BMW or Range Rover. And like the expensive prestige cars, JD makes expensive stuff that is prone to fail, especially the electronics. You’re paying for that name and the precious green and yellow paint scheme.

    Also in my opinion JD’s engineering and quality have long been overblown. One colleague at a past employer farmed. He got to pay for an engine overhaul in his large late-model JD after the turbo failed and sent coolant into the oil, lunching the main bearings. Piss-poor design. He was angry. And why does a diesel tractor need a turbocharger anyway? Maybe to cover lower-than-expected output without it?

    Deere got on my shit list when it revealed years ago that just to work on its tractor assembly lines required a college degree. Ponder that, and imagine an auto manufacturer daring to require the same. But it’s the prestige of working for such a self-important company, after all.

    Farmers are at the point I’ve reached with new cars. If I were to buy a vehicle, it would be no newer than a 2016 model because of all the government nanny mandates and required electronics that will soon enough be festering to fail. Maybe John Deere will get the hint before it’s too late.

    • JD’s rep was made on tractors and implements that lasted and didn’t break. Your cut-off date for a car is 4 years old, mine is 1994.

    • JD lawn tractors have plastic hoods that break easily and cost a fortune to replace. Why buy from a company that will do something like that to you?

  18. Peripherally, what is the point of digital controls on a tractor? There’s no ignition, thus no coils, timing, distributors etc. etc. As a card-carrying semi-Luddite, I don’t get it.

    More importantly, farmers have it coming. Living in farm country as I do I hear them all the time: drooling and scheming to get every new gadget-laden Complexo farm implement they can. Well, their short-sightedness has turned on them. Serves them right. Riding in a John Deere tractor one time I saw that everything–all of it–was digitally controlled. A screen tells you what gear the operator’s in and so forth. You can’t fix it yourself and the cost is exorbitant. But farmers, like car buyers, just can’t get enough of it. Tough cookies for them.

    • Ross, I saw my first tractor run flawlessly a decade ago without anyone at the controls. Not sure why somebody rides one except to turn around. Once that’s done you just set it on automatic and the GPS takes over. Hell of a deal for a straight row.

    • Many of the fancy controls on the tractors is to use exactly the right amount of product on the crops. On the harvesting side it’s usually just needed for mechanical harvesting of crops either to prevent damage/fall out, sorting, and/or for crops previously not suitable for mechanical harvesting.

  19. Louis Rossmann on youtube did a video on this a couple days ago. His business is MacBook repair and various other electronic and data recovery repairs. He discusses right to repair and often how companies (primarily Apple of course) make it difficult to get parts. He has described how he gets donor boards (with the chips that you can’t buy) to fix the mac books. Basically what happens is that workers in the factory in China would take scrapped/defective/damaged boards from the factory’s trash and sell them as donor boards. Then Apple started cutting up the scrapped boards making things more difficult.

    It is my opinion that most of the people in government are well “clovers” that don’t do anything for themselves so the idea of required dealer repair means nothing to them. So there isn’t even a chance of them being a barrier to the plans for a giant company town of renters.

    • Hi Seth,

      I know… I assume they are listening in on every phone call; have logged every text and keystroke. They’re welcome to install a camera in my toilet bowl, if they like. I have something I’d very much like to show them!

  20. I subscribe to the “Drive old mentality” . My SUV is 19 years old and my truck is 27 years old. For my job my employer supplies a newer vehicle to use for work. When I retire, Driving old vehicles will be good enough to satisfy.

  21. The only thing I disagree with is that it is impossible to get the government to stop regulating this nonsense. The truth of it is, the corporations never tried to get them to stop. Why? I don’t know. I kind of doubt it was because GM pulled that high school stunt on a young laaaaawwwyer named Ralph Nader by hiring a prostitute to check him out in DC area bars and restaurants. Just by looking at the guy, you could tell he wasn’t interested. Sheesh.

    • Ayepp. Volkswagen made me furious when they folded like a wet cheap suit and sold their main engineer down the river. They COU:D/SHOULD have stood their ground, faced of to the Feds, and let Feds either wise up or lose the VW brand in North Ameriica/.. which I expected to make more of a scene from the public than anything we’ve seen yet, even the Berserkeley Riots, Occupy, etc. I despise their products, I”ve workd on them for too many years. But I admire the brand and their following, their innovative thinking (box? WHAT box? We don’t think outside the box, there AINT no box!!) and, until the TDi schemozzle, their chutzpah.

  22. The telecom and data networking world is run on service contracts. Cisco, Juniper, Ciena and the “evil” Huawei all have parts depots spread out all over the county that stock spare parts for whatever equipment is installed in the area served. Most support contracts call for a 4 hour turn around for parts deliveries, but many are “next business day” or some other vague language. But the other side is that equipment can be installed and powered up and… nothing. Because the licenses have to be applied. This might involve a support engineer from the manufacturer logging into the hardware, doing some backdoor magic and suddenly it’s moving packets again.

    The real bad part is when they drop support for the equipment. Then there’s a mad scramble to place spares in our warehouses and likely a lot of negotiating/pleading with the manufacturer to keep supporting the obsolete hardware until we can upgrade to the new stuff (which might take months or years, depending). The nice thing about that is we now get a little more control too. So instead of a ‘hands-off, let the pros handle it” attitude, we get to muck around a little more under the hood.

    • But is the ‘black box’ that runs Tier 4 diesels by say Cummins, etc… locked by them as well, or is this JD lock out separate from the engine computers?

  23. Until I sold it recently I had a mini / hobby farm, and used a 1954 Oliver Super 55 to do most of the work around the place. It basically had a model T engine. All the tools needed to keep it running fit in a small box in the running boards. And I could keep it running even though I’m at best a wrencher (as distinct from a mechanic). Man, I loved that tractor.

    Once a tie-rod snapped and a neighbor welded it back together for me in his blacksmith setup, which he did as a hobby. When I sold my land I sold the Oliver to the same neighbor for a song, and it’s still running and doing chores around his much bigger farm. Old machines were just plain built to last.

  24. Do the other manufacturers that compete with JD do the same thing re: we own the software?
    If I were a competitor I would be giving the software (obviously needed now cause of the stupid Tier 4 regs) to my customers for free and a laptop, haha….

    I will add that a long time ago, I needed a small tractor and got a JD 32hp. It outperformed the rest by a lot. it had e-controls, e-hydro, etc…. I was a little worried about this e-stuff at the time, however, 18 years later, and it has never left me. And I beat the crap out of it. It does stay in a barn though. Not sure how this stuff would have done outside all those years.

  25. Too bad the corporations are in bed with the Sociopaths In Charge. They have the power to stand up to them, but think they can make more profit by going along. Works now, won’t in the future. Either users will continue to use older models, or the economy collapses to the point no one can afford to operate anything. Neither is of any concern to the golden parachute corporation execs. I recently picked up an ’06 MX5 with 35k miles on it. Since I’m now retired, it will be the last car I’ll need, if I don’t destroy it. Unless of course MO gets the CA disease and goes total tyrant.

  26. Obviously, this could be expanded in the near future to include every new car sold. So I can only ask….why isn’t it farther along already?

    Is it because there are so many competitive automakers, compared to the near monopoly enjoyed by Deere?

    • When OBD (On Board Diagnostics) first came on the scene, the auto companies tried just that, but were slapped down by the government (one good thing the government did) and by law, required OBD error codes to be retrievable in a generic format. The CAN bus is still proprietary to the individual manufacturers in some ways, but the OBD and OBD2 codes are retrievable by generic code readers.
      Maybe it’s time for the government to impose commonality and generic access on all power equipment, not just automobiles.

      • There are “manufacture codes” that for some reason are not displayed with the $39.99 code reader apparently with government blessing.
        These codes are very important in some troubleshooting. Buying the expensive scanners $800 and ^ will get you these codes. You can exercise certain devices, monitor ignition and injectors etc. For example I located a coil firing erratically every now and then.
        Also changing a failed ECU (used or new) takes downloading the firmware from the manufacture which is expensive and again requires special equipment.
        Like Eric says,,, every year they add a layer of software to further complicate the system.
        I have a 2016 Frontier. Just changing the battery involves re-initiating different systems.
        This is absolutely on purpose to direct all servicing to the $150 dollar per hour (for now) dealer.
        The electric/electronic/’smart’ cars will be hundreds of times worse. The end result in my opinion is no one but the extremely wealthy or politicos will own a car. It will be too damned expensive to buy, to register to drive and especially to maintain. You will be taxed by the mile and most roads that taxpayers paid to build will be sold to private corporations that will charge you for driving on “their property”. It’s already happening.

        The digital corral is steadily shrinking.

        • My OBD2 scanner will retrieve intermittent codes that trigger the “check engine” light by utilizing its “freeze frame” function. This function was useful in tracking down an intermittent fuel pressure equalization valve problem on my Saturn Vue. The “check engine” light would activate without any trouble codes being stored. The “freeze frame” function found it quickly.

      • Those laws weren’t for us, they were for the various state (mostly California at the time) emissions testing facilities. They didn’t want to have to support a bunch of proprietary connections, so they got the Feds to force a standard.

      • I think that the CAN bus crapola should be open source as well. In addition, there should be generic code packets for particular functions and that the software shoudl be fully customizable by a competent tech. Hardware needs to be able to run that software as well.

  27. “John Deere, like Ford and GM and all the rest, is forced by the government to build tractors as complicated as new cars”
    Clover
    Can you cite the regulation?

    • Clover,

      Really? “Cite the regulation” responsible for engines micromanaged by computers and so on? How about the regulations. Plural? How about the EPA’s Bins and Tiers, for openers? You can’t possibly be serious. Or that ignorant of the myriad emissions regulations that apply to vehicles – even to outdoor power equipment, such as lawn mowers (which will probably soon be equipped with fuel injection and a computer; or rather, have to be fitted with them in order to be legal for sale).

      • eric ” You can’t possibly be serious. Or that ignorant of the myriad emissions regulations that apply to vehicles – even to outdoor power equipment, such as lawn mowers (which will probably soon be equipped with fuel injection and a computer; or rather, have to be fitted with them in order to be legal for sale).” Wanta bet?

      • Hey Eric,

        Imposing regulations and letting the “market” figure it out is touted as a “free market solution” to whatever issue the PTB insists we care about. Of course, this is nonsense because it forces the manufacturers to create designs to accommodate political preferences rather than buyer preferences. Of course, there are no regulations that require manufacturers to incorporate specific technology, but the regulations must be met in order that the product be compliant, and legal for sale. This imposes a design constraint that forces the manufacturers to alter design.

        Carbon trading schemes are also touted as a “free market solution”, which is also absurd. Such is a fake market that produces no benefits to regular people but does transfer wealth to the elite.

        Cheers,
        Jeremy

      • My SIL here in Australia bought one of these new fangled “saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety” lawnmowers made in China. Has no throttle control, just full speed. Great for going over a dust patch or when hitting a rock or tree stump buried in the ground. Also a lever that when released shuts off the mower. I used it for 10 minutes once and my fingers were turning purple from the effort required to hold that bar down. I’m keeping my old mower running which has none of these “saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety” features, which generate more injuries for the doctors and pharma companies.

        • I have a piece of Velcro for my “safety bar”. I would just use a hose clamp but the only way to turn off the mower is to release the bar.

          • Back in the old days there was a little piece of metal bolted somewhat loose that you pushed over against the spark plug to ground it.

            • I recall a very flexible piece of meta bolted to the head you pushed over to kill it. Damned if it didn’t work well. Probably some dummy didn’t realize it was hot and didn’t push it with some THING or wearing gloves. My mower that’s barely used died when I tried to start it, just quit with no power even with a new battry. I don’t understand what the 8 wires that go into a box on the side of the engine do. Gonna get somebody who can tell me what is what and just get rid of the entire ground system except for the engine itself. Then those nanny features will be null and void. I can use an off/on switch and a push button to start. It’s a good mower otherwise with a hand control lever for the hydrostatic transmission, the only way to fly. Go any speed you want with full power. Don’t even need a brake. I mow a tank dam so if a brake were needed I’d know it.

              • We usually used the toe of our boot to push the ground strap against the spark plug.

                I’ve gradually disconnected everything but the key switch on my riding mower. The safety stuff kept failing and it wouldn’t start. Finally – duh! – I figured out that it was a ground kill and everything was on one insulated terminal on the side of the engine. I disconnected everything and then reconnected the key switch.

                After some years the little battery finally gave out and it wouldn’t crank. So now I just start it with the rope pull, usually three pulls when cold and one when hot. So, no I can’t start it from the seat, but then now I can put it in neutral and leave it running while I get off to move something or open/close a gate.

                Life does not need to be complicated.

                • I wish it were that easy on mine. It has about 8 wires, at least one I’d think would be hot. I don’t know if there’s a different ground wire from that source but I’d suspect so. Just like yours I determined easily that all those nanny controls used a ground to shut them down. It’s a damn shame too, That’s a really good mower. It only has the same problem every mower used here has, holes in the tires from mesquite thorns.

    • Just Tier 4 final alone added tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a mid sized tractor, you dumbfu*k. Tier 4 was the most costly and complicated regulation ever met by diesel engines in this country. To say nothing of the complexity and expenses of the other tiers they met previously. That shit costs time and money, clover.

      • Last year we were leasing a Cat D8. It cost us a lot of money every time it had something go wrong. It was never a mechanical issue, always some bs with a tech and his ability to find out what the computerized bullshit didn’t like or what “sensor” had a bad code. It cost everyone money. But this dick doesn’t understand bidness or the cost of the Tier system.

        And yes, I can cite the regulation……Tier 4…..you idiot.

        • Eight,

          We have a Cat 325F excavator with 1300 hours. It’s never had an issue with the emissions. We rented a 330F from Cat last Fall. It had less hours and was a year newer, but threw a code. At first it shut off. We called. They said keep running it. Then the damn thing started going into limp mode. A tech came out and found that the code was with the def burn. Probably a bad def pump. I asked him how it could go out so quickly. He said in rental fleets, the def sometimes accidently gets filled with diesel. Sometimes contaminated def. Little things that affect the def pump. He took it off and sure enough, there was some staining around the filter on the pump. He said that indicated that it had diesel at one point that was purged. He said another thing in our area–lots of below freezing weather–is freezing def. The pumps have a heater on them that warms the def, but it’s harder to warm the def when it’s less than half full because the coils don’t make contact with enough def. If the machine isn’t warmed up long enough, the burn mixture gets thrown off.

          Anyway, his story was that small company machines don’t have the problems because the def systems are finicky and small companies are more finicky with def generally. But on the rental side it’s a maintenance trouble shooting nightmare.

          The bad thing too is that Cat, in my experience, is the best, least problematic one, followed by Deere. Some of the other equipment has really struggled because they didn’t do enough R&D before sending things to market. You know, that R&D that clover thinks has 0 costs.

      • ancap51, it’s all just magic to these people. To some of them they think the engineers and companies already know how to do it for free and just don’t.

        • I know Brent. How would it be to be so stupid that you don’t know the R&D trial and error time and money it takes to accomplish engineering feats; to be so dumb that you think the engineers rolled out of bed the day before tier 3 and tier 4 had to be met and said, ‘whelp, time to make everything tier 4’.

          I recall being at a Case construction luncheon around 2005 or 6. I remember one of the mechanics talking about tier 4 and how there was no one at that time that knew how to meet tier 4. I remember prices rising for interim tier 4 around 2010-11, then tier 4 final coming around 2015 and onward with 17 being the mandate year for all tier 4. Just a Backhoe loader raised $10,000 for tier 4. Bigger machines were even more.

          Anyway, to believe that these types of things come for nothing just blows my mind. Teams of engineers working like crazy, for nothing. What a fantasy worldview.

      • It’s interesting that the current emission standard is called Tier 4 “Final”. As in perhaps the final round of emissions standards before diesel engines (and perhaps ICEs in general) are banned.

        • Could be. I think it’s because they were allowed a tier 4 interim stage to allow for R&D on meeting the emissions for tier 4. Some companies say full tier 4 instead of final.

          But I put nothing past the evil cabal that influences this country and world.

        • Well, Clover – you asked for an example of regs that have made engines/vehicles more expensive and less repairable. I’ve given you several. It’s much more than just DEF – and much more is coming, including the regulation of carbon dioxide “emissions” – which you also support.

          • eric, there is about, on average, 400 ppm/Cu. meter in the atmosphere. In times when the world was more green and productive, that figure was 1,000 ppm/Cu. M. We have a long way to go to get to ideal CO2 levels. The NoX and other pollutants are another thing but their idea that the US is a major polluter is wrong on so many levels. Hell, the US military uses as much refined petroleum as the rest of the country. And that’s not even counting the other ways with depleted uranium and other pollutants the civilians don’t have.

            Even civilian jet fuel contains neurologically poisonous drugs(and there’s not good reason since it could be replaced).
            https://www.dva.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/benefits%20and%20payments/f111/JFES_Molecular_studies.pdf

        • Patty,

          You really think it’s as a easy as “DEF urea injection solves most of the problem”. Like it cost nothing to research and engineer the injection and burning systems with their filters and various hardware? Are you serious?

          That stuff cost hundreds of millions in R&D, all passed on to consumers. It is high tech and complicated. Not simple mechanically operated stuff. It’s an engineering marvel to catch 10ths and hundredths of a percent of emissions. A massive boondoggle for practically nothing of noticeable benefit.

          • ancap, it was 3-5 years ago the roads were replete with big rigs, brand new one, on the side of the road with a mechanic’s truck beside it. I saw one poor guy stuck for a week at an old Stucky’s on I 20 waiting for some help.

            And it says a lot when a rig is so new you can tell it’s just been put on the road for a really short time. I thought about working for a company but one of the drivers had a YT channel. He got stuck in a IH almost brand new. Got loaded and it took a shit and stayed in the shop for two weeks. He never delivered a load although he was employed(but not paid)for nearly 3 weeks. IH seemed to be esp. bad about that but it was every brand out there you’d see. And it wasn’t just about a brand of truck but the type of engine in it. I’d go by in my old worn-out rig and be thankful I wasn’t in a new one. Hard to make money on the side of the road.

            Just like I said about that D8….or, to be precise, Those D8’s. I got to know the trucker that delivered one and picked the other up. Sometimes it took the one that ran to get the other on the trailer.

            What do you do with a D 8 without another D 8? twiddle your thumbs.

            That’s the reason Cat quit making OTR diesels. It was just too much of a loss. They finally quit making them in 08 but started in again a few year later. They kept on making stationary engines but road engines were their bane.

    • Regulations never come in singles, they come in volumes.
      Go to your local law library and marvels at the number of shelves that are filled with Codes of Federal Regulation used to enforce the single short shelf of volumes of US Codes.
      You better hurry though, because most law libraries are going online as fast as they can.

  28. There are some eastern European “hackers” that have “broken the John Deere proprietary software system and do offer their services to “unlock” the software on John Deere products.

    • They are heroes in my book. I wish they would hack cars, too. I would also like to retrofit automobile controls to something that is more open source so that you can actually modify things

    • There is almost always a work-around. Just as we cut the air pump belt and removed the knock out plug in carbs to access the idle screw back in the day people will figure out how to de-link this shit from the Man and improve the product.

      One very obvious and simple point is Diesel’s don’t need ECMs to operate if the injection pump is mechanical and the injectors are fixed output. Now all that GPS crop circle stuff is a whole other story- but is it all that necessary to get a crop in?

      City boys need to know……

      • there is almost nothing being produced these days that uses straight mechaincal injection diesel or petrol. It is all electronically controlled. Been that way for a long time/ The claim is that mechaniical fuel mdulation is not precuse enough to deliver the best fuel economy. Bunk. I had a 1962 Mercedes 220 SE, big four door saloon. inline single overhead cam six, Bosch mechaniical injection. Yes, petrol, Basically the unit Bosch pioneered for the legendary 300 SE Gullwing back in the 1953 model year. That heavy bone stock coupe with a three litre single overhead cam six would reach 180mph if the road was long enough.

        The “baby Benz” sallon with the 2.2 litre single overhead cam six and the same injectioinsystem was awesome for a heavier car for a well to do family. that crazy thing would roll along comfortably at 85 mph all day long and return 42 miles per gallon. On a mechanical fuel injectionsystem.

        • Hi T,

          In re diesels: The old mechanically-injected VWs of the late ’70s were averaging 50 MPG. This was 40-plus years ago. Yes, they were slow – and yes, they smoked. But 50-plus MPG and extremely low cost and low-maintenance and exceptionally long lived. Imagine what is possible today – but forbidden because it makes EVs look absurd.

          • I had a MK2 Golf diesel. It only smoked badly if you drove it foot to floor in the wrong gear. Right load and RPM it never left a significant jet trail.

            Foot to the floor in the wrong gear was fun though, if you wanted to roll coal on a tailgater.

            And yup. 50+mpg always.

        • T, I’ve seen the same engine in big rigs, the old mechanical models and the newer computerized run the same loads and the old mechanical got better mileage. It does require a tune-up every few hundred thousand miles but it doesn’t constantly need a sensor the ECM is simply not detecting. BTDT, bullshit.

          I had a friend with a 95 Pete 379 and a Cat 3406 B, another with a C and E model. Neither of those engines sounded anything the B cause it purred.

          He had a sound a ch, ch, ch. I had the same sound on a 12 L Cat. Turns out they have weights on the cam gears that come off. He got his fixed for a nominal amount and it was purrfect. Standing in front of it, it sounded like an electric motor running. The C and E(esp. the E)sounded like crap.

          We ran together for months. I had a 435hp 60 series Detroit with a 10 speed and his Cat was running a 13sp. His was a sleeper model with more air to catch while mine was a day cab. Every day we’d fill up, running identical gross weights every load, 80,000 lbs. He’d get 6mpg and I’d get 5mpg. Big difference in operating cost at the end of the year.

          He made better time with more power and more gears. This is something you can’t get across to non-truckers. Smaller engine, less HP means better mileage, less gears means longer gearbox life. Both are false as false can be.

          I had a friend who drove for a company that bought a fleet of new trucks. They had 550 hp engines and they cut them back to 400. He asked what they were doing, why they were doing that. They said it would save fuel. He said it wouldn’t and he could prove it. So they finally agreed to give him one that hadn’t been touched. After 100,000 miles he showed them his fuel usage(this was dump truck hauling so you can’t screw the pooch and drive slow). He got over 1mpg than the rest of the fleet. A grade is a grade is a grade so getting over it faster and using more fuel pays off on the other side since you don’t have to keep your foot into it trying to regain the speed you lost. It’s a win/win situation for the engine too. It works harder going up the grade but that doesn’t last long. The less powerful just work their ass off till they’ve been running on level ground for a mile or more…..plus you may not have level ground after that grade. Owner/Operators know this, good truckers know this. Terminal managers don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. Steering wheel holders don’t know anything. And we have way too many of them and have had for a long time. Early 80’s and I’d ask a driver what power he had in his truck. Very few even knew so that tells you they don’t check oil or anything else. I can’t imagine operating a truck and not knowing what engine it had and what transmission and what rear-end. Steering wheel holders and now that turkey is coming in for a landing to roost on the highways of this country. I give you “Swift” as an example. Stay far away. The girl driving it just got out of a 6 week truck driving school.

  29. Love this article. Nothing like voting with your wallet- and this applies to cars. I will not buy a new car, I will keep buying old ones that are not “connected” and I can fix with hand tools.

    I don’t even like having to have an OBDII reader but at least that’s cheap enough.

    With the average car payment at over 500 dollars a month and many for almost 80 months, that’s a bunch of nonsense.

    Stop buying them and they will come down in price drastically. But, sadly, will still be full of electronics that age poorly and quickly and that you can’t service.

  30. I have said before, a thriving business will be taking old cars and trucks found in junk yards and barns and backyards and rehabbing them, same for tractors. You can see that here in South Dakota. But of course the car companies will run to the gooberment and demand a bill to prohibit cars older then 10 years. I read a comment on another blog about Michigan (I think) charging it’s yearly tag fee based on the original either MSRP or purchase price of used/old cars, not their depreciated value which the insurance mafia will pay you when it is totaled. I feel the not so sharp, smelly used before stick up my arse…

    • All cars in Michigan after 86 go by original purchase price new the depreciate for 5 years. Old cars it’s still by weight.

  31. Corporations have figured out the ‘subscription’ model is far more profitable than the ownership one. So you may get a token of ownership but really its still theirs. Obviously Tesla is at the front of this where they can ‘unlock’ extra range in their cars or vice verso at their whim. Apple the same way by downgrading the battery in older phones. etc etc. Or by refusing software updates and bricking them. Corporate fascism.

    • DING DING DING! This guy gets it.

      Everyone wants to be the cable company. But the downside is that even the cable company has to pay for software licenses. The economy becomes one big circle jerk of services.

    • Like Eric says property taxes are in essence a subscription model. You pay into infinity for something you supposedly own and it can and will go up constantly but never down.

  32. ” You possess the tractor and are allowed to use it, but Deere owns the software that runs the tractor . . . without which it doesn’t run.”

    This all started back in the day when software systems were allowed to separate the machine from the software. Today we all have to approve a EULA. You own the machine but not the software. I run open source Linux because of this and the fact that Windows is the worst operating system by far on the planet. It’s so bad you have to by antivirus software to keep the bad guys from wiping it out. IMO the antivirus folks are the same that create the viruses.

    It cost me $800 to be able to ‘talk’ to the two vehicles I own. Harley Davidson took it one step further. Their stuff is VIN dependent. For example, I purchased a new speedo, with a analog tach. After 12 miles it married the ECU. If I crash the bike and buy a new one the speedo will not work,,, even if you take it to a dealer. Same with their Stage 1 – 4 add-ons. You purchase a $3000 fuel mapping computer and it can only be used on that bike. Buy another bike,,, throw the $3000 junk away or just let it go with the bike. Pure Rip Off. I like the bikes but the company is nothing but obnoxious thieves making money the old fashioned way…. stealing it.

    It will only get worse. The “digital revolution” that was supposed to lower prices on about everything is in fact robbing us blind.

  33. On another note: I read the other day that GM is bringing back the Hummer. My god it is going to be electric!!
    What are they doing Eric????

  34. I’m sure gubmint regulations are at the ready waiting to be codified banning tractors older than 10 years from the fields and all points in between in the name of climate change!

  35. The other thing that is really pissing the farmers off, is something breaking on their tractor while they were out in the middle of the field, and being told that “it’s a module” and the dealer can get one for them in a couple of days. Which doesn’t sit well with someone who is depending on their equipment to you know, *generate revenue* for their family business, and wants their crop harvested while the prices are still good.

    • Most people don’t realize how farming is so “time” dependent. Don’t get that crop in before that big storm, you just lost your crops. Don’t harvest at the right time, it’s lost then too. That equipment has to work, or be fixed today, not in a few days.

      • How could John Deere, whose core customers are farmers, not KNOW that?! How could they be so obtuse as to think that a farmer can take days off work in the middle of the harvest to get the tractor fixed at their dealer? Any company that doesn’t know and cater to its customers won’t be in BUSINESS very long!

        Not only will farmers keep their older equipment; they’ll look at other makes. You’d think that Deere LEARNED from the mistakes Detroit made in the 1970s, which opened the door to the Japanese car makers. For new tractors, farmers can choose Mahindra, Kubota, or Kioti, among others. John Deere’s customers have options, and they’d best REMEMBER that…

        • Hi Mark,

          I live in a rural area, as many here know. My neighbors are farmers – and they all have an old Deere. The couple who own the acreage behind me have a mid-1960s model and it’s in regular use. A mega-farmer may be able to indulge one of these sail fawn tractors – because he can afford a spare – but regular people can’t deal with this, even if they wanted to.

          So, why?

          Because they point is to curb stomp the regular guy. On the road – and in the field.

          • As another poster noted, plenty are hacking the new tractors to install European software that allows farmers to continue to fix their own equipment.

          • eric, such a weird thing…..this article today after my neighbor asked me yesterday, out of the blue, to sell him my 4020. I told him Well, JD didn’t intend to build something that would last as long as a 4020, just like GM was on the pickup ropes and overdid the new “style” starting in 88.5 and going past 2000 in the heavier pickups. They never intended for them to last so long and even make a come back with a buyer who’d rather have one than a new one.

            Mine is a 68 and he’d found a 70 for $18,000 and a 71(probably cab equipped)for $28,000. I do need a new battry and change lubricants and filters and a new seat(yeow). But Jennie ain’t leaving till I’m gone.

            OTOH, the cost of a new one would be retirement for the wife and I. I’d just hire somebody with a 4020 when I needed it.

            To be honest, I don’t know why IH hasn’t taken over. I’ve used their tractors starting around 90 and they are fine.

            Now their cotton strippers are virtually gins on wheels and cost a bout a Mil too. But end the end, it spits out a round bale and the stalks are cut, the burrs and moats are in the field and there’s nothing for a gin to do except turn them into square bales and that appears to be going the way of the old stuff. I’m not sure what a gin does with cotton like that. Maybe those strippers don’t remove the seed which makes little sense.

            I also notice a lot of farmers not buying GM seed such as Monsanto(Bayer)sells. It was tied into the subsidy for decades. It’s one huge move to completely control agriculture by a huge corporation and it’s worked.

            It’s the very reason back in the 90’s that the US started exporting strippers and such to China instead of how it always was, exporting cotton. There was a time when nearly every bale I hauled had a bill of lading going to “Red” China, Xingping or something similar.

          • David Brown CASE 990 here. 1973ish. Not even sure the exact manufacture date.

            Had no idea about tractors when I bought it. Every farmer around here I have talked to about it has had one or several (or a 995) and regrets selling it if they did.

            Everything is accessible, mechanical and simple. Sits in a field until needed, sometimes for years. Never fails other than pulling a front tire off the rim when I (stupidly) engage the rear locker at full steering lock. OOps.

            • I’ve got a 1950-ish Case VAI. It’s pretty small and doesn’t like to run in cold weather. The gas tank leaks so I haven’t used it in several years. I’m thinking about getting a plastic marine tank like you use with outboards.

              • I’d get a fiberglass tank repair kit and keep on keeping on.

                I had a 4494 and it was a hoss. Two gear boxes hydrostatic drive. It would pull a 28′ offset tandem so deep all you could see was the top of the mount for the depth lift cylinder.

                I regretted selling it but I owed my dad for it and couldn’t ever seem to pay him. It was in great shape so I sold it and paid him off.

                He winced when I paid him and said I’d sold it. He could have cared less about the money. I didn’t have the money to care less.

                • It’s not the tank itself but the fitting in the bottom. I took it to a shop and had it professionally soldered but then it leaked worse than ever. He gave me my money back but I was stuck with it. I put that gas tank putty all around the fitting and got it down to a slow drip that evaporates immediately in the summer. But you can lose all your gas if you don’t use it for a week or so. I do have another old tank from the parts tractor but it is really full of holes in the side from battery acid. I guess I could try to patch that with fiberglass? It’s not a parade tractor and the tank just sits on a little shelf so a plastic marine tank would work if it fits in the space.

                  And one wheel is all rotted out from calcium. I have two clean wheels but need to swap the tires over. First thing is to use a can of gas and a siphon hose into the carb to see if it will even start.

        • Two points, MM. One, JD is like every other corporation, they were forced into not promoting competent and capable white males who had earned their way up and knew the business with incompetent and incapable products of the “university” propaganda and indoctrination mills. Two, the individual is less than irrelevant to these folks, he is actually the enemy. The target customer is big ag, the corporate farm with hundreds of thousands of acres and multiple machines, who buy tractors and combines based on a bean counter’s estimation that they will be production equipment depreciated for a few years and replaced.

        • I wish car buyers had the same options that the farmers ostensibly have per Mark’s comment. The federal government has stuck it’s nose in regulating the car business while farm tractors are subject to much less, I would assume. I am waiting for a “rogue” state to allow farm equipment to operate on highways at 75 mph, which would pave the way for private ownwership to continue and have older style cars reclassified as farm equipment. That would be a way around the mess.

    • What is especially onerous is the fact that with tractors it’s not a simple tow to the dealer like with a car. It’s a heavy haul on a lowboy which ain’t cheap. The other option is a service call by a factory field technician which ain’t cheap neither, if your problem can even be solved in the field.

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