John Deere Z-trak hydro oil change

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by Roger, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923

    I am in the first off-season with my JD 717A. I am planning to change the hydro oil in the transmission, but am confused.

    The Operator's Manual says to use "JD Plus 50 15W-40 synthetic blend. I wondered if Mobil 1 15W-40 synthetic is really what is needed (I use 1 qt of Mobil 1 for my Exmark Viking w/b). I went to the dealer this morning to get a hydro filter, plus several other maintenance parts. I saw they had gallon bottles of JD Plus 50 performance oil on the pallet. When I asked at the desk, the parts person was clueless. He had a service tech come to the desk. His anwer was "we went to the manufacturer and found that 0W-30 motor oil was good, so that is what we use."

    Hmmmm... This seems strange to me. Why would somebody use a different weight, and different blend of oil from what the manual stated?

    When I pull out the dipstick of the transmission reservior, the oil looks and feels much like the 15W-40 Mobil 1 synthetic I use in my Exmark. But, I am unsure if the dealer doesn't have such an item, then should I go to the auto parts store and buy Mobil 1 15W-40 synthetic and use that product.

    The only API service classification comment is "SG or higher."

    I want to be sure. First, I don't want to damage the pumps and motors. And, the manual states that 9 qt is needed (not 1 qt like my Exmark). At more than $5.00 per quart, I don't want to spend $50 on oil that is not the right kind.

    The reservior on my Exmark is very small. This means the fluid runs quite hot, and I can understand the need of a synthetic. However, the reservior on the JD is much larger, with much more surface area on the tank to dissipate heat.

    Does anybody have some light to shed on my question? What have you used to change fluid in your Z-trak?
  2. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 841

    I have a JD 727A so I am in the same boat as you. When I do change my Hydro Fluid later this year, I am going to use Amsoil 15W-40. My dealer has already told me that as long as you are using the recommended viscosity on your fluids and they meet the API Service classification, you will be just fine. Like you, I feel that a synthetic oil will be much better than running a blend or petroleum based product. Synthetics will disipate heat better, run cooler and be more consistent than a conventional product therefore giving you superior protection and possible longer service life from your oil.
  3. khouse

    khouse LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,465

    yes, i second the full synthetic oil for the hydros. a blend is just that - fossil oil and synthetic. why not go full synthetic? you can do it.
  4. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,378

    I use the JD Plus 50 15W-40 in all of my z traks. I buy the 5 gallon buckets, cheaper that way. Last year I thought about switching but the problem is that you can't get all the old oil out without totally disassembling the system and that is not a good idea cause you may get dirt in the system. I don't want to mix brands of oils in the hydro system. Really, there is no need to switch brands, I have never had a problem with the JD oil. Use the oil JD recomends. Each one of my JD ztrs has over 1100 hrs on them using JD 15w-40 in the pumps and no problems to date with the system.:)
  5. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 841

    You are right, you will not get all of the oil out, but it is no different than changing the oil in your car or fluid in your transmission. There will be some left, but the benefit of the synthetic is not reduced enough by the residual oil remaining to make a significant impact. Knowing what we put these machines through, I would still run the synthetic for the maximum benefit of protection.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923

    Thanks for the feedback. I think I will get Mobil 1 15W-40, all 10 qts (read: $$$$). I would much rather spend some extra money on oil, than to be faced with new pumps, motors, etc. However, I realize there is no assurance that a failure might not happen anyway.

    I have ran my Exmark Viking (36") for nine seasons. It was used much less (about half-time) this past season because I added the JD Z-trak. But, other years, it ran 600, 700, or more service hours per year. I work solo, am willing to work long hours, and mowed some large properties over 1.5 acres). Every off-season, I have put on a new filter, and replaced the fluid with Mobil 1 15W-40. I have had no problems with pumps or motors.
  7. jkingrph

    jkingrph LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 807

    My Scag specifies 20-50 motor oil. At 5 hours changed it to Castrol synthetic, changed again at 10. Also changed engine to synthetic. I think it's the way to go. Some new car mfr's are specifying for high end models.
  8. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923


    I said some wrong things in my last post, and I have already taken action.

    First, Mobil 1 does not make a 15W-40 synthetic, rather their offering is 15W-50 (50 vs. 40). I misspoke when I said I had used 15W-40 in my Exmark. I'm sorry if I mislead anybody.

    Second, I followed the advice in an earlier post. My local NAPA store carries Amsoil, so I bought 10 qts (2-1 gallon bottles, 2-1 qt bottles). I also bought 1 qt Mobil 1, 15W-50 for the Exmark. I came home and changed both machines in quick order.

    When draining out the John Deere Z-trak, I believe the oil that was in the tank (that came with the new machine) was a synthetic oil. It had the slippery feel, a slippery feel that is even slicker than regular oil.

    One thing I learned, however, is the John Deere manual isn't quite right. The Operator's Manual says the requirement is 9.5 qt. I filled the new filter (about 2/3 of a quart) before screwing it into place. Then I emptied both 1 gallon bottles into the tank. And, then I poured in the rest of the quart bottle I had used to fill the filter. This made 9 quart. I thought I will start it up, and get it running again, and top off as needed beyond the 9 quart already used.

    It started right up, with no "run in" time. The hydros had immediate power, allowing me to move the machine easily. All sounded well. I drove it around the driveway and street for a few minutes, back and forth a few times. I shut down and let it sit for a little while, giving me time to pack up the bottles, pour out the catch pan, etc. When I returned to check the dipstick, I found the oil level ABOVE the "full" mark. In other words, 9 quarts was more than enough to fill the reservior. Therefore, the manual isn't quite right on the amount of oil needed to bring the tank up to "full" (manual said 9.5 qt). I share this as a word of warning to others who may have not changed their hydro oil for the first time. You may wish to go a bit shy on quantity until the system has run for a time, then check the level.

    I think the level is only about 1/4" above the "full" so I don't consider the overage to be enough for concern.

    The Exmark change went smoothly as well. Filling the new filter before mounting nearly eliminates any air in the system, and it will come to full power within 10-15 seconds.

    Just for reference, the costs:

    Amsoil, 15W-40
    1 gallon bottle, $21.29
    1 quart bottle, $5.29

    Mobil 1, 15W-50
    1 quart bottle, $7.19
  9. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 841

    Roger, great post. I am glad you went with Amsoil. I am a dealer for them and I love the products. The 15W-40 that you used, is it the Heavy Duty Diesel Oil? I just changed over my Trucks to Amsoil and the first thing I noticed was increased Oil Pressure in both trucks.

    Also, you got a deally good price on that oil, that must be older stock he had because the prices went up in Nov just a little and those are the old Dealer/Preferred Customer Prices.

    Oh, and your thoughts about the amount of fluid required for a fill-up. You probably used less fluid because the pumps were already full. Had the pumps been drained as well, you probably would have had to fill just as the book said. Not to worry though, the small amount of old fluid in the pumps will nto cause a problem with the new oil and the next change (next season) you will had almost no old oil left in it.

    I will be that your Hydros will run slightly cooler (not that you will really notice though) with the Amsoil, it disipates heat really well.
  10. robbo521

    robbo521 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 601

    hey i just went through this crap with my dealer on my 717a.first the book does say to use JD Plus 50 15W-40 synthetic blend,but guess what,JD don't even make a JD Plus 50 15W-40 synthetic blend.mine was low when i got it home i call dealer and they give me the JD Plus 50 15W-40.i told her it said to use synthetic blend and if i used that and something happened then what,she said they would cover it.i dug and dug on JD web site till i found the update on it in writing.if you like i can post it later but it says to use JD Plus 50 15W-40 in place of synthetic blend so i guess she was right.i called and give her the info and she said she had just found the same update.

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