I used to think John Deere made reliable equipment. I know people who have had good experience with them. I don't know if I just got unlucky, or their quality has gone downhill, but I could not recommend their compact utility tractors based on the one I purchased.
It started out working well, but then things just started breaking. First the 485 backhoe I purchased started breaking the adapters for the bucket teeth. The first one broke after 40 hours on it.
By 80 hours all the tooth adapters were gone, and this was after having one replaced at the dealer for $160. Their weld later broke, so it was a lousy job from them. I had read that some people had the tooth adapters replaced under warranty, but for the lousy 40 hours I got from my first one, they called it a wear part.
I also noticed that things started to loosen on the backhoe. First a retaining pin fell out, so I tightened all the bolts holding them in. They have not come loose since, so John Deere did a poor job on the line, or their torque specs are off. Then I noticed that the 3/4" bolts holding the backhoe frame together came loose. After tightening these twice, I gave up and replaced them with lockwashers and locknuts. Now this stays together at least. The latest on the backhoe was a burst pressure hose after 120 hours on it. They called this a wear part too.
The tractor just recently proved it had problems too. After 230 hours, I started hearing what sounded like a rubbing noise from the fan. I was confused until I finally found that the 16 bolts that tie the steel plates holding the front axle to the rest of the tractor had either come loose or broken, and the tractor was basically flexing the engine fan into the radiator shroud. I use the loader a lot, so I figure that the pressure of the loader caused the bolts to loosen. Since it happened after 230 hours, I have to think that the front end design is not adequate.
Overall, I'm not very pleased with my $34,000 tractor. John Deere has not been very helpful when I talk to them. Under the warranty, everthing seems to be a wear part. Never mind that the tractor has been in my posession for less than six months, and I only use it on weekends. You'd think that they would cover premature wear, but you'd be wrong.