While the 5045e was superseded by the 5055e, it remains one of the best tractors for heavy-duty chores. Featuring a 45hp 3-cylinder engine, the 5045e is more than capable of handling whatever kind of job you throw at it.
However, this model does encounter some issues that, as a prospective buyer, you should be aware of. These can range from engine and hydraulic system problems to power loss issues.
So in this article, we’ll cover what kind of problems this John Deere Utility Tractor faces and how to fix them. We’ll also offer our thoughts on whether this is a worthy purchase once these problems and issues have been factored in.
The most common problems with the John Deere 5045e
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The 5045e has several features that make it ultra-durable to hold up to the most demanding applications. Its low emission emitting powerful engine, open-center hydraulics system, and easily accessible service points make upkeep and maintenance far more effortless.
This is an ideal tractor for the power user who needs the best to do the job. Although this is the lowest-end model in the E range, it’s still considered an upper-mid tier machine, and users have high expectations for its performance.
It has a high user rating and generally good feedback. But it does face a few issues you should be aware of as a current user or prospective buyer.
1. Problems with the starter
A common issue that may suddenly appear without prior warning or symptoms, making it exceptionally troublesome when you are ready to get working and suddenly find you can’t start the engine.
The first thing to check is the battery. If the tractor has been in storage for a long time, it may have drained by itself and require charging.
If you’re confident the battery is charged, you should check all cables/connections and repair anything that’s come loose. Also, keep an eye out for corrosion too.
If, after securing the connections, you find that the battery seems to drain by itself, it’s most likely that it is aged and can no longer adequately hold a charge. In this situation, you should replace the battery with a new, working one.
The next thing to check is the starter solenoid. This is responsible for generating a small electrical spark that ignites the fuel and begins the combustion process. If this starter fails, then the engine won’t be able to run.
Fortunately, this cheap replacement component can be self-repaired without needing a mechanic.
2. The engine underperforms
With the design intent of this machine being for relatively large jobs, the engine needs to run efficiently to output enough power to handle the work. This requires fairly optimal conditions, including a clean system and the correct fuel-to-air ratio.
Unfortunately, over time and due to general wear, the tractor will naturally drift from these ideal conditions, resulting in a loss of power from the engine. So to bring the power back to the tractor, we need to check the ideal running conditions of the engine are met.
The first thing to check is the air filter. This is responsible for filtering out any unwanted dust or debris entering the engine and ensuring only air makes its way in. But over time, as this filter collects more and more particulate, it can become clogged to the point where it’s restricting the airflow through the engine.
This makes the engine ‘run rich’ (too much fuel, not enough air) as it simply can’t allow enough air to enter the engine. So you should clean it out thoroughly, or replace it with a fresh one if it’s already looking old.
You should also check the gas cap, which, over time, can become blocked with grass clippings and debris. Unblock it and clean it to ensure a good fit.
In much the same fashion as the air filter, the fuel filter is designed to remove particulate and coagulation from the fuel to prevent non-atomized liquid from entering the engine. But over time, and mainly if you use low-quality fuel, which tends to have more particulate, this will get blocked up.
This causes the engine to run on too much fuel and not enough air, also called ‘running lean.’ It still results in an overall loss of power, so the air filter should be cleaned to allow enough fuel to enter the engine.
If the cut quality isn’t good, it can often appear to be a problem with low power in the engine. But sometimes it’s much more straightforward, such as the cutting height not being set correctly, or perhaps the blades have dulled and need resharpening.
3. Problems with the hydraulic system
Many elements of the tractor’s operation (depending on which attachments you are using) depend on the hydraulic system’s function. But there are several issues you might encounter with this system that you should be aware of and ensure the hydraulics are in good working order.
- Air may have made its way into the hydraulic system. This lowers the system’s ability to produce pressure, thus reducing the power output of the engine. Here you will need to bleed the hydraulic system to remove the air.
- Temperature extremes – if the machine is operating too hot or too cold, this can cause oxidization in the hydraulic fluid removing its lubricating property. This can restrict oil flow and affect the fuel pump.
- Finally, check that there is enough hydraulic fluid in the system too. If it’s running low, the hydraulics will not work correctly and produce excess heat when under load.
John Deere recommends replacing the hydraulic fluid after every 50 hours of usage to ensure optimum performance. We recommend doing this because it can result in poor engine and cutting performance.
4. Overheating engine issues
While not a specific problem to the John Deere 5045e, this is undoubtedly something you will encounter and should be aware of. Overheating the engine can cause several unwanted effects, such as reduced performance and hydraulic pressure, as well as reduced component lifespans resulting in more costs for replacements.
Unfortunately, overheating can be a pretty general term, and there are some things you will need to check and correct to give yourself the best chance of eliminating the issue.
You should first check the cooling system, ensure all connections are working and that there is enough cooling liquid. Be sure to top it up if there is not enough or the cooling liquid is very old. You might want to discard it and replace it with a new, high-quality cooling liquid.
Next, you should check the drive belt. Over time this may become loose, causing slippage, or it may look cracked or frayed, which indicates that it’s already too old and should be replaced. If it still looks in good order, you can tighten it.
You should check the oil filter for blockages as a restricted oil flow can cause overheating. Clean it out or replace it as needed.
Finally, you should look at the radiator caps to see if they leak. If they are, then repair them accordingly.
5. Steering problems
Some users have reported issues relating to the steering system on the 5045e. This can compromise the machine’s usability and even its safety when dealing with heavy loads in tight areas where control is critical.
You may find that the wheel turns too easily and doesn’t offer as much resistance as you expect, making turning quite challenging. This is most commonly caused by the oil level being too low. If this issue still occurs after the oil has been topped up, it may indicate a cylinder malfunction, and you may have to have the tractor repaired.
Alternatively, you may find the opposite effect where the steering wheel is unusually stiff and puts up a lot of resistance as you try to turn. This is usually caused by a faulty hydraulic seal reducing the pressure the hydraulic system can produce, which means you have to compensate for that pressure with your strength.
There are a few things you will need to check to fix this steering issue:
- Check that the steering cylinder has not been damaged. If it is, you should repair this immediately.
- You may need to bleed the air from the hydraulic system if you find that any of the seals have been compromised.
- Finally, you should check the power steering and see if that needs repairing.
John Deere 5045e problems: Are they a deal-breaker?
The 5045e sits at that great transition point for those who need something more than a regular consumer-grade tractor, whether due to a large landmass or demanding lifting loads, yet at the same time, don’t want to shell out for outrageous commercial prices.
This blend of budget-friendly yet still commercially viable makes this appealing to those needing a machine that fits in that nice middle-ground.
Despite the issues it encounters, the user reviews of this model are very positive, and we are confident that, providing you keep up with the general maintenance and repairs, you will be pleased with this machine. It will serve you well for a very long time.