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Understanding Engine Oil
Information about break-in oil, oil additives, recommended oil types, service intervals, and more.

Situation or Problem

Proper engine oil maintenance is essential to protecting your equipment.  The tips below are intended to answer common questions about engine oil.  Always read your John Deere operator manual for information that pertains specifically to your equipment.  For more information on any of the tips below, see the John Deere Oil Guide (55 pages long), available here.  A detailed question and answer section begins on page 49.


Break-in Oil
The first hours of an engine's life are among the most important in determining its longevity and performance.  Friction between pistons and cylinders will cause the surfaces to wear in a particular pattern and become a matched set.  John Deere break-in oil contains additives that are extremely important in this process.  Using the wrong type of oil during this break in period could prevent the parts from wearing properly.   

All new and remanufactured John Deere engines are shipped from the factory with John Deere brand break-in oil, which is formulated to work with the specific alloys and part tolerances used in John Deere engines.  If your break-in oil is low or requires changing, see your John Deere dealer  for purchasing information, or consult your operator's manual for information on substitute oils.

Read your operator manual for specific engine break-in instructions.  Most equipment requires 50-100 hours of break-in, depending on how hard the engine is being worked. 

Break in oil should not be used for more than 100 hours of operation!  Any material worn off engine components during break in will accumulate and eventually contaminate the oil.  If proper break-in requires more than 100 hours of operation, be sure to drain the oil, replace the filter, and use new break-in oil. 

Solution Steps

Selecting an Oil
Most operator manuals do not specify a particular type or weight of oil.  You will need to select a particular type of oil based on your application and operating environment.  This requires choosing an appropriate brand and viscosity (weight).  Follow the steps below to determine which type and viscosity your equipment requires.

Oil Viscosity

Step 1:  Determine the required certifications.  Engine oil is rated and certified by organizations such as API and SAE.  Any brand of oil will be compatible as long as it meets the required certifications, listed in your operator's manual.  John Deere Plus-50 is the recommended oil and meets all required certifications.  For a competitive comparison betweenJohn Deere Plus-50 oil and other common brands, click here.

Step 2:  Determine the required viscosity (or weight) based on the air temperature of the operating environment.  Multi-viscosity oils are recommended and cover a broader temperature range. 

Oil Additives
Modern engine oils are a precise blend of highly refined oils and additives.  This blend is designed and certified to give your engine the best performance and protection possible.  Additional additives will upset this precise balance and may lead to engine damage. A thorough discussion on the history and use of additives can be found on page 10 of the John Deere Oil Guide. Using proper oils and following the recommended maintenance intervals is the best way to protect your engine.  No engine oil additives of any kind are recommended or endorsed by John Deere.  Any failure resulting from the use of additives or non-approved oils will not be covered by warranty.

Oil Change Intervals
All John Deere machines do not have the same recommended oil change intervals.  For example, engines with larger quantities of oil may require less frequent oil changes.  Be sure to read the operator's manual or maintenance guide for each John Deere product you own and follow the proper maintenance schedule.

The oil change intervals listed in your operator manual or maintenance guide are guidelines.  Under some conditions, they may be extended if higher grade oils are used.  In many cases, oil change intervals must also be reduced if lower grade oils or certain fuels are used.  Consult your John Deere dealer before extending any maintenance interval, including oil changes.

Consider extending oil change interval only if oil meets any of these certifications

Decrease oil change interval by 50% if any of the following oils or fuels are used

John Deere Plus-50







High-sulfur diesel fuel (above 5000 ppm)


Biodiesel (some situations)*

Note:* Engine oil should be checked daily with biodiesel use.  If biodiesel is found diluted into engine oil, reduce oil change interval by 50% and monitor oil quality closely.

Oil Filters
A good quality oil filter is just as essential as good quality oil.  Poor quality filters can reduce oil life and engine performance.  However, selecting an oil filter is not as easy as choosing oil.  There are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • Beta ratio (or efficiency; see "Filter ratings" Link below)
  • Collapse/burst pressure
  • Cold weather performance
  • Capacity (quantity of particles that can be retained)
  • Gasket quality

All John Deere filters have been thoroughly tested in labs and fields across the globe to deliver unsurpassed performance.  Before purchasing a competitive filter, use the links below to familiarize yourself with the characteristics that define a good quality oil filter.

Warning Signs
Checking and changing oil on a regular basis is important.  Equally important know what to watch for.  Whenever oil is drained from the engine, it should be thoroughly inspected for the presence of water, engine coolant, or diesel fuel.  Water and engine coolant will separate from the used oil and be especially easy to notice in the drain pan.  These warning signs will often be accompanied by other problems such as a rough running engine, excessive or odd colored exhaust smoke, overheating, or poor performance in general.  Contact your John Deere dealer immediately if you notice any of these signs.

OILSCAN fluid analysis kits are also available, which allow a sample of engine oil to be sent to a lab for analysis.  Lab results can provide information about remaining oil life or contamination.  See your John Deere dealer for more information about the costs and benefits of OILSCAN kits.

Affected Equipment
5103 Tractor      5105 Tractor   
5200 Tractor      5203 Tractor   
5205 Tractor      5210 Tractor   
5220 Tractor      5300 Tractor   
5303 Tractor      5310 Tractor   
5310N Narrow Tractor      5320 Tractor   
5320N Narrow Tractor      5400 Tractor   
5403 Tractor      5410 Tractor   
5420 Tractor      5420N Narrow Tractor   
5425 Tractor      5425N Narrow Tractor   
5500 Tractor      5500N Narrow Tractor   
5510 Tractor      5510N Narrow Tractor   
5520 Tractor      5520N Narrow Tractor   
5525 Tractor      5525H High Crop Tractor   
5525N Narrow Tractor      5603 Tractor   
5625 Tractor      All John Deere Equipment   

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