Repairing your 35G compact excavator can be expensive, depending on the scope of the repairs, the component being repaired, and whether the parts in question can be repaired at all.
As you know, operator neglect and lack of knowledge or experience, exposure to the elements, and exceeding load and performance limits, can all lead to wear and tear on your equipment. You cannot control the weather or the condition of the worksite, but you can and must maintain your excavator if you wish to extend its useful lifespan.
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Periodic Maintenance Schedule
To that end, each manufacturer provides a recommended maintenance checklist which equipment owners and operators must follow. John Deere is no different and publishes a Periodic Maintenance Checklist in the Operator’s Manual. It focuses on three major areas of concern: Items to be reviewed from the ground up, inside the cab, and fluids.
From the ground up, operators, owners, or maintenance personnel should pay attention to:
- The overall machine appearance, paying special attention to dirt or mud that’s become caked on the exterior, scratches, dents, or other signs of wear and tear.
- The condition of the rollover protective structure (grab bars, handholds, steps).
- The frame and undercarriage. The undercarriage is worthy of special attention, as it can accumulate mud, dirt, rocks, and other debris that can affect sensitive moving parts, including tracks and tires. It needs to be cleaned regularly, preferably by using a pressure washer.
- Tires, tracks, rims, and wheel locks. When inspecting the tires, look out for cracks, tears, or punctures. For tracks, keep aware of rocks or debris which may impede their movement, as well as tracks that are too loose.
From inside the cab:
- Make sure the windows are not dirty or otherwise obscured. Make sure there are no cracks or chips, and that the operator’s field of view is not blocked.
- Overall cleanliness.
- Make sure the operator’s manual is in the cabin.
- How does the seat, mount, seat belt, and buckle appear? Any of these which appear damaged will likely have to be replaced.
- Mirrors, and the backup camera (which is optional).
- Test the windshield wipers regularly. If the wiper blades are cracked or loose, replace them immediately.
- The defroster must be working properly, especially if you expect to be operating in cold conditions.
- All gauges, switches, and indicator lights should work. The failure of any of these could lead to failure of your equipment, preventing you from doing your job — ultimately costing you and your employer time and money.
Fluids need to be checked at regular intervals, as specified by the manufacturer. John Deere recommends keeping watch over these fluids: hydraulic oil, engine oil, washer fluid, engine coolant, transmission oil, fuel, and DEF, or diesel exhaust fluid.
Common Repair Issues
Your John Deere 35G compact excavator is an incredible piece of machinery. It is designed from the inside out with the help of experienced owners and operators. It is the ideal piece of heavy equipment for landscaping, small-scale construction, rental services, farming, and site and underground development work.
First introduced in 2013 to complement the company’s G-Series full-size excavators, the compact version is a model of reliability. But, like any other piece of mechanical equipment, it can wear down and need repairs over time. What sort of repair issues can you expect to see in heavy equipment, whether the compact 35G or a larger machine? Breakdowns have several contributing factors.
Some of the most common failures that owners or operators of heavy equipment will experience over time are not surprising. If anything, these are issues that can crop up with virtually any piece of mechanized equipment, large or small.
Some of the most common repair issues include:
- Not properly cleaning your equipment — the bucket needs to be cleaned; the same goes for the undercarriage, tracks, and other moving components that are exposed to the elements.
- Failures in owner and operator education — there is no excuse for not knowing how to operate your equipment. John Deere offers many programs: John Deere University, Operator Training, and Instructor-Led Training are just a few examples.
- Ignorance of recommended maintenance schedules.
- Failure to inspect your equipment for signs of wear and tear or other damage.
- Not changing fluids as required.
- Not checking track tension — If your 35G track is too loose or too tight, it can be damaged or experience abnormal wear depending on the operating conditions.
Finally, some operators and owners experience repair issues with their 35G because they have failed to properly grease moving components. Your operator’s manual provides guidelines on components that need to be greased, but at a minimum, all bushings and pins should be greased each day the vehicle is operated. The turntable bearing also needs regular greasing.
The Yanmar-made Final Tier 4 diesel engine in your 35G is one of the most advanced and reliable excavator engines on the market today. It is designed to adhere to EPA and other country emission standards and has features that make it stand out: An exhaust gas recirculation reduces the amount of oxygen in the combustion chamber, with help from a diesel particulate filter made of carbon, a diesel oxidation catalyst, and an after-treatment system called selective catalytic reduction. Given all that, heavy equipment regularly used in landscaping and construction may experience engine failure.
Two common engine problems
- General failure because the Final Tier 4 diesel engine has not been serviced as recommended.
- The engine will not crank or start.
Both of these issues could be caused by:
- Low battery level, a blown fuse
- Electrical problems
- The wrong viscosity level
- Filters are clogged or dirty
- The wrong fuel is being used
- The solenoid has gone bad.
It is also important to check that filters are not dirty, that the fuel cap vent is not clogged, that fuel injectors are clean, and that the fuel pump is working properly. You can tell one of these issues is occurring if the engine produces “knocking” sounds, which may be caused by low engine oil level.
On A Mini Excavator
The engine can also overheat due to coolant temperature or level, engine idling, or the cold advance device is faulty, all of which would cause the engine to experience stalls or run roughly.
- The engine overheating is caused by coolant issues, a defective radiator cap or thermostat, a bad alternator belt, or other failures with the grillwork or radiator in general.
- The engine lacks power is symptomatic of many issues, some of which could be: A plugged fuel filter, the brakes are displaced and physically dragging, the intercooler fins are dirty, and many others. In this case, it is advisable to contact John Deere or an authorized repair center.
- Oil level may be low.
- The engine could be using more oil than it needs.
If you notice large volumes of white, grey, or black smoke being expelled from the engine, check for oil leaks, ensure you’re using the right kind of engine oil (which is listed in your manufacturer specs), and check that the pressure regulating valve is functioning properly.
One final problem that could result in costly repairs: You notice that the equipment is using more fuel than it should, which means you are using the wrong type of fuel, the air intake system is clogged or dirty, problems with the crankcase, or you are operating the excavator improperly.
Issues with the battery or electrical system can be especially worrisome. Many people automatically think that if a car or other mechanical equipment is not working right, then it needs fuel, or the battery is bad. That could be true, but your John Deere 35G could experience some battery or electrical problems. Some common problems include:
- The battery will not charge — in this case, remove it and have it tested. This could also be caused because of loose or corroded wiring, a bad alternator, or a bad alternator belt.
- While the engine is running, the battery discharge indicator stays lit — the battery, alternator, or alternator belt is defective.
- The starter is making odd sounds and will not work — this may be the result of bad battery connections, low battery power, problems with the key switch, or the transmission gear shift lever is stuck in the wrong position.
- The starter works but turns slowly — in this case, you are looking at low battery power, engine oil viscosity level is too high, or there are battery wiring issues.
- The light circuit is not working — likely the result of a blown fuse.
- The windshield wiper is not working or will not dispense washer fluid — the equipment has blown a fuse or is experiencing wiring failures.
- Different lights in the operator cab do not work — this is caused by faulty wiring, a blown fuse, or a defective bulb or switch.
Many heavy equipment operators find comfort in being able to listen to the radio while working, but that can be a problem if the cab radio is not functioning, which is normally caused by a blown fuse.
Heater and air conditioning failures
If you are working for 10 hours in above average temperatures, you need to be cooled off to do your job properly. The opposite holds true when it is cold outside; then, you need warmth. If either system fails, that is problematic. What kind of issues crop up with the heating and air conditioning systems?
- All necessary switches do not work — usually caused by a blown fusible link.
- Cool or warm air is not being dispensed from the blower vents — this is usually a fuse issue.
- The blower only works if set to high — this indicates a failure of the blower resistance assembly or a blown fuse.
- The heater does not function — this could mean you have a faulty thermostat, the coolant level is too low, or there could be problems with the heater core, the control valve, or hoses are damaged.
- The air conditioning does not operate correctly — the most likely culprits are a blown fuse, faulty wiring, a loose or defective fan belt, or a faulty switch.
- You notice drafts in the cab — check the rubber seals around the door and windows, or the air louvers may be set in the wrong direction.
- Cool or warm air is blowing, but not very much — in this case, the air filters could be dirty, the blower fan motor is bad, or there is an issue with the blower switch.
- You notice water leaking from the evaporator core compartment — the evaporator condenser pan is dirty, there is a loose hose clamp, or the air-conditioning drain tube is restricted.
- There are odd odors in the cabin — this could be caused by dirty air filters, or the operator is smoking, leaving tobacco smoke and tar in the cabin interior.
- The window glass partially frosts — this may be the result of a bad fan belt or low refrigerant levels.
- You notice what looks like ice chips flying from the evaporator — don’t panic, you have merely set the temperature too low so adjust it accordingly.
- The air conditioning is not cooling the cabin air — you also may notice a hissing noise coming from the expansion valve.
General equipment-related problems
These are the types of failures sometimes related to the overall performance of the John Deere 35G when in regular use:
- It is operating slowly or in a sluggish manner — check the side suction filter; it may need to be replaced.
- The hydraulics are working poorly — there could be water in the hydraulic oil, or the side suction filter is bad.
- The equipment vibrates abnormally — in this case, you either have the engine speed set too slow, or the throttle linkage needs to be adjusted.
- The engine is running, but the excavator will not move — is the parking brake engaged? If not, then there could be electrical problems, or issues with the transmission, oil levels, or filters.
- Failure with the 3-point hitch — hitch failures usually manifest themselves by failures to lift, lifting too slowly, dropping too slowly or not at all, or dropping too fast. These issues can be caused by low oil levels, a worn-out hydraulic system, problems with the suction-side filter, or problems with the rate-of-drop valve.
- Steering systems— Steering problems are usually caused by failures with the hydraulic suction filter, tires are inflated too much or not enough, or the steering linkage needs lubrication.
Know Your Warranty
John Deere provides a comprehensive warranty, but please refer to your operator’s manual for more details. You also may speak with your salesperson or check here for warranty information. John Deere also offers many optional warranty and service programs that will lower your repair costs. Extended warranty information is available online.
DIY Repair — Is that Really an Option?
The John Deere 35G is an important entry in the company’s line of compact excavators, but to put things in perspective: It still weighs nearly 2 tons, or 3,520 pounds.
If you are an experienced owner or operator, you may believe you are qualified to perform small repairs on your equipment. And as is the case with your personal automobile, you may not have any problem changing oil, or swapping out a bad wiper blade for a fresh one, but what about the “slightly larger” repair issues that may crop up?
- Are you knowledgeable enough to remove the Driveline, and replace it with a new or remanufactured replacement unit?
- Can you replace the tracks?
- The windshield was cracked the whole width of the operator cabin — can you pop it out and install a new one?
If you answered “No” to any of the above questions — congratulations! You are mature enough, and smart enough, to know what you can and cannot do. There is no shame in letting someone else — preferably a certified and experienced heavy equipment mechanic — repair your machinery. Do-it-yourself projects look appealing, but after you have invested thousands of dollars in your equipment, why chance damaging it more by taking on repairs you know nothing about?
Finding the Best Repair Options
Keep in mind: The best repair options are not the ones that cost the least; but rather, the best repair options are the ones that result in quality work at a price you are comfortable with — and which return your excavator or other equipment to the worksite as quickly as possible.
For many 35G owners, the best and only option is to work with a John Deere authorized service center for repair or warranty work. Thanks to its history, reputation, and thousands of satisfied customers, John Deere is renowned for its high-quality service centers, each of which must meet the company’s rigorous standards for certified technicians and support staff and work areas that include up-to-date technology and equipment.
The easiest way to find an authorized John Deere Service Centre is to talk with your salesman or the retailer where you purchased the equipment from. In some cases, the sales side of the business may also be combined with an authorized service center for your one-stop needs. The other option is to perform a web search or go directly to the company’s service and support site, or the dealer locator.
The service and support site provides helpful links for general support policies, emissions information, engines and drivetrain services, Reman Warranty, and other information to get your 35G serviced and back to work.
The dealer locator allows you to search for sellers worldwide: North America, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, the Near and Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. You can perform a search by entering an address or allowing the website to detect your location and perform a search in that fashion.
The other option is to work with a local mechanic or repair shop which, though not authorized, nonetheless follows John Deere’s standards for quality workmanship and customer satisfaction.
Finding a local mechanic to work on your equipment is another option, especially if an authorized dealer or service center is too far away or other issues prevent you from getting your equipment to a dealer’s location.
What to Look for in a Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Besides choosing a certified mechanic, what else should you look out for? Here are some tips.
- Ask about other certifications and credentials — as a rule of thumb, do not assume the mechanic or repair shop you have selected is qualified. Depending on your location, your mechanic or service center should be certified by a professional group, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Since 1972, ASE has certified mechanics in parts of Canada and throughout North America. Professionals who are ASE certified are also qualified to work on heavy equipment such as excavators and skid steers but need the experience to back it up. A heavy equipment mechanic can be expected to complete preventative maintenance and repairs, diagnose more serious mechanical problems, and understand necessary upkeep tasks.
- The mechanic or repair shop should be licensed and insured — the insurance will cover general liability, and workers’ compensation claims if employees are injured on the job. Look to make sure proof of certification and insurance are prominently displayed. Most qualified heavy equipment technicians have several years of experience, capable of working on your machinery’s hydraulics, transmission, heating and cooling components, and the repair and replacement of major parts such as booms, buckets, tracks, and tires.
Choosing the right mechanic to work on your heavy equipment also means looking out for warning signs. Are there complaints with your local better business bureau? Is the repair shop clean? Are tools and equipment maintained and organized?
The John Deere 35G mini excavator is an industry-leading compact excavator that is easy to operate and maintain, and extremely versatile. With hundreds of attachments — augers and trenchers, backhoes, blades and scrapers, brooms, buckets, hammers, planers, rollers, snow accessories — it gets the job done in all working conditions. To avoid unnecessary repairs, it is recommended that you follow the manufacturer-recommended checklist for regular maintenance items.
Remember, caring for your 35G will ensure it operates at a high level and allows you to complete tasks on time, and within your budget.