When Easy Is More Expensive

One of the most rewarding things about living a homestead lifestyle is the ability to do things yourself. There’s something very gratifying about using your own tools and equipment to accomplish a task. Instead of paying someone enormous amounts of money, it’s amazing what you can do yourself. 

However, sometimes doing it yourself can be more of a financial burden than you want. Enter the new way in which John Deere arranged the the oil filters for their new 100 series mowers.

When Easy Is More Expensive: Oil filter box on shelf

On most of the models in the new 100 lineup is something called the “Easy Change 30-Second Oil Change System”. To be fair, it appears this will make changing the oil easier and less messy compared to the old system. The problem, however, is the consumer is now locked into purchasing components that are far more expensive. It’s kind of dumb that an oil filter for a lawn mower costs more than many oil filters for a car.

A growing concern in the agricultural community is that farmers have the inability to perform a variety of repairs themselves. This is because special electronic devices are sometimes required to unlock or restart certain components of the machinery.

Why do manufacturer’s do this? It’s for the simple reason they can get more money from you. By integrating unique and technical components, it forces the owner to spend more money at a particular brand’s network of dealers.  

Of course, manufacturers will tell you all technology and unique components are necessary to increase efficiency and productivity. I don’t believe it, though. We put a man on the moon. Surely, we can figure out a way to have efficiency and productivity without this technological nonsense.

When organizations want to exert a little bit of control, they start small and go big. First, it was the farmers and now they’re getting homeowners which represents a large segment of the population.

This is what I think is going on here with Deere’s new oil change system. First, it was an easier way to change the oil; and next, there’ll probably be some special electronic component that regulates how the mower works. When that device breaks, the dealer will be waiting with a very “nice” service fee.  

If you buy either a John Deere E120, E130, E150, E160, E170 or E180 (2018 models) you are now locked into purchasing a very expensive oil filter. What used to cost around $10 now costs over $40 with tax. On a positive note, the oil comes in the filter so technically there wouldn’t be an additional cost for that.   

When Easy Is More Expensive: lawn mower with oil filter

In regards to the actual oil, this is where things get a little weird. In reading the press release, it says this system only replaces about .8 quarts of oil. Wait; do you mean there’s no conventional drain plug?

Upon reading this, I went to Home Depot to look under the hood of more than one of the new models and the drain plug as I once knew it was no longer there.  

In an older 100 series mower we have, it says there’s 1.5 quarts of oil in there. If my math is correct, there would still be about .7 quarts of oil left if I had to use the new oil change system. At this stage in life I’m only a wannabe mechanic and am learning this skill set little by little. Although I’m a long way off from becoming an ASE certified technician, I do wonder if leaving all that old oil in the engine is a good thing.

While I’m a diehard John Deere fan, I won’t be buying a new 100 series mower any time soon. It’d be great to someday have a small tractor like their 1025 R on the homestead. If that day ever comes I hope we’re not forced into buying a bunch of proprietary parts or having to go to the dealer for every minor repair. If we had to do this, the homestead lifestyle would be way less fun.  


I thought this was an interesting video regarding farmers and the problems they are having with new technology.

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