Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Settlement Reached

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Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Settlement Reached
A row of construction machines, tractors and excavators. © AMatvee

A Missouri Federal District Court granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging some products of a tractor hydraulic fluid blender and the parent company for NAPA Auto Parts don’t meet required specifications.

Genuine Parts Co. and Warren Oil agreed to pay $10.85 million after consumers said several of their products do not meet any original equipment manufacturer specifications, causing wear and damage to tractors and other equipment. The class action was filed in May 2021.

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Customers who purchased NAPA Quality Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid; Warren 303 Tractor Fluid; Carquest 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid; Coastal 303 Tractor Fluid; or Lubriguard Tractor Hydraulic and Transmission Oil since July 26, 2014, alleged labels on those products were deceptive and misleading.

According to court documents, the companies have vigorously denied the claims and any wrongdoing.

Members of the class action can receive payments for any wear and damage caused from the products. Repair payments are capped at $5,000, or more if members can provide documentation of repairs exceeding that amount.

According to the lawsuit, such increased wear and damage may include scratching, corrosive wear, rippling, ridging, pitting, spalling and scoring of gears and metal components, seal damage, spiral gear damage, metal abrasion, corrosion, surface wear, clutch wear and breakage, wet brake damage, pump failure, leakage, and damage from deposits, sludging and thickening.

The settlement was reached on June 17. The court will hold a hearing on March 9, 2023, to determine approval of the settlement. As part of the agreement, the court did not rule in favor of either party.

John Deere developed JD303 nearly 60 years ago and replaced it in 1974 with J14B, which was replaced in 1978 with J20A. John Deere has declared all those specifications are obsolete and has two current specs – JDM-2020C and J20D – along with its genuine Hy-Gard fluid.

Some lubricant marketers continued marketing hydraulic tractor fluids labeled as meeting the 303 standard, but critics said they do not meet the lubrication requirements of modern tractors and can harm them through effects such as damage to the spiral gear in the final drive and causing excessive wear in the planetaries.