Buyer’s guide: A work-a-day ‘classic’ that’s still in demand

The John Deere 6010 Series was built from circa 1997 until the early 2000s at the company’s factory in Mannheim, Germany.

These tractors were based on the floorplan of the earlier 6000 Series; the full-chassis design was said to save weight and provide strength. Ever since, these straight-forward, green-liveried machines have earned a loyal following and a good reputation.

6.8L engine

The 6.8L PowerTech engine was upgraded from that fitted to earlier (six-cylinder) 6000 Series models. Time has proven it to be a strong, reliable motor.

Under-stressed, lightly turbo-charged (no intercooler) with mechanical fuel injection (and no emissions constraints), big hours can be accumulated – as long as service schedules are adhered to.

Image source: Shane Casey

The 6810 was sold as a 125hp (DIN) tractor. Its bigger brother – the 6910 – initially had 135hp (DIN).

Deutsches Institut fur Normung 70020 (DIN 70020) is a German standard/methodology for measuring horsepower. It measures effective power at the engine output shaft (or flywheel), with ancillaries such as turbo-chargers, coolant pumps and fans fitted – to give a more realistic result.

The relatively roomy (for its time) six-post cab was carried over (with some internal tweaks) from the earlier models; an air suspended seat and air-conditioning were optional.

Electronic linkage control was via an ergonomic ‘mouse-type’ pod on the side console. Mechanical spool valves controlled the closed-centre hydraulic system; a flow-rate of up to 96L/min was available.

The rear lift, with lower link sensing, was rated to hoist 7.5t. An electric switch engaged the PTO – buoyed by 540, 540E and 1,000rpm options.

PowrQuad ‘box’

The tractors were especially well-known for the PowrQuad transmission. Standard guise from the outset comprised a (manual) shuttle lever on the right-hand console, along with the main gear (range) stick – plus a four-speed powershift lever.

Image source: Shane Casey

A left-hand power-shuttle and creeper gears (optional) also joined the mix over time.

These are generally regarded as ‘bullet-proof’ gearboxes. However, brakes can be the weak link. If these are let wear excessively, debris can travel through the entire transmission and hydraulic system – destroying bearings, valve blocks and even the transmission’s aluminium front plate.

It is recommended to strip and inspect the brakes at 3,000-hour intervals to ensure reliable operation. This is a relatively straight-forward job; it’s definitely worth doing to keep things running smoothly.

Other transmission options to come along included PowrQuad+ and AutoQuad.

Image source: Shane Casey

PowrQuad+ brought push-button powershift control, with speed matching when changing range. AutoQuad brought more to the party; it offered automatic ‘powershifting’ within each range, depending on load and throttle position.

Some (later) 6010 Series tractors were home to (ZF-built) AutoPowr stepless transmissions. These are relatively rare and, besides, AutoPowr warrants a whole other article!

Round the back…

The Dromone hydraulic push-back pick-up hitch is beefy, but damage has been known to occur if the spring-loaded interlock (in the latch mechanism) becomes jammed with muck.

This can allow the latch pin to return to the ‘locked’ position before the hitch is fully raised – thus breaking the locking pin mechanism. This issue is common across many John Deere tractors fitted with this type of hitch – so watch out for it on any prospective purchase.

A ‘spring’ in your step

Electro-hydraulic front axle suspension (which arrived with the advent of 6010 Series models) boosted comfort on the road. If John Deere is to be believed, it can also improve traction in the field.

There are only a handful of grease points but, alas, it’s all too easy to overlook even these. If a ‘clunk’ can be heard from the front-end (upon twirling the steering wheel left/right while stationary), this typically indicates that the Panhard rod ‘crosslink’ (partially hidden above the axle) is worn and needs renewing.

A John Deere 6610 (the 6810’s less powerful sibling) in action. Image source: Shane Casey

Engine service intervals are 250 hours; back-end filters and oil-change intervals depend on the type of transmission fitted. The interval on PowrQuad-equipped models is 1,500 hours.

Well on their way to ‘classic’ status but still a strong durable workhorse, prices have remained strong for clean, well-minded examples.

A tidy 6810/6910 – a well-shod, dealer-presented example – could command €25,000 (plus VAT) or more. High-houred or tatty tractors can be had much cheaper.

Bear in mind that the cost of tyres and a mechanical overhaul can quickly mount up.

Specifications: John Deere 6810
  • Engine: 6.8L; six-cylinder; turbo-charged;
  • Power: 125hp (DIN);
  • Torque: 561Nm @ 1,365rpm;
  • Weight: 5.4t (depending on specification);
  • Rear lift capacity: 7.5t;
  • Transmission: Various options (see text);
  • Hydraulic output: 60/96L/min; 200-bar maximum;
  • Fuel capacity: 205L (standard);
  • In-cab noise levels: 72dB.

Thanks to the team at Meath Farm Machinery for help in producing this article.