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John-Deere Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems. With Fixes

John Deere is renowned in the lawnmower market for its high-quality products. However, even the best machines can face issues if they are improperly handled. Some troubleshooting and necessary maintenance steps are essential for restoring your lawnmower to its former glory.

John-Deere Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems:

If your John Deere lawnmower cuts unevenly or doesn’t cut at all, it could be due to damaged or bent blades, misaligned wheels, or debris stuck in the blade spindle assembly. Make sure your wheels and mowing deck are set at the correct height. If the lawnmower doesn’t move forward, check for broken axle keys and damaged belts. Ensure you keep the steering tie rods and wheel axles in good condition and check them routinely for better handling.

This article is here to help you troubleshoot and fix problems in the drive and cutting mechanism of your John-Deere lawnmower (be it riding or self-propelled). For a detailed explanation and step-by-step procedures, scroll down and read further.

John-Deere Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Cutting Problems

When your riding lawnmower faces issues while cutting, it can become frustrating. Uneven grass, crooked lines, or worse yet, a mower that won’t cut at all are all too common problems that can arise with your riding lawn mower. Here are some common cutting problems and the different ways you can fix them

1. Lawnmower doesn’t cut straight:

There can be several reasons why your lawnmower doesn’t cut straight. An improperly installed or damaged blade damaged wheels or axles, a tilted mower, etc. If you’re experiencing issues with your lawnmower not cutting straight, there are the following steps you can take.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Blade: Check the cutting blade to ensure it is not bent or damaged. Replace the blade if it is excessively damaged or re-adjust it to ensure it is installed properly.
  • Wheels: Inspect the wheels and axles for any damage that may require repairs or replacement. Check and correct the alignment of the wheels and axles.
  • Height: Adjust the height of the mower to make sure it is not tilted.

2. Lawnmower cuts uneven grass patterns:

Blaming this issue on uneven terrain is easy but will not fix the problem. The blade, cutting height, and mower level are likely elements that could malfunction, causing uneven grass patterns. Checking the pattern of the cut can also help you tackle the issue. Plus, damage to the blade, bluntness, or vibration in it can also result in uneven grass patterns.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Tires: If the cut is slanted, inflate the tires as per the manufacturer’s recommendation and adjust the mower level.
  • Speed: If you notice altering lanes of short and tall grass, the problem is likely that you are moving too fast – slow down.
  • Blades: Check the blade to ensure it is not excessively blunt or vibrating. You will need to repair, replace, or sharpen the blade depending on its condition.
  • Cutting Height: Adjusting the mower’s cutting height can also be helpful.

3. Lawnmower doesn’t cut at all

If your lawn mower isn’t cutting at all, there could be a few possible causes. First, the problem could result from a low fuel level. Or, your mower’s spark plug electrodes could be damaged. Additionally, the air filter is likely causing the cutting issue.

Often the carburetors are the culprit when they have become too worn out to function properly. Other times you’ll find a blunt or damaged blade, worn out drive belt, or improperly engaged safety switch causing this problem.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Fuel level: Check the fuel level and replenish it.
  • Spark plug: Inspect the spark plug. You must clean it thoroughly if it is dirty or replace it in case it is damaged.
  • Air filter: Check the air filter to make sure it is not clogged. Unclog it in case it is.
  • Carburetor: Check the condition of the carburetor and clean it of debris if needed.
  • Blades: Check the sharpness of the cutting blade, you might have to sharpen it. Or in case of irreversible damage, replace it.
  • Drive Belt: Take a look at the drive belt to assess any damages.
  • Safety Switch: Make sure the safety switch is engaged properly.
  • Battery: See that the battery is charged and functioning properly.

John-Deere Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

Here are some common drive problems that riding lawnmowers face as well as their troubleshooting solutions.

1. Lawnmower doesn’t move forward?

If your drive release lever is in the wrong position or you’re missing the axle key, the lawnmower will not move forward. Plus, if the axle key has fallen out, the mower will not move forward.

But that’s not it. There are other reasons your mower may not be moving forward.

For instance, a worn-out drive pump belt, damaged tensioner pulley, or a misplaced idler arm spring can also be why your lawnmower is halted.

Lastly, if your hydraulic oil is low, old, or hot, it can interfere with the functioning of the lawnmower since it won’t lubricate properly. If the hot hydraulic oil is a persistent problem, you will need to refer to the manufacturer or a professional repair person.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Lever: Check to see that the drive release lever is in the operating position and fix it if it is not.
  • Axle key: Replace the axle key if it is missing.
  • Pump belt: Check if the drive pump belt is worn out. Replace it.
  • Pulley: Check for any damage on the tensioner pulley. Fix the damages or replace the part.
  • Idler arm: For a misplaced idler arm spring you will need to purchase a new one.
  • Oil: Replenish and change the oil that is low or old. Allow the hydraulic oil to cool in case it gets hot.

2 Lawnmower vibrates excessively?

A foreign object stuck in your lawn mower can cause it to vibrate excessively at times. Other than that, damaged clutch or mower blades, debris collected around the blade spindle, worn-out belts and pulleys, damaged bearings, and missing mounting bolts can all contribute significantly to the excessive vibrations in your mower.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Debris: The first step is to check for any debris that may be lodged in your lawnmower. Clean out the debris.
  • Clutch/Blades: Check for damaged clutch or damaged mower blades and replace them.
  • Spindle: Remove any debris clogged in the blade spindle.
  • Belts: Replace any worn-out belts and pulleys.
  • Bolts: Look for any loose or missing bolts so you can replace and securely tighten them.
  • Bearings: Look for damaged bearings that may require fixing.

3 Lawnmower has loose steering?

A steering linkage in your mower connects the steering wheel to the front wheels. If this is damaged or has dirt build-up, it can cause loose steering. Moreover, loose tie rods (which are a part of the steering linkage) or damaged wheel bearings can also result in loose steering.

The plan of action now is first to clean the steering linkage using a cloth or a brush. Rinse with water and dry it before turning on the mower. Next, locate the tie rods and wheel bearing, you will need to replace them if damaged, otherwise, tighten them. Finally, tightening the steering wheel itself can also prevent loose steering in your lawnmower.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Clean: First, clean the steering linkage using a cloth or a brush.
  • Dry: Rinse with water and dry it before turning on the mower
  • Rods & Bearing: Locate the tie rods and wheel bearing, you will need to replace them if damaged. Otherwise, tighten them.
  • Steering Wheel: Tighten the steering wheel to prevent loose steering.

4. Lawnmower has a flat tire?

Sharp objects, extensive usage, and insufficient tire inflation can all be reasons for your lawnmower’s flat tire. However, this is probably the easiest problem to solve, although it requires strenuous labor.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Turn off the lawnmower.
  • Inspect the flat tire for any punctures that need repairing.
  • Once you have repaired the punctures (you can do this yourself if you have a tire repair kit), inflate the tire.
  • Use the manual that came with your mower to inflate the tire to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
  • Reinstall the tire on the axle.
  • Make sure the lug nuts are tightened and the tire is secure.

5. Lawnmower is leaking oil?

The older your lawnmower is, the more likely that its parts will be worn out. And worn-out gaskets, loose oil filters, overfilled oil, or damaged engines can all cause the lawn mower to leak oil.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Identify leaks: The first step is to check the source of the leak. Inspect the drain plug, oil filter, gasket, and engine.
  • Check oil level: You can check the oil level to ascertain whether there is a leak.
  • Tighten the plugs: If the oil filter or drain plug is loose, tighten it using a wench.
  • Gaskets: Check for a damaged engine gasket and repair it immediately to prevent oil leakage.
  • Consult: In case of multiple leakages, it would be best to take the lawnmower to a professional.

John-Deere Self-Propelled Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

Self-propelled lawn mowers allow you to keep your lawns neat while exerting minimal to no physical labor. However, these machines can also face different drive problems, especially after long and extensive use. So, here’s how you can troubleshoot some of the drive problems associated with self-propelled lawnmowers.

1. Lawnmower doesn’t go forward?

When your self-propelled lawn mower stops moving forward, it can be frustrating. There are several potential causes that you should investigate. One possibility is that the drive belt is worn or broken, commonly resulting from regular extensive use.

Another possibility is that the drive wheels are damaged or worn out, so they may be spinning but not engaging the transmission.  Another potential cause is a loose or broken drive cable that is responsible for engaging the transmission when the mower’s handle is squeezed. Finally, a faulty transmission can also cause the mower not to move forward.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Belt: Check the drive belt and replace it if it is damaged.
  • Wheels: Check the wheels. The damaged wheels should be replaced.
  • Cables: Inspect the drive cable and replace it in case of damage.
  • Transmission: Replace the transmission if it appears faulty.

2. Lawn Mower throttle not working?

The throttle controls the engine’s speed, so keeping it in good condition is important. One possibility that the throttle is not working could be a broken or loose throttle cable. This cable is responsible for connecting the throttle lever to the carburetor, allowing you to adjust the engine’s speed.

Another potential cause is a damaged or broken throttle lever which controls the speed of the engine. Additionally, a clogged or damaged carburetor can cause problems with the throttle.

Finally, a clogged air filter can also impact the throttle’s performance. The air filter ensures that clean air is mixed with fuel to power the engine. So, a dirty air filter will not do its job effectively, in turn causing problems with the throttle.

Troubleshooting Steps

  • Cable: Check the throttle cable and adjust or replace it as needed.
  • Lever: Replace the throttle lever if it is damaged or broken.
  • Carburetor: Thoroughly clean the carburetor to remove any clogs. You may want to replace it if it is too old.
  • Air filter: Check the air filter and thoroughly clean it.

Drive & Cutting Troubleshooting table

1. Lawnmower Cutting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t cut straight
a. Dull blades
b. Tilted mowing deck
a. Sharpen the blades using a grinder or a bench file.
b. Using a level, ensure the deck is perfectly horizontal.
Lawnmower cuts uneven grass
a. Blade vibrations
b. Faulty spindle assembly
a. Ensure the blade isn’t loose.
b. The blade should be balanced at its center. If not, it should be replaced. c. The spindle bearing should be replaced if it is faulty.
Lawnmower doesn’t cut at all
a. Disengaged blades
b. Debris/Grass clippings
c. Worn-out belt
a. Use the blade engagement lever.
b. Clean the spindle from debris and grass clippings.
c. Replace/adjust the blade belt as needed.

2. Lawnmower Drive Problems

Riding Lawnmowers

Lawnmower doesn’t move forward
a. Transmission disengaged
b. Faulty drive belt
c. No hydraulic fluid
a. Use the transaxle lever to engage the drive.
b. Adjust/replace the drive belt as needed.
c. Replenish transmission fluid.
The lawnmower has a loose steering
a. Loose tie rod ends
b. Damaged steering bushing
a. Tighten and lubricate tie rod ends.
b. Inspect and replace the bushing at the end of the steering shaft.
Lawnmower vibrates excessively
a. Blade imbalance/wobbling around the center
b. Damaged spindle bearing
c. Missing engine mounts
a. Tighten and adjust the blade to balance about its center.
b. Replace the faulty spindle bearing.
c. Tighten the engine’s mounting by adding fasteners.
The lawnmower has a flat tire
a. Low air pressure
b. Puncture by a sharp object
a. Purchase a puncture repair kit.
b. Apply the puncture seal and inflate the tire again.

Self-Propelled Lawnmowers

Lawnmower doesn’t move forward
a. Loose control cable
b. Worn-out drive belt
c. Debris locking wheels
a. Tighten the throttle control cable
b. Adjust/replace the belt as necessary.
c. Remove the debris from the wheels.
The lawnmower throttle not working
a. Defective throttle cable
b. Clogged carburetor
The lawnmower throttle is not working
The lawnmower pull cord is stuck
a. Damaged spiral spring
b. Damaged pull cord
Replace the damaged springs/pull cord.

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  1. Bradley Ford says:

    Great troubleshooting tips for my John Deere lawnmower!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Bradley! I’m glad the troubleshooting tips were helpful for your John Deere lawnmower. Good luck with your maintenance and happy mowing!

  2. Sergio Ryan says:

    I’ve been having trouble with my lawnmower’s steering, hopefully these tips help.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Sergio, I hope these tips help you troubleshoot the steering issues with your lawnmower. Good luck!

  3. Adam Porter says:

    I never knew checking the air filter was so important for my lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Adam, checking your lawnmower’s air filter is crucial for its performance. Regular maintenance ensures your machine runs smoothly. Remember to inspect it frequently to avoid any issues.

  4. Julian Morgan says:

    How can I tell if my lawnmower’s oil needs to be changed?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Julian, to determine if your lawnmower’s oil needs changing, check for dirt or discoloration in the oil, a strong smell, or a decrease in engine performance. Regular oil changes are essential for optimal lawnmower function.

  5. Myrtle Arnold says:

    How often should I sharpen the blades of my lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To keep your lawnmower in top condition, John Deere recommends sharpening the blades at the start and end of each mowing season. This will ensure a clean cut and optimal performance.

  6. Bernard Newman says:

    My lawnmower has been vibrating a lot, I’ll try these troubleshooting steps.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Bernard, make sure to check for any debris stuck in the blade spindle assembly as it can cause your lawnmower to vibrate excessively. Good luck with the troubleshooting steps!

  7. Wallace Terry says:

    I appreciate the detailed troubleshooting steps for different issues with lawnmowers.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Wallace! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting steps helpful for lawnmowers. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

  8. Sonia Graves says:

    What should I do if my lawnmower is making strange noises?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Check for damaged blades, misaligned wheels, or debris in the spindle assembly. Make sure the mower is correctly set up. Regular maintenance is crucial for peak performance.

  9. Tina Johnson says:

    I have a John Deere lawnmower and this article was super informative.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Tina! I’m glad you found the article informative. Let me know if you have any other questions about maintaining your John Deere lawnmower.

  10. Tracey Martin says:

    Is there a maintenance schedule I should follow for my John Deere lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Regular maintenance is key! Check your blade, wheels, belts, and more for optimal performance. Follow the steps in the article for a well-maintained John Deere lawnmower.

  11. Leah Morgan says:

    I didn’t know low fuel could be a reason for my lawnmower not cutting properly.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Leah, I’m glad you found the information helpful! Ensuring proper maintenance and troubleshooting steps can keep your lawnmower running smoothly. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  12. Dawn Peck says:

    Can I use regular gasoline for my John Deere lawnmower or is there a specific type I should use?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Dawn, for your John Deere lawnmower, it’s best to use unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87 or higher. Regular gasoline should work fine, just ensure it is unleaded and has the right octane level.

  13. Ben Lane says:

    These tips are really helpful, thanks for sharing!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Ben! I’m glad you found the tips helpful. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions about troubleshooting your lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  14. Jennie Oliver says:

    I didn’t realize how many issues could affect the cutting of my lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jennie. It’s important to understand the various factors that can impact your lawnmower’s cutting performance. Proper maintenance and troubleshooting can help resolve these issues effectively.

  15. Norma Peterson says:

    I didn’t know I had to regularly check the drive release lever on my lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Norma, regular maintenance of the drive release lever is essential for optimal lawnmower performance. Refer to the blog for troubleshooting advice to keep your machine in top shape.

  16. Clifford Webb says:

    I’ll make sure to check the steering linkage on my lawnmower, thanks for the tip.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad to hear you found the tip helpful, Clifford! Regular maintenance is key to keeping your lawnmower running smoothly. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  17. Louise Jones says:

    I never thought about checking the spark plug on my lawnmower, I’ll do that today.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for the comment, Louise! Checking the spark plug is a great maintenance step for your lawnmower. I’m glad the blog post was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  18. Tonya Richardson says:

    Great video resources provided in the article, very helpful!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Tonya! I’m glad you found the video resources helpful. Let me know if you have any questions as you troubleshoot your John Deere lawnmower.

  19. Carlos Stone says:

    Is there a way to prevent my lawnmower from getting flat tires frequently?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Carlos, ensure your lawnmower’s tires are properly inflated to prevent frequent flats. Regular maintenance, including checking for debris and proper wheel alignment, can help extend the life of your tires.