When looking for a new lawnmower, the John Deere brand will likely be one of the top mower brands that come to mind. But these bad boys are expensive and asking how long they last is an important pre-purchase question. I’ve got you covered in this article, I’ve been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and I’ve worked on a ton of Deere mowers.
Their longevity is surprising, I get asked this a lot especially by customers who are about to pull the trigger on a riding mower. And when I tell them I routinely work on twenty and some thirty-year-old John Deere riding mowers, they say “really?” But with more of a – I really don’t believe tone in their voice.
John Deere mowers are among the highest quality lawnmowers on the market. With proper maintenance and repair, a John Deere riding mower will provide approximately 2,000 hours or about fifteen years of service. A John Deere Self Propelled will offer approximately 1000 hours or about ten years of service.
Here, we will take a look at the John Deere brand and see how many hours you can get from a typical John Deere mower. I’ll also add a few insider tips that will save you a ton of cash on mower repairs.
About John Deere
John Deere is a brand that is used by Deere & Company. The brand is best known for its line of popular selling lawnmowers and gardening & landscaping products. In addition to its lawn care products, John Deere also makes heavy equipment, forest machinery, and diesel engines. Founded in 1837, the 185-year-old company is currently headquartered in Moline, Illinois.
John Deere Mowers Durability
When you are measuring the longevity of lawnmowers, you will want to think in terms of how many hours of operation that you will get from the equipment. In this section, we will break down John Deere lawnmowers into two categories: small walk-behind mowers (also known as self-propelled mowers) and larger riding mowers, sometimes referred to as tractor mowers.
Self Propelled Mowers
On the low end, you should be able to get 500 hours from a typical John Deere self-propelled mower. However, if you keep up with the regular maintenance, then you should be able to stretch out the lifespan of the mower – up to 1,000 hours or more.
Large John Deere riding mowers can potentially outlast the mower deck, could easily last up to 2,000 hours with the proper maintenance. If you consider a typical mower could clock up 1.5 hours cutting the grass once a week, for 8 months of the year – that’s just 48 working hours total for the year, and a mower well maintained will easily keep that work rate up for 15 years.
You should know John Deere doesn’t make their own engines, they do however fit top-class motors by Briggs & Stratton, Kohler, and Kawasaki. These brands all offer premium four-stroke single and twin cylinder motors, I’ve worked on them all and they’re solid performers.
What Begins to Wear Out on John Deere Mowers First?
John Deere mowers are excellent quality, but like all machines, they have their weak areas.
In addition, lawnmowers begin to degrade and wear out in sections, for example, belts blades and decks usually give issues first. Here is what you can expect during the normal lifespan of a John Deere tractor mower.
First-year – No issues
During the first year of ownership, you should not have any issues with a John Deere mower. I would however advise an oil change after the first ten hours of operation. It’s an old habit, from a time when engines were broken in by the customer but I still like to do it. After all, oil is cheap when compared to a new motor. Regardless a mower should get at the very least an oil change before every new cutting season.
In addition, blades should be sharpened, air filter cleaned and tires inflated.
Second-year – Belts and hoses
In the second your Deere will still be pulling well as you might expect. That said you will need to be more vigilant in relation to maintenance. Like any machine, you will have to inspect wearing components like belts. A very hard-working mower may develop belt damage, flying debris like stones, etc can impact belts causing small nicks that develop into tears.
In addition to an oil change and blade sharpening, your mower should get a new spark plug, air filter, and fuel filter at the end of this season. You’ll need to run the usual inspections and check the cutting deck is level.
Third-year – Blade
At about the third year, the blade will begin to wear down, but this depends largely on the terrain and how low you like to trim the lawns. As the engine got a full-service last year, it will likely just require an oil change and air filter cleanout. It will require vigorous inspection of the belts and a deck level adjustment.
Fourth-Year – Engine
By the fourth year, a typical John Deere lawnmower may experience minor issues. Valve lash will need checking and adjusting in addition to the usual tune-up items. Some mowers may present battery issues this year or next year, but if a battery maintainer is used overwinter a mower battery can last 7-8 years.
Starter motor solenoid usually begins to cause issues about now and we’ll expect to replace at least the cutting deck belt. The drive belts are usually more durable than the deck belts. Expect a drive belt to last 6-8 years.
Tips to Get the Most Life from a John Deere Lawn Mower
One thing is for sure, your John Deere lawnmower will last longer and cost less in repairs if you keep up with regular maintenance. Here’s a look at five tips that can help you get the most life from a John Deere lawnmower.
1). Add fuel stablizer
Unlike a car, you are not going to use a lawnmower every day. Therefore, you will want to add a fuel stabilizer to ensure that the fuel doesn’t degrade while your lawnmower is not being used. A must when winterizing.
2). Sharpen the mower blades
With sharp mower blades, you won’t have to go back and cover areas of a lawn a second time. That’s why it is a good idea to have the blades sharpened every season.
3). Keep the mower clean
A clean mower will allow the engine to operate more efficiently and reduce fuel economy and strain on the mower’s more sensitive parts and components. Cleaning thoroughly will also protect the deck from corrosion.
4). Clean or replace the air filter
Like any motorized vehicle, a lawnmower’s engine will last longer and perform better with a clean air filter. Be sure to clean the air filter every 25 hours of use and replace it every second season.
5). Replace the spark plugs
Finally, you will want to make sure that the lawnmower has fresh spark plugs to allow the engine to operate properly. It is recommended that you change the spark plugs every second year of operation, approx every 100 hours.
I’ve covered the complete tune-up process in this post – “Riding lawn mower maintenance”
Top John Deere Lawnmower Models
If you are looking to get a John Deere lawn mower that will last, then you will want to consider some of the most popular modes that enjoy high customers ratings and a reputation for reliability.
1). John Deere S100 42-inch 17.5 Horsepower Gas Engine Riding Lawnmower
The S100 is one of the most popular riding lawnmowers in the John Deere family. This model is available in a variety of engine sizes from the smallest 17.5 horsepower model up to the 24 horsepower model. However, if you want to enjoy better fuel economy and lower maintenance worries, then the 17.5 horsepower model is going to be the ideal choice.
2). John Deere Z345M 42-inch 22 Horsepower Zero-Turning Riding Lawnmower
If you are looking for a riding lawnmower that is going to give you lots more flexibility, then the John Deere Z345M 42-inch Zero-Turning Riding Lawnmower is going to be an excellent choice. This popular lawnmower is ideal for properties with various obstacles such as trees, gardens, rocks, or anything else that you may encounter on a lawn.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer at Lawnmowerfixed.com.
He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and shares his know-how and hands-on experience in our DIY repair guides.
Johns’s fluff-free How-to guides help homeowners fix lawnmowers, tractor mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, power washers, generators, snow blowers, and more.