9 Most Common John Deere L130 Problems & Solutions

John Deere’s L series lawn mowers are one of the best options available for homeowners who need a powerful and robust machine to help get their yard work done quickly and efficiently but aren’t willing to break the bank to do it.

The l130 boasts several improvements and upgrades over the L100, 110, and 120. While still retaining a lot of the spirit that makes this series so appealing.

However, despite the generally favorable reviews from users, several issues can crop up with this machine. So in this article, we’ll walk through what they are and how to solve them, so you’re ready and prepared in the event one or more of these problems occur for you.

The most common problems with John Deere l130

As mentioned, this is one of the higher-end models within the L line. It boasts increased engine power and a more significant lawn-mowing dimension, meaning you can quickly clear larger plots of land.

In addition, it also has John Deere’s highly respected ‘Tuff Torq’ hydrostatic transmission system, which can achieve speeds of up to 5.5 mph.

But it’s not all just about mechanical upgrades. It also spots many user-friendly features, such as improved grips for comfort and a convenient tool tray to make staying organized easy when under operation. It even has a mighty 15″ seat for extra back support, which helps immensely when doing those extra-large mowing jobs.

Despite all the upgrades, this machine does suffer from some issues related to engine performance, the electrical system, and the cut quality. So let’s look at what those are and how to solve them.

1. The engine doesn’t start

When general upkeep and maintenance are neglected for an extended period, sooner or later, you’ll run into the problem of the engine not starting. While this is quite an alarming issue to run into, in reality, we can get this fixed and have the machine back up and running with just a few reasonably basic maintenance procedures.

The first thing to check is that the fuel tank is filled up, as, without enough fuel, the engine won’t be able to run. 

You should also ensure a high-quality fuel is being used in the engine. Over time, fuel quality can degrade, so even if there’s fuel in the tank when the mower’s been left idle for a prolonged period, it simply may have gone bad and will need to be replaced.

Next, you should check and clean the fuel filter. As the name suggests, this is responsible for filtering out debris and stopping it from making its way into the engine. But over time, this can become so clogged that it prevents fuel’s free flow into the engine. 

Usually, this filter can be cleaned out, but if it’s already looking old, you should replace it with a new one to be safe.

You should also check the carburetor, responsible for delivering the correct amounts of fuel and air into the engine so it can function optimally. This may need adjusting as if it delivers too much oil or air, the engine will struggle to start.

The final thing to check is the spark plug. This generates a tiny electrical spark that ignites the fuel and begins the engine combustion process. Unfortunately, it’s also a common component to fail, but they’re also very cheap and easy to replace, so swap it out with a new one.

2. The engine overheats

When the engine overheats, it will decrease the overall engine performance of the lawn tractor and accelerate component wear, costing you a lot of money in the long run.

The quickest and fastest way to reduce overheating is to reduce the load on the engine. This means slowing the running speed, reducing the blade speed, and being mindful of uneven terrain or steep inclines that may place unnecessary strain on the engine.

Of course, this is just a temporary solution to allow you to finish the job. You should also identify and fix the root cause of the problem.

  • The first thing to do is check the cooling fins and air inlet. These can become plugged up with debris over time, reducing the amount of air that can circulate the machine, thus, reducing the mower’s ability to dissipate heat. Clean these out to increase airflow.
  • You should also check the engine oil level. If the oil is too high or too low, it can contribute to the overheating problem. Additionally, ensure the oil is good quality and isn’t too old.
  • Check the connecting rod to the crankshaft bearing clearance and set it accordingly.
  • Finally, you should adjust the idle speed to ensure the engine turns over correctly while idle.

3. The engine backfires

If the engine is backfiring, something needs adjusting or replacing.

The obvious first thing to check is the spark plug. Replace this if it’s not working correctly.

Additionally, you should check and adjust the carburetor, the ignition coil air cap, and the valves in case any are sticking or don’t have enough clearance. Finally, you should adjust the throttle.

Once all of these aspects are set correctly, the backfiring problem should be solved.

4. The engine is running roughly

Even when the engine can start, you may still find that it doesn’t appear to be running smoothly, which shouldn’t be ignored as it suggests there is something that needs fixing.

The first thing to check is the cooling fins and air cleaner element. Unblock them as necessary if they are plugged up.

You should also check for any loose electrical contacts and fix them as needed.

5. Uneven or poor cut quality

Without proper care and maintenance, the cut quality of a mower will inevitably degrade over time. This is usually due to the mower blades becoming dull, but there are also other factors to be mindful of that can contribute to poor cut quality.

John Deere recommends re-sharpening the mower blades every 25 hours of continuous use. But if you notice significant damage or bending to the blades due to contact with rocks or other debris while mowing, then the blades should be replaced.

Check the tire pressure to see if they are even on all sides. If one wheel lacks pressure compared to the others, it will cause the mowing deck to lean down on one side, exacerbating the poor cut quality problem.

Ensure the mower deck height is set correctly, too. If the blades cut the grass too high or too low, it won’t result in a nice, clean cut.

Finally, you may wish to consider slowing the bladed speed down a bit which can often help improve the cut quality.

6. Black smoke appears from the exhaust

Black smoke emanating from the exhaust usually indicates that excessive oil is being burnt off.

This can sometimes be due to a leak, so inspect the entire machine thoroughly just in case.

But more commonly, this is due to the air filter clogged, which causes the engine to be oil-heavy and excess oil gets burned off. Clean out the air filter and check the carburetor is adjusted to produce the correct fuel-to-air ratio, and you should find the black smoke problem stops.

7. Battery problems

Lawn tractor batteries can lose their charge when left idle for prolonged periods. This is a commonality across most John Deere tractors and is not something unique to the l130.

So be sure to charge it up for a few hours before use if it’s the first time you’re using the machine in a while.

However, if you find that even after charging, the battery seems to run empty unusually quickly, it may indicate that the cells inside the battery are dying. The only solution is to replace the battery with a new, working one.

You can also check the connection terminals, as sometimes rust or corrosion may prevent the battery from connecting to the engine’s electrical system. You can clean these terminals with a baking soda/water mixture and lightly scrub them with a wire brush.

8. The tractor is too loud

Tractors will always produce a fair bit of noise, but sometimes this noise can become so excessive it’s uncomfortable for both you and your neighbors.

The muffler is designed, as the name suggests, to muffle the sound produced by the tractor. So this may need to be replaced. A blocked air filter can also sometimes contribute to this problem, so ensure it’s cleaned out too.

9. Excessive vibration

Much like the noise problem, a certain amount of vibration is expected. But sometimes, this can become so excessive it makes operating the machine uncomfortable and difficult.

The most common cause of this is due to a drive belt problem. Inspect the drive belt for wear which will appear as either cracks or fraying. If the drive belt looks old, replace it with a new one.

If the drive belt is looking good, you may need to increase the tension on the belt to ensure there’s no room for movement.

In addition, you should also inspect the mower blades and blade bearings. If either of these becomes damaged or bent, the blades will produce a tremendous amount of vibration as the blades turn.

Your best option is to install a new bearing and replace the mower blades.

John Deere l130 Problems: Are they a deal-breaker?

With this being essentially the mid-tier offering with the John Deere l1xx lineup, you would expect it to perform reliably and consistently without a constant need for trips back to the repair shop.

After taking an in-depth look at all the problems this mower faces, we can see that these are all general maintenance problems that you will need to contend with regardless of which model you buy.

The key here is to have a good maintenance routine to keep on top of these things. 

Fortunately, you don’t need any specialized tools or skills to do that. So for that reason, we highly recommend this machine as a great, reliable purchase for those whose budgets can stretch a little more than the lower-end models.

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