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Service Engine


Avoid Fumes

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! Engine exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can cause serious illness or death.

Do not run an engine in an enclosed area, such as a garage, even with doors or windows opened.

Move the machine to an outside area before running the engine.

Engine Oil

Use oil viscosity based on the expected air temperature range during the period between oil changes.



The following John Deere oils are preferred:

• TURF-GARD™

• PLUS- 4™

Other oils may be used if above John Deere oils are not available, provided they meet the following specification:

• API Service Classification SG or higher

Checking Engine Oil Level

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Failure to check the oil level regularly could lead to serious engine problems if oil level is low:

• Check oil level before operating.

• Check oil level when the engine is cold and not running.

• Keep level between the FULL and the ADD marks.

• Shut off engine before adding oil.


NOTE: Check oil twice a day if you run engine over 4 hours in a day.

Make sure engine is cold when checking engine oil level.

1. Park machine safely. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

2. Lift hood.

3. Clean area around dipstick to prevent debris from falling into crankcase.


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4. Remove dipstick (A). Wipe with clean cloth.

5. Install dipstick in tube but do not tighten. Allow dipstick threads to rest on top of tube and rotate cap counterclockwise until it “clicks” or drops into place.

6. Remove dipstick.

7. Check oil level on dipstick. Oil must be between ADD and FULL marks.

8. If oil level is low, add oil to bring oil level no higher than FULL mark on dipstick. Do not overfill.

9. Install and tighten dipstick. Lower hood.

Changing Engine Oil and Filter

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Operating in extreme conditions may require more frequent service intervals:

• Engine components may become dirty or plugged when operating in extreme heat, dust or other severe conditions.

• Engine oil can degrade if machine is operated constantly at slow or low engine speeds or for frequent short periods of time.


1. Run engine to warm oil.

2. Park machine safely on level surface. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

3. Lift hood.


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4. Put drain pan under drain valve (A).

5. Remove drain cap (B) and drain oil into drain pan. Allow oil to drain completely.

6. Remove dipstick (C).

7. Wipe dirt from around oil filter (D).

8. Place a drain pan or funnel under oil filter tray.

9. Remove old filter and wipe off filter tray.

10. Put a light coat of fresh, clean oil on the new filter gasket.

11. Install replacement oil filter by turning oil filter to the right (clockwise) until the rubber gasket contacts filter base. Tighten filter an additional one-half turn.

12. Install and tighten drain cap (B).

13. Add oil no higher than FULL mark on dipstick. Do not overfill.

• X540 : Begin with approximately 2.3 L (2.4 qt).

14. Install dipstick.

15. Start and run engine at idle to check for leaks. Stop engine. Fix any leaks before operating.

16. Check oil level. Add oil if necessary.

Cleaning Radiator Screen and Cooling Fins

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! Compressed air can cause debris to fly a long distance.

• Clear work area of bystanders.

• Wear eye protection when using compressed air for cleaning purposes.

• Reduce compressed air pressure to 210 kPa (30 psi).

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! An obstructed air intake screen can cause engine damage due to overheating. Keep air intake screen and other external surfaces of the engine, including cooling fins, clean at all times to allow adequate air intake.


1. Park machine safely. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

2. Lift hood.


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3. Lift left edge of radiator screen (A) on top of radiator (B), and slide screen to the left to disengage from two retaining tabs (C) on right side of radiator.

4. Remove radiator screen and clean with compressed air, vacuum or brush. Cleaning with water is not recommended.

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Reduced air intake can cause overheating. Keep radiator cooling fins clean.

Do not use pressure washers to clean radiator cooling fins. The force produced by pressure washers will damage the radiator and cooling fins.

Reduce compressed air pressure to 210 kPa (30 psi) when cleaning radiator and cooling fins. Spray compressed air straight into radiator. Do not spray radiator on an angle or cooling fins will be bent.


5. Check for dirt and insects lodged in radiator cooling fins. Clean with compressed air.

6. Install radiator screen.

7. Lower hood.

Checking and Cleaning Air Cleaner Elements

1. Park machine safely (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section).

2. Lift hood.


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3. Loosen nuts (A) on both sides of air cleaner cover and remove cover.


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4. Inspect the foam precleaner (B) without removing it.

5. If the foam precleaner is dirty:

• Remove the filter carefully.

• Wash precleaner in a solution of warm water and liquid detergent.

NOTE: Do not put engine oil on precleaner. Engine oil on precleaner can result in poor engine performance.

• Rinse precleaner thoroughly. Squeeze out excess water in a dry cloth until precleaner is completely dry.

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Dirt and debris can enter the engine through a damaged filter element:

• Do not wash paper element.

• Do not attempt to clean paper element by tapping against another object.

• Do not use pressurized air to clean element.

• Replace element only if it is very dirty, damaged or the seal is cracked.


6. Remove foam precleaner (B), wing nuts (C), and paper element (D). Inspect paper element.

7. If the paper filter element is damaged or dirty, replace filter.

8. Clean air cleaner base very carefully, preventing any dirt from falling into carburetor.

9. Install foam precleaner (B) onto paper filter element (D). Install paper element onto carburetor base, and secure with two wing nuts (C). Install air cleaner cover and tighten nuts (A).

Checking Spark Plug

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! Touching hot surfaces can burn skin. The engine, components, and fluids will be hot if the engine has been running. Allow the engine to cool before servicing or working near the engine and components.

1. Park machine safely (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section).

2. Lift hood.


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3. Disconnect spark plug wire (A), one on each side of engine.

4. Remove each spark plug.

5. Clean spark plug carefully with a wire brush.

6. Inspect spark plug for:

• Cracked porcelain.

• Pitted or damaged electrodes.

• Other wear or damage.

NOTE: In Canada, replace spark plug with resistor plug only.

7. Replace spark plugs as necessary.


M85200

8. Check plug gap (B) with a wire feeler gauge. To change gap, move the outer electrode. Gap must be 0.75 mm (0.030 in.).

9. Install spark plugs:

• X540 -Tighten spark plugs to 25 N•m (18 lb-ft).

10. Connect spark plug wires and lower hood.

Adjusting Carburetor

NOTE: Carburetor is calibrated by the engine manufacturer and is not adjustable.

If engine is operated at altitudes above 1006 m (3,300 ft), some carburetors may require a special high altitude main jet. See your authorized dealer.

If engine is hard to start or runs rough, check the TROUBLESHOOTING section of this manual.

Possible engine surging will occur at high throttle with transmission in “N” neutral and mower engagement lever disengaged. This is a normal condition due to the emission control system.

After performing the checks in the troubleshooting section and your engine is still not performing correctly, contact your authorized dealer.

Replacing Fuel Filter

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! Fuel vapors are explosive and flammable:

• Do not smoke while handling fuel.

• Keep fuel away from flames or sparks.

• Shut off engine before servicing.

• Cool engine before servicing.

• Work in a well-ventilated area.

• Clean up spilled fuel immediately.

NOTE: Change filter when fuel is low.

1. Park machine safely. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section).

2. Lift hood.

3. Let engine cool.

4. Put a drain pan under fuel filter.


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5. Slide hose clamps (A) away from fuel filter (B) using pliers.

6. Disconnect hoses from filter.

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Incorrect installation of fuel filter may cause engine damage. Install the filter with the arrow pointing in the direction of fuel flow for proper operation.


7. Connect hoses to new filter making sure the filter arrow is pointing in the direction of the fuel flow.

8. Install clamps and check for leaks.

9. Lower hood.

Service Cooling System Safely


TS281

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! The radiator will be hot and can burn skin. Built-up pressure may cause explosive release of coolant when the radiator cap is removed:

• Shut off the engine and allow to cool.

• Do not remove the cap unless the radiator and the engine are cool enough to touch with bare hands.

• Slowly loosen the cap to the first stop to release all pressure. Then remove the cap.

Recommended Engine Coolant

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Using incorrect coolant mixture can damage the radiator:

• Do not operate engine with plain water.

• Do not exceed a 50% mixture of coolant and water.

• Aluminum engine blocks and radiators require approved ethylene-glycol based antifreeze.


The following John Deere coolants are preferred:

• COOL-GARD® PRE-DILUTED SUMMER COOLANT (TY16036).

• COOL-GARD® CONCENTRATED SUMMER COOLANT (TY16034).

If neither of the recommended coolants is available, use a glycol base coolant that meets the following specification:

• ASTM D4985 (JDM H24A2).

Check container label before using to be sure it has the appropriate specifications for your machine. Use coolant with conditioner or add conditioner to coolant before using.

If using concentrate, mix approximately 50 percent antifreeze with 50 percent distilled or deionized water before adding to cooling system. This mixture will provide freeze protection to -37 degrees C (-34 degrees F).

Certain geographical areas may require lower temperature protection. See the label on your antifreeze container or consult your John Deere dealer to obtain the latest information and recommendations. Never exceed the maximum dilution rate for the coolant you are using. Exceeding the maximum rate will greatly reduce the coolant effectiveness.

Servicing Cooling System (X540)

c CAUTION: Avoid injury! The radiator will be hot and can burn skin. Built-up pressure may cause explosive release of coolant when the radiator cap is removed:

• Shut off the engine and allow to cool.

• Do not remove the cap unless the radiator and the engine are cool enough to touch with bare hands.

• Slowly loosen the cap to the first stop to release all pressure. Then remove the cap.

IMPORTANT: Avoid damage! Using incorrect coolant mixture can damage the radiator:

• Do not operate engine without coolant or with plain water.

• Use antifreeze approved for use in aluminum engines.

• Do not exceed a 50% antifreeze mixture for the coolant.

• Do not pour coolant or water into radiator when engine is hot.


Checking Coolant Level

1. Park machine safely on a level surface. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

2. Raise hood.

3. Check coolant level:

NOTE: Graphic shows the coolant level marks at the front side of the coolant recovery tank. Another set of coolant level marks is visible at the rear of the recovery tank, in front of the battery.


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• If engine is hot, coolant should be up to “H” mark (A) on recovery tank.

• If engine is cold, coolant should be at “L” mark (B) on recovery tank.

4. Remove cap (C) from recovery tank if coolant is low. Add ethylene glycol antifreeze (without stop-leak additive) and water in a 50/50 ratio to bring coolant up to proper level.

5. Install and tighten recovery tank cap.

6. Clean debris from air intake screens and radiator.

7. Check condition of hoses. Check for leaks or loose connections.

Draining Cooling System

1. Park machine safely on a level surface. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

2. Allow engine to cool.

3. Raise hood.


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4. Loosen and remove radiator cap (A) slowly to release all pressure.

NOTE: Removal of the cylinder head drain plug (B) will allow most of the coolant to be drained from the engine. Removal of the radiator hose at the water pump inlet will allow additional coolant to be drained, if necessary.


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5. Place a suitable container under the drain plug (B) at the left cylinder head, remove drain plug and drain coolant.

6. Install drain plug after coolant has drained completely.

7. Install radiator cap, or flush the cooling system, if necessary.

Flushing Cooling System

1. Remove radiator cap.

2. Fill cooling system with clean water and John Deere Cooling System Cleaner, or John Deere Cooling System Quick Flush or an equivalent. Follow directions on the can.

3. Install and tighten radiator cap.

4. Start and run engine until it reaches operating temperature.

5. Stop the engine.

6. Drain cooling system immediately before rust and dirt settle.

7. Install hose and clamp.

Filling Cooling System

1. Allow radiator to cool.

2. Remove radiator cap.

3. Fill cooling system. Coolant capacity is 3.0 L (3.2 qt), including the recovery tank.

4. Install and tighten radiator cap.

5. Run engine until it reaches operating temperature.

6. Stop the engine.

7. Check coolant level while engine is hot and after cooling to ensure proper level in recovery tank. If necessary, fill recovery tank to proper level.

8. Tighten hose clamps if necessary.

9. Lower the hood.

Checking Coolant Hoses (X540)

NOTE: Visually inspect hoses for cracks and wear. Squeeze hoses to check for deterioration. Hoses should not be hard and brittle, nor soft or swollen. Drain cooling system and replace hoses as needed. Replacement of the coolant overflow line does not require draining the system.

1. Park machine safely. (See Parking Safely in the SAFETY section.)

2. Allow engine to cool.

3. Remove hood.


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4. Remove air cleaner cover (A).


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5. Check front radiator hose (B), that goes to thermostat housing. Replace as needed. Check tightness of clamps (C).


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6. Check coolant overflow hose (D) at left side of engine. Replace as needed. Check condition of clamp (E).


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7. Check radiator hose (F), at right side of engine, that goes to the water pump inlet. Replace as needed. Check tightness of clamps (G).


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8. Check coolant hose (H) between water pump and intake manifold at front of engine. Replace as needed. Check condition of clamps (I). Removal of muffler cover (J) will improve access for hose replacement.

9. Install air cleaner cover.

10. Flush cooling system if necessary.

11. Fill cooling system.

12. Install hood.