8 Common John Deere X500 Problems

The John Deere X500 is part of the Select X500 Series of garden tractors manufactured by John Deere between 2006 and 2015 in Horicon, Wisconsin, USA. It is powered by a 25HP Kawasaki 675cc 2-cylinder gasoline engine and features a hydrostatic transmission, two-wheel drive, mechanical rear differential lock, and manual sector-and-pinion steering.

This article will discuss the most common John Deere X500 lawn tractor problems to help potential buyers make a good buyer decision. If you are a current John Deere X500 owner and face any of the listed issues, we give you some quick tips on how to fix them or when to find a professional mechanic instead.

What are common John Deere X500 problems?

  1. Engine Surging and Sputtering (Severity: Medium)
  2. Slow Throttle Response and Power Loss (Severity: Medium)
  3. Engine Stopping and Backfiring (Severity: High)
  4. Delayed Engine Start (Severity: Low)
  5. Difficulty in Engaging Mower Deck (Severity: Low)
  6. Uneven Mowing (Severity: Low)
  7. Loss of Drive (Severity: Medium)
  8. Difficulty in Steering (Severity: Low)
John deere X500

1. Engine Surging and Sputtering

The most common issues causing engine surging and sputtering relate to fuel or air delivery to the engine. Typically, these problems stem from a dirty carburetor, blocked fuel lines, or compromised air filter.

Disruptions are usually a consequence of inconsistent combustion processes in the engine cylinders, which are often traced back to inconsistent fuel and/or oxygen delivery to the combustion chamber. A dirty carburetor is frequently the culprit, impeding the smooth flow of fuel required for steady engine operation.

Over time, the carburetor can become clogged with debris or gummed up with old fuel, particularly if the mower has been stored for a long time without being used. This stalwart mower’s fuel lines and air filter are other critical areas that could harbor problems. They ensure a steady supply of fuel and air to the engine, but when blocked or dirty, they become a source of the engine’s discontent, leading to surging and sputtering during operation. These issues are exacerbated when the mower is under load, like while cutting thick grass

How to Fix Engine Surging and Sputtering:

  1. Begin with a thorough inspection: and cleaning of the carburetor. Remove it from the engine, disassemble it and clean all of its parts using a carburetor cleaner.
  2. Ensure a proper fuel-air mixture: Do this by adjusting the mixture screws on the carburetor .
  3. Check the fuel lines: Make sure lines are free from any blockages or leaks. Replace any damaged or old fuel lines.
  4. Inspect the air filter: Clean and replace dirty and damaged air filter.

2. Slow Throttle Response and Power Loss

The most common culprits causing slow throttle response and power loss are an overfilled engine oil level, a defective governor, and a faulty fuel pump.

The issue of slow throttle response and power loss is due to several mechanical issues. The overfilled engine oil level is a primary concern as it reduces the amount of air available to the combustion chamber, thereby decreasing power output. A defective governor can result in reduced engine RPMs, significantly affecting the tractor’s performance. Additionally, a malfunctioning fuel pump may not deliver adequate fuel to the engine, leading to reduced power output.

The specifications of the truck, like its hydrostatic transmission and manual sector-and-pinion steering, require precise control and adequate power to function optimally. Therefore, addressing these mechanical issues promptly is crucial to ensure the mower operates efficiently and safely—ensuring the longevity and reliability of your lawn tractor.

How to Fix Slow Throttle Response and Power Loss:

  1. Begin by inspecting the engine oil level: If it’s overfilled, drain off some excess oil and then top up with fresh oil to bring it back to its normal operating levels.
  2. Check the governor for any defects: A defective governor will reduce the engine’s RPMs. If defective, it may require adjustment or replacement to restore normal throttle response.
  3. Inspect the fuel pump for any malfunctions: A faulty fuel pump may not deliver sufficient fuel to the engine, replace it if necessary.
  4. Examine the air filter and spark plugs for dirt or debris buildup: Clean these components to restore the engine’s performance and improve fuel efficiency.

3. Engine Stopping and Backfiring

The most common culprits causing engine stopping and backfiring are a worn-out spark plug, a dirty carburetor, improper valve clearances, and a faulty fuel solenoid in the carburetor base.

Owners of the this model have experienced issues like engine stopping and backfiring, especially during mowing tasks. This seems to happen at around 300 hours of operation. When these issues arise, the engine may sometimes restart immediately, but often requires a 10 – 15 minutes wait before it can be started again. The spark plugs appear to be a major player in this issue—when replaced, the problem seems to alleviate, at least temporarily.

Moreover, a thorough engine tune-up and carburetor cleaning—carried out by a service specialist—proved to be a beneficial solution, alongside setting the correct valve clearances and replacing the OHV gaskets. One significant remedy came from replacing the fuel solenoid located in the carburetor base. This technical step could be a definitive solution to the described problem. The fuel solenoid’s role in managing the fuel flow within the carburetor is critical for the engine’s correct operation, thereby directly impacting the issues of engine stopping and backfiring.

How to Fix Engine Stopping and Backfiring:

  1. Check Spark Plugs: Inspect the spark plugs for wear or fouling and replace them if necessary.
  2. Engine Tune-Up: Seek a professional for a thorough engine tune-up to ensure all systems are functioning properly.
  3. Clean the Carburetor: Cleaning the carburetor can help in enhancing the fuel-air mixture for combustion.
  4. Set Valve Clearances: Ensure valve clearances are set to specifications to enable proper engine operations.
  5. Replace Fuel Solenoid: If necessary, replace the fuel solenoid in the carburetor base to ensure proper fuel flow and prevent engine backfiring.
  6. Maintain Regularly: Keeping up with the recommended maintenance schedule can prevent many engine issues from occurring.

4. Delayed Engine Start

The most common culprits causing delayed engine starts are a clogged fuel filter, electrical issues, and worn or damaged spark plugs.

A few mechanical components could be implicated in delayed engine start issues. The X500 is powered by a 25HP Kawasaki 675cc 2-cylinder gasoline engine, with a fuel tank capacity of 5 gallons, and employs a 12-volt battery with a Cold Cranking Amperage (CCA) of 500 for starting up. Now, a clogged fuel filter can obstruct fuel flow crucial for engine operations, making it a common suspect for delayed engine start or no start conditions. Dirty or worn out spark plugs, on the other hand, may lead to inadequate combustion, hence a delayed start.

The electrical system, including the battery and starter solenoid, plays a pivotal role in initiating the engine cycle. Any loose connections, corrosion, or inadequately charged battery can result in delayed engine start. Moreover, electrical issues are a common occurrence with the X500, particularly affecting the starting process.

How to Fix Delayed Engine Start:

  1. Inspect the Fuel System: Replace the fuel filter if clogged or dirty, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ensure the use of high-quality fuel and check for any blockages in the fuel lines.
  2. Electrical System Check: Ensure the battery is fully charged and connections are clean and secure. If necessary, replace the battery or jump-start the tractor.
  3. Spark Plugs and Ignition System Inspection: Inspect spark plugs for signs of wear and replace if necessary. Ensure that the ignition system is functioning properly, with no loose or corroded connections.
  4. Maintain Regular Engine Tune-ups: Adhering to regular maintenance schedules, such as oil changes and air filter replacements, can prevent many starting issues.
  5. Coolant Level and Engine Overheating: Check the coolant levels and replace if needed, as overheating can lead to delayed engine starts or no start conditions.

5. Difficulty in Engaging Mower Deck

The most common issues relating to this problem are misalignment or obstruction in the mower deck mechanism, an improperly tensioned mower deck belt, or issues with the Power Take-off (PTO) clutch, such as electrical faults in the clutch mechanism.

The specifications of the electric PTO clutch and options for a 48″ or 54″ mid-mount mower deck are tied into the problem at hand significantly—particularly the electric PTO clutch and the mower deck dimensions. The electric PTO clutch is integral in engaging and disengaging the mower deck, and if it’s not functioning properly—due to electrical issues or misalignment—it can lead to difficulties in engaging the mower deck. Similarly, the dimensions of the mower deck and its belt tension are crucial. A misaligned or obstructed mower deck can lead to similar problems. Instances of obstructions like sticks or other debris have been known to hinder the proper functioning of the mower deck mechanism.

Additionally, improper tension in the mower deck belt could prevent the deck from engaging as it should. In some cases, issues with the height adjustment knob and the lock mechanism on the mower deck have also been reported, where the adjustment knob wouldn’t turn beyond a certain point, hindering the engagement of the mower deck.

How to Fix Difficulty in Engaging Mower Deck:

  1. Inspect the Mower Deck: Ensure that there are no obstructions in the mower deck mechanism and that the deck is properly aligned.
  2. Check the PTO Clutch: Inspect the electric PTO clutch for any misalignment or electrical issues and rectify them as needed.
  3. Adjust the Mower Deck Belt: Ensure that the mower deck belt is properly tensioned as per the specifications in the user manual.
  4. Check Height Adjustment and Lock Mechanism: Inspect the height adjustment knob and the lock mechanism on the mower deck, ensuring they are functioning properly. If the height adjustment knob is stuck, try rotating it fully in both directions to realign it—just as suggested in some forums.
  5. Consult the Manual: Refer to the operator’s manual for specific instructions on engaging the mower deck.

6. Uneven Mowing

The most common issues causing uneven mowing are a not-level mower deck, worn or damaged mower blades, and incorrect tire pressure. The specifications of the X500, such as its 25HP Kawasaki 675cc 2-cyl gasoline engine and its mid-mount mower deck, underline the mower’s capability to perform efficiently under varying lawn conditions, yet certain mechanical aspects can contribute to uneven mowing if not properly maintained or set up.

Uneven mowing is a problem often encountered by owners, and it’s primarily tied to mechanical components and settings of the mower. The main culprits include the levelness of the mower deck, the condition of the mower blades, and the tire pressure. A not-level mower deck can result in an uneven cut, which can easily be adjusted by measuring the blade height from the front to the back of the mower deck, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Worn, damaged, or incorrectly installed mower blades can also lead to uneven mowing, necessitating regular inspection and replacement when needed. Incorrect tire pressure, especially underinflated tires, can cause scalping in your lawn.

Additionally, aspects like the speed of the gear, condition of spindle or spindle housing, and the type of rollers fitted on the mower deck can influence the mowing outcome. The specifications of the X500, such as its 48″ or 54″ mid-mount mower deck and hydrostatic transmission, underscore the importance of keeping these components in check to ensure a consistent and even cut. It’s imperative to address these issues not only for aesthetic purposes but also to maintain the health and vitality of your lawn—ensuring it’s cut evenly promotes healthier growth and prevents issues like scalping, which can lead to lawn diseases.

How to Fix Uneven Mowing:

  1. Inspect and adjust the levelness of your mower deck: Measure the blade height from the front to the back of the mower deck, adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Check the condition of your mower blades: If they are worn, damaged, or incorrectly installed, replace or reinstall them accordingly.
  3. Use a tire pressure gauge to check: Ensure your tire pressures are at the manufacturer’s recommended levels
  4. Inspect the spindle: Replace worn and damaged spindle and spindle housing if necessary.
  5. Check deck belt and pulleys condition: Replace any worn belts and pulleys.
  6. Adjust your mowing speed: Ensure it’s suitable for your mowing conditions.
  7. Consider lawn spots: If your lawn has high spots or is unlevel, consider rolling your lawn or using a mower with a smaller deck for better results.

7. Loss of Drive

The most common culprits causing Loss of Drive are a worn or damaged transmission belt, incorrect transmission fluid level, and potential issues within the hydrostatic transmission components such as worn gears or improper lubrication.

Issues with the drive can arise from various mechanical mishaps. A primary concern should be the condition of the transmission belt—a crucial component that transmits engine power to the wheels and cutting blades. Wear, damage, or improper tension in this belt can lead to a loss of drive, making your lawn tractor less responsive or entirely inoperative. Furthermore, the hydrostatic nature of the transmission demands a precise level of transmission fluid to function correctly. Low fluid levels can lead to slipping gears or other transmission issues.

Moreover, mechanical elements like the differential lock and steering mechanism—manual sector-and-pinion in this model—can indirectly impact the drive if not properly maintained. The specifications such as a mechanical rear differential lock and two-wheel drive nature connect intricately to how power is transmitted from the engine to the wheels—ensuring these components are in good working order is paramount for avoiding a loss of drive.

How to Fix Loss of Drive:

  1. Check Transmission Belt: Inspect the transmission belt for signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.
  2. Adjust Belt Tension: Ensure the transmission belt is properly tensioned as per the specifications in your owner’s manual.
  3. Transmission Fluid Level: Check the hydrostatic transmission fluid level and top up if low.Inspect Transmission Components: Look for worn or damaged gears, ensure proper lubrication, and correct any incorrect adjustments of linkage or controls.
  4. Check Electrical Components: Inspect electrical components such as neutral safety switch or speed sensors for proper operation.

8. Difficulty in Steering

The most common issues relating to steering difficulty in the lawn tractor are due to worn or improperly lubricated steering components, particularly the steering gears and linkages.

The steering mechanism can face wear and tear over time, especially when subjected to heavy use or harsh conditions. A couple of scenarios could unfold: the steering gear might get stripped, or the steering components could be improperly lubricated or aligned, all of which can lead to the steering becoming hard or unresponsive—especially in one direction. For instance, an owner observed that steering to the left became notably harder, even though steering to the right remained unaffected.

Misalignment or poor lubrication of the steering gears could exacerbate the wear in these components, leading to a situation where the steering becomes hard or the tractor pulls to one side. The specifications of the X500, such as its weight of 655 lbs and wheelbase of 51.2 inches, indicate that it’s a moderately sized lawn tractor, and thus the steering system is crucial for maneuvering and ensuring smooth operation.

How to Fix Difficulty in Steering:

  1. Inspect the Steering Components: Check for visible signs of wear or damage in the steering gears and linkages. Ensure that all components are properly aligned.
  2. Lubricate the Steering Gears and Linkages: Apply the recommended grease to the steering gears and linkages to ensure smooth movement.
  3. Check Alignment: Ensure that the gears are properly aligned to prevent accelerated wear.
  4. Replace Damaged Parts: If you find stripped gears or other damaged components, replace them with genuine John Deere parts to ensure compatibility and proper functioning.
  5. Consult a Professional: If the problem persists or if you are unsure about any step, it’s advisable to consult with a professional mechanic familiar with John Deere lawn tractors.

Should you buy a John Deere X500?

Whether you should buy a John Deere X500 depends on your specific needs and priorities. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you decide:


  • Versatility: The X500’s ability to accommodate various attachments (48″ or 54″ mower deck, snowblower, blade, front-end loader) makes it a multi-functional tool for year-round use, surpassing the versatility of models like the Cub Cadet XT1 LT42.
  • Powerful and Smooth Operation: The 25 HP Kawasaki engine combined with the Kanzaki K72B hydrostatic transmission delivers ample power and smooth, user-friendly operation for a variety of tasks and terrain.
  • Enhanced Traction and Control: The mechanical rear differential lock, especially when coupled with the foot-activated control, provides superior traction and control in challenging conditions.
  • Comfort and Convenience: The open operator station includes thoughtful features like an adjustable seat, cup holder, toolbox, and 12-volt outlet, enhancing user comfort during extended use.
  • Durability and Warranty: John Deere’s reputation for durability is backed by a 4-year/500-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty, providing peace of mind for buyers.


  • Price: With an asking price of around $9,749.00, the X500 represents a significant investment that might not be suitable for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Potential Maintenance Issues: Reports of steering difficulties, engine stopping, and backfiring, especially after 300 hours of operation, indicate potential maintenance issues that might require mechanical skills or professional servicing.
  • Size and Maneuverability: The X500’s size, while beneficial for stability and power, might make it less maneuverable in tight spaces compared to smaller lawn tractors.

Why trust Igra World?

We have garnered substantial experience in dealing with John Deere lawn tractors through our own research and mechanics, as well as decades of experience and feedback and inquiries from our esteemed customers. One customer, Mr. Thompson, once remarked, “The troubleshooting insights from Igra World helped me resolve the surging issue with my truck—it runs smoothly now!”

About Jeff Henderson

Have a question regarding your lawn tractor? Igra World writer Jeff Henderson may have covered it already on this site, if not you can contact him at jeff.h@igra-world.com and (417) 414-5099 if you have an problem you can't find an answer to. Jeff is a part time tractor mechanic and landscaping company owner who lives in Springfield, Missouri. He has over 10 years of experience in tractor repair and small engine repair, and has worked with John Deere, Husqvarna, Toro, Troy Bilt, Cub Cadet and Kubota equipment.

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