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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    2
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Mower
    John Deere

    Unhappy John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    I realize that the title of this post could mean anything, so here are the specifics:

    I bought a John Deere D140 Lawn Tractor from Home Depot (mistake number 1). I bought an "extended warranty" (waste of money, so far). Last weekend, I pulled a wood chipper out into the field (quite a distance) to chip some wood. (I've done this many times before.) After my job was done, I attempted to start the tractor to pull the wood chipper back to the garage. Surprise! The tractor wouldn't start. I mean, there was absolute silence when I turned the key.

    Now, I realize that there are a number of "safety features" on the John Deere. First, you have to have the parking break on. Check. Next, the blade may not be engaged. Check. Finally, you have to be sitting on the seat. Check. Still, nothing. Not even the sound of a weak battery trying to turn the engine over.

    I really didn't think it was the battery, as the lights came on bright as ever when I turned the key. But, I put a charger on it any way. Still, not a peep when the key was turned. I won't go into the details about the non-service which I've gotten from Home Depot and their warranty company. Suffice it to say that one week later the tractor is still in my garage (yes, I pushed it all the way back, along with my 250-pound wood chipper). Every day, I go out and turn the key, hoping that some magic has occurred (the same magic that might actually get Home Depot to make good on their warranty agreement). But, alas, it remains quiet (not even a click) when I turn the key.

    If anyone could give me some ideas about what might be wrong, I would greatly appreciate it.

  2.  

  3. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    671
    Location
    Texas
    Mower
    Grasshopper

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    This was put together by a few forum members and might help. Let us know how you are doing.


    Electrical* problems can be very easy or very difficult, depending on four things.
    1. * How well you understand basic electricity.
    2. *What tools you have and know how to use.
    3. *How well you follow directions.
    4. *You don't overlook or assume anything and verify everything.

    Remember we cannot see what you are doing. *You are our eyes, ears and fingers in solving this problem. *You must be as accurate as you can when you report back. *The two basic tools we will ask you to use are a test light and a multi-meter. *If you have an assistant when going through these tests it would be very helpful. *These steps work the best when done in order, so please don't jump around. *Now let's solve this problem.

    First, check the fuse(s), check battery connections for corrosion (clean if necessary) and *voltage - above 12.5 volts should be good.*

    Second, check for power from the battery to one of the large terminals on the solenoid. *One of the wires is connected directly to the battery and has power all the time so one of the large terminals should light a test light or show 12 volts on a meter at all times.*

    Third, *check for power at the small terminal of the solenoid while depressing the clutch/brake pedal and holding the key in the start position (you may need an assistant to sit in the seat to override the safety switch). If your solenoid is a four wire solenoid, check both small wire terminals as one is ground and the other is power from the ignition switch. *If your solenoid is a three wire solenoid, make sure the solenoid body is not corroded where it bolts to the chassis of the mower as this is your ground path back to the battery. *If in doubt, remove the solenoid and clean the mounting area down to bare metal. *If there is no power to the small terminal then your problem is most likely a safety switch, ignition switch or in the wiring.*

    Fourth, check for power on the other large terminal of the solenoid while holding the key in the start position (you may need an assistant to sit in the seat to override the safety switch).*

    Fifth, check for power at the starter while holding the key in the start position (assistant again).*

    Sixth, check your ground circuit back to the battery.

    After you have gone through each of the above steps, let us know what happened when you did each step. *At that point we will have great info to tell you how to proceed. *Remember you are our eyes, ears, and fingers, so please be as accurate as possible.

    Be as specific as possible with voltage readings as this will help diagnose your problem quicker. *If you do not know how to perform the above checks, just ask and I will try to guide you through it. *Youtube also has some videos and as you know a picture is worth a thousand words.

  4. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    2
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Mower
    John Deere

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    Thank you very much for your detailed response. I do not have a test light nor a voltage meter, but I have discovered that I can get both very quickly from Amazon.com. However, there are many choices. Could you suggest which ones I should get? Admittedly, even though I believe that I understand how electricity works, I have never worked with either of those tools.

  5. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    6,754
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Mower
    Toro

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    I would get the best test light I could afford (I would make sure it used a red bulb not white) and a medium priced multi meter. Test light is easy to use and good meters will come with a good manual. You can buy a cheap meter if you only intend to use it a couple of times.

  6. #5

    1,000 Post Club

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    Aug 2010
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    150 west of tulsa
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    Murray

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    Learn how to directly jump start your D140 directly at the starter if you don't know how. That knowledge may have saved you from pushing all that equipment. If you need that information we can help you do it safely.

    That won't solve the real problem but it often keeps us from walking / pushing until the real culprit can be located.

    This jump starting procedure also tells us the battery is probably good and the starter works just fine which would save lawn tractor owners MY OH MY no telling how many thousands of dollars annually.

  7. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    2
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    John Deere

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    I'm a different person (Tom), but I've been having the same problem, so I'd like to join this discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lawnranger View Post
    This was put together by a few forum members and might help. Let us know how you are doing.
    First, check the fuse(s), check battery connections for corrosion (clean if necessary) and *voltage - above 12.5 volts should be good.*
    Battery is OK. Starter switch and circuit breaker have been replaced. Push-on connectors at ends of cables to circuit breaker and solenoid have been replaced with ring connectors.

    Second, check for power from the battery to one of the large terminals on the solenoid. ...
    OK.

    Third, *check for power at the small terminal of the solenoid while depressing the clutch/brake pedal and holding the key in the start position (you may need an assistant to sit in the seat to override the safety switch). If your solenoid is a four wire solenoid, check both small wire terminals as one is ground and the other is power from the ignition switch. *If your solenoid is a three wire solenoid, make sure the solenoid body is not corroded where it bolts to the chassis of the mower as this is your ground path back to the battery. *If in doubt, remove the solenoid and clean the mounting area down to bare metal. *If there is no power to the small terminal then your problem is most likely a safety switch, ignition switch or in the wiring.*
    => I get no power at this terminal (test point 10, purple wire from transmission neutral-start switch). Original solenoid was replaced some years ago, and new solenoid is a 4-terminal model. Other small terminal is well grounded.<=

    Fourth, check for power on the other large terminal of the solenoid while holding the key in the start position (you may need an assistant to sit in the seat to override the safety switch).*


    => I get no power at this terminal (test point 3, cable going to starter motor. <=

    Fifth, check for power at the starter while holding the key in the start position (assistant again).*
    Starter was replaced some years ago and will crank if I connect a positive jumper cable to its positive terminal.

    Sixth, check your ground circuit back to the battery.
    OK.

    I have the John Deere Technical Manual TM1206 (May 1985) for my tractor. I followed all the tests on page 42-05-5. Everything tests OK up to the test "Test Transmission Neutral-Start Switch Lead". The problem is, I have no idea how to find this switch. There is a description on page 42-10-15 "Transmission neutral-start switch is located on top of transaxle in font of sheave. Access can be gained by reaching in over frame by right rear wheel." I have looked in there and just can't see anything. Even if I could, I can't imagine how I'd get my hand in there. And even if I could get my hand in there I can't imagine being able to test anything. I also tried removing the mower deck and looking at it from beneath, but couldn't see anything.

    I have a few questions for any experts that might read this:
    1. How likely is it that the problem really is the neutral-start switch? I don't want to go to a lot of work and then find out that that was not the problem.
    2. Are there any other problems that could cause the same behavior that are easy to test?
    3. Is it possible to bypass this safety switch and forgo this safety feature? This tractor is over thirty years old and has a number of idiosyncrasies, which of course any old tractor is entitled to. It's never going to be perfect. I have looked at the wiring diagram on page 42-05-4, and it looks to me as if I could bypass the neutral-start switch by shunting the purple wire from the ignition switch (test point 3) directly to the small terminal on the solenoid (test point 10). The problem is, I don't know whether the neutral-start switch is normally open or normally closed, so maybe bypassing the switch wouldn't accomplish anything, or would cause a short circuit, or something like that. I would appreciate any feedback about the possibility and advisability of bypassing this switch.
    4. If I really have to test, and possibly replace, the neutral-start switch, can anyone test me how to do this, and possibly send pictures or a diagram?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  8. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    19
    Location
    Oklahoma
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    Craftsman

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    Quote Originally Posted by SeniorCitizen View Post
    Learn how to directly jump start your D140 directly at the starter if you don't know how. That knowledge may have saved you from pushing all that equipment. If you need that information we can help you do it safely.

    That won't solve the real problem but it often keeps us from walking / pushing until the real culprit can be located.

    This jump starting procedure also tells us the battery is probably good and the starter works just fine which would save lawn tractor owners MY OH MY no telling how many thousands of dollars annually.
    Yeah I second this. I would try to jump the solenoid terminals with the ignition key in the on position. I bet it will start. More than likely your issue is going to be a safety kill switch. I would also try a bypass hard wiring past the safety switches one at a time and see if it starts normally after doing so. But make sure you replace the switch and put the switches back to normal operation. I am a firm believer in safety.

  9. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    2
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    John Deere

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    Quote Originally Posted by 0352 View Post
    Yeah I second this. I would try to jump the solenoid terminals with the ignition key in the on position. I bet it will start.
    If I start the tractor by jumping the positive terminal of the battery directly to the positive terminal on the starter, can I actually use it to mow, until I figure out what the real problem is?

  10. #9

    2,500 Post Club

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    Victa slashers & Push , Rover Rancher II's, Cox ( several ) & White LT120 + GT 200

    Re: John Deere Tractor Won't Start

    Firstly Tom , never a good idea to bump a thread that is years old even if you have a similar mower & similar problem.
    Second we need to know which engine you have in the Deere, it helps

    Deleve a bit deeper into you manual to the transmission repair section.
    There will be a photo or line drawing showing the switch.
    It looks like a bolt with two little terminals on top of it.

    If the mower is wired as per usual then you should be able to jump start directly to the starter motor with the ignition turned on, gears in neutral brake on & pto off.
    Bridging the two terminals on top of the solenoid is the traditional way of doing it.
    I preffer to use a second battery, hook up the + first to the starter then touch the - to a good earth near the starter & I like to use the oil drain bolt.

    Down side is you will have to do this every time you need to start the mower but at least it will make the lions & tigers i the jungle that used to be your lawn visible.

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