7 Most Common John Deere 997 Problems & Troubleshooting

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By Marvin Tucker

Farming Equipment

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The John Deere mowers’ family is getting bigger and bigger every year. The John Deere zero-turn line includes numerous top performers, such as the John Deere Z930M and 997. The John Deere 997 is known for its quick and efficient mowing results. This mower has excellent features, including a diesel engine with 3 cylinders. The machine offers 37.4 HP.

However, all these great features do not make this mower completely satisfactory. A few users are experiencing issues related to the mowing results and the machine’s performance. Usually, the most common john deere 997 problems revolve around engine dying, smoky exhaust, unusual shaking, and unequal cuts.

The Most Common Problems with John Deere 997

John Deere 997 is an efficient mower that can operate for years. Indeed, some owners are not completely happy with the machine, but the John Deere 997 is backed with unique specs. Such specs make the device durable and provide value for money.

1. Engine does not start

Most mowers share this common problem, including the Kubota z421 and the Kawasaki FX730v. Generally, you will start investigating the fuel system to identify the real reason. When you ignore proper cleaning of filters and lines inside this system, old fuel deposits will accumulate. Such a thing leads to clogging up various components of the fuel system.

So, cleaning or replacing fuel lines and filters can help boost the starting power of your John Deere 997. Another important part, often disregarded, to check out is the fuel cap. If the cap is not venting, fuel can’t reach all the places it should. Then, the engine may not start.

You will need to test the cap to ensure it is venting correctly. To do this, you should disconnect the fuel line right under the tank and drain it. If it is hardly draining, the cap needs proper cleaning or even replacement. It is essential to use diesel fuel for this model; gasoline can cause long-term damage to this engine.

After checking these two, it is time to look at the spark plug and the carburetor. Making sure that the plug is clean and not damaged or worn out is necessary for the health of your John Deere 997. The clogs in the carburetor stand in the way of proper fuel flow. So, keeping everything as clean as possible is mandatory to avoid the issue of an engine not starting.

2. The Mower starts and shuts off

Just like the first issue, fuel can be the culprit in this. But if inspecting the fuel system’s innocence checks out, you must look into the engine oil. There is one common misconception about filling the oil tank.

A few users believe overfilling the reservoir makes the engine perform better. But they are doing the exact opposite. This action overloads the engine, causing it to overheat and collapse. In this case, you will have to reduce the level of the overfilled oil.

3. Unusual smoke coming out of the mower

You are not supposed to see the carbon emissions of your John Deere 997. But when dark exhaust becomes visible, you will need to recheck the oil levels. This time, the level could be too low. Ignoring to refill the engine oil leads to overheating and damaging the engine.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. If the problem has been around for some time, you will need to have the engine inspected by a professional. Another suspect in the dark smoke issue is oil leakage or spillage. This excess oil can easily access the cylinder and lead to unusual emissions. Also, it can make your engine sluggish and run rough.

To treat this issue, try to keep the oil levels in accordance with the user manual’s instructions. Also, make sure to get the right type and viscosity of the engine oil. Generally, whenever you suspect anything unusual in the engine, check the air filter as an initial step.

4. Poor hydraulic transmission

This is not just one of the most common john deere 997 problems; almost every zero-turn mower can have it at some point. A problem in the hydraulic transmission system begins when air reaches its parts. Usually, this problem occurs during the cold season, as the machine gets stored for a long time. This is when air fills the hydrostatic pump, where it should be filled with hydraulic oil.

Removing the trapped air is the only thing that can treat the poor performance in the transmission system. The purge process is called, but you must perform it before using the long-stored mower.

Also, inspecting the hydraulic oil levels inside the transmission is vital for detecting the reason for malfunctions. The oil could be insufficient, or there could be some leakage causing an oil decrease. Look at the hoses and fins to search for clogging or wear-and-tear signs.

5. The grass is not evenly cut

Flawless and equally cut grass is what you should expect from your John Deere 997. But sometimes, a problem in the tires, blades, or deck can reduce the cutting efficiency. First, you must check the blades to ensure they are correctly installed.

Sometimes, the blades could be positioned upside down. Such a thing will make the spindle unable to revolve, and the blades won’t work. In this case, try to get the blades in the correct position.

Sometimes, the cause of an uneven cut is the state of the blades. For instance, the blades are damaged, bent, rusted, or worn out. In most cases, you will have to replace the blades. But still, you should not jump to replacements before trying to sharpen the blades first.

6. Drifting in one direction

Your John Deere 997 should not be drifting or pulling right or left. When it does so, you should think about adjusting the tire pressure. You can use the manual guide for reference on the proper pressure level. Keep all the tires equal. Also, check the components of your steering gear to replace worn or damaged parts.

7. The mower is not moving

When your John Deere 997 does not move despite engine start, you should suspect the drive release lever. If this lever is not positioned correctly, your mower will not be able to move. Bring this lever to its default and correct position to fix this issue.

Another important component that needs checking out in this situation is the drive belt. Different problems could make the drive pump belt faulty. The usual wear and tear are one of the reasons. Also, the belt can suddenly break when a buildup is stuck under its pulleys. 

Examining the belt and replacing it with a proper and durable one is the right step in this case.

John Deere 997 Problems: are they a deal breaker?

None of these common John Deere 997 problems is a deal breaker. This mower is made for heavy-duty duty. The vast majority of the users’ feedback reflects satisfaction. But to make the most of this mower, you need to know its purpose. It is made for cutting and trimming grass. However, it won’t be an ideal choice for a small yard.

If you have a big garden that needs some severe mowing, you will love what the John Deere 997 has to offer. Additionally, this mower is easy to use and allows you to perform the usual DIY maintenance. So, if you give it proper care, you should enjoy its maximum efficiency.

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