John Deere L108 Engine Failure!

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John Deere L108 Engine Failure!

Jason I purchased one of your L108 tractors at Home Depot serial number: GXL108A016404 with a 18.5 hp Briggs & Stratton , about two weeks ago it stopped running after I finished snow blowing the drive way. The tractor would not crank. I checked the oil, it was black but full. I had it brought to 146 supply center in Millbury, MA. The service Dept. stated that the engine was seized due to lack of lubrication and it needed a new engine at a cost of $1600. I was stunned! I say stunned because I've worked in the automotive business for 20 years. I was a Volvo master technician for 13 years and I'm currently a Volvo Factory Field Engineer and Aftersales Market Manager. As you can see, I consider myself qualified to change oil.

Just a quick FYI, I also own a 2006 X728 that I spent around $15,000 for. I've changed the oil on this machine three times and it only has 30 hours on it. So I've spent roughly $17,000 dollars with John Deere in three years.

Back to the L108 dilemma. I spoke to Joanne in John Deere customer service looking for some assistance with this repair. Joanne was polite, but just kept repeating what the retailer said to me. That the machine seized due to lack of lubrication. I explained to her that I could not accept this explanation. I told her that in its very short life I had changed the oil in this machine more times than what John Deere recommends with only John Deere oil purchased at 146 supply. I stated that I could look her in the eye and honestly say that I check the oil in all my machines prior to starting. I realize this is very important due to the small amount of oil in small engines.
Oil change summary:

As you can see I've changed the oil 7 times in 2 1/2 years. I'm sorry I don't have the hours listed because my owner manual is currently at the retailer. Yes, I do have the hours listed because I purchase a John Deere hour meter so that I would know exactly when I needed to change the oil. I take pride in my tractors and I'm very loyal to the John Deere brand.

Just a quick note, after I spoke with Joanne, I started to do some research on the internet. I happen to find another L108 customer with the same complaint. This customer was told the same thing by his retailer and John Deere. Maybe this is an issue for the L108 model and its just coming to light now? I see this type of thing all the time in my line of work. Just because it made it through the warranty period doesn't mean the manufacture is off the hook. If there is an issue with the L108 model, John Deere has an obligation to at least look into it.
I'm not looking for a free ride. I'm just looking for some brand loyalty consideration. I would even consider buying the engine at dealer cost? $1600.00 is a lot of money to spend fixing a machine that I paid $1600.00 for. $1600 paid includes bagger. If you're not going to help me, I expect you to at least send a rep to inspect the engine so that you can determine the root cause analysis.

On Saturday January 26th I picked up my John Deere L108 so that I could replace the engine myself. Before I left the retailer I had an interesting conversation with a John Deere retailer employee. I will not mention his name. He informed me that
during the spring and summer months they replace about five (5) L series engines a week. He stated there is a problem with the Briggs & Stratton engines in the L series and that they only last about 100 hours. He also stated, if you use a snow blower attachment the engines life is much less, which is funny because John Deere recommends and sells a snow blower attachment, which I own on this L108. It sounds like you have a big problem with the L series!!

John Deere L series owners!! Don't let John Deere get away with charging you big money to replace your engine. Make your voice heard! Call John Deere to complain 1-800-537-8233 ext. 2216. or ask for Jo Ann.

ross Have you tried to talk with Briggs and Stratton on this issue? John Deere doesn't make the engine in the L series of machines. I do understand where your coming from, and yes an engine should last a lot longer than 100 hours. Hope you get your problem resolved.
Henry Wow, seems to be a pattern here. Yours is not the 1st engine failure due to lack of lubrication I've read about on this site. Seems to me briggs has an issue they haven't gotten on top of yet and the loyal consumer gets their pocket ripped off.
Mark I have one that may be just starting. Can cut grass for about 20 minutes and it chokes out and kills the engine. Any ideas? It is not a John Deere issue Its the Brigss & Stratton 18.5 engine...

George Roberts Hi
I also had the briggs 18.5 engine blow up. I work for a co that is an authorized B&S repair center. I was told the same thing by our service tech and a Briggs rep. Insufficient lubrication. This mower was only in it's second season and I also had done an oil change at the beginning of the season. My dad owned a Taylor rental and I also do small engine and auto repairs. The question that I couldn't get an answer to is seeing how the oil was still in the engine when it quit is how can it be insufficient lubrication? I know it is a Briggs issue, but I still will never buy John Deere again. My last mower was a Husqvarna with an 18hp Kohler engine I gave to a buddy when I moved from VT to NC three years ago. He just told me it finally quit after thirteen years. The hills I used to cut with the Husky were at least three times as steep as anything I now cut and that engine doesn't have an oil filter. I'm sorry to be long winded,you just expect more when you buy something new and take care of it. Live and learn,I guess.

Bob Wiegers I was looking for some info for my x728 when i happened upon this. I know two people in Connecticut who had exactly the same problem as you with the same Model purchased from Home Depot. One of them had it happen twice. I won't buy any Briggs & Stratton Engines anymore...ever... forever!
Louis Digirolomo I purchased a John Deere L108 lawn tractor four years ago from my local Home Depot store here in Brandon, Florida; I used it twice and then put it in the barn for the winter. Late in the spring the following year the grass looked like it needed cutting so I went to the barn to get the tractor but, it would not start. After trying and failing to charge the battery I went Sears and bought a Die Hard battery. The next day while I was installing the new battery I also changed the oil and filter. After all of that I was finally able to cut my grass. Due to the hot and dry season we experienced that year I only cut the grass three times.
In April, 2008 my wife and I sold the property, so the John Deere went in storage as our new home and property is way smaller. About a month ago I decided to sell the tractor so I got it out of storage, charged the battery and changed the oil and filter. I started the engine and after driving it up and down our block I heard something like a knock, then the engine stopped with a clunk.
Being an automotive master technician for over 20 years and thinking the two year warranty had expired I decided to take the engine apart to determine the cause of the failure. Once I had the engine apart it was clear to me that the rod bolts had come loose causing the rod cap to contact the counterbalance thus sheering off the rod. The engine is re-buildable, but I was almost sure that once John Deere/Briggs and Stratton heard what happened they would do something to correct the problem. I started with calling the John Deere 800 customer service number, but what I was told was far from what I expected. The customer service agent told me that I should not have taken the engine apart; there was nothing they could do for me. Nothing I said with regard to my professional experience rendered any relief, the JD agent said. “You should have taken the tractor to an authorized JD dealer; she once again said there is nothing I can do for you now”.
My next place that I am going is to my local Home Depot, where I am going to file a formal complaint. The idea that a $1,600 lawn tractor with less than 40 hours and two oil/filter changes blows up is completely ridiculous and unacceptable. From what I have read on the WEB I am not alone with this problem. My old John Deere 160 lawn tractor was almost 20 years old and its new owner says it is still running. I thought John Deere products would improve over the years, but it looks like it is just the opposite.

ron craddock my three year old lo18 started coughing and stahling two weeks ago after running for 20-30 minutes, the engine restarts after resetting the key-ignition, runs for 5 minutes, atstarts all over. very concerned.
dave vilwock Went out today to start my lawn mower(John Deere L108) purchased in May of 05. I probably have 80 hours on the machine. Oil was full, filled it up with gas and started the mower. after 30 seconds it seized up. Find it ironic that I am not the only person to see these issues. It is too late to call the dealership today but they will hear from me on Monday. I am guessing I will be buying a new mower. Thought I made a good decision when I bought John Deere and paid almost 2000. I will see what their service department will do. The machine was great until today.
Chad Well my unit is not the L108, but instead it's an L120 purchased back in '03. I've had to replace the engine with a brand new B&S engine at about 190hrs('08). So I got about 5 yrs out of it...I was shocked considering how well maintained this engine and mower are. The first engine failed due to wear on the lower bearing...which allowed the lower seal to open, dumping all the oil. To back up a bit... Somewhere in '06 the extension spring for the mower deck belt tension went to my JD dealer and picked up a new one...I noticed that the extension spring was able 1" shorter...that raised a red flag as I knew this would cause a high belt tension and put a higher radial load on the lower bearing... The dealer did in fact confirm this to be the correct I used it...that was my mistake, I shouldn't have used that spring. As mentioned the original engine failed..after taking it apart and inspecting it the wear on the lower bearing, it is clear that it's not from lack of lubrication...had lack of lubrication been the culprit..the metal to metal contact of the crank journal and bearing would have heated up the die cast bearing and caused galling. This is not what fact lubrication was just fine as the die cast bearing on the lower case is actually quite smooth and polished, at least for metal-metal contact goes...haha. but what stands out the the direction on which the wear is located on the lower bearing...with a Sharpe I marked the direction of pull to which the crank is loaded to see where the pull is coming at this point it's obvious it's due to high radial load on the lower bearing...and remember JD revised the mower deck extension spring for high belt tension...and what do you know...after placing the lower case back on the mower...the direction of pull is exactly inline with the direction of pull the mower deck belt is putting on the lower crank bearing... I mentioned up top...I did replace my original B&S with a brand new one...this time it was a 22Hp unit...I though I would get at least another 4-5 years out of it and then just get rid of it... well as it turns out I only got 75hrs out of it...which is about 1.5 years...not very happy especially when this engine failed just like the original one did...LOWER BEARING FAILURE... Took the engine to the B&S dealer I bought it from and they had a B&S rep look at it...their conclusion is the same as what I already knew was the problem...high radial load on the crank... Now when I took the lower case to my JD dealer...then just look dumb founded and wanted to dismiss that the mower itself could have not caused this to happen..but could they even come up with a plausible cause of failure...not at all...all they said was no way could that extension spring cause that damage..but given the facts...there is absolutely nothing else that would cause this to happen other than the extension is putting too high of a radial load on the lower bearing...

I'm going to measure the total tension in the mower deck belt and calculate what the radial load is on the lower bearing and then talk to B&S and present to them what I have as the radial load as see what they say...what I'm hoping is they well let me know that the radial load has been exceed for this engine, which is why it's failing...I already know the issue stems from a design error on JD's part.

Jeff My mom's L108 engine failed yesterday after running only 30 seconds. The tractor is 4 years old and sees only limited use and was serviced by the local Deer dealership. Cost to replace engine is the same as the cost of a new tractor.
Has anyone swapped out the engine themselves? I checked Northern Tool and found the 18 HP (not an 18.5) was really expensive ($1400) but the 21 HP is only around $500. Can this work?

Jason I did my own! Very easy.
I bought my engine here for around $570.00

Good luck!


Dean Dorazio It's like I write this article. I had the same thing happen. I purchased from the same location, I brought back to 146 supply this fall, same year and same story.

I'll call John Deere and keep you in the loop if I hear anything. Thank you for the information.

Side note: check out and you can get a $75 rebate for the purchase at least.

Chris Fitts Disturbing news to me. My L108 purchace from Home Depot 2004 stopped running as my wife thought she ran it out of fuel. Upon inspection I have tried everything to start this. I have "fire" and fuel and it has dark brown oil but at level. After reading these I'm starting to believe I am in more trouble than just timing. It just turns & turns and never starts. Sound similar.
mike melia I bought my L108 from a friend that changes the oil every season , filter, etc. I know the mower was well taken care of. I used the mower maybe 8 times 1 hour each. I heard a loud metallic bang , motor seized up. check the oil , and it was black. replacing the engine with a b & s 331977-0001-G1 for about 500 dollars, a new John Deere is 1900
mike wich Interesting. I also own an L108 purchased from Home Depot. It froze-up after six years. I was considering the engine replacement but have read enough comments to know that the BS engine in this model is truly a piece of junk. I am going to consider a Husquavarna or a Craftsman with a Kohler engine. I was considering hte JD X300 but frankly, I don't trust JD for residential products anymore.
Gene Lucado The cheapest piece of junk made.My mower dropped a valve and it had plenty of oil in it. I need a new engine.
Dave Shaw Same thing my wife was using my L108 JD and she thought it ran out of gas. wouldn't turn over. I finally got it to crank and i hasa loud banging sound while it is cranking but it won't start.
ron swartz Same thing motor running great suddenly loud noise motor stopped dead would not turn over I turned it by hand tried starting did not start seemed to turn over easy till it grabbed and seized worse.

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