ALERT defective/bad design Kawasaki 20 hp engines on Deere garden tractors

[ Save This Page ] [ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ John Deere Tractor Discussion Forum ] [ FAQ ]

SSB Farm Tractor Parts, Manuals & Antique TractorsAftermarket Farm & Old Antique Tractor PartsTractor Service, Repair & Owners Operators Manual ShopTractor ImplementsTractor SeatsTractor Front End LoadersPedal Toy Tractors Farm Tractors For Sale ClassifiedsAntique Tractors For Sale ClassifiedsTractors Forum - Help & AdviceTractor, Gardening, Mowers & Outdoor Equipment BooksTractor ProductsContact Us
How much is your farm tractor worth? Find resale prices for tractors built from 1939 through today, with complete specifications and serial numbers. Save 15% on our Official Tractor Blue Book sale!

Search This Message Board:

ALERT defective/bad design Kawasaki 20 hp engines on Deere garden tractors

Houston we have a problem.

I started a thread called "GT245 lemon?" awhile back, and it is buried in this forum, but if you search for it you can read about the problems we've had with our new mower and the Kawasaki engine acting up after a few hours mowing (and the FIVE trips back to the shop). Anyway, as a last resort, our dealer gave us a BRAND NEW GT 245 with zero on the meter, with our old mower deck (because they didn't want to do a complete trade after we patiently gave them repeated chances to fix the problems). The new mower ran for 6 hours and then started running on one cylinder. Right before we started running it, we get a letter and a new filter setup from John Deere. The letter explains certain models got the wrong air filter. We put this new filter on before any serious mowing, and it didn't make a whit of difference.

The letter and part from Deere proves/represents one thing that all the Deere reputation in the world and lies of the dealer cannot change. These engines have been having problems and Deere corporate knows about it! There are also said to be tech bulletins on vent tubes and limited rejetting of carburetors on these engines. It is no longer a TGIF problem, but a serious design flaw in the air cooled 20 hp Kawasaki engines or a qa problem in the Kawsasaki plant that Deere hasn't nailed down yet. We do not buy into the story from our local dealer that the average deere owner is an irresponsible fop that grabs any old thing to put gas into before filling up the gas tank...Deere owners are proud of their yellow and green! I reject that and the assertion that all the local complaints from our dealer's customers originate with "bad gas" and "owners with rusty gas cans." "You are the only ones having this problem with this model" is a mantra we've heard too, although they ought to rethink the high incidence of "bad" or "dirty gas" diagnoses they hand out to their other customers and actually check up on the service department.

Each time my husband runs a mower, afterward he cleans the mower thoroughly and cleans the prefilter and makes sure all grass clipplings are brushed away. ..aka babies it. We know that this time the coil pack is probably the culprit, but at this point we don't care...because it's within the 30 day's too delicate to run and use as a mower engine as currently manufactured, and we're not giving any second chances as the dealer aptly demonstrated in the past that such fixes such as new coil packs, carburetor cleanings and such are designed to run the 30 day clock dry.

Now the question is whether our dealer will give us our money back or we have to go to corporate or court...

Until this engine gets resolved by Deere, I have to warn people.. don't buy any mower with the Kawasaki 20 hp air cooled engine at this time unless they do a recall on the others, taking responsibility and actually fixing the problems. I know someone who got a zero turn with a different engine new that has had so far a bad seat switch and clutch....all within the first month...QA problems can't be hid behind a good name... People need to start reporting their problems or they're not going to be fixed and quality will go down the tubes without consumers speaking up!!

thingy Good thing you are doing,,,just proves again,,that the name on the machine,doesn't mean much nowadays,,I hear john deere has started making some of their compact tractor motors in china now????Maybe quality will improve some??? Yeah,,,buy american,,,what a joke,,,thingy
carol I can't say my problem has anything to do with buying American.....after all...the issue is with the Kawasaki corp. engine and not the American made parts... From what I understand, Deere's good reputation was built when they were 100% American owned and made.

Johnny Carol,
You have certainly been through a lot with your tractors. No doubt you are dissappointed and upset. However, give JD some credit. They found the problem, and in a effort to keep customers happy they proactively sent you new parts. I believe your letter says that if the new filter did not help, call your dealer. Have you yet?

From what I understand, JD has a fix for the few tractors that are more stubborn. But, customers need to let the dealer know if the filter did not solve the problem. From the few folks posting, you'd have to agree that either they were not having problems or the new filters took care of it.

JD earned a good name by not only making good products, but backing up any that were less than perfect out of the gate. Unfortunatly, sometimes it takes them some time to find the cause and get the fix out to the dealer.

I used to work for a JD dealer and still have friends at one. I've seen this type of happen a few times on engines or JD built parts, and JD always did the right thing to keep customers satisfied. Plus, they usually have dealers update unsold tractors when they find something out like this. I suspect that new tractors today are just fine.

Good luck, and keep us posted.


Well, we got our money back....with many apologies from the service manager, but a very insincere one from the general manager (more like a good riddance attitude)....seems they don't agree with each other, but yet the general manager (2 months on the job) doesn't have all the facts.

To bring you up to speed, the new filter was already on the old tractor that went back 5 times. They sent out the second from Deere direct, but as the other demonstrated, this was post manufacturing engineering experimentation going on. I had asked the service mgr to rejet the carb early on. Deere recently officially selected our dealer's shop to rejet the carb on the one cylinder with a high failure rate as an experiment. The gen. mgr. doesn't believe that will be a fix (and he blames Kawasaki). J. Coppock who posted in the other thread seems to have had no problems since his was rejetted. The bottom line...Deere knows there is a design problem but does not yet know *what* or *why* and are trying to have individual dealers experiment on the failed and returned tractors before deciding for sure what the problem is and what the fix is. The initial theory was that the air filter would have the same effect as rejetting the carb, except the fact that only one cylinder is consistently failing precludes the theoretical fix from working.

The problem in our specific case was exacerbated by a dealer/customer dissatisfaction issue, and Deere corporate was brought into the mix and made aware way too late. We had already been treated like idiots on four occasions, treated as if we intentionally misused our mower and our dealer/customer relationship was as a result in the dust.

I am glad that the issue was finally bumped up from the dealer level to the coroporate level so now it can actually be fixed. When it is ironed out, we may consider a Deere, just not from the same dealer....

I sincerely hope noone with the 20 hp kawasaki engine are buying the "bad gas" explanations they may be getting from some dealers. Apparently enough complaints from elsewhere have been bumped up to corporate to have gotten Deere's attention, no thanks to our local dealer.

But for now it looks like we'll looking for a subcompact tractor.....from a different dealer


THINGY remember,,those john deeres are starting to use chinese motors in their compact tractors,,,might be a good one after all,,,I remember 35 years ago,when we were all getting dirt bikes,yamaha and susuki were about even,kawwasaki was a distant third and considered by us junk,,maybe its still that way? honda didn't make a 2 cycle dirt bike than,,don't think.
John R. Carol,
I have a GX 325 with an 18 hp Kawasaki engine in it. It has about 90 hours on the roughly year and a half old machine. At about 50 hours I noticed that at start up the engine blew blue smoke. I checked the oil and the crank case was full of gas, I changed it and it happened again. I called a dealership and they said that those engines do not tolerate idling. They said that, due to emissions, the intake is offset to one side and biases fuel to that cylinder thus making it rich and fouling the plug. At wide open throttle, the bias to one cylinder goes away. This happens to Kawasaki 2 cyl. as well as Briggs 2 cyl. engines, he said. He told me to never let the engine idle. All he will do to fix it is give the engine a tune up, replace all filters and change the oil. I bought the service kit. I noticed that the plugs did have some carbon on them at the base of the threads, but the plugs were not that bad. I have talked to a few others about this problem and they have experienced/heard of it. I am still skeptical about what the dealer said. I can't believe that Deere would release a product that has idle issues. The engine has always run fine, and I do not notice any loss of power or loss of a cylinder. I have changed the oil in it a few times since, due to gas getting into the crankcase. I have read all about your adventure. My problem doesn't exactly sound like yours, but I would not be surprised if the carburetor is at fault. I still do not have the issue resolved. I am trying to research it before I let a dealer fix it. I want to tell them what needs to be replaced instead of them telling me that its my fault and to write me off.

I just wanted to share my experiences.


LawnMowerMan Carol,

I'm happy to hear they returned your money. Dealers are humans (and sometimes faulty). I can speak from experience that John Deere sells excellent products. I worked my 185 for 15 years 12 months a year (mowing and north east snow blowing). Engine was Kawasaki 17 (single). I traded it in for half what I paid for it. Took delivery of a new GX345 (liquid cooled 20 hp).
If you ask any lawn service they all use Kawasaki's on their units. Known to be the best (Honda is great as well).

Good luck with your search...


John Deere Man One other reason for fuel in the crankcase is if the inlet needle valve is stuck open and that would allow excess fuel to get past the carb, intake valve, piston, and etc. One reason for the stuck valve is poor fuel quality. If you discovered the problem after you removed the machine from storage (over wintering), then that is the likely problem and you should have your dealer inspect the fuel sytem for debris. Bad fuel and poor storage habits are a problem in my area and the fuel if it is not treated with a stablizer will deteriorate in less than thirty days to produce carb related service issues. While I don't personaly believe there are idling issues with that engine, it is made to run at wide open throttle all the time and only at slow idle for brief periods such as before shutdown. If the machine was still under warranty, you should have taken it to yopur dealer so that if there was anything wrong from a manufacturing point of view, he could have repaired that under warranty, but fuel related issues,especially fuel quality fall out side of the warranty realm. If you continue to have fuel in your oil, the resulting wash down of the internal parts will cause engine failure that is not covered by the manufacturers warranty, you should have the fuel system inspected. The better repair might be to replace the carburetor, though not an inexpensive solution, but far cheaper than replacing the engine.
payday Is there any happy ending to this story, now 2 months later? I'm contemplating the GT 245 versus the LX 280, but carol's situation meks me hesitate. Any news or update available?
Wally I bought a JD GT-235 tractor (18 hp Kawasaki engine) in June ‘03. Sometimes the power was low, and other times it seemed fine. My wife, who spends much more time than me mowing the lawn, made the same observation.

Last May (2004) I checked the oil and it smelled of gasoline. The "oil" level (actually, the gas-oil mixture level) was high.

The high voltage spark plug coil had burned out on one of the two cylinders. The engine was still receiving gas in that cylinder and the gas never ignited. The result was an oil sump containing a low-viscosity mix of oil and gasoline. I believe the engine is damaged goods at this point and should be replaced.

JD won’t replace the engine or issue an extended warranty on it. As of today, John Deere has broken every promise they've made to me.

If you have had a similar experience and are interested in partnering on a lawsuit, please contact me by e-mail.

jim k I have a 1996 345 w/ 18 hp kawasaki LEMON with less than 300 hrs. It would have more hours if it was not down so often as it currently is. It has all the symptoms noted above. I too was told it was "bad gas"..after 4x to the shop they usually don't tell me that anymore. Had lifters, cams, push rods etc replaced at 150 hrs....that was good for about 30 hrs before the same problems returned..gas being dumped into the cylindars. JD covered the parts on the major overhaul (3rd visit) and did not charge me on the 4th visit and I don't know what will happen with the 5th visit. Not all of the 18, 20 hp Kawasaki's have this problem as there are many happy campers out there but for those of us with the sick kawasakis it is frustrating to have paid so much for a JD that has been nothing but trouble. I own an 870 and 110....bought used. Great tractors. The 345 LEMON I bought new. I live in Western NY..where are u folks from? We need to band together and try to get some justice.
Wally This is a response to Jim K's John Deere LEMON disclosure.

The John Deere tractor I plunked down $5000 for went south after 19 hours of engine time. Jim : I've got you beat on the number of hours to engine failure. Mine was hardly out of the box when it died !

The John Deere "customer service" department has to date done NOTHING to fix the problem, and in fact refuses to help me with it. The warranty runs out in June of this year ('05).

If you are thinking of buying a JD product, take some advice and buy from a different manufacturer. If you've already made the mistake of buying from them, let's do a group legal action !

Jimmy Emfinger I purchaseda ScotT mower at Home Depot itwas manufactured by John Deere and they had the mantinance waranty! 6 months after the24 month warranty expired the engine dropped a ball bearing that went through the head reaking havoc andinto the cylinder.This did unrepairable damage. John Deere told me that since I was the first to document the check valve ball creating such bedlum then I was not covered! However thestore manager said he had a like new engine he would fix me up with for $642.00. jumped at the oppartunity as a new motor would cost $1,800 plus Well it was a clunker that used 1 quart of oil and foulded a plug twice in one hour of use!!! I contactedKohler with my delima they said Go get the motor away from John Deere and carry it to a Kohler dealer they would replace it with a new engine and I was out onl $155.00 for shipping and labor! So back to John Deere I went and had them remove their junk and had to pay them 4 hours of labor at $59.00 per hour for all their devine intervention!! Now heres the kicker. The Check Valve Ball was a sabatouge ploy and John Deere knew of such disaster The Ball is said to be a Check valve but it does no checking what so ever! It is held in place behind the breather of home used equiptment by an appoxy that disolves if the motor reaches commercial level heat so here comes the Loose Cannon $$$$$$$$$$$ So not only will they lie to you to make a living off mine and your ignorance! They depend on the gullable and sabotauge tactics to mantain a constant cash flow!
carol Wally,

Sorry I didn't read your comments before now. Group legal action is not going to get you just compensation (class actions rarely do). I suggest you take your documentation and hire an attorney experienced in lemon law/consumer issues. Also file a complaint to your state's consumer fraud division.

After reading on the ongoing issues on Deere (not just lawn tractors but fuse panels going up in flames and hydraulic probs on larger tractors...we are never again going to dabble with a Deere. Their quality control division and ethics appear to have gone south. Good luck.

Tom West 15 Dec '05: Me too! what else need I say? Our GT 245 Kawasaki engine has been a problem since day one. It sputters and stumbles and cokes the plugs. I clean the filter, use clean gasoline etc. As I said in a post under another heading: I have a 245DT that I think is a great tractor and I've had two other JDs that were good machines but I'm extremely dissappointed with this one - add frustrated because I don't know how to fix it!
mike mitchell i bought a new kawasaki 20 hp fd620d-ds18 from small engene warehouse. need help installing, no help from them, can anyone help? they will not take back although i hear 25 hp honda fits perfect i need help with wireing, and carberator hook-up thanks!
mike any idea why I use the manual choke and the kawasaki starts right up..after she warms up and I return the choke to normal running position, the engine quits ??I don't remember doing anything??? Help please, thank you Mike

[ Save This Page ] [ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ John Deere Tractor Discussion Forum ] [ FAQ ]
Post a Followup




Email Notification: If you check this box, email will be sent to you whenever someone replies to your message. You must include your email address above to receive this notification.

[ Save This Page ] [ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ John Deere Tractor Discussion Forum ] [ FAQ ]


Sign Up For Our Monthly Special Sales!