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JD GX255 motor backfires and looses power when mowing deck is engaged

Jay H I have a JD GX255 which is about 3 years old (37hours) and the motor sputters, backfires and looses power when the mowing deck is engaged and the motor has to work hard. The problems is getting worse and I'm afraid I'll get stuck on the lawn. I checked the plugs and they look good. The gas tank is 3/4 full, I changed the fuel filter as there is very little gas in the bottom of the filter (at anytime, running or not)but it didn't make a difference and I tried removing the gas cap while running. Nothing makes a difference. I'm wondering if it could be a fuel pump.
This has been doing this for over 2 years but I'm too the point I don't want to use the tractor. I brought it back to the dealer last year and they said they couldn't reproduce the problem and charged me for the service. This year they replaced the carberator under warrentee.
Any ideas on where to go from here.

bontai Joe My first thought is your carb needs an adjustment. Without hearing it run, it could be too lean or too rich.
Jay H Thanks, I tested the fuel pump and it seems to be ok, I'm going with bad gas (water) next. If that doesn't check out I'm taking a closer look at the carb next.
Jay H A little dry gas did the trick. I guess the gas in the tank has been sitting a little too long.
Thanks for the help.
Jay H

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