John Deere 4-Wheel Steering Problems And Troubleshooting Guide

John Deere is a premium manufacturer of lawnmowers and garden tractors. The level of innovation and improvements that they brought to the industry really has no comparison. So, when you think about it, it’s really not surprising why John Deere is considered one of the best brands out there.

While they are a top-tier brand, they do not deal strictly in expensive garden tractors. That’s one of the many good things about them. Thanks to their flexible price range, you will be able to pick up a lawnmower that meets your budget and gives you the performance that you desire.

However, if you are not constrained by a set budget, you can treat yourself to one of the many 4-wheel steering lawnmowers that they have on offer. These machines offer better flexibility and can handle rougher terrain making them a prime choice for people who settle for nothing but the best.

Of course, the design also has a fair bit of flaws and is susceptible to some common issues if you are not careful. Due to poor maintenance, the steering system can become cause a lot of headaches.

But thankfully, the issues are fixable if you know how. In this article, I will talk more about the issues that you might face with a John Deere 4-wheel steering lawnmower and give you some tips to troubleshoot it.

I will also give you a quick rundown of this steering system for those that don’t know much about it. So, let’s hop in.

What Is 4-Wheel Steering In A Lawnmower?

A typical lawnmower, or any vehicle for that matter, usually allows you to rotate the front two wheels while the rear wheels control the forward or reverse motion. With 4-wheel steering, you can move all the wheels independently, giving you tighter steering control and better maneuverability.

While this is not exactly a new technology, John Deere is one of the first brands to have utilized it in their lawnmowers. And it completely changed up the scene. These days, 4-wheel steering lawnmowers are considered a thing of envy in the neighborhood. Once you try it out, you honestly can’t go back.

John Deere 4-wheel steering tractors, also known as AWS lawnmowers, mostly feature 18.5 to 24 HP engines along with 42 to 60 inches wide cutting decks. These machines are designed to give you complete control over how you want your lawn to look and also minimize the time it takes to mow through the entire lawn.

Advantages Of John Deere 4-Wheel Steering

Here are a couple of advantages of using a John Deere 4-wheel steering lawnmower:

Better Maneuverability

If you haven’t used it before, 4-wheel steering will take some time to get used to. But once you have had some time to ease into it, it will offer much more maneuverability compared to a zero turn or a 2-wheel steering lawnmower.

The John Deere 4-wheel steering mowers give you more steering control allowing you to turn tighter turns a lot easier.

Smooth Riding Experience

Another major advantage of the 4-wheel steering system is how smooth the lawnmower feels. Since all four wheels turn together, you will be able to mow just about any type of terrain with a John Deere 4-wheel steering lawnmower. Mowing through hilly or rough terrain will not hamper the smoothness of your ride.

Greater Cutting Precision

A John Deere AWS will allow you to navigate easily around flower beds, trees, or shrubberies thanks to its small turning radius. This means you will have more precision in your cuts and will be able to cut around corners or squares without any effort.

Minimizes Turf Scuffing

I absolutely hate it when my lawnmower leaves scuffs on the grass from the tires after making a pass. Well, with a 4-wheel steering mower, the turf scuffing is minimized tenfold. Since most John Deere AWS mowers come with turf tires, your lawn will not have those horrendous tire marks after you are done mowing.

Time Saver

A 4-wheel steering lawnmower will save you a lot of time and effort. Since you will be able to maneuver tight corners easily, you don’t have to worry about making a second pass with a manual lawnmower around flowerbeds and trees.

If you are the impatient type, a John Deere AWS lawnmower is the perfect fit for you.

Disadvantages Of John Deere 4-Wheel Steering

While John Deere AWS lawnmowers are amazing, they have a couple of disadvantages too. Let me talk a bit about the weaknesses to give you a clearer picture of the steering system,


A John Deere 4-wheel steering lawnmower costs significantly more than a 2-wheel or zero-turn machine. So, if you are on a tight budget, going with one might not be an option for you.

Difficult To Repair

Typically, if you take care of your lawnmower, you shouldn’t have to worry about steering troubles with a 4-wheel steering lawnmower. But if a problem does come up, fixing it might be out of your hands. This is a complex mechanism and should only be handled by experts, in my opinion.

Issues In The John Deere 4-Wheel Steering And How To Fix Them

As I already mentioned, the 4-wheel steering system is designed in such a way that there are very few chances of errors. Even if you do some basic maintenance from time to time, your steering system should not show any worrying signs.

So, I will always recommend taking care of your lawnmower whenever you have some free time.

Components Wearing Out

The only real damage that can happen here is that the components can wear out. And if they do, you should be able to replace them pretty easily as long as you can get the replacement parts. John Deere usually offers replacements for their lawnmower parts, so contacting the manufacturer is a good idea.

If your steering system is feeling sluggish or the control feels too stiff, then there’s a chance that the bearings in the system have corroded. You need to find the damaged bearings and replace them. Inspect all the bearings in the system and if you find any worn-out ones, change them with new bearings.

Low Steering Fluid

A low level of steering fluid is another possibility behind the stiff steering wheel. In that case, the fix is pretty simple. Top off the steering fluid and let the lever soak up the fluid. Try moving the wheel again after a couple of minutes. It should feel flexible once again.

Keep in mind, though, it’s normal for the steering in this type of system to feel a bit stiffer than usual. You might also notice the wheels responding faster to your touch, which can feel a bit jarring if you haven’t used this type of lawnmower before. If that’s the problem, then giving it a while will help you get used to it.

Dirt & Debris

In some cases, dirt or debris inside the steering handle can lead to blockages causing your steering to stiffen up. To fix that problem, all you need to do is remove the handle and clean out the blockages. Apply a bit of steering fluid, and your handle should go back to its normal condition.

Gearbox Damage

However, if you notice that the wheels don’t respond to your steering at all, then that is a sign of a deeper problem. The gearbox might be damaged, or there might be a leak in the system. If you are handy with tools and know your way around the machine, you can try replacing the gearbox.

But then again, if you are not extremely careful, you might be doing more harm than good. So, I would recommend taking your mower to a professional garage to get it looked at by an expert. He should be better equipped to handle whatever problems you are facing with your lawnmower.

Final Thoughts

Say what you will about the John Deere 4-wheel steering lawnmowers, but I love the design. It saves time, gives you better control, and also helps keep your lawn looking it’s absolute best.

Of course, the steep price tag of these mowers might dissuade many people, which is the only real downside to this design. Fixing up issues in this system, on the other hand, is pretty complicated. I wouldn’t generally recommend trying your hand at repairing the system if you don’t know what you are doing.

The steps that I talked about in this article are some basic things you can try. But if they don’t work, going to an expert is always the right call. I hope my article on John Deere’s 4-wheel steering problems could help you resolve any issues you are having with your mower. Good luck!

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