5 Common Problems with John Deere x354 and How to Fix Them?

The John Deere x354 is a well-liked small riding lawnmower with a 42-inch cutting deck. In addition to cruise control and a power lift system, it has many features found on larger riding mowers, making it ideal for small yards.

You can do everything from mowing your pasture to plowing your driveway and hauling loads. However, the x354 is not invincible, as many John Deere owners can attest. Sometimes it may have trouble starting up, staying charged for long hours, and even cutting the grass evenly throughout your lawn.

If you start experiencing these issues, don’t worry right away. We’ve got all the info you need on common John Deere x354 problems and how to fix them, so you’ll be back up and running in no time.

Quick Table for John Deere x354 Problems, Symptoms, and Solutions

The chart below overviews the top five John Deere x354 problems, outlining their symptoms and short solutions.

SerialProblemSymptomsShort Solution
1The Engine Won’t Start? The engine will not crank
? The engine cranks but does not start  
? Add fresh fuel
? Drain your gas tank and add new gas.
? Replace the ignition switch and spark plug.
? Replace if the battery is damaged.
? Replace the starter relay.
2Engine Overheating? The temperature gauge reads 15 degrees above normal.
? Steam emitting from your exhaust.
? Coolant smells like gasoline.
? Engine shut off unexpectedly.
? Replace the radiator fan belt if damaged.
? Ensure the radiator temperature the sensor wire is connected.
? Clean or replace the coolant reservoir cap.
? Check your coolant level and refill.
? Replace the thermostat.
3Hydrostatic Transmission Problems? The machine turns slower than usual
? Leaking fluid
? Clunking noise
? Frequent slipping of gears  
? Change the fluid/filter every 50 hours.
? Replace thin parts
? Replace the seals and O rings.
? Remove any obstructions that might be causing friction.
4The Mower Cuts Unevenly? Shorter clippings on one side of the lawn than the other
? Weeds are being missed in spots
? Your yard has a ragged appearance
? Adjust the clutch/brake as needed.
? Replace or repair blades as needed.
? Inflate your machine’s tires evenly.
? Level or grade your lawn.
5The Battery Doesn’t Stay Charged? Nothing happens with the key turns
? Slow turnover of engine
? Rapid start and stop of engine
? Instant loss of power after forward and backward drives
? No lights on the display panel
? The battery is not getting charged
? Tighten any loose connections.
? Keep the battery cables and terminals are corrosion-free.
? Correct the water level in the cells of your battery.
? Replace the alternator belt and pulley.
? Consider replacing the battery.

5 Common John Deere x354 Problems, Symptoms, and Solutions:

Let’s now discuss the most common John Deere 1020 issues in-depth and what you can do to fix them.

1. The Engine Won’t Start

Owners of the John Deere x354 most commonly complain that the engine does not start. Perhaps you tried to start the engine after being inactive for a while, but it failed to start right away. Possibly, you tried more than once, but you cannot start the engine no matter how hard you try.


These symptoms will show when your John Deere x354 fails to start its engine.

  • The engine will not crank
  • Although the starter motor is cranking the engine, the engine won’t start
  • The engine cranks but does not start


Identifying the possible causes behind the problem is crucial before attempting any repair. Here are a few of the possible reasons.

  • Insufficient fuel supply or no fuel in the fuel tank
  • Low compression
  • Low battery power or a weak starter motor
  • A faulty spark plug or ignition switch that fails to ignite the fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of the engine
  • The starter relay is faulty or has become disconnected.


After identifying the cause of engine start failure, you should try these troubleshooting steps.

  • Check for sufficient fuel supply, and add more fresh fuel if necessary.
  • Drain your gas tank and add new gas. Also, try switching out your gas cap with one from another John Deere tractor to see if that helps.
  • Replace the ignition switch and spark plug.
  • Check the battery and reattach if necessary. Replace if the battery is damaged.
  • Replace the starter relay.

2. Engine Overheating

The engine overheating problem is one of the most common problems that owners of the John Deere x354 face. If left alone, it can severely damage the lawn mower’s engine and significantly reduce its lifespan. Thankfully, you can take a few simple steps to solve this problem yourself.


If your mower’s engine is overheating, the following symptoms will appear.

  • The temperature gauge is reading at least 15 degrees above normal.
  • Steam or white smoke is emitting from your exhaust.
  • Coolant smells like gasoline.
  • The engine shut off unexpectedly.


A John Deere x354 engine overheating can be attributed to the following causes.

  • The thermostat is stuck open, preventing coolant from circulating through the engine block.
  • The radiator fan belt is broken or loose.
  • The radiator temperature sensor wire has become disconnected.
  • The coolant reservoir cap is not sealing correctly.


The following troubleshooting steps should help you resolve your overheating issue. You can try them one at a time to see if they work.

  • Check the radiator fan belt and replace it if damaged.
  • Check that the radiator temperature sensor wire is connected.
  • Clean or replace the coolant reservoir cap and flush the coolant system.
  • Check your coolant level and refill if necessary.
  • Replace the thermostat if none of the above works.

3. Hydrostatic Transmission Problems

Another common complaint concerning the John Deere x354 is hydrostatic transmission problems. If you’re experiencing issues with your x354’s transmission, you’ll have difficulty turning corners in addition to loud sounds when you’re driving. Taking action is essential to prevent further damages or even accidents.


You know your x354 has a hydraulics transmission problem if one or more of the following show up.

  • The machine turns slower than usual
  • Leaking fluid
  • Clunking noise
  • Frequent slipping of gears


Hydraulics issues in the John Deere x354 can result from several factors, with the following being the most common.

  • Low fluid levels
  • Clogged fluid filters or lines
  • Damaged or worn seals
  • Damaged transmission filter with contaminated fluid
  • Worn drive plate bearings
  • Worn clutch shaft guide bearings


Following your identification of the cause of the hydraulic malfunction, you should proceed as follows.

  • Change the fluid/filter every 50 hours.
  • Measure the thickness of the clutch splines, drive plate, and clutch shaft guide bearings using a micrometer. Replace any parts that are too thin.
  • Replace the seals and O rings in the pump and wheel motors.
  • If there are no visible signs of damage, remove any obstructions that might be causing friction in the system (such as grass clippings).

4. The Mower Cuts Unevenly

If the mower cuts unevenly, it could result from several causes. If your John Deere x354 is cutting grass unevenly, you may have a problem with the mowing blades or even with the level of your lawn. Let’s explore how this problem can show up, what causes it, and what you can do about it.


The following are signs that your mower isn’t cutting your grass evenly.

  • Shorter clippings on one side of the lawn than the other
  • Weeds are being missed in spots
  • Your yard has a ragged appearance


Listed below are five possible reasons behind the uneven cuts around your lawn.

  • The clutch/brake is not appropriately adjusted.
  • Blades are dull or bent.
  • Blades are not touching the deck evenly.
  • Improperly inflated tires.
  • Your lawn has not been leveled or appropriately graded.


Once you know what’s causing your mower to cut the grass unevenly, you can try to fix it with the methods below accordingly.

  • Adjust the clutch/brake as needed.
  • Replace or repair blades as needed.
  • Inflate your machine’s tires evenly.
  • You may also need to check if you need to level or grade your lawn.

5. The Battery Doesn’t Stay Charged

If you leave your John Deere x354 parked in an area with a lot of moisture, the battery might become corroded if you don’t cover it up adequately. Corroded batteries can’t hold a charge, so if yours isn’t staying charged, this might be why.

However, you might find more reasons to blame. Let’s check them out and learn how to address them.


Your tractor’s battery needs a repair when you see the following signs.

  • Nothing happens with the key turns (you don’t even hear a click)
  • The engine turns over slowly
  • The tractor starts but then dies very quickly (sometimes after just a few seconds)
  • Instant loss of power after forward and backward drives
  • No lights on the display panel
  • The battery is not getting charged


The x354 could not remain fully charged for a long time for one of these reasons or a combination of them.

  • Broken battery cables
  • Faulty solenoids
  • A bad battery that needs replacement
  • Problem with the alternator
  • A loose or corroded battery connection
  • A malfunctioning charging system


Here’s what you can do to solve your x354’s not staying charged issue.

  • Tighten any loose connections on the battery or in its housing.
  • Use an anti-corrosion spray to ensure the battery cables and terminals are corrosion-free.
  • Level up the water in each individual cell of your battery.
  • Replace the alternator belt and pulley if you find them broken.
  • If your battery is older than three years, consider replacing it.


Below, we’ve compiled answers to questions frequently asked about the John Deere x354 and related issues.

My John Deere x354 is making loud grinding noises. What should I do?

If your John Deere x354 is making loud grinding noises, it could be that the engine is just cold, or it may need a new starter. If the issue persists after the engine warms up, have the starter replaced by a qualified mechanic.

The acrid smell of burning rubber is coming from my John Deere x354. What should I do?

If your John Deere x354 smells like burning rubber, you may have a problem with the drive belt. Have a qualified mechanic inspect your machine to determine whether a new belt is needed.

What is the expected lifespan of my John Deere x354?

The answer depends on how you use your tractor and how well you take care of it. A general rule of thumb is that, if properly maintained, your John Deere x354 should last around ten to fifteen years.

My x354 is leaking gas all of a sudden. What should I do?

Check that the fuel line isn’t cracked and that the fuel valve isn’t stuck in the “open” position. If you cannot find and fix the problem, take the lawnmower to a shop for service.

What oil should I use in my John Deere x354 lawn tractor?

You should provide your John Deere x354 lawn tractor with only 10W30 or 5W40 oil to maintain its optimal performance. They will prevent metal parts from rubbing together and damaging the engine’s internal components.


We hope that the information we provided in this guide helped you resolve any John Deere x354 problems you were having.

These tips aren’t just for the common problems you may have heard about; they’ll also help you with some of the not-so-obvious issues as well. All in all, if you follow these instructions closely, there’s little doubt that you’ll be able to get your John Deere up and running like new again.

Do you have further questions regarding something else that’s bothering your x354? Let us know in the comments below.

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