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Im helping my new step mom out a bit. She has a 97 - GT345, 20 hp Kawi, 54" deck with 900 hours on it. Its real hard to start, takes about 20-30 seconds of cranking to get it started. Using the choke really doesnt help either. Once it finally starts it runs pretty good. It has new plugs, fuel filters, & fuel. I took it to the local lawn mower repair shop - ( not a Deere dealer ), he removed the carbuertor & cleaned it real good, he is thinking it has a head issue. Worn valves or something else. Any ideas here ?

I am having an estimate to tear it down to inspect the heads, valve job, new head gaskets. Not sure really what to do with this. Should I get a second opinion ?
 

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Re: 97 - GT345 - hard to start - need advice

Bigdeereman, Try this first for starting the tractor.

Solution Number: 13252

Solution Summary: START HARD WHEN COLD. -GENERAL GUIDE-)+



--------------------------------------------------------------------------


COMPLAINT OR SYMPTOM:
- ENGINE HARD TO START IN COLD WEATHER.
- LONG CRANKING TIME.

PROBLEM:
- IMPROPER STARTING PROCEDURE.
- SLOW CRANKING SPEED.
- IMPROPER CHOKE ADJUSTMENT.
- PLUGGED AIR CLEANER.
- WEAK SPARK.
- STALE FUEL.
- LOW CYLINDER COMPRESSION.
- FLYWHEEL KEY PARTIALLY SHEARED.

SOLUTION:
-- USE CORRECT COLD WEATHER STARTING PROCEDURE.

- PUT CHOKE CONTROL IN FULL CHOKE POSITION.
- CRANK ENGINE FOR 5 SECONDS. IF IT DOES NOT START, PAUSE FOR 10
SECONDS THEN CRANK FOR 5 MORE SECONDS.
- CONTINUE THIS 5 SECONDS ON, 10 SECONDS OFF CYCLE UNTIL ENGINE
STARTS. IF ENGINE TRIES TO START, CONTINUE CRANKING BEYOND
THE 5 SECONDS OF THAT CYCLE UNTIL IT STARTS.
- NORMAL OPERATING ENGINES SHOULD START WITHIN:

10 CYCLES @ -15 DEGREES F. +(-27 DEGREES C)+
7 CYCLES @ 0 DEGREES F. +(-18 DEGREES C)+
4 CYCLES @ 15 DEGREES F. +(9 DEGREES C)+

NOTE: THE PROCEDURE OF CRANKING THE ENGINE FOR 5 SECONDS AND THEN
WAITING FOR 10 SECONDS WILL IMPROVE STARTING AND DECREASE
TOTAL CRANKING TIME. THE 10 SECOND PAUSE ALLOWS THE FUEL
IN THE MANIFOLD TIME TO EVAPORATE FOR IMPROVED COMBUSTION.
ALSO, THIS WILL REDUCE THE CHANCE OF FLOODING AND MUFFLER
BACKFIRE.

WHEN THE ENGINE STARTS, MOVE CHOKE CONTROL BACK GRADUALLY AS
ENGINE WARMS UP. EXCESSIVE EXHAUST SMOKE, ENGINE "LOADING UP",
OR BACKFIRE INDICATE OVER-CHOKING. TO LESSEN, SLOWLY OPEN THE
CHOKE AS THE ENGINE WARMS UP. THE ENGINE SHOULD BE ABLE TO
CONTINUE RUNNING WITHOUT THE CHOKE WITHIN 15 SECONDS, DEPENDING
ON THE AIR TEMPERATURE.

-- ON 445 FUEL INJECTED ENGINES, MAKE SURE TO WAIT UNTIL THE FUEL INJECTION DIAGNOSTIC LIGHT
GOES OUT BEFORE CRANKING. FOR THE TWO SECONDS WHILE THE LIGHT IS ON, THE FUEL INJECTION SYSTEM INJECTS A RICH
MIXTURE OF FUEL INTO THE INTAKE TO ALLOW THE ENGINE TO START. THESE ENGINE HAVE NO CHOKE SYSTEM.

-- ENGINE CRANKING SPEED SHOULD BE AT LEAST 250 RPM FOR RELIABLE
STARTING. POSSIBLE CAUSES OF LOW CRANKING SPEED:

- LOW BATTERY OUTPUT: LOAD TEST BATTERY FOR CORRECT AMPERAGE
OUTPUT.
- ENGINE OIL WEIGHT TOO HEAVY: FOR COLD TEMPERATURE USE 5W-30,
WITH SF, SG RATING.
- BATTERY OR STARTER TERMINALS CORRODED.
- GEAR TRANSMISSION: BE SURE CLUTCH IS DEPRESSED.
- HYDRO TRANSMISSION: BE SURE TRANSMISISON NEUTRAL ADJUSTMENT
IS CORRECT.
- STARTER FAILURE.
- ENGINE AUTOMATIC COMPRESSION RELEASE (ACR) +(IF EQUIPPED)+ IS NOT
WORKING CORRECTLY.

NOTE: TO INCREASE BATTERY CRANKING POWER IN COLD WEATHER, TURN
ON LIGHTS FOR FIVE SECONDS BEFORE CRANKING ENGINE. TURN
LIGHTS OFF BEFORE CRANKING.

-- CHECK CHOKE ADJUSTMENT. CHOKE PLATE MUST BE COMPLETELY CLOSED
WHEN LEVER IS ENGAGED. +(CHECK THROTTLE CONTROL-TO-CHOKE LINKAGE
FOR EXCESSIVE FREEPLAY, ESPECIALLY IN PLASTIC BUSHING AREA.)+
TO CHECK:

- MOVE CHOKE CONTROL LEVER TO FULL CHOKE POSITION.
- PUSH CHOKE LINK (A) FORWARD. IF THERE IS MOVEMENT FORWARD, THE
CHOKE PLATE IS PARTIALLY OPEN. ADJUST THROTTLE CABLE, CHOKE,
GOVERNOR, AND IDLE SPEEDS. SEE TM-1351, SECTION 220.

-- CHECK TO BE SURE AIR CLEANER IS NOT PLUGGED. CLEAN AIR FILTER
AND PRECLEANER AS NECESSARY. SEE OPERATOR'S MANUAL.

-- CHECK TO BE SURE SPARK PLUG IS CLEAN, PROPERLY ADJUSTED, AND
PROVIDING A HOT, BLUE SPARK. REPLACE IF NEEDED. IF SPARK IS STILL
WEAK, USE SPARK TESTER TO CHECK IGNITION SYSTEM. SEE TM-1351,
SECTION 240.

CAUTION: HANDLE GASOLINE WITH CARE:
IT IS HIGHLY FLAMMABLE. WHEN YOU SERVICE FUEL SYSTEM:

- DO NOT SMOKE.
- KEEP SPARKS AND FLAMES AWAY.
- WIPE UP SPILLED FUEL IMMEDIATELY.
- WHEN YOU REMOVE FUEL LINE, DRAIN FUEL INTO APPROVED CONTAINER.

-- BE SURE CARBURETOR HAS AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF FRESH, WINTER BLEND
FUEL. TO CHECK:

- CLOSE FUEL SHUT-OFF VALVE AND DISCONNECT LINE FROM CARBURETOR.
- DRAIN CARBURETOR.
- CONNECT A REMOTE, GRAVITY FEED TANK (B) OF KNOWN, FRESH,
WINTER BLEND FUEL TO CARBURETOR (C).

THIS PROCEDURE WILL IDENTIFY A PROBLEM WITH THE FUEL DELIVERY
SYSTEM. THE EXACT CAUSE MUST STILL BE DETERMINED. POSSIBLE CAUSES
ARE:

- STALE FUEL.
- FUEL PUMP MALFUNCTION. SEE TM-1351, SECTION 220 - FUEL PUMP
TEST.
- PLUGGED FUEL LINE OR FUEL TANK VENT.

-- IF THE ENGINE DOES NOT START IN COLD TEMPERATURES, BUT WILL START
AND RUN NORMALLY IN WARMER TEMPERATURES, PERFORM THE FOLLOWING
PROCEDURES. CHECK STARTING AFTER EACH STEP IF AN ADJUSTMENT IS
MADE.




CHECK VALVE CLEARANCE. SPECIFICATION IS 0.006 IN. (0.15 MM) FOR AIR-COOLED
ENGINES AND 0.010" (.25MM) FOR LIQUID-COOLED ENGINES. TO ADJUST SEE CTM-5 (A/C)
OR CTM-39 (L/C).
- CLEAN CARBURETOR. USE A SOAK STYLE CLEANER AND FOLLOW
INSTRUCTIONS. USE AN AEROSOL CARBURETOR CLEANER TO BLOW OUT ALL
PASSAGES TO BE SURE THEY ARE OPEN. RINSE CARBURETOR WITH WARM
WATER AND DRY IT WITH COMPRESSED AIR. MAKE CARBURETOR ADJUSTMENTS.
- CHECK CYLINDER COMPRESSION. SEE TM-1351, SECTION 220.
SPECIFICATION: 55 PSI (380 KPA) MINIMUM FOR FB460 ENGINES.
71 PSI (483 KPA) MINIMUM FOR FC290, FC420, FC540
FH500, FH531, AND FH601 ENGINES.
170 PSI (1171 KPA) MINIMUM FOR FD440, FD501, FD590,
AND FD620 ENGINES. (NOTE: CHECK COMPRESSION W/ ENGINE AT OPERATING TEMP)
NOTE: CYLINDER COMPRESSION SLIGHTLY BELOW MINIMUMS SPECIFIED
WILL NOT NORMALLY CAUSE HARD STARTING. COMPRESSION THAT IS
10 PSI (69 KPA) OR MORE BELOW SPECIFICATION CAN CONTRIBUTE
TO HARD STARTING.

IF COMPRESSION IS LOW, REMOVE THE CYLINDER HEAD AND INSPECT
VALVE SEATS FOR PROPER SEALING AND INSPECT VALVE STEMS FOR
EXCESSIVE DEPOSITS. DEPOSITS ON THE VALVE STEMS CAUSES
STICKING AND MAY RESULT IN LOW COMPRESSION. CLEAN VALVE
STEMS, SEATS, AND GUIDES, THEN REPEAT CYLINDER COMPRESSION
TEST.

+(IF COMPRESSION IS LOW, CHECK VALVE TRAVEL. INTAKE AND
EXHAUST VALVE TRAVEL SHOULD BE EQUAL. IF DIFFERENT, CONTACT
DTAC FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.)+

IF COMPRESSION IS STILL LOW, IT INDICATES A POSSIBLE PROBLEM
WITH THE AUTOMATIC COMPRESSION RELEASE (ACR). REPAIR THE
ACR OR REPLACE THE CAMSHAFT AS NEEDED.

IF COMPRESSION IS HIGH, APPROXIMATELY DOUBLE THE MINIMUM
SPECIFICATION, THIS ALSO INDICATES A POSSIBLE PROBLEM WITH
THE ACR. YOU SHOULD:
- CHECK VALVE LASH.
- REPAIR THE ACR.
- REPLACE THE CAMSHAFT AS NEEDED.

-- CHECK FLYWHEEL KEY. IF PARTIALLY SHEARED, REPLACE.

+(ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
SEE (M6654) FOR 4-CYCLE WBRM6'S.
SEE (M7897) FOR 240-285 LGT'2.)+

DO NOT MODIFY CHOKE PLATE. THIS ONLY TREATS
SYMPTOM AND MASKS THE REAL PROBLEM. REFER TO
ILLUSTRATION ON PRINTED BULLETIN. PROPER
ADJUSTMENT IS CRITICAL.
 

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Re: 97 - GT345 - hard to start - need advice

Definitely check to make sure the choke is fully engaging and disengaging.
Good Luck!
Dave
 

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Re: 97 - GT345 - hard to start - need advice

. I took it to the local lawn mower repair shop - ( not a Deere dealer ), he removed the carburetor & cleaned it real good, he is thinking it has a head issue. Worn valves or something else. Any ideas here ?

I am having an estimate to tear it down to inspect the heads, valve job, new head gaskets. Not sure really what to do with this. Should I get a second opinion ?

Bigdeereman, Did the local lawn mower repair shop do a compression check? He should have to say the engine needs a value job. If not, here's what you can do, and it's not all that difficult. Remove the hood, air cleaner unit, and all the hoses connected to the carburetor. Remove the muffler...take caution when you remove the bolts on the muffler, as they need some penetrating oil to help them come out. Remove the intake manifold. Remove the value cover/rocker arm covers (2) four bolts on each. Remove the head(s)...the values are in the heads, and when you remove these heads you will know if you need value job. Take the heads to the local mower repair place and see if he will do the values. Replace all the parts in order you removed them. Reverse order.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Re: 97 - GT345 - hard to start - need advice

I'm going to go get the mower today & take it to the dealer dealer. I would like to get a 2nd opinion from these guys that work on them daily. Don't have time to mess with it right now myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well one shop told me it needs a valve job or possibly new cylinder heads. Would know more once they tore it down. They think its shooting fuel straight thru while the valves are stuck open due to valve seats coming out of head. Geez, $ 1,000.00 for that estimate and he said there could be more wrong.

I decided to get a 2nd opinion, took it to the John Deere dealer -their Tech Guys diagnosed it with an electronic module that is bad thus causing to drop spark while running, rpms were set way to high, fuel pump is leaking - which is also starving the engine from fuel, & they want to install new plugs - Cost to repair - $ 350.00. I have always dealt with these guys so I will let them fix it. I will give an update once I get it back & mow with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, the John Deere dealer fixed it - electonic spark module was bad, rpms needed adjusted, new fuel pump as the old one was leaking on the back side,. Runs like a kitten now. The other guy was lost, glad I didnt take it to him.
 

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That's why I'm a great believer in troubleshooting rather than throwing parts at a problem. The first dealer would have done the unnecessary work, and you still would have had to pay to repair the real problem.
 

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That's why I'm a great believer in troubleshooting rather than throwing parts at a problem. The first dealer would have done the unnecessary work, and you still would have had to pay to repair the real problem.
clearly the "first" dealer did not know what he was talking about.

if you cannot repair yourself it sure pays to go to a johndeere mechanic as opposed to mr fixit... lot of scammers out there... :trink40:
 

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My guess would be that the flywheel key has been damaged and is partially sheered. I would pull the shield off and remove the nut and washer holding the flywheel on. Once you have the nut and washer off, you can see the key. Often, they will partially sheer and show about a 1/16" offset in the key. In this condition, the timing of the engine is significantly changed and while it will run, it often is hard starting and lacks full power when running.
 
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