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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Have an JD LA115 bought in 2010 and it failed to start. It started when a bee decided to put mud in the key ignition hole. Had to replace the ignition which is easy and only plugs in one way. After that It was hard to start but could by turning the key to just the right spot. Thought the switch was bad so bought another. Same problem but but it would start. FInally had JD come get it for their maintenance program and told them about the starting problem. First call from them said they needed to adjust the valves for the starting problem. $50 Next call was that didn't work, and it was the Camshaft issue $700. OK, I'm not mechanically inclined, to replace engine parts but know someone who is but not locally. SHould I try from a trade-in deal or have them fix it?

Hope to get some ideas/suggestions by Monday when I have to tell JD maintenance what my plans are

Thanks
 

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Have an JD LA115 bought in 2010 and it failed to start. It started when a bee decided to put mud in the key ignition hole. Had to replace the ignition which is easy and only plugs in one way. After that It was hard to start but could by turning the key to just the right spot. Thought the switch was bad so bought another. Same problem but but it would start.
When you say it doesn't start, do you mean it doesn't crank at all, or it cranks fine without the engine firing up? Once it's started, does it run fine or not?

$700 might be more than it's worth, and they don't sound too sure about the problem. It could be something as simple as a loose ground. I would want a second opinion, so I would ask for the tractor back. The valves would be the cause if it cranks a partial turn and then gets stuck, or it cranks very slow and the battery is good. A video would help if you're not sure how to describe it.

You can rule out the ignition switch and starter solenoid by using a pair of jumper cables. Clip the red one directly onto the stater motor post with the big red wire (be careful that it only touches the post and not the body of the starter or any other metal), clip the black one to the block or frame, and then connect the other ends to a battery to crank the engine (have parking brake set and the key on). If it cranks just fine, then you know it's something with the ignition wiring or solenoid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When you say it doesn't start, do you mean it doesn't crank at all, or it cranks fine without the engine firing up? Once it's started, does it run fine or not?

$700 might be more than it's worth, and they don't sound too sure about the problem. It could be something as simple as a loose ground. I would want a second opinion, so I would ask for the tractor back. The valves would be the cause if it cranks a partial turn and then gets stuck, or it cranks very slow and the battery is good. A video would help if you're not sure how to describe it.

You can rule out the ignition switch and starter solenoid by using a pair of jumper cables. Clip the red one directly onto the stater motor post with the big red wire (be careful that it only touches the post and not the body of the starter or any other metal), clip the black one to the block or frame, and then connect the other ends to a battery to crank the engine (have parking brake set and the key on). If it cranks just fine, then you know it's something with the ignition wiring or solenoid.
Thank you for the information. It did want to crank over but had to play with the key to get it in just the position and it started. But, when they came to pick it up, that person KEPT turning the key until some strange smell came from the engine and it WOULDN'T start.
 

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I'm kind of brutal but I would have a small engine repair guy look at it and if he gives you a high quote then sell it on CL for parts. I don't think you could get $500 if it was running fine. $700 repair bill is outrageous for that mower. You have some kind of electrical problem and the dealer may have made it worse when they came to pick it up. Run Forrest run!
 

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Silly question, but, what kind of strange smell? Burning rubber? Burning plastic? Hot/overheated metal? Did you smell the smell (ie, were you there or did this happen in the shop and has been relayed to you?)? If you were there, when there was the strange smell would it still crank over and not start, or was it no longer even cranking? And again, just to make sure that the terminology is clear, by cranking over, I mean, the starter was engaging and spinning the engine. At any time, has it seemed to be having trouble doing that (ie, the starter seemed to struggle to make the engine crank over)?

TechnicalLee's suggestion to try bypassing the ignition switch and solenoid is a good one for troubleshooting purpose (rules out some possible points of failure), just if you've never done that one before be prepared for a fairly sizeable spark when you attach the jumper cable to the other battery. Also a good idea to use a known-good battery when you do this, so you can have another possible data point for what's working/what's not.

The trick here is to try to determine whether this is an electrical issue in the starting system (the battery, the solenoid, the starter switch, any of the accompanying wiring), an electrical issue in the ignition system (the components of the tractor's system that provide spark to the spark plug), a mechanical issue with the engine (valve lash, etc, things that I'm not too familiar with myself), or an issue with fuel flow into the engine.

Just let us know if you want any more detailed background information about how things should work, so that you feel a bit more confident when talking to the JD techs....

Downside is, yeah, InspectorRudy's pretty much nailed it with whether its worth dropping $700 into that machine. It's not.
 

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In the Midwest average condition running and mowing with no problems it is worth more than $500 in the summer. No way worth the $700 to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had not one problem with the mower the 9 summers I used it. problem all started when I had to replace the ignition unit. (easy no brainer). instead of turning the key all the way to the right to start, I had to tweak it in that area to have it start and ran normal once going. Replaced switch again with same issue. As for the smell, one I never smelt before. Not electrical or rubber. This (JD pickup guy) just kept turning the key and finally stopped after the smell started. I'm not mechanically inclined to attempt this bypass stuff. My brother-in-law is but lives 2 hours away. He wants to work on it this winter. I would gladly put 2-3 hundred into it if the problem would be solved and other problem is, I have no way of transporting it to a local small engine repair for a second opinion.

I appreciate all your information
 

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Did the engine try to turn over with every key cycle but wouldn't or was it like a dead battery with out any sound? It sounds to me the JD person who picked up your mower was trying to get it to start and over heated the battery cable. This will happen when your valves need adjustment or the most common problem is a bad compression release on the camshaft. Replacing the camshaft at the dealer would be a $700 repair. If you were to do the repair yourself it would cost you about $100. Its fairly easy to do using basic hand tools. If you decide not to repair it and sell it or trade it in, I would start looking for a tractor with a V-Twin engine. The V-Twin is a more durable engine with out the long list of problems that the single cylinder Briggs has these days.
 

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This is sounding more and more like an electrical problem based on your description... Or at least, one of your problems is electrical, it's quite possible that there are more issues now. I don't know if the LA115 suffers from the same issue that many of the older JD lawn tractors do, its an issue with not getting enough voltage to the solenoid (big electromagnet that allows the full amperage of the battery to flow through to the starter) to activate it... You can jiggle the key, and you'll hear a click, click, click and eventually the solenoid MIGHT kick in and your tractor will start just fine... Take a look at this thread to see if your symptoms match what's described in it...

https://www.mytractorforum.com/345-...q-stickies-section/129440-starter-assist.html

Its quite possible that replacing the key switch because of what the bee did to it didn't actually fix the problem... that may have just bee-n a coincidence, and that you had a different issue developing. Again, I don't know the intricacies of the LA115 starting system to know if it would suffer from the same issue that the STX38s and the older 100 series often do.

BTW, I went through a similar experience with a friend's JD 125 (probably about 2 years older than yours), where it just wouldn't start at all one day... No problem, I said, it's the key switch. Same deal, no brainer to change, I ran to JD and dropped $30 on the switch and popped it in and... nothing. No fix. I then went through every single connection and switch on his tractor... twice. Until suddenly, some connection I disconnected, cleaned and reconnected miraculously made it work. Still don't know which one.
 

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I have a different take on this and think the ignition switch is likely a red herring having nothing to do with the issue. It also sounds to me that the JD Tech may have overheated the starter motor by continuously cranking it creating the smell.

Did the dealer tell you why they thought it was a valve adjustment in the first place and now a camshaft? Did they do a compression test? Not sure if that motor has a compression release or not, if it does a compression test is useless.

Can you try to get specifics as to how they diagnosed it and post the details?

I do agree that is not worth putting $700 into. Also if you do fix it, you might need a new starter motor not far down the road.

I think David Wells' post nailed it.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks denverguy Only thing I can tell everyone, is original call from the maintenance area, was the valve need adjusting $50 to solve the not starting issue. Next call was, "the valves didn't fix the issue and it's the camshaft $700. I think the guys that picked up the mower did some additional damage but I'm sure they would disagree.
$700 is cheaper than $1900 for a new one but a good start towards one if the $700 doesn't solve the problem or it's a start of more problems.. If JD is such a great mower, why only two year warranty? I know some people are really tough on mowers.

Thanks again
 

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Assuming you are wanting to fix the tractor and not do the work yourself, perhaps a replacement engine would make more sense. Not sure what JD would charge for labor or if you would consider taking it to another shop.

John Deere LA115 Repower
 

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Briggs and Stratton desperately needs to design a new single cylinder engine. I think we all have had enough of it. It has the highest failure rate that I have ever seen. There is no way to fix its problems. I call them 400 hours if your real lucky engines. This is hard for me to say because I'm a true Briggs and Stratton fan.
 

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Larry66--Once again, I'd like to ask you, when you are sitting in the seat and you turn the key, what do you hear? Clicking? Engine turning over but not starting? Engine going "er......er........er" and not starting but barley turning over? Or NOTHING but dead silence until you hit that sweet spot and it turns over and comes to life?

One more question, where is that machine right now? Your place or the dealers? If you needed to test it, can you go to it and try an experiement?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's at the dealer. New battery and ignition switch. When key was turned, it does try to turn. It acts like there was a bad spot on the switch. If I found the sweet spot it cranked right up. I did that many times before I sent it in for general maintenance and the guy kept turning the key and holding it in one place.

Yes It was kind of a clicking noise
 

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It's at the dealer. New battery and ignition switch. When key was turned, it does try to turn. It acts like there was a bad spot on the switch. If I found the sweet spot it cranked right up. I did that many times before I sent it in for general maintenance and the guy kept turning the key and holding it in one place.

Yes It was kind of a clicking noise
I'm really beginning to think that your first problem was one that would have likely been resolved by the Starter Assist relay kit. That's not to say that your Deere dealer hasn't discovered other problems now that they have it in there, but if you say it ran just fine once it started... No smoking, no odd noises or odd behaviour after it started, it just ran like it had for the previous 9 years?

I apologize that we weren't here for you sooner... Its easy for me to say, but I'd be asking them to prove to me that there is actually a $700 problem, not something that could have been solved by the John Deere Starting Improvement Relay Kit (official JD PN AM107421)

https://www.greenpartstore.com/John-Deere-Starting-Improvement-Relay-Kit-AM107421.html

Granted, when I do the following search on the JD Parts Catalog: https://partscatalog.deere.com/jdrc/search/type/parts/term/AM107421

I don't see the LA115 listed there... But... If it were me, I'd want to investigate every cheap avenue possible before concluding that I needed to have them do $700 worth of work to my tractor's engine. It is entirely possible that there was some other wiring fault preventing your tractor from starting reliably. Particularly if, once it started, it ran reliably. That's the most telling point in your whole description.

Edit - I noticed when I was reading the reviews on GreenPartsStore for that part that people have also mentioned it helping with later model Deere's like the LX line, and even Kubotas. Interesting, interesting....
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Not being able to talk engines with JD like you and all the others that gave great ideas to try, they can smoke me with any answers. I found a site that was selling models LA115 with about the same hours mine had for $700-850 running. I may already be it for $150 for the general maintenance I wanted so definitely not another 7. Guess I''ll ask what kind of end of year deals they have with mine as trade. Consumer ranks JD and Cadets about the same and everything else lower, so maybe have to stay with the JD just so I don't have to deal with a dead machine and no place to store it.

THANK YOU and everyone for all the information. Great forum for those that knows engines.
 

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Not a problem... It just makes me sad that one of the possibilities here is that they're taking you for a ride (as you said, smoking you with answers) because of your inexperience with things mechanical... It just really sticks in my craw that what I believe you have said is that before your tractor was touched by a "technician" in your yard, before it left your yard, it ran fine... once it started. And now its broken to the tune of $700?!? That doesn't add up... I'm not sure I would advise working with that dealership to do a trade-in, if you have any other option.

BTW, I wasn't innately mechanically and tractor-ily minded to start with, way back in 2009 when I first came to MTF.... Sure, I had some grounding in 4 stroke engine theory from my distant youth (nothing that you can't get out of a good book!), I'd played with a tractor as a teenager and I'd done the requisite tearing apart of old dead lawn mowers that many kids my age did (I was GREAT at tearing them apart... Not so good at ever getting them running again...). How did I learn? My very tolerant wife (LittleTractorGal) let me get my first tractor (LittleTractor) on the understanding that I'd put in the effort to learn how to maintain it and troubleshoot it... And on my first Google search, I found MTF... And I asked A LOT of questions (notice my post count!)! Once she figured I was vaguely competent with LittleTractor, LittleTractorGal agreed to let me get a project tractor to play with/learn on. At the time, we lived in the suburbs, with a postage stamp yard and a double detached garage. I agreed to give up my parking spot in the garage so that I'd have a place to play tractors... And I still come back here and ask questions (I'm not nearly as experienced as most of the real gear-heads here, that's for sure!!). We still live in the suburbs, with a bigger lot, and I'm up to six and a half tractors now... Two of which even WORK! :)

(I am pretty sure some of my neighbours think I'm nuts...)
 

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Larry--My guess is that your dealer's tech held the key there (when you turn the key and there is a "click", there is actually current going to the solenoid) he is the one that burned the solenoid up, hence the smell you mentioned.

Call your brother-in-law (sounds like he is mechanically inclined) and have him look at this thread. Then ask him to call the dealership and ask them why a known electrical problem on JD machines constitutes a $700 camshaft replacement. Or, if that doesn't work how about a neighbor or friend that is available to step in and assist? You are getting taken to the cleaners on this one I'm afraid.

What part of Ohio are you from?
 
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