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Hi all,
As promised, this is my review of John Deere's X540 garden tractor. But before we begin, let me tell you a bit about my history and what led me to the X540. (Grab a cold beverage and sit back and relax. This is a long one!:praying:)
I have lived at my new place now for about a year and a half. The yard is just under 1/2 acre. The grass is in pretty good condition and the back yard is slopped wile the front yard has a steep hill. Here it is but it is hard to see the angle...it is hard to walk straight up.


The mower I was using to cut this lawn was a 2005 Bradley (Xmark clone) 32" walk behind commercial mower. It cuts GREAT and I have a home made strip kit on it. My problem was my front yard and my ankle. The yard is so steep that walking on it hurt! Plus the small wheels would spin tearing up the grass. It was fine at my old house as the yard was flat. Here is that machine:


My John Deere story started in May of this year when the neighbor across the street sold me his 1998 John Deere LT155. It needed some work but in short order, that machine was up and running and looking GOOD!

I fell in love with that tractor! The cut was great! I would say about 90% as good as my commercial walk behind and it even stripped...without a kit! Plus riding was so much more fun:fing32: I was hauling mulch and helping with the neighbors yard...just finding all kinds of things to do with the rider. I started to use this machine on the front yard and then had a few problems...first going down the hill, one of the rear tires would slip and due to the differential, would actually spin backwards tearing the sod. Second was the fear of destroying the K51 (older version of the K46) tranny. I would only cut going down and then drive back up the driveway. Not the most productive... Third was the steering...even though I had just replaced EVERYTHING, it still was kinda hard to turn and since I love to stripe, I was doing a lot of 3 point turns.


Hmmm...time to upgrade!:thThumbsU

After looking at a BUNCH of used tractors (GX345, 345, 335 etc) and noticing how well these John Deere's hold their value (especially when taken care of!) I decided to go all out and get a brand new 2010 X540! Yes overkill but I do that a lot! (Look at my camera gear...not bad for someone who wanted a good camera to take pictures at car shows! :fing20:)
I sold my LT155 with all the extras in 2 days for $1700 and I sold my Bradly in 15 minutes for $800. I used these funds to help pay for the new machine. Now that I have had this machine for a bit and have put some hours on it...it is time for my review!

First the good...and compared to the 1998 John Deere LT155:


The power from the liquid cooled Kawasaki is simply awesome! Is it possible to have too much power? Nope! Never:greendr: Will I need all of it? probably not, but it is sure nice to have. The engine is very smooth and very, very quiet. I compared this engine to the X530 and there is a noticeable difference. I also notice a HUGE difference in how stiff the frame is. I have a section in the back of my property that you can't mow over...it is basically a gully that you drive down to and have to enter on an angle. Once you come up the other side, it is a 2 foot drop down. This means the front tire will be off the ground about 8 inches while the other is pushed into the earth to the point you would think the tire would pop. Once you pass over it I would feel the LT155 twist. A lesser machine would have dropped all of it's belts! :sidelaugh With the X540, not even the slightest bit of flex!:drunkie: This is one STRONG frame! Next up is the comfort...this tractor gives the rider lots of room. I am a big guy...around 350 pounds and 6 ft tall. The older JD tractors I was looking at felt much smaller. The seat is very comfy and the tilt wheel is great for me. I leave it in the full up position. The power steering is also great. To anyone who says "they don't need it" or "their machine turns fine" has never used power steering! I test drove a new X500...the difference is night and day. I am also impressed with the headlights. They seem to not only be a bit brighter than my old tractor, but they light up more. So when I upgraded them to the halogen bulbs, I was blown away! No fear of the sun going down now!
Next on the good is the rear HDAP tires. These are GREAT! Give em 10 pounds of air and they ride real nice and the traction is awesome!
Just a little improvement from the old JD...:drunkie:


Fuel economy isn't too bad either. I also think with more seat time, it may even get a bit better. And having a gas gauge right in front of you is awesome! I hated checking the level on the LT155...trying to see it through the old plastic tank after getting off the machine!:banghead3

Next the bad... I noticed upon starting the engine, I would get a pretty good puff of smoke. It was quite noticeable and not something I was expecting from a 8K machine. After talking to the dealer and thinking about the way these engines start, I came across a simple solution. Set your throttle to 1/2. Crank the engine and at the same time slowly increase the choke. When the engine fires, release the choke. Presto! No smoke! I think the choke was just to much...
Changing the oil is easy enough. (altho JD must have used a gorilla to put my oil filter on!) The only issue is changing the filter without making a mess. No matter how I tried, oil just pours out of the filter. Oh well, this was the same with my LT155...
Next was the cut quality of the Edge 48" deck...it is not really bad but not great. I mean it cuts most every blade of grass but the finished product looks bland. That is where the LT155's 38" deck shined. But what was it? I know...it stripped! So with that I purchased the stripe kit for the new machine and all is well in the world again:fing32: Highly recommended...to the point I think it should be included! Next on the bad is something that probably doesn't bother most users and that is rattles/buzzes. The rear tail lights (I use that term loosely as they are not lights but merely red reflectors!) buzzed ant certain RPM's. The fix is easy...put a little rubber putty behind them and reinstall. The other noise maker was the front brush guard! I did 2 things that cured it...first where is mounts to the frame, there is a bushing that I ground down. This allowed the whole thing to be tighter. Now my brush par will stay in place without the bar that locks it. Speaking of that bar, I added 2 nylon washers, one on each side. This kept the bar from moving so much left to right and it also keeps the clips from scratching the sides of the guard.

Now the UGLY! :Stop: You cannot add front suitcase weights to the X540 and use the recommended locking bar! (This bar is included with the brush guard) John Deere did not measure correctly when they mounted the front bumper. If they would have pushed it out and down 1/4 of an inch, all would have been fine. Here is the problem:


I wasn't about to go hacking up my frame so this is what you have to do the weights...Air powered grinder with a cutting stone...


and in this shot, you can see everything mounted. Notice the white nylon washers:fing32:


Overall I think this is one awesome GARDEN tractor. I have found so many uses for this new tool besides cutting grass and it is fun too! While the price of such a tractor is high, you can feel the quality. I have no doubts this is a 20 year machine. I have picked up the 10P cart and while it is not as sturdy as the steel JD7 cart I had, it holds more. Plus I like the tires better and not having to release the gate to dump. I am planning on a JBJR or the JD Tractor Shovel in the near future. This should really help with the 9 yards of mulch I put down in the spring. I am also looking at the electric spreader that mounts on the back for fertilizer and seeding and also the sprayer for weed kill and ice melt.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long review. I hope it is helpful to someone who is looking to buy such a machine. I can say without a doubt that if you can afford this machine, and you take care of it, it should last you many, many years and give you service that will surprise you each time you use it.

:thThumbsU

:thThumbsU

:thThumbsU
 

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Nice review, beautiful shots!

FYI - I don't think the front locking bar is the problem, you actually are supposed to tilt the front of suitcase weights up so that "ears" would clear under the line of locking bar. This not only keep the weights from jumping off but also to hold them in place securely without sliding or rattling around. It's not difficult to tilt two suitcases but for 4 or more I would use a scrap piece of 2x4 across the botton of suitcases and use a jack to tilt them until the bar get through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nice review, beautiful shots!

FYI - I don't think the front locking bar is the problem, you actually are supposed to tilt the front of suitcase weights up so that "ears" would clear under the line of locking bar. This not only keep the weights from jumping off but also to hold them in place securely without sliding or rattling around. It's not difficult to tilt two suitcases but for 4 or more I would use a scrap piece of 2x4 across the botton of suitcases and use a jack to tilt them until the bar get through.
I know... With the X540 and just ONE weight, you could not pass the bar through no matter what you did with the weight. No amount of lifting, pushing, or anything else allowed the bar to be "bent through".

With my mod, you still have to lift the front of each weight to get the bar through.
 

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The Admin from... Nowhere!
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Excellent review, Brian, and I continue to be left awestruck by the quality of your photography!

(Of course, the subject matter of them is dang pretty too! Even without the cute blonde sitting on it! :) )
 

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Very interesting to hear another viewpoint on tractor selection. It's fascinating how varied circumstances, experiences, and preferences factor into the decision.

And the photos are fantastic -- "brochure quality".

This was a great read. Thanks for taking the time to write and post.

P.S. What's with the 20kg/40lbs weights? Doesn't 20kg = 44 lbs?
 

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Great write up
Beautiful home and great looking up keep on your "tools" .
I would like to know what kind of cleaning and waxing stuff you use????

I also had a new x540 that had the smoke on start up, but i since sold it and went to a heavy unit a x485, the x540 are real nice units. Congrats

sitting here waiting to see what kind of wax etc you use lol.
thanks.
 

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Brian, If you are not writing and producing articles for a magazine or some other type of on-line review web site, I think that you have missed your calling! Your write-up and pictures could be published in a professional brochure or magazine. Very nice! :thThumbsU

P.S. Got any pictures and stories about classic cars that I can look at and read? :trink40:
 

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Brian,

Excellent write up and very high quality photography.

I'll add that the X540 climbs hills with no strain at all. I can pull a cart loaded with wood, dirt, rocks and stone dust without a problem. The tractor acts as if nothing is being towed.

I find the cut of the 48" deck just fine and I have the mulching kit on mine. And I had a Simplicity before this one!

Enjoy the tractor!
 

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Very interesting to hear another viewpoint on tractor selection. It's fascinating how varied circumstances, experiences, and preferences factor into the decision.

And the photos are fantastic -- "brochure quality".

This was a great read. Thanks for taking the time to write and post.

P.S. What's with the 20kg/40lbs weights? Doesn't 20kg = 44 lbs?
I have 4 of of those weights and was wondering the same thing about the weight.
 

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Great review and pictures :thanku: for sharing and enjoy the new toy :thThumbsU
 

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Brian,

Your photos make me miss my D-SLR a LOT! As good as my bridge camera is.... and it's a good one.. nothing compares to an APS-C sized sensor, or larger! :)

Great write up as well!

The suitcase weights... Are these the right weights? JD makes a few different series of suitcase weights and I was just wondering if maybe they made smaller weights for the smaller frame machines, just like they make huge weights for the large frame machines.
 

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I have an idea Brian. Since you do such a great job with reviewing, I suggest you start a review website. Then go out and purchase each JD one at a time, and review them! :)
 

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Great job both pics and write up.
For those that read his original Post, you would know he uses Klass
( wax if you can call it that). KATT does too!! and it is great!!
On the smoking of the Kawasaki Liquid Cooled.
Mine will smoke enough to kill all the mosquitoes in the area, or just a puff, or not at all.. One week it smoked each start, than two weeks without even once.........
From my dealer ( my very good and knowledgeable dealer) It apparently has to do with where the engine internals land @ stopping that dictates if it will smoke on the next start.
There is no known fix at this time
As I have mentioned before my LX279 did the same thing. Never need to "ADD" oil between changes. Never had any power loss or problems in the 10 years.
If anyone has heard different I would like to know about it !!!!!!!!!



My camera is a 20 year old Mavica so the pics aren't up to snuff, but that is the KLASS sealent.
 

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The Admin from... Nowhere!
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I have an idea Brian. Since you do such a great job with reviewing, I suggest you start a review website. Then go out and purchase each JD one at a time, and review them! :)
:thThumbsU:sidelaugh:sidelaugh:sidelaugh:sidelaugh:sidelaugh:sidelaugh
 

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i re-read it and i didnt see klass in there i must have missed it.
katt can you be more specific what products and how you apply, those green and yellows machine look great.
thanks
 
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