John Deere STX38 Problems FIXED (4 Issues Explained)

One of John Deere’s most well-known lawn tractors, the STX38 was produced from 1988 to 1997. This mower is available on black and yellow deck versions. However, using it infrequently could result in a few unexpected issues.

Have you ever faced John Deere STX38 problems? Several issues include the shifting trouble, belt issues, engine overheat problem, etc. Sometimes common sense could help to solve these issues. However, you’ll need to provide more frequent services if you work in a particularly hot, dusty, or rugged area.

Today, I come to solve these JD STX38 issues yourself quickly. In addition, I’ll give you some estimates for the cost of overhauling it. But first, let’s take a look at the STX38 JD specifications.

John Deere STX38 Specs

Here are some specs of the John Deere STX38 tractor- 

  • Engine Power – 12.5HP Kohler 398cc 1-cyl Gasoline
  • Operating Weight – 433 lbs or 196 kg
  • Fuel Tank Capacity – 1.25 gal
  • Transmissions – Hydrostatic 
  • Clutch – Electric
  • Battery Volts – 12
  • Steering – Manual
  • Charging system – Flywheel alternator
  • Compression – 8.5:1
  • Number of gears – 5 forward and 1 reverse

What are Common Troubles of John Deere STX38 Lawn Tractor?

John Deere STX38 Problems

After knowing about the specs of JD STX38, you can have some idea about its functioning. Comfort is a priority in the design of the John Deere lawn mower. 

The spacious operator’s area helps to prevent tiredness while mowing or performing other duties. Still, some users complained about its operations. 

Several major and minor issues of John Deere STX38 are-

  • Shifting problem
  • Engine overheats
  • Belt issues
  • Engine backfires
  • Starting issues
  • Brake trouble
  • Transmission problem
  • PTO difficulties

Troubleshooting John Deere STX38 Problems

After discussing about the difficulties you may face, I’m highlighting 4 top issues and their solutions for STX38 JD lawn tractor.

1. Shifting Problem

It’s one of the most reported issues of JD SSX38 garden tractor. It might be caused due to problems with the gear and clutch. 

Let’s now examine the solutions to the shifting difficulty.

Step 1: If you want to move forward more quickly, pause, or change gears. But,  don’t switch on the fly.

Step 2: Check the shift linkage and be sure it’s tight correctly at the transmission.

Step 3: Sometimes you might hear an unusual sound, if this happens the transmission might be worn out. In that case, you have to replace the transmission transsexuals.

The new replacement transmission part is quite expensive, however you may find some used ones below 500 bucks.

2. Engine Overheats

Another problem of JD STX38 tractors is the 3-point lowering issue. The reasons behind this issue are incorrect oil level, seals leaking, reed valve damaged, faulty thermostat, drain hole plugged, and engine mount hardware loose or broken.

 If you are facing this difficulty, follow the steps below to solve it.

Step 1: Inspect the oil and add oil if necessary.

Step 2: Check the thermostat and replace the faulty one.

Step 3: Clean the dust and debris. Also, check for any leakage.

JD STX38 thermostat is available for 20 bucks approximately.

3. Belt Issues

Some models of STX38 John Deere, especially the black deck ones show belt hitches. When belt falls off, grab the pulley first and give a good wiggle there. If you see slop in the idler pulley will wiggle.

To fix it follow the steps below.

Step 1: Check the belt, if it’s chewed up replace it.

Step 2: Also inspect the blades and spindles. Change them it needed.

The replacement belt cost around 40 bucks. On the other hand, spindles and blades prices are 15 and 30 bucks on average.

The video below shows the ways to troubleshoot SSX John Deere belt trouble.

4. Engine Backfires

Engine backfiring is another concerning thing of the SSX38 John Deere mower. The root causes are engine gaskets or seals leaking, and valve guides or seals being worn or leaking.  

Now let’s check out the answer to this problem. 

Step 1: Check the butterfly shaft. Sometimes it may get stuck due to bad weather like winter.

Step 2: Inspect the spark plug, starter, and seat switch. If necessary, replace them.

Step 3: The ignition module might be faulty. In that case, change it.

Necessary costs to replace the different parts to solve STX38 engine backfire issues are shown in the following table- 

John Deere STX38 Parts NameReplacement Cost
Ignition switch20 USD
Spark plug10 to 15 USD
Starter40 USD

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What sort of oil is required for a John Deere STX38?

A. When temperatures are above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), two quarts of premium detergent oil with API service classes SG, SH, and SJ and an SAE grade of 10W-30 are required. Besides, a 5W-20 or 5W-30 grade oil is required if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

A. The cost of this tractor is budget-friendly that increases its popularity. You can get the lawn mower tractor for $2,350.

Q. Which size battery does John Deere STX38 require?

A. The JD STX38 requires one SP12-35 NB (12 V 35 AH) battery.

Q. What are the different models of the STX38 John Deere?

A. The STX38 was available in two main configurations: the early “yellow deck” from 1989 to 1993 and the latter “black deck” from 1994 to 1997.

Q. Which model is eco-friendly between black and yellow deck JD STX38 tractor?

A. In 1994, the original “yellow-deck” STX38 was replaced with the “black-deck” variant. Compared to the yellow-deck, this black-deck type is regarded as an economy model with fewer features. 


The John Deere STX38 is ideal if you need a cost-effective, robust, and a trustworthy garden tractor. With its various features and advantages, you may swiftly and conveniently do your gardening jobs. 

Proper maintenance and frequent use can make it longer lasting and help you avoid its the most common troubles.

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Hi! I’m Wesley Thomas, a mechanical engineer with over 5 years experience in the garden and heavy machinery. I'll guide you to fix lawn tractors and mowers issues as well as other machineries used in lawn projects. Read my blogs and make your mowing and lawn projects easier.

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