How to Level a Mower Deck and Ensure an Even Cut

May 22, 2017

As you mow around your house, business, or any other property with a John Deere mower, there’s a chance you may notice ridges forming where you have passed through. These ridges have likely formed because the mower deck may not be completely leveled.

How to Level a Mower Deck

Thankfully, leveling a mower deck can be done in a short amount of time and as soon as the process is done, you can get back to cutting the grass just the way you want it to look. For the best results, the mower deck needs to be leveled from side to side and front to rear.

Here’s how to level a mower deck if you’re working with a John Deere X300, X500, or ZTrak™ mower.

To get started, you will need:

  • Tire air pressure gauge
  • Mower gauge
  • Exact Adjust™ wrench
  • 18-mm wrench

How to Level a John Deere X300 and X500 Mower Deck

Before leveling a mower deck, park the machine on a hard and flat surface, shut the engine off, set the parking brake, and remove the key. Next, ensure the tractor’s tires are properly inflated (check the Operator’s Manual for ideal tire pressure numbers).

After this, raise the mower and place the mower cutting height knob at the position identified for deck leveling. Lower the mower and verify that the mower wheels are not touching the ground (raise if necessary). Then, place the Exact Adjust gauge under the mower at the adjustment point near the left rear corner. If the mower does not make contact with the gauge, adjust the deck as needed.

Next, check the mower front to back level at the front adjustment point on the front left deck hanger bracket. If necessary, use the 18-mm wrench to loosen the rear nuts on each of the front lift rods, then turn the nuts equally on each side until the gauge slips under the front adjustment point.

Now, fully raise the mower and adjust the height control knob to the desired height, then lower the mower. Adjust the wheels so they’re at least 1/4 inch off the ground. The wheels will carry the mower deck over higher areas in the lawn to give it a smooth and even cut.

How to Level a John Deere ZTrak Mower Deck

With the machine parked, mount the mower and raise the deck into the transport position. With the deck in this position, be sure to inspect the mower blades for sharpness, damage, or signs of a bent blade. Each of these factors can impact the quality of the cut that your mower deck produces. Then, make sure the mower’s anti-scalp wheels are not in contact with the ground.

To begin the leveling the mower deck, lower it to 76 mm (3 in.). Next, position the right mower blade on the discharge side in the front to rear position. When the blades are in the correct position, measure the distance between the front blade tip to the ground. Using a leveling gauge, check the mower blade level. The front blade tip should be 76 mm or 3 inches, with a tolerance of +/- 2 mm.

After this is done, move to the other side of the machine and position the mower blade in the front to rear position. Measure the blade’s tip to ensure it is 76 mm as well.

If one side is lower than the other, loosen the jam nut on the adjustment rod and turn the rod tube as needed to bring the tip into the proper position. When completed, lock the jam nut to secure the setting. Re-check both sides of the deck after the adjustment has been made to ensure it’s within specification.

Now, it’s time to check the deck’s front to rear measurement. With the deck still in the 3-inch cutting height, position the right mower blade in the front to rear position. Use the leveling gauge to measure from the right front blade tip to the ground. Turn the blade 180 degrees and measure from the right rear blade tip to the ground. The height of the rear blade tip should be between 3-6 mm higher than the front blade tip. If this is not the case, make the necessary adjustments.

Final Thoughts

With a level mower deck, you will be able to mow with confidence and eliminate uneven cuts. If you have any questions about how to level a mower deck, or you’re looking for mowing equipment to add to your fleet, contact your local John Deere dealer.

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