How to Level John Deere Zero-Turn Mower Decks in 6 steps

posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 in Dealer News

Every so often, your zero-turn mower deck needs adjustment so that it can deliver the best possible cut to your lawn. As a general rule, you’ll want to level your mowing deck one to two times per season and additionally after coming into contact with obstructions like curbs, particularly if it’s been a forceful bump. Here’s a tutorial on how to level your Ztrak™ Zero-Turn Mower in 6 steps.

Step 1: Gather Your Mower Leveling Tools

First things first, after consulting your model-specific operator’s guide for any additional items or precautions, you’ll want to gather the equipment you’ll need to complete this job. For most leveling jobs, you’ll need the following:

  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Air source for inflating tires
  • Mower deck leveling gauge
  • Wrenches in the appropriate size
  • Working gloves
  • A flat work surface

Step 2: Get Your Zero-Turn Mower Into Position For Leveling

The next step is to pick a working space that can provide a hard, level surface such as your driveway or garage. If you’ve moved your equipment, be sure to park it with your parking brake engaged. Move the mower deck into its highest position then select your preferred recommended cutting height for your grass species. As a safety precaution, always turn off your engine and remove the key before beginning any type of work. Put on your working gloves.

Step 3: Give Your Tires a Once Over

Uneven tires can make your deck unlevel causing an irregular cut. Using your tire pressure gauge, check to make sure all of your tires are inflated to the same number within their desirable working range. Double check your operator’s manual for model-specific tire pressure ranges.

Step 4: Get Your Deck Level From Side to Side with a Mower Deck Leveling Gauge

Before you can start to level your zero-turn mower, you’ll want to double check your cut height setting (done in step 2). Let’s say you have centipede grass and you typically mow it to about 2 inches, your setting will be 2. Now you can lower the deck but be sure there’s just enough space so that the wheels are not in contact with the ground. Start with either the right or left side. If starting on the left, make sure your left mower blade is facing left. Now you can use your mower deck leveling gauge to measure the distance from the edge of your blade tip to the ground. If it’s not the same height as your selected cutting height, you’ll want to either raise or lower it with your wrenches. To raise the deck, you’ll need to adjust the rear lift rod nut by turning it clockwise. Turning it counterclockwise will lower the deck. Repeat on the other side. Note: any adjustments that exceed 1/8” will require you to adjust both left and right blades alternately. Larger adjustments can affect the opposite blade so measure again until they’re level.

Step 5: Get Your Deck Level From Front to Back Using a Mower Deck Leveling Gauge

Now that you’re leveling from front to back, you’ll want to turn the blades so they face forward rather than side to side. Similar to step 4, you’ll want to start with either the left or right side and measure from the blade tip to the ground on both sides. If the front blades aren’t within 1/8”-1/4” lower than the back blades, they’ll need to be adjusted. Start by loosening the rear nuts, then turn the front lift rod nuts clockwise to raise the blade, and counterclockwise to lower it. Don’t forget to tighten the rear nuts once this task is checked off your list.

Step 6: Double Check That The Deck is in Working Order

Bring the deck back up to its highest position. If the latch engages, you’re good to go and can now adjust your wheels back to their lowest setting. If not, you’ll first need to go back to the rear adjusting nuts to lower the deck enough for it to latch. Remember to remeasure all around the deck after making any changes. Follow the same procedures you did while leveling your mower originally.

Need more assistance with how to level your John Deere zero-turn mower deck or have other Ztrak™ maintenance questions? Find your closest Sunshine; our knowledgeable specialists are able to help with a wide variety of your zero-turn mower needs.