John Deere X590 Problems: Reviewing Common Setbacks

John Deere X590 is one of the most popular multi-terrain lawn tractors. It has excellent stability on inclines, can tackle bumpy terrains, and generally handles whatever you’re throwing at it. Most John Deere X590 reviews praise the mower’s performance and reliability. Maintained correctly, you can expect long years of service. There are instances, though, when you may notice your John Deere X590 running rough

The most common John Deere X590 problems include engine malfunctions, issues with the electrical parts, and general mowing problems like a plugged chute or uneven grass cutting. While these drawbacks may sound concerning, they are often easier to fix than you think.

Fixing Common Problems in John Deere X590

The JD X series lawn tractors are semi-professional machines you can use with little to no trouble. However, mechanical components can sometimes fail. For instance, the John Deere X590 transmission is known for needing constant checks and maintenance. Other parts can also lead to complications in John Deere. Let’s have a look at the most common problems and how to fix them.


Tractor engine doesn’t start 

There are several reasons why your X590’s engine doesn’t start, including no fuel or old fuel, debris in the fuel system, or a faulty spark plug. Each problem requires a different fix, but you may have to run through a troubleshooting list to find the issue. Here’s how to deal with it.


1. Add or change fuel

The first thing to check when your John Deere lawn tractor doesn’t start is the fuel tank. Trying to start a mower on an empty gas tank can often happen after a period of inactivity. 

You can check the gas level in the tank with a clean oil level dipstick. Add fuel if the tank is empty or drain existing fuel and add fresh gasoline if there is fuel in the tank, but you haven’t used the mower in some time. 

You should also pay attention to the type of fuel, making sure to use the correct fuel grade.

2. Clean or replace the fuel filter

A dirty or clogged filter can also prevent the engine from igniting. The fuel filter is located under the tractor’s hood, near the fuel tank. Cleaning it could be challenging, but you can buy a John Deere fuel filter replacement kit to change it with a new one.

3. Check the spark plug

The spark plug is a small device that delivers electric current from the ignition system to the combustion chamber and produces a spark that helps ignite the fuel.

Spark plugs need little maintenance, but their tip corrodes in time. When this happens, you have to clean the tip or replace it with a new spark plug. 

In addition to the spark plug, also check the carburetor adjustment and adjust the idle mixture screw if necessary.

Engine starts hard

If the engine is starting, but you’re struggling to ignite it, the problem could be caused by dirt in the fuel pipes, a worn-out carburetor, or electrical connection problems.


1. Clean the fuel system

Dirt and debris in the fuel pipes can prevent the engine from starting smoothly. You should start by draining the old fuel and filling the tank with fresh gasoline

Clean or replace the fuel filter, and have the fuel system cleaned by a mechanic to make sure you’ve removed all residues.

In addition to the fuel tank, filters, and hoses, also check and clean the carburetor with carburetor cleaner. If it looks worn out, replace the part with a new one.

2. Inspect the spark plug 

A damaged or corroded spark plug may prevent the engine from starting right away. Take the spark plug out and wipe its tip with a paper towel. Reinstall it and try to start the engine. If you still struggle, you may have to replace it entirely.

3. Inspect electrical connections 

Loose wires or a broken starter can also cause a hard start (or prevent the engine from starting at all). Check the starter and replace any defective components. Also, inspect the electrical connections and repair or replace the wires if necessary.

Rough running engine 

Loud noises, vibrations, and an overall decline in performance are symptoms of a rough-running engine. These complications in John Deere often happen because of damaged electrical connections, blocked cooling fins or air filters, or ignition problems.


1. Clean cooling fins and air filter

John Deere tractors are reliable vehicles, and a rough running engine is almost always a symptom of plugged cooling fins or a blocked air filter

Take off the tractor hood and remove dirt from the cooling fins. Also, inspect the air filter and clean or change it if it’s dirty.

2. Test ignition and spark plug

If you’ve cleaned the fins and replaced the air filter, but the mower is still running rough, take out the spark plug and clean or replace it. Test the ignition and see if the problem is solved. If it isn’t, check the throttle cable too and repair or replace it if needed.

3. Inspect electrical connections 

Check the wires running from the starter to the engine. If you notice defective contacts, repair them or tighten the loose wires.

Engine stops or misses

Your John Deere X590 engine could stop or malfunction due to an incorrectly adjusted carburetor or an incorrect ignition coil air gap.


1. Adjust the carburetor 

  1. Adjust the idle speed mixture: Locate the air filter on top of the riding mower’s engine and remove it. Locate the idle adjustment screw on the carburetor and turn it clockwise with a screwdriver until its needle touches the seat barely. Now, turn the screw 1-1/2 turns counterclockwise. 
  2. Adjust the high-speed mixture: Locate the high-speed adjustment screw (opposite to the idle adjustment screw). Start the engine and allow it to run for about five minutes, then turn the high-speed screw clockwise until the needle barely touches the seat. Adjust it by turning it 1-1/4 turns counterclockwise.
  3. Adjust the choke linkage: Locate the choke linkage on the carburetor; move the throttle to the fast position. Loosen the bracket that holds the throttle cable in place and move the cable with your fingers until the choke plate on the carburetor closes. Tighten the bracket to block the cable in position. Check the adjustment by moving the throttle from fast to slow and vice versa a few times. The choke plate should open and close smoothly. 

2. Adjust the ignition coil air gap

The ignition coil air gap sets the correct ignition timing and should generally be between .006 and .014 inches. Adjust the gap by turning the coil mounting bolt and flywheel to widen or tighten the gap as needed.

Engine overheating

Overheating is a frequent issue in riding mowers and generally happens due to excessive engine load. An overload can happen when you’re running the mower through heavy, wet grass for several hours, for instance. Improper set valves can also cause issues, but the engine could also overheat due to a plugged air inlet or cooling fins.


1. Reduce the load

Timing the mowing sessions right can help you reduce engine load. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid mowing early in the morning or after rain, when the grass is wet. Let your lawn dry in the sun before mowing it. 

If you have a large lawn, divide it into two or three sections and mow one section at a time, letting the engine cool off completely before mowing the next section.

You should also make sure to keep the lawn mower at full throttle for the entire mowing session. If the problem persists, you might have to adjust the fast idle speed.

2. Clean dirty components

Blocked cooling fins or a clogged air intake don’t overload the engine, but they could contribute to overheating. 

Inspect the cooling fins and the air intake valve. Clean the fins and replace the air filter if it is clogged.

3. Inspect oil level and quality 

Too much or too little oil could also contribute to overheating the engine. Use the oil dipstick to check the oil level and drain excess oil or add more product if necessary.

When checking the oil level, also inspect its color and viscosity by letting it drip off the dipstick. If the oil has a dark color or it is too viscous, drain it and replace it with fresh oil.

Engine doesn’t idle speed

This problem is almost always caused by a loose or worn-out spark plug


Gain access to the spark plug and check its tightness. Tighten it if it is loose or remove it completely if it is tight. Check the spark plug and replace it if it is worn out.

Engine knocking 

While a knocking engine may concern you, the problem is often the result of incorrect fuel usage, engine overload, or incorrect adjustments. 


1. Replace the fuel 

Stale fuel or using the incorrect fuel type can cause the engine to knock. Drain the fuel in the tank and replace it with fresh gasoline.

2. Reduce engine loads

Use the tips above to reduce engine load.

3. Adjust the various components

If the problem persists, proceed to check the following components and make the necessary adjustments: 

  • Engine speed: Adjust it if too low
  • Cylinder bore and rings: Replace worn-out components
  • Valve clearance: Adjust clearance if needed
  • Connecting rods: Tighten or repair loose or worn-out rods
  • Cooling fins: Clean if dirty
  • Oil level: Add oil as required

Engine backfires 

Engine backfires when combustion takes place outside the engine’s combustion cylinders. Depending on how serious the issue is, you could end up wasting a lot of fuel or damage the engine for good. The main culprits are the carburetor or the engine valves.


To prevent engine backfire, you have to adjust the carburetor idle mixture screw and adjust or change the choke. You may also have to adjust the ignition coil air gap and the valve clearance. If the engine still backfires, have your mower serviced by a mechanic.

Loss of power

If your mower starts strong but begins to lose power along the way, you should check the fuel pump, carburetor, or governor. A broken engine may also cause this problem.


1.Inspect the air filter and oil level

Troubleshooting a riding mower that loses power should start with a general checkup of the filters and oil level.

Clogged filters could cause engine overheating and a loss of power. Too much oil can have the same effect. Both issues are easy to fix: you have to either change the air filter or drain excess oil.

2. Inspect the fuel pump and carburetor

A broken fuel pump will struggle to deliver sufficient fuel to the engine, so the next thing to check is the fuel pump output. Replacing the fuel pump may require the help of a professional mechanic but is less expensive than a new engine or a new riding mower.

The carburetor could also be a cause. Plugged passages may prevent fuel from getting into the combustion cylinders. Luckily, a clogged carburetor is easy to clean with a carburetor cleaner. Spray enough product through the carburetor’s passages until you remove all gunk, and the clean product starts oozing out of the carburetor.

3. Inspect the governor and engine

A riding mower’s governor is a sort of cruise control system that detects changes in load and adjusts the throttle accordingly. If the governor doesn’t detect load changes, the vehicle could lose power when the load increases

You should have this component tested by a mechanic and adjust it if needed. Likewise, a mechanic should inspect the engine if you suspect that it is broken.

Engine uses too much fuel

An incorrect carburetor float adjustment or the incorrect placement of the choke cable could also increase fuel consumption. 


This is one of the easiest issues to fix – all you have to do is adjust the carburetor float by turning the float screw clockwise or anticlockwise to tighten or loosen it. You should also check and adjust the choke linkage as explained above.

Black smoke coming out of the engine 

While black smoke coming out of the mower looks bad, it doesn’t generally indicate a serious problem. You’ll likely be able to fix it with an oil or air filter change.


1. Inspect and change filters and oil

The most likely culprit for black smoke is a dirty air filter or too much oil. Inspect the air filter and replace it with a new one if it’s dirty. If the air filter is clean, check the oil level and drain excess oil if necessary. If the oil is dirty, replace it with fresh oil.

2. Adjust the choke linkage 

Incorrect adjustment of the choke linkage could engage the choke only partially. Excess fuel and oil could generate black smoke. Fix the problem by adjusting the choke linkage.


Starter motor will not turn the engine

John Deere X590 riding mowers feature an electric starter that sends an electrical current to the spark plug and ignites the engine when you turn the key. A faulty starter, broken fuse, or corroded contacts can interfere with the process and prevent the engine from starting. 


1. Check the battery

Sometimes, the reason why the starter doesn’t work is a faulty battery. Check the battery with a voltmeter and if it reads below 12.4 volts, charge or replace it.

2. Check the starter and terminals

To check the starter, you have to remove it from the mower and test it with a battery booster. A cranky sound but no spinning indicates that it needs a replacement.

If the starter spins but is dirty or corroded, clean it. You should also inspect the terminal contacts and clean them from rust and corrosion.

3. Test the ignition switch

You should also test the ignition switch with a multimeter. If the resistance value is higher than 0.01, replace the switch with a new one

Battery doesn’t charge

A faulty battery won’t power up the ignition switch or the other electrical components of your riding lawn mower. 


The only fix to this problem is to replace the old battery with a new one.

Lighting does not function

Malfunctioning lighting is not a cause for concern. The most likely culprits are the lighting wires or the light bulbs themselves.


1. Replace the light bulbs

Access the headlights from under the hood and remove them. Test each bulb separately and see if they work. Replace with new ones if they don’t.

2. Test the circuit

If the lights work fine, check the wiring. Tighten any loose wires or replace broken ones


Discharge Chute Plugged

A plugged discharge chute could seem like a nightmare, but this mowing problem is easier to fix than you think. Good mowing practices can often solve the issue.


1. Adjust the mowing speed

Driving your JD at high speed can clog the discharge chute because the vehicle can’t dispose of the clippings in a timely fashion. The mowing speed shouldn’t exceed 4-8 mph, depending on the type of grass and terrain.

2. Adjust the cutting height

Alongside the speed, you should also adjust the cutting height based on the type of grass. Cutting the grass too short will usually clog the chute.

Patches of grass uncut

A plugged discharge chute often leads to uneven cut grass with patches of uncut grass left behind. Other reasons include defective blades or a full discharge bag.


1. Sharpen the blades

Your mower’s blades are often to blame when the grass is cut unevenly. Inspect the blades and sharpen them. If stones or other obstacles damage them, replace them with new blades.

2. Clean the deck

A dirty deck can affect the mowing quality even if the blades are sharp. Wash the deck with a garden hose after each use to prevent the issue.

3. Empty the collection bag

If you’re using a collection bag to gather grass clippings, keep in mind that your mower might stop cutting the grass when the bag is full. Check the bag if you notice uncut patches and empty it if needed.

4. Level the mower deck

Another reason for uneven cut grass is an uneven deck. Check the deck level with a gauge and adjust it if necessary.

Slipping drive belt

The main reason why the drive belt slips is a worn-out or damaged belt. Another common problem is an incorrect belt tension, but dirt in the sheaves can also cause it to slip.


1. Clean the sheaves 

Dirt in the sheaves can accumulate and push the belt out of the pulleys. Maintaining your mower properly and cleaning it regularly is key to preventing this issue.

2. Adjust the belt tension 

Incorrect belt tension is another common issue. You can tighten it with a cable adjustment.

3. Replace the belt

If the belt is old and worn out, a cable adjustment may not help. In this case, you have to take off the old belt and replace it with a new one.

Excessive mower vibration

There are two main reasons why a mower might vibrate excessively: problems with the drive belt or improper blade balancing. 


1. Align the blades 

Check the distance between the blades and the soil with a gauge. If the front and rear of the blades are misaligned, adjust the level to balance them.

2. Check the drive belt

A worn-out drive belt can also cause excessive vibrations, but the problem could also be that the belt and pulley are misaligned. Align or replace the belt as needed.

Blades scalp grass

Grass scalping can result in a very unattractive lawn. More often than not, the problem is the cutting height or bent blades. However, deflated tires could also be the culprit. 


1. Adjust the cutting height

A cutting height set too low is the main reason for grass scalping. Check the recommended cutting height for the type of grass you have, and make sure you set the correct height when mowing your lawn.

2. Inflate the tires

If the cutting height is set correctly, but mowing the lawn still results in scalping, you may have to inflate the mower’s tires. Check the tire pressure and inflate them if necessary.

3. Replace damaged blades

Bent blades can also be a reason for lawn scalping. Check the blades; if they are bent or damaged, replace them with new ones.

Uneven Cut

Dull blades, uneven tire pressure, or an uneven deck can result in uneven cuts. 


1. Sharpen the blades

Test the blades’ sharpness and sharpen them if needed. If the blades are very dull and worn out, replace them with new blades.

2. Adjust the tire pressure

Uneven tire pressure can cause one side of the mower to sit closer to the ground than the other. The problem is easy to fix by simply adjusting the tire pressure.

3. Adjust the deck level

Another thing to check is the cutting deck level. Use a gauge to measure the distance from the ground to the deck on all deck sides. Adjust accordingly to level it. While you’re at it, also check the deck rollers and make sure they are adjusted properly.

Troubleshooting X590 System Failures

The X590 system can present all problems above, but some failures are more frequent than others. Let’s check them out and see how to fix them if your John Deere is running rough.


Vibrations are a common occurrence in most John Deere tractors. They are generally caused by a worn-out or damaged drive belt or damaged blades.


Inspect the drive belt, looking for signs of wear and tear. If the drive belt is damaged, you have to replace it. Also, inspect the cutting blades and see if they are loose or unbalanced.


Replace the drive belt

  1. Remove the mower deck by disconnecting it from the main tractor body.
  2. Release the belt holders and take the belt off the engine pulley (the pulley connected to the drive shaft). 
  3. Take a snapshot of the belt’s position on the deck, then remove it from the deck pulleys.
  4. Use the snapshot to position the new belt on the deck pulleys and pass it through the belt keeper.
  5. Push the mower deck under the mower and reconnect it, then hook the belt to the engine pulley.

Replace defective blades

  1. Remove the deck by disconnecting it from the main tractor body. 
  2. Flip the deck upside down. 
  3. Remove the old blades by unfastening the bolts holding them in place. 
  4. Replace them with the new blades, then reinstall the deck.
  5. Use a gauge to check the blade balance and adjust it if necessary.

Lawn Mower Won’t Move

An engine that starts but a mower that won’t move regardless sounds like a nightmare, but the problem is generally easy to diagnose and fix.


Start by checking the parking brake and make sure it’s disengaged. The bypass valve could also be activated, or the transmission has too little or too much oil.


Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, the issue is easy to fix. If the parking brake is locked, release it. Deactivate the bypass valve if necessary. If you’ve detected a low or too high oil level, add oil or drain some of it. 

Advice To Prolong Life Expectancy Of JD Mowers

With proper care and maintenance, the life expectancy of a John Deere riding mower is 20 years or more. The key to a long lifespan is taking care of all issues as quickly as possible once you notice them. Here are a few maintenance tips: 

After you’ve started the mower for the first time, lubricate the spindles and pivot points.

  • Clean the deck area after each use to prevent plugging the discharge chute or damaging the blades and deck.
  • Inspect the safety chute and lubricate the spindle and pivot points every 25 hours of service (about twice a year). 
  • Inspect the oil levels, replace the air and fuel filters, and clean the cooling fins every 50 hours of service (about once a year). Once a year, you should also replace the spark plug.
  • To hibernate the mower, drain the fuel and replace the used oil with a new one. Lubricate all components and clean the carburetor if necessary. Don’t forget to add fuel when starting the mower for the first time in the warm season.


John Deere riding lawn mowers aren’t exactly synonymous with trouble, but issues can arise now and then. We hope this guide can help you troubleshoot your vehicle and fix all problems in no time.