Should You Buy John Deere Mowers at Box Stores?

By Todd Fratzel on Landscaping

Article Update

This has been a popular article for quite some time. I wanted to update it and respond to some of the comments that have been left about my take on things. More specifically I want to comment about some of the confusion in the comments. It is true that some of the Box Stores sell some of the same exact models that you can find at the John Deere dealers.

At a recent John Deere Media Event I also learned that every John Deere Mower that is sold at a box store is inspected on-site by a John Deere dealer. A local dealer visits the store, inspects the mower, places a sticker on it so you know where the local dealer is located.

What’s also true is the Box Stores only carry entry level, low price point machines so they can compete with the other lower priced brands.

Regardless of how you feel on the topic the main point of the article is this, you get what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.

Buying John Deere Mowers

x300 john deere 300x216 Should You Buy John Deere Mowers at Box Stores?You see the ads every Sunday from your local “Big Box Stores”, you know the ones, the orange place and the blue place. They advertise a brand new John Deere mower at a price point comparable to brands with far less reputation.

Like you I was amazed that they could sell the thing for such a great price. The John Deere 42″ X300 shown in the adjacent photo retails for $3,099.99. The John Deere BG20444 (sometimes also sold as the LA105) shown in the photo below retails for $1,499.00. The BG20444 is a model sold exclusively at Home Depot.

Apples To Apples?

BG20444 John Deere Should You Buy John Deere Mowers at Box Stores?

Both of these are John Deere 42″ mowers. The one from HD is a model manufactured exclusively for HD. Here’s where the problem starts. The big box stores have made deals with manufactures to supply exclusive products at attractive price points. I know there are many people who will argue this fact and say there is no difference. However, go to the John Deere site and search for Model BG20444, you will not find it. You will find the LA105 which is a similar tractor but the BG20444 was manufactured specifically for HD.

Whether you agree or disagree with this argument is really no big deal. What is a big deal is paying attention to specifications and truly understanding what you’re about to buy. The reality is that high end brands (like John Deere and many others) have jumped on the big box store wagon and started manufacturing lower price point products so they don’t miss out on sales. The old saying holds true, you get what you paid for.

I bring this up because I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some John Deere dealers that are frustrated with the results of this practice. They end up seeing the customers when something breaks or doesn’t work correctly anymore. The number of John Deere mowers now sold in this Country is huge because of the lower price points. However, the lower price (lower quality ?) mowers are far more prone to break down and suffer from wear and tear. The cheaper models show up in their repair shops repeatedly for worn out and broken parts. When they explain to the customer that there is a huge difference between a lower priced model purchased at the big box store and a upgraded model they might find at a dealer the customer has a hard time understanding.

The big box stores and manufacturers (yes I blame them both!) play some interesting games with the specifications to trick the average Joe. For instance, the two models I’ve compared here do not have the same size engine. In fact, the cheaper model has a larger motor, 19.5 HP, while the X300 only has a 17 HP engine. So an unsuspecting customer might stop right there and think the larger motor and cheaper price must mean he’s getting a better deal. The reality is the bigger motor isn’t as nice as the smaller motor and the rest of the machine is no where as good quality (plastic parts, thinner metal frames, etc).

When I purchased my X300 the dealer was pretty blunt with me. He said listen, if you want to buy half the machine then we’ll sell you one of those or go back down the hill to the orange building and get one. But make sure you save the other $1,400 because you’ll need it repairing the cheaper model. I’m no dummy and I know that you get what you pay for so it wasn’t a hard decision for me.

The bottom line is this, if you see something that seems too good to be true, IT IS! Please understand how these franchises are operating in this country and do your research before you make a major purchase and find yourself unsatisfied later. Secondly, don’t blame the repair man for the expensive frequent repairs if you choose the cheaper model. I’d like to say that I believe the blame goes to John Deere and the big box stores for reducing their quality to make a sale. However, I understand that the market place is a tough place to survive.

Related Posts:
John Deere X300 Mulching Mower Works Great
John Deere X300 Mulching Mower

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the author of Tool Box Buzz and Today's Green Construction. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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87 Comments

  1. threeacres says:

    Just another reason why I don’t like HD. My grandfather would be appalled if I bought a John Deere tractor from HD! He used to own a John Deere dealership and now collects John Deere tractor scale models. I’m jealous you have the x300. We had to settle for buying the previous owner’s lawn mower because it was such a good deal. Someday we’ll upgrade to a John Deere.

    • Jim says:

      Think twice about “upgrading” to a JD,, I bought one from a JD dealer, supposedly better than the ones from a box store, Wrong, the biggest piece of junk I’ve ever owned.

      • Dave W says:

        My dad did the same thing… and has had nothing but repeated problems. To top it off, the dealer finally admitted that they knew he was getting a substandard product when he bought it. As a result he has sworn off John Deere altogether and has warned me to never get one. His philosophy now is “if I going to end up with a cheap mower no matter what then I’m just going to go to Walmarts and buy the cheapest thing they got… because regardless of the name or price tag I’ll be replacing it in a few years anyways.”

        • Todd says:

          I wouldn’t classify all JD’s that way. I have an X300 and it’s on it’s 5th season and it’s still working like brand new.

          • Marcus says:

            I’m in my 4th year mowing 1/2 acre on a L125 and I love it. Been pushing snow with it all winters too. Run’s great. If I were needing to cut more than an acre or two, I definately would have bought a bigger machine, but this one fit in my budget, and works great.

  2. Brooklyn Row House says:

    Indeed. And they do it with name brand power tools too, and that was confirmed to me by a former northeast DM for Bosch.

    In 2000, I bought a Milwaukee Super Sawzall from the orange store. I took it home. Motor ran/blade no go. Took it back and got another one. Same freakin’ problem. Took it back and this time had the tool crib guy test it for me.

    About a year later, I was cutting some soft metal when the blade stopped. Motor ran/blade no go. Back to HD, where I’m told it will take as long as six weeks to get it repaired. They advise me to take it to House of Tools in Coney Island, which is a franchised Milwaukee shop which does on-site repairs.

    The guy opened it up and immediately said, “Home Depot, huh?” I asked him how he knew and he showed me the plastic parts which are metal in the non-HD model. That included the critical mechanism that broke in mine.

    Two days later, House of Tools told me the saw was ready. I was handed a $78 repair bill. What?? Milwaukee tools are supposed to have a lifetime guarantee! The owner looked up and said, “The lifetime of your particular model is one year. Read the warranty.”

  3. Todd says:

    I always had my suspicions but once I actually talked to a couple of dealers and started to hear the differences I was pretty amazed. Again I’m not going to fault John Deere, I just want people to know there is a HUGE difference in the quality so you need to adjust your expectations.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You scared the Bejesus out of me yesterday when I read your comments about reduced quality John Deere machines at the Orange and Blue, becasue I had discovered the model on both the HD and Lowes sites and was thinking hard about them. So instead, I went to the John Deere site and found the LA105 at the same price HD/Lowe’s was charging for what you said was a cheap knock-off, $1,499. Then, just for the hell of it last night, I went to Lowes and looked for myself. The model at Lowes listed as the BG20444 said “LA105″ on the side, not “X300″. And the sales guy swears it’s the same LA105 I’d get if I went to a JD dealer (as a matter of fact, the Lowes machine had a sticker from the local JD dealer stuck on it). And the price is the same, $1499.00. So what gives? Why would Lowes and John Deere sell something called by the same model number (LA105) at the same price ($1499.00) and the one at Lowes be junk while the one at JD is of high quality. Doesn’t make sense to me…?

    • terry says:

      because john deere seen that lowes and home depot was selling a lot of that junk and they thought they would git in on the bandwagon sad part they are like most big companies they could care less about quality anymore those mowers are the proof all they want is a extra buck my daddy would flip over in his grave if he knew john deere had sunk that lowe we farmed he would not have nothing but jd tractors because those 4020 4320 4620 tractors from the 60s and early 70s are still working just like the mowers they made then jd dont even make them junk mowers at hd and lowes that should tell u something

  5. Todd says:

    I think you’ve come across the rare occasion where you are comparing apples to apples. You certainly are not buying an X300 for that price! Typically HD and Blue only carry models that are specifically manufactured for them. I’ve spoken to many folks about this topic and John Deere stores DO NOT carry those special models. I’m a bit confused myself….just know that the LA series are on the lower end of the spectrum.

    • David says:

      Todds answer about it being a “Rare” occasion is a complete fabrication. He was talking out his armpit.
      an LA-105 is EXACTLY the same at EVERY store it was ever sold at.
      As for box stores having different John Deer or Cub Cadets made just for them, that too is a fabrication.
      It never happened.
      Washer, dryers, refers, dishwashers…yes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think I am, Todd, you’re absolutely right. And thanks for the warning about the LA’s being low end. I have about 3/4 of an acre, mostly flat, a couple of very gentle slopes, so the LA105 ought to be fine for me. Now the only question is to buy at Blue, who is open the kind of hours that people with jobs appreciate, or take time off from work to go to the JD dealer who has banker’s hours…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Been struggling to reconcile the different specs/model numbers from big box vs. dealership — so frustrating. Your post is really, really useful — thank you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The BG20444 is identical to the John Deere LA105, same specs, same price. The 300 series refered to is like comparing Schaefer beer to Spaten Oktoberfest. Yes you get what you pay for.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ibougth from a big box and have never had a problem. My riding mower has run perfect with standard tune ups for 3 years. I have 11 acres 4 which I mow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Another example of an uninformed and uneducated writer twisting facts to suit his perception of a story. While many companies DO water down the quality of the models they sell at the big box stores, the 100 Series mowers at Lowes and HD are EXACTLY the same as the 100 series models you can buy a a JD dealer. They are low-end, residential mowers comparable to other similar mowers in the same price range. They are set up by local dealers, who attach their stickers to the mowers so owners will know where they can get local service. The 300 Series mowers are the “cadillac” of mowers; compare the specs. Better engine, stronger components, more features (such as cruise control), etc. But a 100 Series mower is a 100 Series mower whether bought at the big box or the local dealer. And you won’t save any $$ at the big box; the dealers sell them at the same price. Like an earlier poster said, though, do you want to take time off from work to buy a mower from a dealer with bankers hours, or do you want to shop at your convenience. My local JD dealer wouldn’t give me the time of day when I stopped there FIRST, so I bought mine at the big box store. Many dealers think they are above needed to sell these things due to the reputation JD has. But you still need to treat your customers with respect.

  11. Todd says:

    @ anonymous – I actually still disagree. However, even if you’re correct I’d argue the opposite of your experience and I mean no offense. I’ve yet to go to a HD or Lowes and get the same kind of customer service and knowledge that you can get from a JD dealer. In addition, JD dealers around here are open Saturdays, when I bought mine. My problem is you go to a box store and think you’re getting a great product when in fact you’re getting a watered down item that they sell because of the brand.

  12. Don Mak says:

    Computer manufacturers do the same thing when they sell their HP and COMPAQ PC’s at Costco and SAMS Club. Same basic marketing model, different products

  13. Matthew says:

    I think it can be summed up best by comparing the Deere L series to the Ford Ranger 2X4, no matter where you buy it, it is still a Ford Ranger 2X4. Although the Ranger 2X4 comes in different models, king cab, crew cab etc, it is still a Ranger 2X4. Most people that buy a Deere from a box store think they are getting the F150, F250 or F350 4WD.

    People see green and think big John Deere like they see on the farm…FUNNY.

    If you buy a John Deere at a box store keep in mind it is going to cost you about $150-$250 or more annually to run, all dependent on the size of the job. Most people buy things today think they can turn the key and it should run, these are the same people that don’t get their car serviced regularly or change their oil. The same people that complain when their car needs tons of maintenance because they didn’t care for the up keep. The same person that thinks the cost of ownership is what they paid when they bought the item. How much does a car cost, is it what the sticker on the window says? Forget about gas, car insurance, regular maintenance, or the big ones like depreciation, financing charges, annual state tax and tag fees, and repairs.

    I purchased a John Deere LT 172 Tractor from my local John Deere dealership in 1991, I am still using this machine in 2009. From 1991-1995, I operated a lawn maintenance company while in high school. Aside from my business, I was required to mow 6 acres every week as my principal chore at home, the LX-172 was my tractor. I can’t begin to tell you the number of hours that I have logged on this JD, but I can tell you the number of times that I had it serviced, the exact parts I have had to replaced, and the number of times something broke on the tractor.

    I take the tractor every year to my local authorized JD dealer for service. In addition to the service I grease the points, sharpen the blades a few times and change the oil for a second time. In 2008 I paid $78.00 for the annual service.

    Over the 17 years of ownership, I have had to replace 7 drive belts, 6 batteries, 23 sets of blades, 26 new spark plugs, 2 sets of brakes and 1 complete set of tires. The only parts I can recall breaking over the years is the plastic throttle lever and a tie rod.

    If it were me, I would buy from the dealership who knows more about the product and service, but what do I know.

    • Todd says:

      @ Matthew – Well said! As far as I’m concerned the debate isn’t all that hard. You get what you pay for…further…if you buy from a dealer you know they can help when something does finally break.

  14. Mike A. says:

    The folks on here who are saying they are the same are correct.

    The J.D. tractors available at Lowes and HD (i.e. LA175) are the exact same as the ones at a dealer if you are looking at the same model in both places. The ones in the big box stores are set up by the local dealer.

    J.D. was smart enough to give the local dealers a piece of the action — the fee for setting up the tractor that is then shipped on to Lowes or H.D. Once they had their piece, they were happy and no longer feel the need to spread inaccurate information.

    In the beginning, when JD started selling at big box stores, the dealers were pissed b/c they had to compete at a price point that cut big time into their margin.

    With all that said, if you are buying a 100 series mower, no matter whether you buy it at Lowes or a dealer, you are buying an ENTRY level machine at an ENTRY level price point, so the manufacturer (i.e. JD) is cutting corners somewhere.

  15. Glenn, Greenville NC says:

    Well the x-wife got the JD mower in the divorce. It was sticking point in the seperation bc she new it would hurt to the core! that one came from the dealer and never had a minutes problem with it. Now for financial reasons, (see above!) I am forced to look at the big box models. Not feeling good abt the lower priced products.
    Bought the last one to keep lots mowed, Im a contractor with vacant lots, so knew I needed a good mower. Now that mower is being used to mow 1/4 acre, WHAT a waste of a good machine!
    Any suggestions? The grass is starting to grow and a decision has to be made.

  16. John says:

    Check the following web site—-MytractorForm.com. Go under Lawn and Garden Tractors By Brand. And then check out John Deere Lawn Tractor L130 – dying hydrostatic drive. I have a L130 with 170 hrs and it has DEAD trany !!!!! The Ct John Deere dealer said the trany cost for the trany was $ 671.00, that does not include labor !!!! I am doing the up grade as we speak, as if the John Deere Co does the same replacement you will get the same trany again and it will only last the same or less hours and dye again !!!!!! My Hope that there is a Class Action Law Suite And I and other John Deere owners are paid for the problems that they have made a poor products.

  17. Marty says:

    I have now experienced this first hand and I’m not very happy. I bought a JD G110 Lawn Tractor from HD and it lasted 3 mow seasons. Died with 135 hours on the motor. When I discussed this with the JD rep and the local JD dealer, I was essentially told I was out of luck and needed to buy a select mower from the dealer to get a quality mower. I paid nearly $3000.00 for my G110 tractor and now being asked to shell out another $4000 for a new mower. Not happy.

  18. Adam says:

    Folks, I have become friends with the owner of the local JD dealership. I had previously bought my LA175 from HD. The machine was delivered to the local dealer for assembly and delivery to me. He has assured me that it is the same machine, I know him and he wouldn’t lie about that. I would have bought from him (next time)but I didn’t know him then. He got paid for set up and delivery though.

    • Todd says:

      @ Adam – I think there has been sufficient information gathered over the last year on this topic to back up what you are saying. I think the bigger issue here is you get what you pay for. These lower end models are being promoted at the big box stores so much that consumers fail to realize there are much better quality models available. The old saying you get what you pay for is surely appropriate with the LA175 as the number of complaints will justify. Thanks for your input.

  19. Wayne says:

    I have read all of the comments. I also proved on the JD site that the JD 100 series is the Lowes 100 series. Now it’s an even playing field comparing apples with apples. If the 100 series is so horrible, why is John Deere watering down their fine reputation to begin with? It’s their name on it. I have a 10% off coupon for Lowes which brings it down to $1350.00. My question is: Is this mower better than the Troy-Bilt, (which appears to be a MTD), and Husqvarna, (which has a Kohler motor), mowers they also sell? My coupon will work on any of them. I can do my own repairs and maintenance so that is not an issue. I’m wondering if the John Deere is just a glorified mower with MTD components. I’ve bought too many MTDs in the past. Any comments are appreciated. Thanks.

    • Todd says:

      @ Wayne – I think we all now realize that the JD100 is the same machine. I think the issue here is you get what you pay for. I think lots of people were buying the 100 series thinking they would be getting the same mower that a 300 series is. The bottom line is you get what you pay for. All I can speak to is the quality of the 300 series. I’ve seen too many complaints about the 100 series to ever recommend it. Good luck and I hope someone can chime in with their experiences on the other makes you listed. Happy New Year

  20. Wayne says:

    Thanks Todd. I went to my Consumer Reports Online account tonight and looked it up. They rated John Deere as a general brand at the top of their scale. Specifically though, they named the LA115 as a best buy. The one I am looking at is the LA105 which, at a glance, has similar specs to the LA115. I will spend more time scrutinizing it this weekend. The 300 series at $3,000.00 is just too much as I could but 3 MTDs for that and I definitely know how to work on them, LOL. To support what you are saying though about the 300 series, the X304 was 1st, Craftsman 28933 was second, X300 was 3rd, and the LA115 was 4th. There were many others below those 4. If I get what I pay for, it looks like I’m better off kicking in $400.00 more and getting the Deere. The brand reliability score was based upon 18,600 readers who bought a riding mower between 2004-2008. I guess it may still come down to “your mileage may vary” Thanks, Wayne

    • Todd says:

      @ Wayne – Great info. One of the big differences between the LA and X series is power. Most of the complaints that I hear are about LA series really only working well on small flat lots. The guys at JD talked me into the X series and I’m glad I spent the money. My lot is quite hilly and it’s worked out well. What I was trying to get across to folks is just because it says JD on it doesn’t mean it’s a top of the line model. Good luck! Keep us posted.

  21. Scott says:

    To All,

    I sell John Deere and Stihl lawn and garden products at a local dealership. But I worked for a merchandising company for 7yrs were we merchandised many lines (including John Deere) in all of the Lowe’s stores nationwide Here are some things that will help you out. It is questions that should be asked first. My first question I ask all of my customers is how much do you mow (100’s-1.5 acres and down)(300’s 3.5 acres and down). How many Lowes or hd employees will even ask that. Second do you have any hilly areas to mow (100’s small inclines every once in a while like a smaller ditch area no problem)(300’s, can handle a little bit more of the incline and deeper ditches, for major hills x320 or bigger would be recommended–bigger transmission) do you have a fence with a gate (42″ deck will not fit through a 42″ wide gate). Warranties x300 4yrs or 300 hours which ever comes first 100’s 2yrs or 120 hours which ever comes first. The x300 has a heavier frame, transmission, more torque engine etc. The x300 (38 or 42 deck) and x304(42 deck only) have the same size transmissions as the la165 (48″ deck only) and la175(54″ deck only). I will use myself as an example. I have to look at the real value and what is important to me. Based on the size of my yard I probably woud stick with a push mower (I run a jd js45 push) I have a fence with a 42″ gate the only John Deere rider that will fit is an x300 with a 38″ deck. But I would not have a problem with an la135 (best value in the 100 series with a 42″ deck). But I am not changing my gate so do I spend the extra $1000 for double the rider and double the warranty so I can get 38″ deck, or just get the extra exercize and push. On the banker hour questions. Most dealers are family owned and most do not sell light bulbs etc. It is very hard for the dealers to control labor cost when you only have 1 to 5 customers coming in after 5pm or 6pm in spring and fall. It is a double edge sword for us. Some people ask why should I buy from the local dealer instead of the big box, even though they are the same price. I tell them more personal service (we register your warranty your responsibility at Lowes and HD, we will show you how to operate the machine, etc), machines have not been stepped on, sat on etc by a lots and lots of people (machines have to be sold set up or it voids the warranty)local community stores, local taxes, local owners, personal service (I am willing at times to stay after closing to finish a sale), answers questions the best that we can. Please feel free to ask any questions.

    • Todd says:

      @ Scott – Thank you VERY much for this information. At some point I plan on writing a newer version of this article and I’ll include your suggestions. What I find frustrating is hearing all the complaints from people with 100 series mowers that don’t last and they think they got ripped off. The fact is that 100 series mowers are the bottom of the line and you get what you pay for. Thanks so much!!

      • James says:

        Todd, if a 100 series doesn’t last, they did get ripped off. A 100 series is not a commercial series mower and shouldn’t be used like one, but for a homeowner a $1500 or more investment in a riding mower is a big investment no matter the brand. Most homeowners looking to buy a mower have a .3 to 1.5 acres yard they want to cut. A $3000 mower is not justified. A $1500 mower that doesn’t last is a valid complaint.

    • jim mallett says:

      Hi Scott, I see that you work for a JD dealer. I’m currently in the market for a new x300 but the high price tag is a bit out of my budget. Do dealers negotiate prices at all?

      Thanks,

      Jim

  22. Karen says:

    I find it interesting that everyone is blaming Lowes. Isn’t it John Deere that is selling out by offering a cheaper version to Lowes?

    I am researching different lawn tractors as we need a new one and in no way affiliated with Lowes.

  23. Mark says:

    During my talk with a J.D. sales representative…it was explained to me, or at least understood by me, that J.D. doesn’t actually build the LA Series mowers. They just stamp their logo on them. This enabled them to compete with other below $3k mower manufacturers.

    I plan on speaking with him again this coming week to verify what he said was indeed what I understood.

    Anyone know about this as I’m in the market for a J.D. riding mower.

    • Todd says:

      Mark – The debate seems to continue with no 100% confirmation either way. I think the bigger point here is to understand that you get what you pay for. You also have a bit better leg to stand on so to speak if you buy it at a JD location. The other important factor is buying the “Right” mower for your situation and your yard. I ended up with the X300 after doing lots of research. Good luck.

  24. Ipers says:

    There is only one specific detail offered in this piece – the HD model mower has a bigger but lower quality motor. The rest is just anecdotal. More specifics on the differences between the products would make it more persuasive; as it is, I’m skeptical about the claims made here.
    I bought a Deere power mower from HD and, indeed, a cable did break – after four years. I’m still using it, nine years later.

  25. Mayonayze says:

    i have been crawling the web for weeks and have found significantly more ‘good’ than ‘bad’ reviews about the 100 series JD models. the argument that entry-level models from big manufacturers are low quality is sketchy, at best. the new 1 Series BMW is an excellent machine. prior to that, the 3-series was the bottom of the BMW line-up and still managed to be the best selling model for decades. surely, the folks that were shopping a 7-Series and settled for a 3-Series were disappointed, but that has much more to do with being an uneduated shopper than someone having “gotten what they paid for”.

    IMHO, it sounds like you are trying to justify your own purchase by putting down the model you were upsold from at a JD dealer. save that your facts have been mostly found wanting and unsubstantiated. i am happy that your x300 series is working out for you, but i think it’s silly for you to bash a machine you have no personal experience with, simply because it cost less than what you ended up spending.

    just my .02 and YMMV ;)

  26. MikeC says:

    I feel compelled to make a point about the “you get what you pay for” position. We all know that just because something costs more, you don’t always get more … especially when whatever it is costs much more. Is a Bentley really 15-20x better than a Honda? That probably depends on your needs (including ego) & budget. So, while the “you get what you pay for” position is not universally applicable and is often misused to get people to spend much more than they need to spend, let’s put this in perspective. As with any significant purchase, the buyer needs to do some homework and buy the best model they can that meets their needs and their budget. Me, I usually set a not-to-exceed budget and find the best model & deal that I can find. I chose a John Deere because ALL of them last longer than the competition, and I chose a specific model because it has the best balance of features vs. price — not because of snob appeal.

    • mike says:

      I would have to disagree that all John Deere products last longer than the competition… that is pure arrogance…

  27. CG says:

    I have read most of the posts on this blog and everyone has made valid points on dealer vs. big box store. We bought a JD L130 mower 5 years ago at a reputable JD dealer. Suffice it to say, I will never buy another JD mower again. 5.5 years later, I have had to repair one thing or another on this mower outside of regular maintenance (drive belts, spark plugs, filter etc). The straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that the transmission blew on this model after ~300 hours of operation. When I brought it to JD dealership I was told it would cost ~$1100 dollars to fix or roughly half the cost of the mower when we purchased it back in 2004.

    Whether it be box store or JD, we won’t choose neither but stay away from JD altogether.

  28. Sammie Jo says:

    I just want to know, why, if the mowers at the Blue & Orange stores are lesser quality, why does John Deere put their name on it?
    If the cheaper mowers are not reliable, doesn’t that tarnish the JDeere reputation?
    Seems kind of stupid to me.

  29. Skip says:

    I bought an L130 in 2003 from Deems John Deere, Butler Missouri, I’ve got 350 hours on it now an am please with it. I get great service from my dealer, they are friendy and know how to fix any problem. They have yet to need my L130 more than a day to fix or service. The only problem I’ve had was the spindles, I’ve replaces two of them at around 300 hours and have replaced the blades twice. I’ve never had any problems with the transmission and I’m still on the original battery. I move about 2 of my 5 acres and I live on a ridge, yes a lot of hillside, no problems ever. I see my neighbor working on his big red Sears every season. I travel alot and my wife mows while I’m gone, she loves the JD. We mow the rest with a 1958 Ford 861-D. I would not even concider any brand, nothing runs like a deere.

  30. Kelly says:

    I have been researching riding lawnmowers and although I do not mow all that much (4 lots 100X130), I am considering the X300. I have been to the local dealer and they confirmed the low end 100 series mowers are exactly the same as the ones at HD. They have the same warranty and are the same price. The only difference is that the local dealer has free delivery. After much research, I have found two sites that state the 100 series is made by MTD. Here is one: http://www.repairfaq.org/samnew/lmfaq/lmwmmwbn.htm. Essentially, if you are buying a 100 series mower from HD, you are buying a Craftsman, Murray, or any other mower made at MTD (assuming the above article is correct).

    If any of you get a chance go to the JD dealer and look at these mowers side by side. Huge differences with X300: heavier pedals, heavier gauge deck and frame, better motor, etc. The dealer told me that the Kawasaki 17 HP motor would out-pull the high end 25 HP Briggs and would get much better gas mileage than most other mowers out their. The seat is heavier and more comfortable and the list goes on and on. I am buying the X300 even though it is slightly above what I want to pay.

    • Kelly says:

      I got more information from the dealer that conflicts with what I said above. John Deere make all John Deere mowers, not MTD. The mowers sold at HD are made at a plant in Kentucky or Tennessee and are made to “MTD standards”. The X300 and above are made in a Wisconsin plant.

      • Skip says:

        That is a fact, all JD tractors and mowers are made by JD not MTD. The difference in the price is the L100 series are made in a non-union plant in Tennessee.

  31. mike says:

    JD is made by JD ..I heard that MTD made the box store special also so i went to the deer dealer ..He let me know that is a myth ..JD makes them ..Its there cheaper line …Every company dose it sooner or later

  32. Al says:

    I wondered .. we purchased the LA105 towards the end of last summer at the big Orange place. I just picked it up from the repair shop and was handed at bill for $128. Prior, we had a generic brand from the big Orange box, and ran it for 10 years with no issues. It sat outside and I seldom serviced it but it always ran. The Deere we bought is not built near as well as that old no name brand. Wish I had seen this before I got the LA105 – I should of done more research but was thrilled to be getting a Deere. Disappointed sums it up.

  33. Kelly says:

    I ended up purchasing the x300 this past fall and was only able to use it once to mow. However, I found out it will push snow! I have yet to hear the engine labor. Great job with the x300!

  34. mike says:

    The bottom line is most of the equipment sold at these large stores is not worth buying. My dad has owned his own lawn equipment store for over 20 years now and has done so by selling quality equipment and providing quality service… two things you will never find at the big box stores… the extra money you pay for a better mower, trimmer, blower, etc. will be worth it in the long run… but if you dont believe me go buy your ryobi or homelite trimmer, use it for maybe one or two seasons until it breaks, then if you can even find anyone who is willing to or can repair it, have fun paying as much to fix it as you did to buy it.

  35. mike says:

    also, if you are looking for a great value on a riding mower be sure to check out Snapper rear engine riders… they have been virtually unchanged since they started making them, making parts and repairs cheaper, and if taken care of will easily last you 15-20 years…

  36. Alan Carnes says:

    Need to get a lawn tractor, and have boiled it down to a JD, or CC. Is there a way to determine by series numbers if it is from a box store, or dealer? I know the older models are dealer, before there were box stores. I am looking at JD series 111, stx38, lt133 used machines, and a CC not sure of the model number. Or can you check serial numbers to determine.

    • Todd says:

      Not that I’m aware of. I’d talk to your local dealers about any possible models you’re thinking about buying and ask them for an opinion of the model.

  37. dave says:

    just buy a old deere rebuild it like new for the price you buy this junk for and it will last another 40 years

  38. Mark says:

    I work at the big Blue Box and we sell John Deer tractors. We are not allowed to PDI or uncrate these tractors when they arrive. The local JD Dealer comes out uncrates {DI’s and assembles what little assembly is needed. When we sell a JD Tractor or any JD Equipment we are reqauired by John Deere to fill out the warranty card right there on the spot. One copy is given to the customer the other is palced in a box at the Power Equipmet Desk nad picked up by the JD Mfg Rep.

    The LA 100 series are residential tractors and should be used as such. The LA at my store is the same as the one at the JD Dealer and so is the price which by the way is set by John Deere not Lowe’s or Home Dump. So if you are in the market for an entry level tractor for residential use then you can’t beat the LA 100 Series. I own one myself and it repalced a MTD from Home Dump that dumped the Hydro Stat tranny after 3 years! I have worked the crap out of this LA 105 and it keeps right on ticking. However, as an early contributor approriately pointed out, don’t come whining if the thing falls apart and you failed to do annual maintenace! I have also worked in service for Toyota and Lexus. 2 of the top branded cars on the market. Same goes for them, people used to come bitching at me because they needed repairs on items that would have not needed repair if they had just done their routine service. I would in a polite way point this out them and then they would stop their temper tantrum. Spend a little here and now save a bundle later!

    • Todd says:

      Mark – You pretty much confirmed was was relayed to me from JD themselves. Thanks for sharing your experience and helping clear the air on this controversial topic.

      • Glenn says:

        So this the basis of the article is incorrect?

        i.e. “The big box stores have made deals with manufactures to supply exclusive products at attractive price points. I know there are many people who will argue this fact and say there is no difference. However, go to the John Deere site and search for Model BG20444, you will not find it. You will find the LA105 which is a similar tractor but the BG20444 was manufactured specifically for HD.”

  39. Mark says:

    Sorry I am a terrible at keyboarding!

  40. Kim Taylor says:

    It’s about time people learn the truth behind the deceptive selling of “John Deere” riding mowers at the box stores. It is the exact same thing “Wally World” is doing with hundreds of so called “brand name” merchandise such as tires. None of the tires sold by “Wally World” are actually the brand stamped on the tires. They are all inferior knock-offs, just the same as the “John Deere” riding mowers sold by the box stores. John Deere contracts out the manufacturing of these inferior mowers to MTD. Troy Bilt has become another example since MTD bought the Troy Bilt name from Garden Way. I purchased a REAL Troy Bilt tiller from Garden Way in 1983 that is still running as good today as it did in 1983. There is NO COMPARISON between my tiller and the junk being sold today as Troy Bilt tillers. Garden Way was a good company. MTD produces “throw-away” equipment, plain and simple. Quanity took the place of quality. MTD also bought Cub Cadet, another now inferior brand. Cub Cadets used to be made by International Harvester, another farm equipment manufacturer. Almost every piece of lawn equipment sold in the USA is built by MTD in the cheapest way possible. Sears Craftsman brand is one of very few exceptions. In the music business, they would be called bootlegs. It is all legal in the lawn equipment business because the brands like John Deere, Cub Cadet, and Troy Bilt were actually sold to MTD. The only thing John Deere actually makes now is REAL farm equipment with price tags in the tens of thousands on up.

    • Kelly says:

      Kim, I agree with most of what you are saying, but he “big box store” John Deere riding mowers ARE MADE by John Deere at their plant in Tennessee. I did much research on this and bought the X300 made in Wisconsin. The “big box” mowers are cheapened to compete with MTD. The higher end X300 mowers are obviously of much higher quality. The dealers sell both mowers and you can view them side by side and ask questions. Again, John Deere makes their own mowers, not MTD.

  41. David says:

    The 100 series are the same tractors that Hd sold under the Scott’s name that was assembled by JD. JD got smart and decided if their name was already on it and people liked them, then why not get rid of the orange and go green.

    I bought a L110 in 2002. It is still going strong mowing 2.5 acres weekly and pulling a trailer hauling wood, mulch or what ever.

    Sure it is showing wear and starting to look a little rough.

    the difference between a entry JD and others is zerk fitting.
    That one thing is what sold me over any other big box mower.
    They may be the cheaper JD but are still Deeres. They come with bearing and major joints that have grease fitting to actually do maintenance that prolong usable service.

    ohh and my engine has a oil filter not all do.

  42. BARTON SIEGWART says:

    YOUR NOT BUYING A MOWER, YOUR BUYING A MOWING SERVICE. Just bought the D120. Works great – smoooooth solid feel. Old trusted HD employee told me the quality control on the JD was superior to Cub Cudet and Poulan with far less repairs. That was good enough for me. PS: Bought the 3 yr extended service plan for $275 for a total of 5 years service coverage. I know HD will back it up with good parts and the local JD dealer up the street is the service center, so I know the service will be to my satisfaction or HD will no doubt make good with a whole new mower if necessary. They have never let me down. That’s why I shop there. PSPS on the other hand, mom and pop dealers have frequently rendered questionable service and a begrudged attitude towards any recourse. Its like eating at McDonalds. Not great food, but very affordable and dependable quality and service. I’ll stick with HD and Walmart for that matter !

  43. dean says:

    I have the LA-105, purchased from a Deere dealership, it is the biggest pile of junk you can buy. 30 hrs. of service, bad alternator and starter.

    • Chris says:

      I bought a Deere LA145 mower in 2009 and have had trouble with it since day one. It is the most poorly designed riding mower I have ever owned an all my 71 + years. I have replaced the mower spindles, numerous blades (it wears out blades 3 to 1 compared to my Toro same size), the wheel spindles have been replaced and the grease fittings are facing the inside of the machine! I have removed the old spindles to put in the new ones and now have the grease fittings facing out however it is a task to get at them. I grease the machine EVERY time I use it but it still wears out. The deck has a hole worn in it to the rear of the shute. The dealer told me that this was due to sand being shot out of the shute but the clippings come out of the front of the shute, not the rear! Further the deck is made in such a way that the grass clippings acumulate in the low areas and further creates heat and makes it difficult to clean and get at mainenence items. Today using the machine the cutters refused to engage and I had to use the Toro to mow!
      Fair warning to prospective buyers, John Deere mowers are now making junk… do not buy one!

    • Glenn says:

      The starter and alternator are part of the engine. Your complaint would be directed at B&S in this case not JD.

  44. Dan says:

    Ford Ranger vs. F150,F250… is the BEST way to explain. My dealer says, “the 20 year machine”. I bought an LT160 42″C deck in 2003 have 320 hours with ONLY less than recommended maint. I have watched many neighbors not spend the money on a REAL JD and ALL have broke down within/out of warranty. I am ashamed that JD got into the practice of selling big box store models. I believe they have only hurt themself. Go to the JD dealer, tolerate the arrogance and be HAPPY,HAPPY to have a “20 year machine”.

  45. David says:

    I agree with Todd. All these people buying level mowers need to be stopped. It,s like here in KY where I live all these new sub-divisions are popping up with htese littel 2500 SQ FT houses and people are buying them right and left. Why waste you Money on a small house when for a couple 100k,s more you can get a nice Brick one like mine up on the hill. Some of these houses in this subdivision only have a one car garage. Whats the point. People need to realize that in a year or so they will need to pressure was that vinyl siding. Now they are out the cost of washer. (they will buy a entrtry level). And after washing that siding every year they will see that they should have bought a nice big brick home like mine. These people buying entry level mowers and homs probably only have entrty level jobs too.

  46. Ray says:

    Wow, so much discussion! I am in the market for a new riding lawn mower. I bought a Sears rider about 7 years ago and it breaks down at least once every year. I thought JD was the way to go; I’ve been looking at the D130 model as I mow about 1.5 acres. Yes, I was looking at Lowe’s. I’ll visit the JD dealer in the morning. It seems to me that buying from a dealer simply makes more sense than buying from Lowe’s or HD, etc. I hope my reasoning isn’t flawed! I know all brands will have a lemon, and even cheap mowers will last a long time if properly maintained. Sometimes I is worth it in the long run to pay a little more in the beginning, and I totally agree with Todd about gettting what you pay for.

  47. Carl Crisp says:

    Bought LA 145 from Lowe’s three seasons ago after getting two Craftsman riders from Sears in one month that a: failed to go into reverse and b: began coming apart on first use.

    The JD LA145 had to have two pullys replaced after first season (mech said water from cleaning gets under spindles and into bearings, causing them to fail. So you can’t wash the deck) The grease fitting on those deck pullys that are greasable fit inward and are almost impossible to get to without dropping the deck. The deck paint began peeling away after about one season. JD dealer sent letter to JD hqs. but got no reply. Now, the paint on fenders is peeling off too. This is not from damage. There is no primer under the paint (acknowledged by dealer rep.) The dealer has agreed to repaint the deck at his cost.
    Would I buy another JD from a big box store? Probably not. Would I buy another JD from a dealer? Don’t know if I could afford it.
    We mow 3.5 acres of rough, unlevel ground when the grass is growing (which due to the drought in Texas has been pretty rare of late.)

  48. Realslow says:

    I have a JD 214, 160, and a 240. I wouldn’t trade either one for 3 boxstore mowers or 2 newer mowers from the Deere dealer. These mowers are anywhere from 30 yrs old to 19 yrs old. I mow approximately 3 acres at least once a week (in summer), rototill with the 240 (30 in mechanical tiller), push snow with the 214. You get the picture. Granddaugher age 9 runs the crap outta the 160, this one I replaced the flathead kawasaki with the overhead valve 14 hp motor. She uses it instead of a 4 wheeler, no deck on it, cleated tires. If I ever need another mower in my lifetime (which I doubt) I’ll get one made pre 1994, and tear it down and restore. This is just my two cents worth of information, you can do what you want, it’s your money. I’m afraid Deere went cheaper to compete with china products. I totally hate this.

  49. Wade says:

    We used to own a hardware store. People would complain about the price of our Weedeaters and say could get the same one cheaper at WM. True they could, but the ones there were made with plastic bearings and other inferior parts where the ones we sold had metal bearings and would last much longer. I don’t understand why companies would do that and end up getting a bad name in the quality department just for a few more sales.

  50. Alan says:

    I mow 3 acres and have used the same John Deere 314 for over 20 years. The tractors that are made in Wisconsin are more expensive but when you consider how long they will last,they really are the best value. I overhauled the motor about 5 years ago and other than blades and belts have had no other issues. They still offer parts for these and my dealer is very helpful. I wonder how much is available for a 30 year old MTD.

  51. Ted Larson says:

    I just purchased a John Deere D series mower from Lowe’s. I had heard things similar to what this report is saying, so I called not one, but TWO John Deere dealers and asked them; “is there any difference?”

    The answer from BOTH of them was no, there is no difference.

    I feel that I “did my research.” I spent countless hours online reading reviews, checking specs. My last step was to make those two calls.

    I would read customer reviews carefully. I had a Cub Cadet 1045 that was nothing but problems. I didn’t do my homework before I purchased it, but in the process of researching my new Deere, I checked the reviews for the 1045. Just about every reviewer mentioned the problems I was having.

    I would also check engines – as the article mentions. For example Kohler makes 2 engines. One (can’t remember) has some plastic parts that are metal on the other one.

    The bottom line – do your homework.

  52. David says:

    I have read this entire thread and find it interesting just how all the true info. has slowly gotten through to the Orange building crowd. I liked the BMW comparison, so untrue it is laughable. Yes BMW sells a entry level machine but the concept is completely different.

    John Deere has chosen to be competitive in this throw away society, who can blame them, they are in business to make money. I do not believe they are trying to fool anyone with inferior product just filling a need.

    I have been looking at many small lawn tractors for some time, I have some rough ground hills, holes etc. Knowing what the big box products are all about I was prepared to get the 130 from the dealer anyway. After much valuable input from from the manager and techs I left with a 1998 Lx 178. It just so happened to be a recent trade,in as new condition. Lucky.

    After much talk and side by side comparisons the choice was a very simple one.

    So if you do not have to have the newest thing on the block consider a used “real John Deere”. I will post from time to time to let you know if this was the right decision but after all the time with the people at the dealership I feel confident it was. Oh I and saved quite a bit of cash as well…

  53. Grant says:

    One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve shopped for a Deere is that the dealership seems to care more about its inventory. Lowe’s and HD keep their mowers chained together outside, often in the rain. I have inspected screws, battery terminals, and other rust-proned spots on them and they do not look good. At the Deere dealership, they always put the tractors inside at night or when it’s raining and they are flawless.

    Just my two cents. Cheers!

    • David J says:

      Those mowers you see outside are not the one’s you will get when you buy one. They will deliver a new one from the crate to you. The one’s outside are display only…

  54. Kelly says:

    Update: I purchased the X300 JD three years ago and have logged 80 hours. I have had no problems with the mower. Runs great and when mowing thick/tall grass, the Kawasaki motor does not labor. I purchased a snow blade last year and unfortunately, we did not receive enough snow to blade. I will let you know how it pushes snow next spring. I would highly recommend buying the X300 or above or going with an older Deere.

  55. thomas says:

    Everyone trashes mtd. I have a 42″ Yard Man w/ kohler for the past 12 yrs.
    I mow my steep 3/4 ac yard and my neighbors same size lot. Yards are heavily treed so i mow twice a week in fall to bag leaves. For 5 yrs i used a blade to push N. Missouri snow w/chains on tires and added weight(basket w/ bricks) to go up and down both of our rear entry drives(3-4 times as big as front entry)Now I use large snowthrower. Have replaced battery 3 times. Cables once. Has been stored outside with poly tarp since new(garage is a machine shop). Changed oil/filter 3 times. Would still look/act as new if not for a vandal slicing fuel line – burned up when started. Now looking for a new tractor. I now can afford x300 but should I ? After reading complete thread, any brand can have lemons, I could buy 3 of these to 1 of the JD x300. As for all who call MTD crap I disagree. How long would your Big box JD’s last in my situtation – little
    maint. and stored out side.

  56. John Kinsley says:

    John Deere D140 burned to the ground in warranty, John Deere will not cover it said it was probably dirty. Appears to be a fire that started around the coil.

    $2000 for this thing and it has 18.2hrs on it. Deere Rep said its my responsibility to prove the fire was their fault and I should not look to them but instead call my home owners insurance and put a claim in.

    I’ve had a few lawn tractors over the years and never had one burn down, ever!Please do not buy these tractors and park them in your garage it just may kill your whole family!

  57. Dan says:

    We had a John Deere LA120 (big box store model) and we only got 120 hours (5 years) out of the mower before the transmission started failing and the plastic cam gear was wearing. Yes, I said plastic cam gear (Briggs iTek motor). The LA series is nothing more than a MTD lawn mower with a John Deere decal/paint scheme on it. There is a huge different between the “LA” line (big box store) and the “X-Series” line (real John Deeres). If you have a small lot of say less than a 1/2 acre a LA series tractor will probably last you 5 years but if you have a bigger yard than a X series is a must. There is a huge different between the quality of materials between the two. The X series have serviceable grease fittings which highly extend service life. You will also NEVER find plastic anything inside the engine of a X series tractor as well!!!! The frame and deck are of much higher gauge steal. A John Deere X-series should easily last 15 years or 2000 hours before needing an engine overhaul. A LA series 5 years or 200 hours seems to be the longevity of these. You decide, but the X series seems like a better deal in the long wrong. I have had my X500 for 3 years now and it has been flawless. I plan on keeping it for 15-20 years.

  58. Jameslipton says:

    With all this being said about how the cheaper models are cheaper then the next step up from the dealer you should still be getting a quality product for $2000 when you buy it from Lowe’s. Just because I spent $2000 of my John Deere doesn’t mean with regular maintenance I should be Eville to get 10 to 15 years out of the thing or more. It’s just like buying a $2000 model from sears. Sure I can go to John Deere buy their cheapest model for Twice as much money But I only need a lawnmower that’s going to mow my lawn so I’ll save the $2000 . I have had my John Deere from Lowe’s for eight years now and having any problems I change the oil regularly and the filters

  59. Redonionite says:

    Deere Riding Lawn Mower

    Have spent hours reading comments this site and others.
    My application is for yard ~ 1 acre with some hill side.
    I can’t justify spending 2X in purchase price of old heavy duty vs newer low cost design.

    Have decided to buy D105 or D110 with extra $ warranty for at home coverage; at Lowes or Home Depot; awaiting Labor Day sales-if any

    Seems to be 3 arguments:
    1. Old design and better materials vs present low cost design
    2. Quality and very little mention any site of reliability (hours used) for 1.
    3. Bias both camps

    Got 9 years from MTD 42″ B&S twin I/C engine before it died; estimate 60 hrs/season=500 hrs total. This was the first and last problem!

    • Todd says:

      You’ve done your homework…and you realize the difference. That’s half or more of the battle. I personally think you’ll be pushing your luck with the lower end mower in a full acre that’s partially hilly but then again I could be wrong. Best of luck!

  60. Norm says:

    Owning a JD was something I always looked forward to. 8 years ago we moved to the country and a nice home with a few acres. Ah! the opportunity for riding mower…the John Deere! I went to the local dealership and purchased a model 145. I assumed that because it was a JD that it was a lifetime investment, especially given the price. Wrong! After 7 years of use and garaging it every winter, the deck won’t adjust and drags on the ground at the highest level; the steering broke two years ago and had to be fixed; the anti-backfire mechanism broke in the middle of mowing, shutting down the mower; the seat has split; the plastic hood finish has oxidized; and the paint has come off the foot rest/deck in sheets, bubbling up and lifting off. The other day, during a heavy wind, I looked out the window just in time to see a large 8″X 3″ piece of paint fly off the back of the mower! And, despite fooling with the blades and deck over the years, it still cuts uneven, sometimes leaving a sort of “mohawk” hairstyle to the lawn. The TV commercial where the old man talks about handing down his JD mower to his grandson someday makes me laugh. It won’t even last my lifetime (I’m now 66)! I’ll never do business with JD again. Might as well buy cheap mowers and if they don’t last more than 4 or 5 years, you expect it and haven’t spent twice the money.

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