John Deere "L" series Lawn Tractors w/K46 Hydrostatic trans... Failure 

 Finished look of my modification... Radio knob and all.

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This is my own personal modification to the K46 trans... the modification allows me to "Check"; "Top-off"; "Drain & Change" the trans fluid... LIKE NORMAL.

If you'd like the modification written instructions and this illustration e-mailed to you... just drop me a line at - NO CHARGE

Do you own a John Deere "L' series Lawn Tractor?

Does it perform properly?... if so, then this webpage might not be what you are looking for.

This site is dedicated to those JD owners who have experienced at least one of the following occurences with their JD "L" series Lawn Tractor:


1. - Your tractor seems to slow down and lose power when approaching an uphill area of your lawn... or while attempting to cut a drainage ditch the proper way... uphill/downhill. 

2. - Your tractor does not want to move in reverse... or does so at a very slow crawl.

3. - A whining growl-like noise is audible from the back-end of the tractor while mowing.

4. - While performing "normal" maintenance on your tractor, you notice that there is no possible way to check the fluid level of the hydrostatic transmission... nor is there any means to drain the fluid and re-fill with fresh.


John Deere is fully aware of the fact that they installed a completely "non-serviceable" transmission in their "L" series Lawn Tractors... they even have deemed them "throw-away" tranny's. THAT'S ABSURD... the trans in question is a Tuff Torq model K46.

John Deere is fully aware that the fluid in the trans will heat up and break down its inherent viscosity qualities... and, when doing so, damage internal components of the trans. It becomes only a matter of time before the trans fails completely.

John Deere and the Transmission Manufacturer (Tuff Torq) both have "Rebuild kits" for this trans... at an average cost of $325. But the kits simply prolong the inevitable... future failure. They do nothing to improve the trans performance or durability.

Reports of the K46 trans failing, after only 70 hours logged on the tractor, have been documented... yet John Deere does not choose to recall the machines. Further, in most cases, the user must remove the trans from the tractor and take it to a JD dealer for any kind of servicing. (rebuild)

And here's a real kicker... John Deere service technicians (either directly associated with JD - or independent) most often will recommend that the user "upgrade" to the K66 transmission... at an average cost of $1,700. THAT'S ABSURD.


I purchased a John Deere L120 - 20 H.P. Lawn Tractor for probably the same reason most people purchase one... the John Deere name simply depicts quality and endurance not found in other brands.

When my L120 started to show signs of trans failure, I contacted Tuff Torq directly, hoping to obtain  "DIY" corrective action. While they offered the repair kit (again, at $325) they also recommended that I install the K66 "upgrade" - thus ensuring that my lawn tractor will perform as it was intended to perform. My thought on that was... "that's why I purchased a John Deere in the first place, to have a machine that performs as it was intended to perform"... "now you suggest that I spend $1,700 additional to get what I thought I already had."  THAT'S ABSURD...

I did some on-line research, and discovered a horde of other JD "L" series owners experiencing the same problems... and just as angry.

During my 42-plus year engineering career... mainly dealing with the automotive industry... I NEVER WITNESSED A POWERTRAIN COMPONENT (engine, transmission, differential, ) THAT DID NOT HAVE THE MEANS TO CHECK ITS FLUID LEVEL OR THE MEANS TO CHANGE THE FLUID AT A PRE-DETERMINED INTERVAL (All oils MUST be changed when used in components having internally moving parts... oils, even synthetic... breakdown... period.)

That would be like having Tires w/o the air-fill valve.

So... as you might imagine, I'm pretty upset with this whole ugly John Deere episode.  And even more upsetting is the fact... that they know about it. 

Using a "non-serviceable" power-train component... surely subject to failure when its oil breaksdown... is just plain ludicrous. 

I intend to enter a class-action lawsuit against John Deere for two counts.

ONE - Cease using a non-servicable transmission in ANY of their tractor lines.

TWO - Provide current JD "L" series owners with the means to check/change the fluid in the K46 transmission. If that entails a recall.. so be it.

OPTIONAL: Recall the "L" series lawn tractors and install the K66 to same.

Thanks for your time to read this... hopefully, if enough signatures are obtained through this website... we can all cut our grass with confidence once again.  

If you'd like to get some more info... or just want to share your own JD experience... feel free to contact me at:


FYI - the pic on this page is my own "fix" - I can now check my trans fluid and add as needed.

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