Simple. Basic. No frills. Reliable. Easy to maintain. All are good ways to describe the Gator 4x2, and they're also the very things that make these machines ideal for so many. From large commercial operations with a fleet of machines to the first time landowner that just bought one used, these fantastic little workhorses are right at home. More and more of these machines are arriving on the used market and in the hands of first time buyers every day. Some of these new owners have no previous mechanical experience, and the Gator 4x2 is an excellent machine to begin learning on. It's for those owners that we're going to walk though a complete service on this marvelous little machine. We'll change the air filter, engine oil, transmission oil, fuel filter, and spark plug. You will not need to change your spark plug and transmission oil as part of a routine service, but it's been a while since my machine had a spark plug change. The transmission oil change was due to some work I had to do in it a few machine hours ago. This is a basic procedure that a lot of folks are familiar with, but this is meant to be a helpful guide for those just starting out.
Tools you will need:
Drain pan that can hold 6 quarts
13 mm socket and ratchet
13/16" deep well socket to fit your ratchet
17mm wrench, about 4" long if you have one. A longer wrench will work, but you will need the jack and stands
Two blocks of wood, or a jack and jackstands- not required if you have a short 17mm wrench
Flashlight or worklight- optional
Parts you will need, using John Deere part numbers:
M113621: Air Filter- One of these
TY22029: Engine oil- Two of these
TY6354: Hy-Guard oil for the transmission- You may have to buy two gallons of this. You will need slightly less than 1.5 gallons, but my dealer only had it in gallon jugs.
802138: Spark Plug
AM116304: Fuel filter
Note: Oil filters on the single cylinder 4x2 are optional. We don't have one on our machine.
To start with, we'll change the air filter. Make sure the gearshift is in Neutral and the parking brake is set. Lift the bed and look along the right side of the frame. There is a black, tubular canister there with two wire clips. Flip the clips away from the body and the end of the tube closest to the seats will come off. Slide the old air filter straight out, and the new air filter straight in. While you have the cap off, notice the roughly 1" diameter rubber piece on it. Squeeze the sides of this piece together and the bottom should open up. Larger debris will be collected in here and you need to clean it out. Once that is done, orient the rubber piece on the cap to the 6 o'clock position and slide the cap back onto the tube. Relatch the clips and you're done!
Next we'll change the engine oil. When you look down between the engine and transmission, you will see a hole in the bottom of the Gator right behind the engine. That's what you want the drain pan beneath.
Place your 13mm socket on the hex head bolt at the base of the engine and remove it by turning counterclockwise. That will drain out the engine oil. Once the plug is removed, remove the yellow dipstick on top of the engine, at the front. That will release the vacuum and allow the oil to drain a bit faster. Once the oil has stopped draining, reinstall the plug in the bottom of the engine. Place a funnel in the dipstick tube and pour in a quart of oil.
Remove the funnel and check the oil with your dipstick. The proper way to check the oil level is with the dipstick cap sitting on top of the threads- place it in the tube, but don't screw it down. You will need to add oil, but add the second quart in smaller increments and check the level with your dipstick as you do it. You don't want to over fill. Once the oil level shows correctly on the dipstick, screw it down closed. Start the engine and let it run for a minute, then shut it off and check the oil level again. Add oil if necessary to bring it up to the Full mark.
Next, we'll change the fluid in the transmission. If you look underneath the Gator from the rear, you will see a small 'bump' in the bottom pan with two holes in it at the very back.
This is where we'll drain the transmission oil. If you have a long wrench, you might not have room to fit it onto the drain plug without hitting the edges of the hole. Jack the Gator up and place the rear on jackstands, or set the tires on wood blocks to allow clearance for the wrench. If you jack the machine up, be aware you're taking the braking wheels off the ground. Scotch the front tires to prevent the Gator from moving. The alternative is to use a short 17mm wrench. Several companies make short wrenches, or you can buy an inexpensive one and cut it to size. If you do that, you may not have to jack up the machine. I used a short wrench and left it sitting on the ground.
Insert the wrench in the driver's side hole in the 'bump' and place it on the hexagon drain plug. Turn the plug counter clockwise, so pull your wrench handle to the rear of the Gator. Once you get the plug loosened, you can put the drain pan under the hole. If you have long enough arms, you can finish removing the plug from the top by reaching underneath the transmission, or you can reach through the hole where your wrench was. Once the plug comes out, you may let it drop into the oil pan. Use your magnet to retrieve it and wipe it off...not that I've ever done that. With the bottom plug removed, open the yellow dipstick tube on top of the transmission, beside the large drive pulley. Let it drain. Once it finishes and you wipe off the drain plug, reinsert it and tighten. Put your funnel in the dipstick hole and pour in a gallon of Hy-Guard oil. Check the level with your dipstick. Slowly add oil as necessary, and check it often as you do. Once you see it on the bottom of the stick, it rises fast. With the oil level full, reinstall the dipstick and put the Gator back on the ground.
Next, we'll replace the fuel filter. It's located on the front 'wall' of the engine compartment, on the driver's side right next to the fuel pump.
We'll remove the top, short hose to the fuel pump first. This will not only allow the fuel in the filter to drain back to the tank (instead of all over your hands), but will also allow you to pull out on the longer bottom hose a bit to make removing it easier. Use your pliers to squeeze the ends of the clamp together and slide it down the hose away from the filter, then carefully pull the rubber hose off the nipple of the plastic filter with your fingers. Repeat the process for the other hose. Get your new filter, and take note of the small triangle on it on the narrow end. The triangle indicates the proper direction of fuel flow through the filter, the point of the triangle should point toward the fuel pump. The narrow end of the filter body itself should go toward the hose coming from the tank. Slide the fuel hose from the tank onto the appropriate end of the filter, which should be the narrow end of the filter body. Slide the clamp back into place, then repeat the process for the side facing the pump.
Now, we'll replace the spark plug.
For easier access, you can remove the green brace that connects the engine to the transmission. Remove the bolt and nut that connect through the transmission with your 13mm wrench and socket, then remove the two nuts from the top of the engine. Lift this piece out of the way. On the rear of the engine at the top, you'll see a round rubber 'plug' with a wire leading off of it. This is the end of the sparkplug wire that connects to the plug. Grab the round part and pull it straight away from the engine. You'll see your sparkplug in the hole.
Look down into the hole and make sure there's not junk at the base of the plug that can fall into the cylinder when you remove it. Use your ratchet and 13/16" socket to remove the sparkplug by turning it counter clockwise. Once you get it loose, remove it with your fingers.
Note: According to the parts department, there are multiple plugs available for the Gator. Each plug has a number printed on the porcelain portion of the body. Make sure that number matches on both the plug you remove, and the new plug you install. Begin threading the new plug in with your fingers, and be careful not to cross thread it. Once it gets down to the point it is difficult to turn, use your ratchet and socket to tighten it the rest of the way. It should go most of the way down before you need to put the ratchet on it. Once you snug the sparkplug in place, reattch the plug wire by pushing it straight down onto the plug. You should feel it snap into place, then you can reinstall the brace from the engine to the transmission. Account for all your tools, just so nothing gets caught in any moving parts. Start the Gator and let it run for a few seconds, then turn it off and check all your fluids again.
Finally, we'll grease the fittings. We'll start at the back. On either side of the transmission, you will see the axle shaft come out to a steel collar that is about 6" long and wider than the rest of the shaft. Inside this collar is where the splines of the transmission and the splines of the axle shaft meet. There is a grease fitting on each collar. Wipe it off with a rag, then put your grease gun on the fitting and apply grease. You won't need much, if you see grease start to come out of the collar you should stop. It won't harm the machine, but it is a waste of grease and makes a mess if you overdo it. When you remove your grease gun, wipe up any excess grease on the fitting or that was pushed out of the collar. Once you've greased the two fittings at the back, you can lower the bed. We're finished under there.
The other two grease fittings are on the front axle, at the steering spindles. Located on the front of the axle just inside the tires, grease these two fittings just like you greased the ones in the back. Wipe the fittings clean, apply two or three pumps of grease (unless it starts to come out), then wipe up any excess. Photos of grease fitting locations to be added.
Congratulations! That completes a service on the Gator. It's not a very time consuming process, you can accomplish the whole thing in an hour or less. Once you get started, you'll find how easy it really is. All this information is also available in the John Deere Service Manual, which is a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in working on their machine.
While doing this maintenance is a simple, usually safe job, be aware that you are working with power equipment and flammable substances. Please be careful and cautious, as neither myself or GreenTractorTalk.com assume any responsibility for you, your actions, or your equipment.