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Discussion Starter #1
My inherited John Deere L120 with the 20hp Briggs engine. In the past year, it's always been a pain in the rear to get it started. Wasn't maintained real well previously. Started up fine last week, but when I went to mow yesterday I got nothing. A couple of clicks and lights coming on were all I got. I was able to jump it and get her moving, but couldn't start on her own. From what I've seen ppl say it could be the solenoid or maybe it's shorting somewhere. I'm brand new to trying to fix this stuff, would an amateur be able to install a new solenoid without blowing the damn thing up? Anything else I can do to try and diagnose?

Any help is appreciated, thanks!
 

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It is much more likely that you simply have a bad battery. If it is the original battery it is well past it's expected life. I had to replace the battery in my D160 earlier this summer due to the exact same symptoms you described. If you can jump it and it starts, the solenoid is fine.
 

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I had to replace the battery in my '04 L130 too, new one cranks so much better now.
 

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My inherited John Deere L120 with the 20hp Briggs engine. In the past year, it's always been a pain in the rear to get it started. Wasn't maintained real well previously. Started up fine last week, but when I went to mow yesterday I got nothing. A couple of clicks and lights coming on were all I got. I was able to jump it and get her moving, but couldn't start on her own. From what I've seen ppl say it could be the solenoid or maybe it's shorting somewhere. I'm brand new to trying to fix this stuff, would an amateur be able to install a new solenoid without blowing the damn thing up? Anything else I can do to try and diagnose?

Any help is appreciated, thanks!
First thing to check with any electrical problem is the battery and connections. From what you described it sounds like a bad battery. The starter works when you jumped it so it's probably okay. Most parts stores will check it for free.

Whatever you do don't jump start your tractor. Kind of late now. Tractor electronics don't do well with voltage spikes. Best bet is to leave it sit until you get a new battery.
 

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Thanks for all the replies! The thing is, I've replaced the battery on this thing like 4 times already. This one is only a month old. Could I be using the wrong type, or could it be something in the tractor is messing the battery up? Guess I'll take a trip to HD, they've taken all the other batteries back.
 

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Thanks for all the replies! The thing is, I've replaced the battery on this thing like 4 times already. This one is only a month old. Could I be using the wrong type, or could it be something in the tractor is messing the battery up? Guess I'll take a trip to HD, they've taken all the other batteries back.
You may have something draining the battery. I keep getting mice nesting in mine over the winter while it's sitting in the shed un-used and every spring I need to check all the wiring and tape up whatever they've chewed on. They seem to REALLY like moving in under the engine shroud. There is a space on top of the muffler that is hidden by the shroud and they build nests on both sides right in there. It just so happens that the high-voltage ignition wires run right through that area too. They also love to build nests right behind the battery.

If you have access to one, a clamp on ammeter is very handy for this sort of thing. The one I linked to is a cheapo but... it's better than nothing.
 

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Thanks for all the replies! The thing is, I've replaced the battery on this thing like 4 times already. This one is only a month old. Could I be using the wrong type, or could it be something in the tractor is messing the battery up? Guess I'll take a trip to HD, they've taken all the other batteries back.
Until you diagnose your drain on the battery it might be wise to put on a trickle charger. It'll keep you in shape to mow, avoid continuing to have to jump it and repeatedly removing and obtaining replacement batteries, etc.

That'll give you time to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair any electrical issues you may have.
 

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Thanks guys I'll have to check that out. We have had some mice trying to get to our chicken food, so I'll check under the shroud and see if I have any nests. I'll take a look at a trickle charger.

Thanks again!
 

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Thanks guys I'll have to check that out. We have had some mice trying to get to our chicken food, so I'll check under the shroud and see if I have any nests. I'll take a look at a trickle charger.

Thanks again!


You want a battery tender not a trickle charger. The BT will self regulate and not overcharge the battery.

You didn't mention all the replacement batteries. Yes you need to be sure that you have the correct size & load rating. The cheep batteries look the same but don't have as much lead inside. The plates are not as thick or deep inside the case.

Once you fully charge the correct battery see if it starts the engine correctly. Then you have to figure out one of the 2 following problems.

Does the electrical system have a key off draw that is draining the otherwise good battery between uses?

Is the charging system working correctly? This could be not at all or at a diminished capacity.
Tractor ignition systems normally use magnetos. They don't require battery voltage to produce spark too fire the plugs while the engine is running. However everything else does. Starter, headlights, safety systems and electric PTO all drain the battery if the charging system is not working correctly. Then next time you go to use the tractor it won't start. Even though the battery is new.

Do you have access to a volt meter? You will need one to properly diagnose your problem.
The above link that was posted for the meter. This one won't work for checking direct current amps. (What you would need to do) This is the plastic finger looking thing at the top. A regular volt meter will be sufficient.
 

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Too low voltage will also raise the current through your PTO clutch burning out the coil and the switch. Best place I found to buy a regulator, switch and / or clutch is eBay. The regulator I've been running for the last 3 months was ~$15 delivered vice ~$100 from a local small engine mechanic, even though both were made in China.


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Good video on checking your charging system, either too high or too low a voltage will kill your battery: https://youtu.be/sb1bVmnIqHk


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That's a good video. As you can see having a fully charged battery to start testing with will make things go a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You want a battery tender not a trickle charger. The BT will self regulate and not overcharge the battery.

You didn't mention all the replacement batteries. Yes you need to be sure that you have the correct size & load rating. The cheep batteries look the same but don't have as much lead inside. The plates are not as thick or deep inside the case.

Once you fully charge the correct battery see if it starts the engine correctly. Then you have to figure out one of the 2 following problems.

Does the electrical system have a key off draw that is draining the otherwise good battery between uses?

Is the charging system working correctly? This could be not at all or at a diminished capacity.
Tractor ignition systems normally use magnetos. They don't require battery voltage to produce spark too fire the plugs while the engine is running. However everything else does. Starter, headlights, safety systems and electric PTO all drain the battery if the charging system is not working correctly. Then next time you go to use the tractor it won't start. Even though the battery is new.

Do you have access to a volt meter? You will need one to properly diagnose your problem.
The above link that was posted for the meter. This one won't work for checking direct current amps. (What you would need to do) This is the plastic finger looking thing at the top. A regular volt meter will be sufficient.
Did some more research and found some threads that say an L120 needs a battery with 275 CCA, and the one I have is 250. I'll just return the cheap one and I'll head to the power equipment store to see if I can get a proper battery.

Thanks again!
 

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Did some more research and found some threads that say an L120 needs a battery with 275 CCA, and the one I have is 250. I'll just return the cheap one and I'll head to the power equipment store to see if I can get a proper battery.

Thanks again!


Getting a better battery with more cold cranking amps never hurts. You just don't want one with less than is required.
 

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You want a battery tender not a trickle charger. The BT will self regulate and not overcharge the battery.
Despite my failure to say it, a Battery tender is what I meant
:unknown:
 

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Thanks guys. Dropped some money on an actual battery at the power equipment store this weekend, charged it full and still got nothing. Next step is to go through that video and do some testing and see if there's anything I can do. Tractor has 625+ hours on it and it wasn't really well maintained before but I'm hoping I can get it up and running.

Thanks again for all the help, I'll let you know what I find!
 

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Thanks guys. Dropped some money on an actual battery at the power equipment store this weekend, charged it full and still got nothing. Next step is to go through that video and do some testing and see if there's anything I can do. Tractor has 625+ hours on it and it wasn't really well maintained before but I'm hoping I can get it up and running.

Thanks again for all the help, I'll let you know what I find!

What do you mean by you got nothing?

Engine will not turn over at all? Maybe just sitting there clicking?

Engine will crank over & up too the proper starting speed but just won't catch/start?

Strange that it kinda worked with the wrong battery.
 

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Did you clean all of the frame grounds?
 

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I would get a few clicks the first time I tried the key, then nothing on consecutive tries. Electronics have never been my friend so I'm hesitant to start undoing wires or anything like that, but I guess my next step is to try testing via that video.
 

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I would get a few clicks the first time I tried the key, then nothing on consecutive tries. Electronics have never been my friend so I'm hesitant to start undoing wires or anything like that, but I guess my next step is to try testing via that video.

This is the easiest way to check the starter. Have the fully charged battery hooked up like normal. All starters are controlled by a solenoid. (Some are a separate part but most are part of the starter). If you follow the positive wire from the battery it will go to it. Then another heavy wire will go to the actual starter motor. (The second wire can be really short) Another smaller gauge wire will run to a terminal on the solenoid. This is the trigger wire. Disconnect it. Take a jumper wire and connect the positive battery post to the terminal that you removed the small wire from. If the starter system is psychically able to operate it will. However be careful because you are circumventing all the safety systems doing this. If the engine cranks all that checks out.

Take a direct current voltmeter. Put the negative/black probe on the battery's negative post. Hook up the positive/red lead to the end of the wire that you removed. Turn the key to try and start the engine. You should have battery voltage at the starter.
 
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