John Deere Skid Steer Troubleshooting(5 Quick Ways To Fix)

John Deere skid steers have earned a reputation as versatile workhorses in the construction, agriculture, and landscaping industries.

These compact and maneuverable machines are favored for their ability to handle various tasks efficiently.

However, like any heavy machinery, skid steers can encounter problems over time, impacting their performance and productivity.

Therefore, understanding and mastering the art of John Deere skid steer Troubleshooting for skid steer owners and operators.

Let’s jump in.

Understanding John Deere Skid Steers

John Deere offers a diverse range of skid steers, each tailored to specific applications. These robust machines consist of a chassis with lift arms, to which different attachments can be fitted.

They are powered by powerful engines and use hydraulic systems to control the lifting and tilting of attachments.

Understanding the components and features of John Deere skid steers is essential before diving into the troubleshooting process.

John Deere Skid Steer Troubleshooting

Common Issues with John Deere Skid Steers

Despite their durability, skid steers may face various issues during their operational life.

These issues can range from minor inconveniences to more serious problems that require immediate attention.

Some of the common problems operators may encounter include engine troubles, hydraulic system malfunctions, electrical issues, steering and drive problems, and attachment-related challenges.

John Deere Skid Steer Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Steps

When faced with skid steer problems, it’s essential to follow a systematic troubleshooting approach.

Prioritize safety during the troubleshooting process and take all necessary precautions.

Here are the general steps to troubleshoot John Deere skid steers:

  • Identify the Issue: Begin by understanding the symptoms and indications of the problem.
  • Refer to the Manual: Consult the skid steer’s manual for specific troubleshooting guidelines.
  • Check for Obvious Causes: Inspect for visible signs of damage or loose components.
  • Inspect Fluid Levels: Ensure that the machine has adequate fuel, hydraulic fluid, and engine oil.
  • Perform Visual Inspections: Look for leaks, loose hoses, or damaged wiring.
  • Isolate the Problem Area: Pinpoint which system or component is causing the issue.
  • Utilize Diagnostic Tools: If available, use diagnostic tools to assess electronic systems.
  • Refer to Online Resources: Utilize reputable online resources and forums for additional insights.
  • Take Necessary Corrective Actions: Based on the analysis, perform repairs or seek professional help.
  • Test the Solution: After repairs, test the skid steer to ensure the problem is resolved.

1. Engine Problems

The skid steer’s engine is the heart of the machine. Engine issues can manifest in various ways, including starting difficulties, strange noises, loss of power, or excessive smoke emissions. To troubleshoot engine problems:

  • Check Fuel System: Ensure the fuel tank has enough fuel and there are no clogs in the fuel lines.
  • Inspect Air Filters: Dirty air filters can affect engine performance. Clean or replace them as needed.
  • Examine Spark Plugs: Faulty spark plugs can cause ignition problems. Replace if necessary.
  • Inspect Cooling System: Check the cooling system and radiator for any obstructions or leaks.
  • Check Battery: A weak or dead battery can hinder starting. Charge or replace it if required.
  • Verify Timing and Compression: Incorrect timing or low compression may require professional attention.

2. Hydraulic System Problems

Hydraulic issues are common in skid steers and can lead to attachment movement problems or leaks. To troubleshoot hydraulic system problems:

  • Check Hydraulic Fluid: Ensure the hydraulic fluid is at the appropriate level and in good condition.
  • Inspect Hydraulic Hoses: Look for any signs of leakage or damage in the hydraulic hoses.
  • Check Hydraulic Pump: Test the hydraulic pump’s pressure and function.
  • Examine Control Valves: Faulty control valves may hinder the flow of hydraulic fluid. Inspect and repair as needed.
  • Check for Air in the System: Air in the hydraulic system can cause erratic operation. Bleed the system if required.

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3. Electrical System Problems

Electrical issues can lead to a range of problems, including malfunctioning lights, gauges, or control systems. To troubleshoot electrical system problems:

  • Check Battery Connections: Ensure the battery connections are clean and secure.
  • Inspect Fuses and Relays: Replace any blown fuses or faulty relays.
  • Examine Wiring: Look for damaged or disconnected wires and repair as necessary.
  • Use Diagnostic Tools: If available, utilize diagnostic tools to identify electronic issues.
  • Reset the System: Sometimes, a system reset might resolve minor electronic glitches.

4. Steering and Drive Problems

Steering and drive issues can affect the skid steer’s maneuverability and control. To troubleshoot steering and drive problems:

  • Check Hydraulic Fluid: Verify the hydraulic fluid levels and condition.
  • Inspect Drive Chains/Belts: Worn or loose chains/belts can affect the drive system. Adjust or replace them as needed.
  • Examine Drive Motors: Test the drive motors for proper operation and look for signs of damage.
  • Verify Axle Integrity: Ensure the axles are in good condition and properly lubricated.
  • Check Steering Components: Inspect the steering components for wear and proper alignment.

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5. Attachment Issues

Skid steer attachments are crucial for their functionality. Problems with attachments can hinder performance. To troubleshoot attachment issues:

  • Inspect Attachment Mounting: Ensure attachments are securely mounted to the skid steer.
  • Check Hydraulic Connections: Verify the hydraulic connections between the skid steer and the attachment.
  • Test Attachment Controls: Ensure that the controls for attachment operation are functioning correctly.
  • Check for Damage: Look for any signs of damage or wear in the attachment.
  • Inspect Compatibility: Confirm that the attachment is compatible with the skid steer model.

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Maintenance Tips to Prevent Issues

To avoid frequent troubleshooting, regular maintenance is essential. Follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Adhere to the Maintenance Schedule: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance intervals.
  2. Keep the Machine Clean: Regularly clean the skid steer, including air vents and cooling systems.
  3. Check Fluid Levels: Regularly check fuel, oil, and hydraulic fluid levels.
  4. Lubricate Moving Parts: Keep all moving parts properly lubricated.
  5. Inspect and Replace Filters: Regularly inspect and replace air, fuel, and hydraulic filters.

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Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Troubleshooting

For minor issues, operators can attempt DIY troubleshooting by following safety guidelines.

However, for complex problems or major repairs, it’s best to seek the expertise of a professional mechanic.

A professional can efficiently diagnose and resolve problems, ensuring the skid steer is back in operation quickly.

Skid Steer Troubleshooting Toolkit

Assemble a troubleshooting toolkit that includes basic hand tools, diagnostic equipment (if available), safety gear (gloves, goggles, etc.), and the skid steer’s manual.

Tips for a Smooth Operation

For optimal performance and productivity, consider the following tips:

  • Match Attachments to the Task: Use the appropriate attachments for each task.
  • Maintain a Smooth Driving Style: Avoid sudden jerks and aggressive driving to reduce wear and tear.
  • Inspect Attachments Regularly: Check attachments for signs of wear and damage.
  • Avoid Overloading: Stick to the skid steer’s load capacity limits to prevent damage.
  • Practice Safe Operation: Follow safety guidelines to protect yourself and others.

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Final Remarks

John Deere skid steers are invaluable assets in various industries. By understanding troubleshooting techniques and following a proactive maintenance approach, skid steer owners can keep their machines running smoothly and efficiently for years to come.


How often should I perform maintenance on my John Deere skid steer?

Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and optimal performance of your skid steer.

Follow the maintenance schedule provided in the skid steer’s manual, which typically includes regular checks and services every 100 to 250 operating hours.

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Can I use attachments from other brands with my skid steer?

While some attachments may be compatible with multiple skid steer brands, it’s essential to ensure proper fitment and hydraulic connections.

Using attachments from reputable manufacturers that are specifically designed for your skid steer model is recommended.

What should I do if my skid steer’s engine overheats?

Low coolant levels, a broken water pump, and clogged radiators are just a few causes of an overheating engine.

If your skid steer’s engine overheats, stop the machine immediately, let it cool down, and then investigate the cause. Seek professional help if needed.

How can I identify hydraulic fluid leaks in my skid steer?

Visible fluid on the ground or around hydraulic connections, hoses, or cylinders is frequently a sign of hydraulic fluid leaks.

If you notice a drop in hydraulic fluid levels or suspect a leak, inspect the hydraulic system carefully and address the issue promptly.

Is it possible to troubleshoot electrical issues without professional help?

Minor electrical issues, such as blown fuses or loose connections, can sometimes be resolved with DIY troubleshooting.

However, if you are unsure or encounter complex electrical problems, it’s best to consult a professional mechanic or electrician to avoid further damage.

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George Bill
George Bill

George Bill is a Mechanical Engineer by Profession and an avid gardener and has been mowing his lawn for over 20 years. He has used a variety of different mowers during this time.
George is an expert at maintaining his mowers and over the years, he has learned many tricks and techniques for getting the best results from his mowers and is always happy to share his knowledge on this site.