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  1. #1
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    Default Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    I considered posting this in the Lawn & Garden forum, but figured I might get better responses in the JD Buying/Pricing forum so here goes... (please don't laugh)

    I am in the market for a small residential lawn tractor, mostly to mow grass but also for other (light?) jobs around the house. Here are my requirements:

    1. Must be able to easily mow my property which consists of:

      • .5 acres of Bermuda grass
      • Some slopes and hills (nothing too steep, maybe a max of 30% grade in some spots).
      • Very few obstacles.


      I plan to directly mulch my clippings, though may end up side discharging too (doubt I'll ever do any bagging).

    2. Must be able to handle occasional tow duty using pull-behind utility cart (to transport bags of mulch, fertilizer, plants, and maybe even brick pavers or landscaping stones around the property).

    3. Must be able to handle seasonal use with a plug aerator and broadcast spreader. Would love to be able to use a lawn roller too.

    4. Must fit within budget of $2000-$3000.


    I've tried to do my homework and done lots of research online. Also visited my local Deere dealer (as well as box stores). So far it seems like something from the JD LA 100-series will "get the job done" and the model that seems to strike the sweet spot with me is the LA135 Limited Edition, which is the best equipped 42" tractor in the LA line-up (V-twin, wider rear tires, better seat & steering wheel, included bumper bar and mulch cover). I don't think I need a wider deck, and actually prefer fewer blades and moving parts so the more expensive LA145, 165, and 175 don't appeal to me as much. The only things I wish the LA135 had are the larger wheels/tires (from the LA165 and 175) and electric PTO (from the LA145 and higher models), but I guess the manual PTO won't be that big a deal. The price is right for an LA135 too (just under $2k, which leaves some money leftover to spend on accessories like utility cart, plug aerator, etc.).

    However, I also understand that the LA100-series tractors don't seem to have the same stellar reputation as other JD equipment, and JD enthusiasts feel that one would have to step up to the X-series to get a "real" John Deere. That has caused me to at least consider looking at the X300. If money were no object, I'd love an X304, but an X300 with 38" or 42" deck would already be stretching my budget (and leave little extra for accessories). Believe it or not, the Deere salesman didn't pressure me into an X300, and once he learned I only had 1/2 an acre to cut, said the LA series would suit me just fine and I could probably expect 8+ years of service out one as long as I kept up with routine maintenance.

    So, that being said, does anybody want to weigh in to help guide my decision? Is the X300 really overkill for what I need? Or is the extra grand going to pay dividends down the road, in terms of reliability or performance? Are the LA series tractors that bad? I think an LA135 will meet my needs and I definitely appreciate the better price/value, but I wonder about the little Tuff Torq T40J transmission when towing stuff. The K46 in the X300 is not exactly the best transmission either, but should stand up better to strains from towing, etc. right?

    I can live with buying the cheaper LA135 even if that meant knowing it wouldn't last as long as an X300, as I might want a new tractor in 5-10 years anyway. I could also live with stretching the budget a little for an X300, if that meant my ownership experience would be that much better over the 5-10 years I plan to own it, because of better reliability. The mistake I want to avoid is paying more for a top-of-the-line LA series model (like an LA165 or 175) that maxed out features I probably don't care about, when my money would be better spent stepping up to a basic X300.

    I plan to pull the trigger in the next few days, so any advice or shared experiences are appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited by BMWBig6; 03-23-2008 at 09:44 AM.
    Ben

  2. #2
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    Kubota L3400 (gear driven)

    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Without a doubt get the X300. Even though the LA series would be better suited for your needs the quality difference is huge between the two models. Get something that will last and will probably have less problems in the long run. Spend your money wisely.

    Or look for an older, used model that is a real JD.

    p.s. My neighbor bought an LA model from a JD dealer and has been very disappointed. I don't know how many times he has replaced the spindle bearings but I hear about it quite often.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Hmm, do the X300 or X-series in general suffer from any common ailments too?
    Ben

  4. #4
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    Kubota L3400 (gear driven)

    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    I'm sure all mowers suffer to some extent. I don't have an X300 but I was very close to buying one until I found a used LX178 which I pounced on (liquid cooled Kawasaki engine!).

    Don't take my advice. Go to a dealer and crawl around both units. Take a look at the frames. Take a look at how they are put together. Take a look at the spindles and how many grease zerks are on each deck and each mower. There is no comparison on the engines. The LA has a 22HP Briggs while the the X300 has a 17HP Kawasaki. Those HP numbers don't mean much but a Kawasaki is a vastly superior engine in my book.

    Remember most of the opinions you get here are just that...opinions. I've never looked closely at an LA135LE but have looked over other 100 series mowers and have looked at the X series. I made up my mind when examining them and you need to do the same...look them over closely and determine where you want your $$$ to go. Every mower will have it's problems but you want to buy one that is well constructed and has good components that are serviceable so that you can extend the life of the machine with good maintenance.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
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    JD2305

    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Shimon is correct in that the X300 is a better built machine all around.

    That said, at my previous 1/2 acre residence, I used my Craftsman LT1000, w/ 18HP Kohler and hydro drive, for a good 10 years and have replaced nothing but a fuel filter and oil. I've used it to cut grass (mulching blades) and pull a trailer (cart) filled with firewood, mulch, brick, gravel, dirt, and whatever else you can throw in one. I've dragged aerators and dethatchers with 300lbs of stuff lashed to them for added weight. I've gone over hills and through ditches. Basically, I abused the crap out of that machine and it still runs great! It's now retired from most work (replaced by a 2305 for a much larger yard), but still pulls a 25 gallon sprayer and utility cart when I don't need the 2305.

    My point is that the LA135 will take your 1/2 acre with ease, even if you do beat the snot out of it once in a while. Lemons do exist, but you could just as well get an X300 lemon...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Hmm, so that's one vote for the X, and one for the LA. I am going to inspect the X300 again more carefully at the dealer before committing to anything, but just wonder if I will feel dumb buying that much tractor for .5 acres.

    On the other hand, I would feel dumb burning up a transmission outside the 2-year LA warranty (X comes with 4 years) because I overloaded the utility cart with dirt or towed a water-laden lawn roller uphill too many times.

    There is a used 2005 John Deere L130 with 23hp Kohler, 48" deck, 65 operating hours with maintenance records available locally. The seller is asking $1750 and may be willing to throw in a small trailer if I buy it now. Any thoughts?

    Ben

  7. #7
    Gold Member shot_gun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Ben, a L130 is in the same build quality as the current LA models you are looking at. As far as transmissions the X300/38 or 42 has the same transmission as the LA135. The frames are different as well as the engines. The X300 is still a lawn tractor just a better build quality designed to give you more life out of the tractor. I don't think it is overkill for that tractor. it will be personal prefrence as to which machine you are happy with. It sounds like the LA fits in your budget. Are you financing? If I were financing it would not be much of a stretch to go to the X300. Good Luck with your decision.
    S_G

    Remember nobody ever complained about having too much horsepower!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Quote Originally Posted by shot_gun
    As far as transmissions the X300/38 or 42 has the same transmission as the LA135.
    Are you sure? JD's website shows a K46 for the X300 (and incidentally the LA165, LA175) but it lists a "Tuff Torq T40J" (whatever that is) for all of the lower-end LA series, including the LA135. I just wonder how much I'm giving up right there in the trans (between a T40J and K46).
    Ben

  9. #9
    Gold Member shot_gun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Ben, this is what I was told by JD rep. but I did the same thing you did unforntunetly it was after my post to you and checked on the specs. So I'm not sure wether they misinformed me because when we were talking they said the LA135 and not the 125,115, in that conversation. I will get clarification today. I will let you know.
    S_G

    Remember nobody ever complained about having too much horsepower!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lawn Tractor Buying Advice Needed: X300 or LA series

    Quote Originally Posted by shot_gun
    Ben, this is what I was told by JD rep. but I did the same thing you did unforntunetly it was after my post to you and checked on the specs. So I'm not sure wether they misinformed me because when we were talking they said the LA135 and not the 125,115, in that conversation. I will get clarification today. I will let you know.
    Ok thanks shot_gun.

    Anybody have any more thoughts on the used L130 mower vs. buying new? 65 hours on a 2005 model, I assume (in my part of northern Georgia) that comes out to be 3 full seasons. These models only had a 2-year warranty so I'd be on my own there.

    I don't have a trailer, so if the owner will take a little less than asking price for both mower and trailer, it could be a decent deal. But $1750 for just a 3-year old L130 by itself, is the same price I could pay for a brand new LA135 with 2 years warranty (X300 comes with 4 years).
    Ben

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