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How to Troubleshoot a John Deere 4200

On the Farm image by mhiser from

John Deere made its 4200 compact tractor from 1998 to 2001. With a 26-horsepower engine, and several available attachments like a mower, loader, plow and cultivator, the 4200 was made for full-scale, small-farming needs. If your 4200 starts to malfunction, you need to pinpoint where your problem lies with a series of troubleshooting steps that can help you identify any needed part replacements before even more problems begin.

Make sure your engine is being supplied with sufficient power, if it isn't turning on. If you're not getting power, check your battery leads for corrosion or insufficient connections. Expose the battery by removing the front grill in front of the radiator. Use a brush to wipe away corrosion. Inspect all wiring leading to and from your battery for cracks or cuts. Remove the two cell covers and fill the cells with water to the fill line. Remove the negative (black) then positive (red) lead from each battery post, then unscrew the battery from its mount.

Place your battery on the ground. Connect the positive then negative leads from your battery charger to the corresponding posts on your battery. Turn on your battery meter/charger and set it to read the power for 12 volts. If low, set the device to charge the battery until it's full. Replace the battery and try to turn on your tractor. If it won't power on, replace the spark plugs and try again.

If you continue to have problems turning your 4200 on, consult a technician for a diagnostic review. Your alternator belt could be damaged.

Check you engine's fluids and listen to the engine as it runs. Ensure you've used diesel fuel. Especially if your tractor has sat over the winter, check the fuel and air filters for cleanliness, and drain any fuel that was left in the tank over the winter. Inspect all tubes and belts for leaks or cracks.

See if flushing the system won't help if your engine is overheating. Fill the radiator with water and a cooling system cleaner, then replace the radiator cap. Turn on the engine and run it until it reaches operating temperature. Watch for any leaks occurring during this process. Turn off the engine and, maintaining a safe distance, remove the engine block drain plug. After the fluid has drained, screw the drain plug back in. Top off the radiator with coolant according to the manufacturer's specifications.

Allow the engine to cool and check the fuel filter sediment bowl. Remove your engine's right-side panel and look for sediment in the clear plastic sediment bowl on the side of the engine. Unscrew the bowl and empty any evident sediment.

Check for blown fuses. Open the fuse box door on the left bottom of the seat by lifting the lever. Use the manual in the Resources section to identify the fuses for the areas in which you are having problems with your 4200. If you find blown fuses, replace them. If they blow again, this could indicate the area where parts need to be replaced. Contact a John Deere technician.

Test out the 4200's driving ability. If you can't get moving, make sure the emergency brake is off, the transmission is in proper gear and that you haven't run out of transmission fluid. If your tractor vibrates too much, you may need to replace your drive belts, clutch or the whole transmission. See a technician for a diagnostic test. Try filling the axle oil reservoirs first, though. The dipsticks are behind each wheel, on top of the axle, but outside the tractor body. Twist the dipstick off from their reservoirs. Fill the reservoirs until the fill lines are crossed on the dipsticks.

Inspect your running lights. If all won't turn on, you may have a faulty wire or switch, but if just a few are burned out, replace them by unscrewing and removing the clear face plates and swapping out the bulbs with a compatible replacement. If the lights still don't work, check the fuses for that part of your electrical system. Several blown fuses may indicate a faulty wiring harness for the entire light assembly.


Contact John Deere's Consumer Customer Service office at 800-537-8233 for help identifying any new parts you may need to have replaced.

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