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HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake Adjustment

By Andrew Pollack on 04/19/2009 at 08:08 PM EDT

Update 5/8/2011 --
I decided to update this post with a follow-up that covers a more complete rebuild of the brake assembly. You still need this part for the adjustment, but if you want to go further, take a look here: How-to Followup - the Brake Assembly Rebuild
-- Andrew



I'm writing this because nobody else seems to have done so. I searched on the net a few times and didn't find these instructions, which seemed odd because it is so easy to do. So, now Google will pick this up and some other person may save an hour or two figuring it out for themselves.

I am the disappointed owner of a John Deere L100 42" Lawn Tractor. It's not that it's a bad machine, just that it's not a particularly good one either. The L100 is what you get when John Deere cheapens its cheapest model so that it can be sold through Home Depot. Virtually everything that distinguishes a John Deere tractor from the lower end brands is missing from this unit other than the green color -- and that's plastic. Frankly, I liked the design of my old MTD mower much better, and when this one wears out I will go back to the cheaper MTD model and never look back.

That said, while I have this poorly designed model, I do need to keep it in as good a shape as I can. One of the things that seems to need adjustment now and then is the foot brake. After only a couple of years, mine had stopped working altogether. In fact, since the brake and clutch are on the same peddle, pressing the non-functional brake pedal had the effect of disengaging the clutch and thus allowing the tractor to simply coast down hills at an increased speed. Yes, pressing the brake did in fact result in going faster.

After searching the owner's manual (ha!) and the internet, I found not a single description of how to adjust the brake. I spent an hour or so figuring it out, and now you won't have to.

The photo below is taken on the right (facing forward) side of the mower, looking backward toward the rear axle. The brake is just forward of the axle on that right side. The nut you see in the center of the picture is easily tightened with a 1/2 inch box wrench. You do not need to remove the wheel to reach it.

Sadly, the difference between no brakes at all, mediocre brakes that slow you to a stop but won't really stop you on a steep hill, and brakes that grab all the time -- thus producing smoke, fire, and other sorts of danger -- is only about two full turns of that nut. You'll need to tighten it a little at a time then test it. Keep doing that until you've got right. Carry the 1/2 inch box wrench with you so that if you over tighten it and start to smell the brake liner while you're riding around, you can stop on the spot and let off a little bit.


Have fun and be careful. Keep in mind that I'm not an "authorized John Deere mechanic" and have no particular expertise that should make me worth listening to. If you follow my advice and brake something, you own all the broken parts. If you don't know what you're doing, take it to someone and pay them to do it.

If you found this helpful, or if you have advice to add -- please comment below.


Update 9/25/2014 --

WOW. After 5 and a half years I am STILL getting great feedback on this one article. I LOVE YOU GUYS! I've had so much positive feedback that I've had to re-write the comment section of this blog software because it couldn't handle all the comments. You guys rock! -- Andrew


Update 3/29/2011 --

I am really gratified to read all the positive feedback on this article over the last couple of years. I'm glad this is helping people. If you do read it and find it useful, please do let me know! -- Andrew


Update 5/8/2011 --

I decided to update this post with a follow-up that covers a more complete rebuild of the brake assembly. You still need this part for the adjustment, but if you want to go further, take a look here: How-to Followup - the Brake Assembly Rebuild -- Andrew




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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Andrew Pollack on 04/20/2009 at 01:24 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Rick on 03/23/2010 at 10:08 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Ian Randall on 04/19/2009 at 11:46 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Bruce Perry on 04/20/2009 at 09:20 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Andrew Pollack on 04/24/2009 at 04:13 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Ken on 05/22/2014 at 09:22 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Ron on 04/24/2009 at 03:45 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy randy on 08/20/2014 at 05:34 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Al Agnew on 06/06/2009 at 03:32 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Rodney Reese on 08/18/2009 at 02:47 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy don on 08/09/2013 at 09:07 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy m fain on 08/16/2014 at 07:47 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy s krull on 09/03/2009 at 04:07 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Robert Cooper on 09/15/2009 at 04:45 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Bill on 03/09/2010 at 09:29 PM EST
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Alan on 06/14/2013 at 07:26 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy kyeltoro on 03/20/2014 at 10:14 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42 Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Andrew Pollack on 04/02/2010 at 09:00 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy chris on 04/02/2010 at 08:15 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Marc on 04/28/2010 at 09:55 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Dudley on 06/20/2010 at 01:43 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy steve s on 06/29/2010 at 10:07 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Randy Cose on 07/17/2010 at 05:32 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Matt Graf on 07/29/2010 at 06:46 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy ned kelly on 10/16/2010 at 08:43 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Malcolm Parker on 02/23/2011 at 07:22 PM EST
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy randy on 03/29/2011 at 07:29 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Paul Bernard on 04/13/2011 at 02:15 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Warne on 04/27/2011 at 12:19 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Mark on 05/05/2011 at 06:09 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy stephen on 05/10/2011 at 02:01 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy John on 08/04/2011 at 04:56 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy BIll on 07/20/2013 at 10:06 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Richard Waingold on 05/28/2011 at 07:14 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Dave on 07/11/2011 at 02:28 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Mark on 03/25/2012 at 11:55 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy whitey bellingham mass on 06/07/2012 at 08:31 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Debbie on 06/10/2012 at 03:51 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Peggy on 07/10/2012 at 03:16 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Bruce Morrison on 09/01/2012 at 02:08 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy john on 09/13/2012 at 01:42 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy vince valerio on 09/17/2012 at 08:13 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy chris on 09/24/2012 at 11:30 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Bob C on 10/12/2012 at 02:47 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Murph on 10/16/2012 at 05:27 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy scott schraeder on 04/22/2013 at 07:33 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Shannon on 05/15/2013 at 08:14 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Jeff Moody on 05/25/2013 at 03:35 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy EJW on 05/27/2013 at 09:12 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy FlatHead4 on 06/06/2013 at 07:40 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy FlatHead4 on 06/06/2013 at 07:39 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Jamesgang on 06/18/2013 at 03:32 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Danny on 06/20/2013 at 01:38 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy puzzled63 on 06/20/2013 at 02:31 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Hali Taylor on 06/23/2013 at 11:23 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy LaDonna Turpin on 07/05/2013 at 10:48 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Lynne S on 07/24/2013 at 04:29 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy J. Chambliss on 08/01/2013 at 03:43 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy MWA on 09/02/2013 at 08:46 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Steve on 08/04/2013 at 03:39 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Dan on 08/14/2013 at 01:51 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Andrew Pollack on 08/12/2013 at 09:20 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Dan on 08/12/2013 at 08:25 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Rick Armour on 08/22/2013 at 11:27 AM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Richard Orchard, Australia on 03/17/2014 at 08:48 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Herb Harvey on 04/23/2014 at 12:39 PM EDT
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re: HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake AdjustmentBy Andrew Pollack on 09/25/2014 at 10:35 PM EDT
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