7 Common John Deere Gator Problems That Drive Owners Mad

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While the John Deere Gators don’t make the list of best UTVs for the money these days, they’re still quite popular.

But while John Deere is mostly looked at as providing quality vehicles, there are some common issues that plague John Deere Gators as a whole.

Below are the seven most common John Deere Gator problems.

Hard Shifting Into Or Out Of Gear

The stock clutch system in the John Deere Gators are the most problematic feature of these models.

The most common issue they cause is hard shifting in and out of gear.  This may even occur to the point that you can barely move the gear shifter.

This is usually a result of a sticking primary clutch, which can then cause issues with the shifter cable.

Belt Drag & Lurching

Another issue caused by the stock clutch is the tendency for belt drag to happen, which can result in the Gator lurching forward as soon as you put it in drive or reverse without applying any gas.

This is usually due to the clutch not opening all the way at idle and can usually be fixed by blowing out the clutches with compressed air.

Parking Brake Randomly Failing

This issue happens more commonly on pre-2020 Gators, but the parking brake is known to fail on these machines.  

If this happens on a hill, or on a bit of a grade in your garage, it obviously spells big trouble.

Popping Noise From The U-Joints

The U-Joints in the steering rack are known to move up and down slightly on the shaft of the steering rack and make a popping noise when this happens.  

This usually happens thanks to the bolt that locks it in place shearing off.  It’s a common issue and usually requires replacing the entire rack to alleviate it.

Spark Plug Wires Go Bad

The spark plug wires are well-known to go bad in the Gators, leading to the engine idling rough and not firing on all cylinders, and the Gator running roughly altogether. 

Many confuse this for an issue with the plugs themselves but replacing the spark plug wires will solve the issue.


Gators are also known to get very hot when driven for extended periods, especially at higher RPMs.

The fan switches aren’t set to trigger until certain temperatures, but when they do, especially on hot days, many times they don’t have time to cool the engine enough to keep it from overheating.

This overheating can also happen as a result of an air blockage in the coolant lines…which will need to be burped out if the cause.

Ride Gets Iffy With Heavy Cargo Load

With a heavy load in the rear cargo bed, the shocks get bouncy, the brakes get scary and the taller Gators can feel a bit tippy.

Final Word

All utility vehicles have their problems, and the John Deere Gators are no different.

Even some of the most well-respected side-by-sides and utility vehicles have their issues: