John Deere STX38

The John Deere STX38 lawn mower is an upgraded version of the John Deere STX30 garden tractor lawn mower. This lawn mower is an incredibly popular one having had a production run that lasted 9 years from 1988 until the last one rolled off the assembly line in 1997. The JD STX38 gets it’s power from a Kohler CV12.5-1215 gasoline engine. This air cooled engine is more powerful than the JD STX30, pumping out 12.5 hp. But when compared to other JD mowers of recent times, isn’t actually that powerful.

The power from the engine on the John Deere STX38 gets transferred to the wheels via 1 of 2 different choices; the first is a transmission that gives the tractor lawn mower 5 gears when traveling forward and 1 gear for reversing. The second is a hydrostatic transmission that gives the JD STX38 infinite gears going forward and when reversing making it an automatic. The mower deck that comes with the this lawn mower as standard has a cutting width of 38 inches, but it’s total width is about 10 inches greater than this due to the fact that the discharge chute is located on the side of the mower deck.

There are a number of attachments that can be used with the John Deere STX38 lawn mower. The most used attachment is a bagger attachment that collects grass clippings at the rear of the machine. However you also have the option of mulching the grass clippings or just discharging them out the side of the mower deck. The next most popular attachment is a snow blower that can be used to clear your driveway of snow during the winter. On top of this there are also implements like front blades and utility carts that are available. John Deere also supplies a lot of spare parts for the JD STX38 even though it’s a fairly old machine

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16 Reviews of the “John Deere STX38”

  1. Taylor says:

    This is the T-34 of lawn tractors.

    Year of Manufacture: 1993
    Pros: Lasted 3 generations as of 2021
    Cons: The hood cracks and comes detached way too easily and there is no good way to fix or replace it.
    Modifications: Replaced carburetor. Bungee cord to hold up chute when inside garage.

  2. Tom says:

    Have this machine from new 25+ years. Bought with bagger and has surprisingly held up well. Deck is still in good shape and cuts 1+ acres no problem. Bagger has seen better days and it’s falling apart but still works. It clogs but only on wet grass which is remarkable considering its only 13 hp. No real problems though mice ate through some wiring and caused issues. No problems with Kohler engine or hydrostatic drive. Just routine maintenance and avoiding overt abuse. May get 30 years out of it.

    Year of Manufacture: 1995

  3. Steve Hartz says:

    I bought it new and then mowed a church yard with it for over 15 years. I took me almost 3 hours to mow the church yard because it was so big. I also mowed my father in laws yard for about 5 years. it took a little over an hour and a half to mow that.
    Went thru 2 starters, several belts that was all the repairs i did. still has original tires on it. Seat was replaced once. It is still in use yet to this day

    Year of Manufacture: 1990
    Pros: Just a really good mower, I had the yellow deck mower
    Cons: deck is hard to take off and on
    Attachments: Bagger
    Modifications: none

  4. Bob Espenson says:

    This machine has mowed the sliding hill behind my house and a full acre of lawn for 28 years. I have bought a newer machine when I thought my STX 38 was failing (it wasn’t) and then ended up sticking with the STX 38 because it just ran faster and took the hills better. It’s also simple which makes it easier to take care of. Great machine.

    Year of Manufacture: 1990
    Pros: Great on hills, fast and dependable.

  5. Linda says:

    always been dependtiable

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: bought new no major problems
    Cons: have a new belt need diagram for belt & spring . for mowing deck
    Attachments: bagger
    Modifications: none

  6. Richard Willoughby says:

    GREAT running mower. It will be interesting too see how long my shadetree repairs last.

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: Cuts well, runs great
    Cons: Some of the “redneck” repairs I’ve had to make to keep it going
    Attachments: original yellow deck
    Modifications: When purchased used, the left front wheel would point straight ahead and the right front didn’t, it pointed off to the right enough to make it steer and turn a little awkward. After about 3 years the pulley on top of the transaxle stripped and started turning on the shaft. When I took it to the John Deere mechanic he said it wasn’t worth fixing with the transaxle problem and the bad steering it would cost too much to make it “right”. I took it home and started my shadetree mechanicin. I cut one inch out of the right steering rod and welded it back together to get the tires headed in the same direction then I pulled the battery out and cut a 2×4 inch section out of the sheetmetal right above the pulley on the trans. I took my welder and welded the pulley to the shaft on the transaxle. Now the mower is usable and steers better than it ever did. It may not last very long but any use I get out of it after the JD Mechanic said it ‘wasn’t worth fixing” is icing on the cake.

  7. MacPointMan says:

    This has been our family lawn tractor for nearly 3 decades. It has never quit. It has always worked and required minimal maintenance. Obviously a lawn tractor is going to get some wear and tear on it after nearly 3 decades of use but this thing has handled it all very well.

    Year of Manufacture: 1988
    Pros: Reliable powerhouse of a Lawn Mower
    Cons: Parts are not readily available and the mower deck is now wearing a bit thin from 26 years of use.
    Attachments: Bagger attachment and garden trailer
    Modifications: none just repair welding to the mower deck.

  8. jac rijk says:

    very good

    Year of Manufacture: 1997
    Pros: stx38 i bought new and have 3000mtr to mow
    i had not big troubles in the 14 years.
    2 times change the belts
    1 startrelais
    2new battery
    1new groundcable this year.
    Never too dealer for repair ,i do all myself it’s a good machine and neighbours think its expensieve to ride john deere but i have in 14 year 350euro cost. Wenn i sell now it brings 800-1000 euro so myy cost in 14 year are 2800euro i can’t find cheaper i think.
    next one john deere, no doubt
    Cons: –
    Attachments: standard
    Modifications: no

  9. Rich slagter says:

    It is a great little work horse.

    Year of Manufacture: 1992
    Pros: I removed the broken hood replaced with a old dynamark metal one. Took off the wheels and using spacers used old rims from again the old dynamark and installed tractor type tires from farm supply which gives a lot of pulling power in fresh tilled ground in my garden. I pull a jd dump cart Every morning with a 15 gallon spray tank modified with a garden hose 3 ft spray wand with a battery out of my old semi. For cutting grass I use my jd x324 and for tilling a18 hp tractor, but my little 12.5 hp stx38 is what I call my dependable little grunt and gets more use on my 15 acres than any thing else.
    Cons: Replace carb two years ago
    The brake has never worked
    The key won’t start so I installed a start button which was easier to start with as a posed to a 1/2 inch drill and a socket since power and a long extion cord was required.
    The seat was replaced with a higher back model from farm supply.
    Two engine mounting bolts had to be replaced after vibrating out.
    Attachments: 1 7/8″ ball hitch
    A 4″ pipe modified as a bumper that when at full speed can over come small saplings.
    Modifications: Mentioned above

  10. Luther Jones says:

    Mow 2 acres

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: Just bought it >how do in find the year ? engine meets 1995-1998 California emissions ?
    Cons: Draining oil .. went everywhere
    Attachments: None
    Modifications: All original from storage.

  11. Ryan says:

    Very great machine!

    Year of Manufacture: 1988
    Pros: I have had this tractor since 2003 and was purchased from the original owner, everything is original except the guy before added the headlight kit. Very great machine, the dual bladed deck cuts excellent, pulls some pretty heavy loads, and ive never had a problem with it. Currently in the middle of getting rid of the rust and respraying it. Great machine!
    Attachments: Craftsman Utility Dump trailer.

  12. Possum says:

    I purchased this mower used and since it has had many hours of use. It is used by my kids to mow my lawn (1½ acres) and a neighbor’s (1 acre) as well as tow a trailer for collection of leaves, etc. It generates good power from the Kohler 12.5 hp single cylinder engine. Even though it has a 5 speed manual transmission, you have to use caution as it can fail under a heavy load (i.e. if the load raises the front tires off the ground, it probably shouldn’t be pulled). This tractor was pushed to its limits multiple times, which finally was it’s downfall.

    Year of Manufacture: 1992
    Pros: 38″, 2 blade deck gives a quality cut (with sharp blades) and has excellent grass collection. Very little belt wear over many hours of mowing. Kohler engine is plenty powerful and very reliable.
    Cons: Battery tends to collect grass clippings in box and corrosion is an issue. Difficult to adjust brakes, some grease zerts are difficult to reach. Clutch tends to “grab”. The seat on my tractor does not have a safety; operator can dismount while mower is running (I bought this tractor used, so previous owner may have modified this).
    Attachments: Rear bagger, pull behind de-thatcher
    Modifications: 1-7/8″ trailer ball

  13. Wes Bean says:

    Pleasure to cut the grass

    Year of Manufacture: 1993
    Pros: excellent running machine. kohler engine is the best
    Cons: needs fluid in the gear box. Manual does not show where to put it in or what to use . Could someone out there help me

    Thank you

  14. Mike Fields says:

    Excellent if I could now stop….

    Year of Manufacture: 1990
    Pros: Good power, reliable
    Cons: Unable where to find how to adjust brakes. The pedal is down all the way and unable to adjust. Not even in the manual.

    • Mark says:

      Had the same problem. If you have not found it, just in front of the right side rear axle you will see two bolts with a lock nut in the middle facing the right tire. That is the brake adjustment. I had to adjust it a few times to get it where I wanted it. Hope this helps.

      Year of Manufacture: 0

      • Bill says:

        I had the same problem with mine. I adjusted the brakes and replaced them with no avail. I just got used to them not working.

        Year of Manufacture: 0

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