How to Free Up Steering on a John Deere L110

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The John Deere L110 was produced from 2003 to 2004. The L110 was equipped with a 17-horsepower Koehler 1 cylinder engine. The steering system on the John Deere L110 includes a steering wheel, shaft, steering gear and front end steering components. Determining the reason for the steering being locked up requires examination of the entire system. Certain steering components will need to be removed to completely test the steering system and to make the appropriate repairs.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 wheel chocks
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Air pump
  • Floor jack
  • 2 jack stands
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • 3/8-inch-drive ratchet
  • 3/8-inch-drive socket set
  • Pliers
  • 3-jawed puller
  • 1 tub bearing grease
  • Penetrating spray
  • Park the lawnmower or maneuver the lawnmower to a flat hard surface, such as a concrete lot or driveway. Do not perform this examination on a loose gravel or dirt surface. Chock the rear wheels of the mower. Set the transmission gear selector to the No. 1 gear. Lower the mowing deck to its lowest possible point to allow greater access to the underside steering components.

  • Check the tire pressure in all four of the tires using a tire pressure gauge. Fill the tires with an air pump to the recommended maximum tire pressure written on the sidewalls. Do not over-inflate. Sit on the tractor and attempt to steer the wheels to the right and left. If filling the tires did not release the steering, proceed to Step 3.

  • Remove the center cap on the steering wheel using a flat-head screwdriver. Remove the steering wheel lock nut using a ratchet and socket. Attempt to rotate the steering wheel once the steering wheel lock down nut is removed. If the steering system unlocks after you remove the nut, then the nut was torqued too tightly. Tighten the nut back down with your ratchet and socket until it's snug. Adding extra torque can crack the steering wheel or damage the steering wheel bushing. If this step does not release the steering system, proceed to Step 4.

  • Remove the steering wheel washer from the steering shaft. Remove the steering wheel from the steering shaft by hand. If the wheel does not separate from the shaft easily, install a three-jaw puller onto the steering wheel. Insert the center thrust bolt of the puller into the center of the end of the steering shaft. Tighten the puller with your ratchet and socket until the steering wheel pops free from the steering shaft.

  • Inspect the steering bushing mounted just below the steering wheel. Pry the bushing free from the steering shaft, using your flat-head screwdriver. If the bushing is damaged or flattened in any area, the steering wheel cannot rotate properly. This bushing is the main point of contact between the wheel and the steering shaft. Replace the bushing if it is warn or damaged. Check the snap ring just below the bushing. If the snap ring is bent or missing, replace the snap ring with snap ring pliers, and the bushing. If neither part looks damaged, proceed to Step 6.

  • Install the snap ring onto the steering shaft with your snap ring pliers. Apply a light coating of grease to the entire exposed upper end of the steering shaft. Install the bushing onto the shaft by hand. Use pliers to gently ease the bushing back into position, if needed. Install the steering wheel in the same position it would be if the wheels were turned completely straight forward. Install the washer onto the shaft over the wheel, then install the lock nut by hand for a few threads. Tighten the nut snug with your ratchet and socket.

  • Raise the front of the L110 using a floor jack underneath the front axle carriage. Place jack stands beneath both ends of the front axle assembly, just inward from the wheel spindles. Lower the mower onto the jack stands and rock the mower gently to assure you have a sturdy setup to work beneath.

  • Raise the hood on the L110 by gripping it just forward from the steering wheel and pulling it up and over the front of the mower. Inspect the steering shaft entirely, from the bottom of the mowers dash panel until the shaft goes through the chassis. Walk around the mower and inspect the shaft from different angles. If the shaft is bent at all, it will need to be replaced. A bent steering shaft will lock up the steering gear and pinion at the bottom of the shaft.

  • Lie beneath the front of the L110, and slide yourself into position to view the bottom of the steering shaft, where it mates with the steering gear. Look for excess debris around the steering gear. The gear should be completely clean of debris or grass clippings. If the gear area has excess debris, remove it by hand. Attempt to steer the mower's wheels by hand, by turning one wheel inward or outward. If the wheels are still locked up, make sure the steering gear is mating flush with the steering pinion and that the gear plate is not bent.

  • Remove the locking nut from the bottom of the steering shaft using your ratchet and socket. Pull the steering pinion free from the bottom of the steering shaft, using pliers gently if needed. Remove the lower steering bushing from the bottom of the steering gear, using your flat-head screwdriver. If the bottom bushing is damaged, replace it. If the bushing is not damaged, lubricate the inside of the bushing with bearing grease and insert it back into position by hand. Install the lower pinion and washer, then tighten the lock nut snug with your ratchet and socket.

  • Inspect the pivot screws and nuts on the steering gear. Make sure the screws are not rusted or corroded excessively. Spray penetrating spray onto all of the mounting hardware on the steering gear assembly. Attempt to turn the wheels now that your steering shaft and gear are inspected, cleaned and properly lubricated. Proceed to Step 12 if the wheels are still not pivoting freely.

  • Inspect both drag links, which are the bars that extend from the steering gear to the front wheel spindles. Both bars are shaped differently, so do not try to compare the two against one another. Inspect both bars for any unnatural bends. Each bar has specific factory bends, but if there are any curvatures between the factory bends, the drag links will need to be replaced. Make sure the forward ends of the drag links and the steering spindles are clean. Spray the spindles and drag link ends with penetrating spray.

  • Inspect the steering spindles attached to the front axle assembly. Make sure the spindles are free from debris and grass clippings. If the spindles are bound up with debris, they will not rotate freely. Remove the drag link mounting nuts from the front spindles, using a ratchet and socket. Remove the drag links from the front spindles.

  • Pry the upper caps off of the spindles using your flat-head screwdriver. Remove the snap rings from the top of each spindle using your snap ring pliers. Push the spindle shafts downward and out of the ends of the axle assembly. Inspect the spindles for excess wear or bent inner shafts. If either condition exists, replace the spindles completely. Install the spindles back up into the axle assembly, with the wheel and tire attached. Hold the assembly in place with one hand. Pack the entire insides of the spindle mounts in the axle assembly full of bearing grease.

  • Install the washers and the snap rings to lock the spindles in place. Fill the caps with fresh bearing grease, then install the caps over the tops of both spindles.

  • Raise the front of the L110 off of the jack stands, then remove the stands from beneath the tractor. Lower the tractor to the ground. Position the wheels in the straight position, and sit on the tractor. Use the removal and installation procedures in steps 3 through 6 to reposition the steering wheel if it needs to be adjusted to center.

Tips & Warnings

  • Working from the top to bottom during your steering system inspection and repairs will ensure you do not overlook any essential components of the steering system.
  • Never place your fingers between the lower steering pinion and the steering gear. Any rotation of these two parts could pinch your fingers.

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