John Deere E160 Design: Large, wide structure
The John Deere E160 Lawn Tractor features a three-blade, deep deck design that effortlessly cuts grass and weeds at a cutting width of 48 inches, but it makes for a wide machine at the base—nearly 61 inches (60.8 inches) from side to side. It’s important to make sure you have a wide area to store the tractor before purchasing, as this machine won’t fit just anywhere.
A ReadyStart system with key switch starts the machine quickly and effortlessly, without needing a choke or specific gear. In fact, the start mechanism is reminiscent of a car, which makes growing accustomed to the feature easier.
The operator’s station features all the buttons and gauges in easy-to-read spots, except for the gas tank gauge. It’s directly below the seat, so in order to know how much gas you have, you’ll need to check before or after you’ve mowed. It was difficult for us to monitor gas levels while we operated the machine.
The blade engagement mechanism is on the left side of the machine, within quick reaching distance. You can lift the blade if you’re driving near or over something you do not want to cut. You can also adjust while mowing if you prefer to change heights as you go—no need to get off the machine to alter heights. Height selection ranges from 1 to 4 inches in .25-inch increments.
Performance: Your yard is no match
The 24 HP V-twin extended life series (ELS) engine is powerful, and you can tell it from the moment you press the motion pedal. We were happy to note that the throttle lever lets you select a speed, which helped us easily control trajectory until we felt more comfortable handling the machine. The hydrostatic transmission can lock into cruise control, too, so you can set a pace that feels comfortable to you and allows you to maintain good control.
Gas Mileage: Floating tank is difficult to read
John Deere E100 series lawn tractors have a gas tank immediately below the driver’s seat. In order to access it, you must lift the chair. (You can see the nozzle cover from under the seat.)
The gas tank, however, was one of the biggest frustrations we experienced with this lawn tractor. The tank was full the first time we mowed, but by the end of the three-acre mowing, the gauge read that the tank was empty. Thinking the machine must guzzle gas, we attempted to refill, only to find that the tank was still nearly full. After sitting, the gauge returned to the top to show the fuel tank was two-thirds full. The next time we mowed, however, the gauge sank to the bottom, despite being just under half full.
The fuel tank “floats” beneath the driver’s seat. It’s sitting on springs, instead of being bolted into the machine’s frame. The gas gauge is designed to read the gas level with the help of the “floating” tank, but we found it was often incorrect, which left us manually tracking how much gas we had used and refilling more frequently.
One benefit of John Deere machines is the Easy Change oil system, a 30-second oil change technique that allows you to keep your mower lubricated and ready to use.
John Deere E160 Noise Level: Average, so wear some earbuds
The John Deere E160 is noisy, as many lawn mowers are. We chose to wear protective earbuds in order to keep the noise at a minimum. Still, we were able to hear people shouting over the machine’s noise, which is ideal for safety.
John Deere E160 Cleaning: Messy, but important
For longevity of the machine and to prevent damage from buildup, it’s smart to clean the mower deck after every use. But when we tested the cleaning mechanism, we found it difficult and a bit messy. A built-in quick-coupler sits on top of the blade deck cover. You can attach a garden hose to it, turn on the water, and then start the mower’s engine. Next, you’ll turn on the mower blades and allow the water to move through them for at least a minute.