When you get done here stop by and read this new, updated article: Which New 2018 John Deere E100 Series Lawn Tractor Is Right For Me?
Is the 2014 John Deere 54 in Model Z425 Zero-Turn Riding Mower Best For You!
I don’t review commercial zero-turns on this site so this is one of the more expensive zero-turns I will review. Yet it is one of the best values. Although the 2014 John Deere 54 in Model Z425 sells for around $3999 – in the overall market it is a better deal than many of the other zero-turns in this price range. I know … I very seldom tell you that the “Deere” is the best buy… but in this case it is.
It is still a residential mower designed to mow you large estate lawn well but it is not designed as a commercial mower. Don’t buy it to make money with.
You will not find many reviews from magazines or websites on this mower. So I will give this mower a very detailed review. It is a niche mower designed for large residential and farm properties so most review magazines and websites don’t even know it exists.
Consumer Reports does not rate zero-turns with a 54 inch deck. They limit their reviews to homeowner models less than 50 inches. Mother Earth News did go through 27 models in 2013 ( Best Zero-Turn Mowers ) but they did not review this zero turn mower.
This zero-turn is comparable in features and benefits to the Craftsman Professional 54″ 26 hp Pro Z7400, Ariens 54 in. 24 HP Zero-Turn 91517300,
Toro TimeCutter Mx5060, Cub Cadet Z Series and the Husqvarna MZ 6128
See All Buying Options, Special Offers: John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
For 2014 the John Deere the Z425 EZtrak zero-turn mower has upgrades which include a new top speed of 8 1/2 MPH, thicker grips on the motion-control levers and wash ports on the mower deck to reduce grass-clipping build-up. The Z425’s heavy-duty frame is one of the strongest in this price range and ensures durability, performance and long life.
Is This The Right Zero-Turn For You?
First features of the deck- Psst…It’s all about the deck
- 54-in. (137-cm) mower deck:
- This zero turn mower can side-discharge, mulch, or use a Power Flow™ collection system.
- The wide deflector spreads grass clippings evenly across the lawn, is hinged, and can be lifted to minimize the storage space required.
- The 54-in. (137-cm) mower is a deep-deck design:
- Deep-deck design does a superior job of lifting grass for a clean, even cut.
- Smooth underside of the mower prevents grass buildup and evenly disperses grass clippings.
- Mower deck is stamped from heavy, 10-gauge, 0.135-in. (3.4-mm) steel for superior durability and long life. (Most stamped deck are 12 or 14 gauge)
- Rolled outer edge of the deck provides extra strength and protection.
- Dual-stage E-coat and powder-paint coatings provide extra protection from rust.
- Standard front roller and two anti-scalp wheels give a more even mowing job and reduced chance of scalping.
- Mower wash ports with hose connector are provided to make cleaning the underside of the mower deck easy.
Power Flow™ Collection System.
- An optional Power Flow collection system is available for the Z445. The blower is powered from the deck and the system is designed to fill the 6-1/2-bu (230-L) rear hopper.
- Standard or mulch blades may be used with the Power Flow collection system.
22-hp V-twin 44.2-cu in engine
- A 22-hp* (16.4-kW) V-twin engine with 44.2-cu in. (724-cc) displacement provides plenty of power and torque to handle tough mulching, mowing, and bagging conditions:
- V-twin cylinder design for greater torque, lower vibration, and improved sound quality
- Large 44.2 cu in. (724 cc) displacement for plenty of torque in all conditions
- Electronic ignition for fast starts
- Cast-iron sleeves for longer engine life
- Overhead valves for excellent power and fuel economy
- Spin-on oil filter with full pressure lubrication for keeping the oil cleaner for long engine life and extended time between oil changes. Full pressure lubrication allows you to use this mower on an incline.
- Easy access to the no-tools oil drain valve for oil changes
- Rear engine guard protects the engine and provides extra strength and integrity
- The Z425 engine has extended life series (ELS) features for enhanced performance and longer life.
- Replaceable fuel filter and oil filter are easy to access and change to minimize service time and cost.
Motion-control levers (Lap Bars)
- Shock absorber for motion-control lever. These dampeners give you a much smoother experience when driving the machine. A standard shock absorber for the motion-control levers makes maneuvering EZtrak™ Mowers easy and comfortable. Shock absorber modulates the movement of control levers for smoother operation.
- Increased operator comfort
- The Lap Bars are adjustable for most users and give you precise control of the machine.
- The motion-control levers can be adjusted to three different height settings and fifteen different fore-aft settings:
- Any size operator can smoothly and precisely control the machine.
- Tracking adjustment
- Tracking adjustment
- Making the tracking adjustment from the operator seat is quick and easy. The cut-height pin doubles as a convenient tool for adjusting the motion-control levers:
- Control panel (Z425 shown)
- The operator control panel is conveniently located and easy to use.
- The following instruments and controls are included:
- Hour meter
- Ignition switch
- Power take-off (PTO) control
- Engine speed/choke control
- A “choke” position is built into the engine speed control.
The park brake is conveniently located:
- Large lever is easy to use.
- Park brake effectively holds the machine in the parked position.
- Park brake must be engaged (in the upper position) to start the engine.
- Once the engine is started, the park brake must be disengaged before operating the motion-control levers.
- Mower deck lift/cut-height adjustment
- Mower deck cutting height adjusts from 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 4 in. (10.2 cm) in 1/4-in. (0.64-cm) increments for excellent cut quality and performance.
- Mower-deck adjustment has built-in memory so the operator can easily return to the desired cutting height after raising the deck.
- EZtrak™ Mowers are designed around a heavy-duty formed and welded steel frame for strength and reliability.
- Large front caster wheels and large rear drive wheels provide several operator benefits:
- Smoother ride
- Better slope performance
- More operator comfort over uneven ground
- Better traction
- The operator platform is roomy and uncluttered for maximum comfort, and the controls are convenient to use:
- Easy to get on and off the mower
- Ample leg room for comfortable operation
- Adjustable motion-control levers for height and position, enabling the operator to stay comfortable while using them
- Color-coded and logically placed controls
- Excellent visibility forward and to the trim side of the deck makes operation easy and comfortable for the operator.
- Comfortable seat
- Comfortable seat (Z445 shown)
- Fore-aft seat adjustment
- Comfortable seats with two suspension springs and no-tools fore-aft seat adjustment, with a 3-in. range, that can be used by the operator while seated:
Flip-up foot platform
One of the first things I look for with a zero-turn is: Can you raise up the footrest to inspect, clean and repair the top of the deck. This really saves a lot of time because you don’t have to remove the deck to really clean it.
Being able to remove the footrest also lets you inspect the belt and replace it a lot easier. This is a minor feature in the toughness and longevity of the mower, but it is a great time saver and convenience factor.
Dual transmissions are efficient and have large, 1-in. (2.5-cm) diameter axles for durability
- Unitized hydrostatic transmissions set low in vehicle for excellent hillside stability.
- Dual unitized transmissions efficiently power the EZtrak™ forward and reverse and give steering capability:
- Tuff Torq® TZT7-D transmissions are reliable and durable.
- Beefed-up 1-in. (2.5-cm) axles for greater strength
- Maintenance-free, the transmissions are sealed and have no hose connections to leak hydraulic fluid.
- Four-bolt hubs provide a reliable and convenient wheel-mounting system.
- Transmission expansion tank and tow-valve lever
- Tow-valve controls are provided and allow the vehicle to be moved without the engine running
The valves are located on the transmissions near the expansion tanks so they are easy to reach and use.
Complete Product Description: John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
See All Buying Options, Special Offers: John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
See All Pickup and Delivery Options: John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
See All Financing Options: Credit, Special Financing John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
California Model: John Deere Riding Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn – California Only BM24632
I have a 2011 John Deere Z425. The left drive transmission is out,which would be better replace with a new one,or rebuild the one I have or can I update to the “Tuff Torq TZT7-D with 1-inch axles” ?? also do you know what transmission John deere uses in my 2011??
Hi Don, I know very little about mechanics and even less about the John Deeres. I’m going to suggest asking your local Deere dealer if the drives are rebuildable. Most likely they are not. I am going to assume that the T7 drive is physically larger than the one you have and won’t bolt in as a replacement.
I had a Z425 for less than two years. At 13 months, the engine missed and popped. It kept losing power and finally just quit in the middle of a mow. I was told it the valves were out of adjustment. The next year (2015) i attempted to start the mower to begin the mowing season. It would turn over but not start. At 22 months after purchase, I had to have the mower worked on again. I was told the right valve needed to be replaced and readjusted. Luckily, it was under warranty. Who knows what is going to happen next year out of warranty. The business I purchased the mower is not helping me much. I have left a comment on the John Deer web site with an email. Not a word from John Deere to help.
This mower is crap. I will not purchase another John Deere. I have never had this much trouble with a mower.
Hi Jer145, Valve issues are not common but they do happen. It would be interesting to see how many other 22 hp engines are having problems.
Hi Paul, I have about an acre and live in the Philadelphia are. Which is the better ZTR? The Raptor SD, The Deere Z425 or the Toro MX5050? All seem to be about the same price. Wife likes the deere, but the hydro concerns me and I belive it has lower blade speed than the others. What are your thoughts?
Hi HDK, I really don’t rate mowers but try to find the right one for you. That said, how well you will like the Hustler SD is how well and how close the dealer is to you. Toro and Deere tend to have a lot more dealers so that is not quite as critical.
I have many readers buying the Raptor SD and they really like it. The people who buy the MX5050 also like it. The Toro tends to win in the “best cut” category but the Hustler (Raptor SD) tends to be a faster mower and will get your acre done in a few minutes. So if you are looking for the best cut go with the Toro.
If your wife was able to mow for 30 minutes or so with each machine she would most likely pick the Raptor SD. It’s smoother to operate and less jerky to ride than the other two.
Even though the John Deere is priced the same I feel the comparable Deere is the 600 series. In my opinion the Z425 is over priced.
You can always offer to paint the Hustler or Toro green……
Paul, thanks for the insight. Love your site.
Some of the links in this article takes me to a JD D170 riding mower. The ones that do work tell me that the mower isn’t sold in stores in my area. Id I just go to Home Depot’s website I can pull up the Z425 and it shows available with free home delivery. I’m curious about what makes the Z425 a standout option in 2015. When I read your recommendations from the past JD was not on the list. I’m SE of Denver on approximately 3 acres. Almost 2 acres is grass and a little over an acre is fairly steep pasture. I’m not concerned about the pasture part as I can’t mow it with a lawn tractor either. The lawn portion has a number of trees and beds that are very difficult to mow around with a lawn tractor. There are a few hills but nothing too steep on the lawn portion. Based on your older reviews I’ve been trying to decide between the Toro, Husqvarna and the Hustler. The wildcards are now this JD Z425 and the Craftsmans. JD has a dealer near me but most of the others only have dealers in Denver. I’m not opposed to buying through Home Depot, just not sure how they handle service. Is the engine in the JD a proprietary engine? The review doesn’t give much in the way of details.
I don’t need to pull anything or plow – I have an ATV for that. The upper end of my budget would be $4K.
Thanks for all of your insight.
Hi Steve, 4 years ago John Deere was over-priced but today they are just as competitive as the rest. That makes the Z425 a comparable zero-turn to the rest. The Z425’s deck really mows well. I like the 22 inch rear tires. They make the unit ride better than mowers with smaller tires. I believe the engine is based on a Briggs Intek Plus or Pro model. (Deere like everyone else wants you to think theirs is better) If you buy through Home Depot the mower is actually set up and delivered through your local dealer. Service is also handled through a local Deere dealer. Here is the detail page at deere.com.
There is a real advantage to having a dealer close by. You are able to get maintenance parts when you need them and if you have a question about the mower’s operation they are always willing to help. If you have to drive a long ways for parts you tend to put stuff off until it breaks.
The Craftsman is also a good overall machine and it mows well. It has the new Kohler 7000 which makes it equal to the Deere but necessarily better. The one advantage of the Craftsman is Sears Techs always come to your home for repairs. You never have to take it anywhere for service.
Either way $4K gives you dependable transmissions and heavy frames. They will both give you years of service.
On 2 acres a 54 inch machine will only save you about 15 minutes over a 48 inch. If you have a lot of tree roots, bumps and dips a 48 may be better because it won’t scalp as quickly as a 54.
That’s great feedback, I wondered about the bigger deck and scalping. I’ve always been leery of Craftsman because so much of their other stuff is junk. I believe that you indicated in your reviews that their zero turns are essentially the same as one of the majors, just a different paint job. Is that correct? Which of the Craftsman would you recommend for my needs and who makes it for them?
@Steve, I would recommend the Pro 24 HP V-Twin Kohler 48” Fabricated Deck Zero Turn Riding Mower. It’s based on the Cub Cadet Z-Force. The deck has been around for a while and it cuts great. It is one of the few in this price range that will mow well above 6 mph. The deck has a large left side rail so you can rub trees and not have the deck cave in.
When you click on the link be sure to check out the special offers tab. They currently have free delivery and either 5% off or no interest with a Sears card. You can apply for the card during the checkout process. I have many owners get the card, get the 5% and then just pay it right off.
I’m just trying to make the best decision I can, given the amount of money involved here. In other reviews I’ve read, unless I misunderstood, you seemed to steer people away from Cub Cadet. I also noticed that Mowersdirect.com has the 48″ zforce from Cub Cadet for $3,499 with the Kohler engine. If that is the one to go with, wouldn’t I be better off getting it from Cub Cadet for $400 less?
Hi Steve, Cub Cadet has dramatically improved their lawn tractors for 2015 so I will be changing my viewpoint somewhat. I don’t see the savings you are referring to. Mowersdirect and the Cub Cadet site both list the Cub Cadet Z-Force ZF L48 model 17BSDALB010 for $3499.
The Craftsman model that you had previously recommended, which you indicated was a branded Cub Cadet is $3,899 for the 48″. Do you have a relationship with Mowersdirect, or another source so I can reward you for your guidance?
@Steve, Oh, I see, you wrote Cub Cadet in your previous comment – you meant Craftsman. If you are just looking at price then the Z-Force is the best choice. Many people though want the in-home service Craftsman offers and knowing they can always get their mower repaired and serviced without having to load it up and haul it somewhere is a big deal and worth the extra money.
If you talk to mowersdirect just tell them who sent you to them. They send me buyers for stuff they don’t carry. We work together very well.
Thanks Paul, sorry for the confusion…I’m sure you have several of these conversations going at the same time. I don’t know that it’s worth a $400 premium to me to have the on site service, provided I don’t have to go too far to actually have work done. Both Home Depot and Tractor Supply are listed as local dealers but neither of them carries this model for some reason. I like that this unit has the 20″ tires and the ZT2800 hydro. Those are also key features for the John Deere, Craftsman and Toro. The Cub Cadet seems to be the only one with those features for under $3,500. The Craftsman Pro is $3,899 and the JD Z425 is $3,999. The Toro MX5050 is $3,899. I don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish. Which would you recommend out of this bunch or would you point me in another direction?
Hi Steve, Yes, It gets especially fun when there are three different Steve’s I’m talking to right now 🙂
The Z-Force is really a dealer model. You will have to find a local Cub Cadet dealer, not TSC or THD to get quick, accurate service.
If you want the heavy-duty trans, heavy duty-frame and something that will last you have to stay in this price range. To go down in price you end up in the homeowner group of ZTR’s and there is a big difference when you go do to the $2999-$3300 range.
enjoyed yourreview. I have a 2011 z425 that wont chankbut about once every hundredth time I turn the key to start. sounds like a knock nothing turns over . want to shoot it but when it does kick on its wonderful. people tell me it the starter cylinoid. does it have one ? can an idiot find it on the b&s engine?
@sam, I am no mechanic, but I have enough old stuff around here that your problem is a common one with with my bunch of junk. If it starts once in a while it is probably is not the solenoid but simply a loose or oxidized connection somewhere in the starting circuit.
1. If you have set of jumper cables, jump the battery. (I use my van because the battery is easy to get at) If it starts right up then the battery terminals need to be cleaned.
2. Loosen the battery terminals and clean the connections. I have a small wire brush about twice the size of a tooth brush to clean the cable ends and battery posts. You want a shiny connection when you put it back together. If the bolts are rusted or you broke one taking it apart go to a hardware store and buy stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers to reassemble the connections. The stainless will never rust. Try it. If it doesn’t work continue. When you get done wash your hands and tools with baking soda to eliminate battery acid corrosion.
3. Find the back of the ignition switch. Pull off the connector. Look at he terminals to see if they are corroded both on the switch or the plug. If the switch terminals are all rusted, replace the switch. If not plug re-install the plug. Be careful to get it on right. I usually unplug and replug it about 3 times to make sure the connectors terminal “wipe” a new clean connection. Try it again. If that didn’t fix it continue.
3. Follow the red wire from your battery until you find the solenoid. Your solenoid will look similar to the ones here: It will have 2 large posts and one or two smaller terminals. Take a picture of how the wires are all connected to the solenoid. It’s not on the engine, it us usually tucked down under the battery near the steering column.
4. The first thing I would do is jumper the solenoid. I have a piece of electrical wire with an alligator clip on each end. Some guys use an old screwdriver. Leave the ignition switch turned off.
If the starter turns over, the solenoid is good. There is still an oxidized connection, loose connection or bad ignition switch. If the starter doesn’t turn over, replace the solenoid. You may have to remove the battery and battery holder to get at the solenoid.
Still don’t know which machine to buy, Garden tractor or zero turn. I had a Craftsman 22 HP yard tractor that did my 8 acre field just fine until I sent it to be tuned up. 30 minutes after i got it back, it caught on fire and burned up. (They adjusted the carb) lol. The fields are a bit bumpy but not very hilly. Garden tractor or zero turn? Deere or Craftsman? Kohler or Briggs?
John, Tuftonboro NH
@John, You have to decide. If you want to mow and pull stuff around the new Craftsman Garden Tractor is the way to go:
Craftsman 54" Turn Tight 24 HP Garden Tractor w/ Complete Start 16" X 6.5" - 8". If you just want to mow lawn the new 48 in Fast Tractor is a good option.
Craftsman 22 HP V-Twin 48" Turn Tight Fast Tractor - Non CA 1 Acre and Above. If you want a zero-turn here my three picks for 54 inch.
Craftsman 54" 24 HP Complete Start Zero-Turn Tractor Non CA 11 x 4,
Craftsman 54 24hp V-Twin Kohler Zero Turn Riding Mower - Non CA 13x5x6 Ribbed Castersat $2999 and the
John Deere Lawn Mower. Z425 54 in. 22 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mowerat $3999
Jamie - Canton,OH
I can buy the Toro-TimeCutter-SS5425-54-in-24-HP-KOHLER-Zero-Turn-Riding-Mower-with-Smart-Speed, for $3449. What is your opinion of the quality of this mower? Frame, deck, tranny, etc.
Hi Jamie, The SS5425 retails for $3699 so the price is right. It is a good residential mower and I’ve noticed that it cuts very evenly. If your lawn is fairly flat and no slopes over 10-12 degrees it will work well. It will handle lawns up to 5 acres.
If you want to mow fields or hills or really rough areas you should look at the MX5050 series.