Are All John Deer Lawn Mowers Keys The Same? [Plus Tips to Keep It Safe]

John Deere is one of the most popular farm equipment manufacturers out there. The American company is also known for making some of the best lawn mowers on the market. 

These models include the S100, S200, and X300 Series. However, when it comes to starting the machine, are all John Deere lawnmower keys the same?

John Deere lawn mowers used to have unique ignition keys back in the day. Today, the company has been using the same universal lawn mower key for all its models for over three decades.

If you want to learn more about John Deere lawn mower keys and whether they’re truly universal, keep reading this article!

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Are John Deere Lawn Mower Keys Universal?

When an item is universal, it means that it can be used throughout most or all of the similar items within a specific niche.

For example, when it comes to John Deere, the company made unique keys for their lawn mower in the early days. 

Soon after, it adopted a universal key strategy to make it easier for owners to use the same key across various lawn and farm equipment.

Since then, the universal key model has seen little to no changes, with the current one being used in John Deere lawn mowers since 1992. 

Remember that these universal keys are used for lawn mower models only but not the John Deere tractors.

What Are the Brands of Ride-on Lawn Mowers That Use a Universal Key?

John Deere isn’t the only brand of lawn mowers that adopted the universal key strategy. While not all brands of lawn mowers will have the same type of universal key, most of them have a universal model for their own models.

In addition to that, several brands of ride-on lawnmowers still share a similar key that can start almost all of their models. However, John Deere isn’t one of these brands, which include:

  • Craftsman
  • Coleman
  • Electrolux
  • Bobcat
  • Galion
  • Kohler
  • Baraga
  • Terramite
  • Wolf
  • Delta
  • Cole Hersee
  • JD
  • Hinkel
  • Drott
  • Massey Ferguson
  • Castel
  • Mantis
  • JLG
  • Skyjack

Do Push Lawn Mowers Also Use a Universal Key?

The concept of using universal keys is only common in riding lawn mowers because they’re generally large and heavy, so they’re pretty difficult to steal.

However, push lawn mowers are lighter and smaller, so they’re much easier to steal, so they don’t use a universal key. 

Instead, push lawn mowers will use a unique key, and if you want to get a replacement for that key, you’ll need to go to the nearest lawn mowers dealer to request a new copy.

What Happens When Your John Deere Key Doesn’t Start the Lawn Mower?

If you use the proper key to start a John Deere lawn mower and it still doesn’t start, there’s a good chance that the problem is either due to a dead battery or a faulty ignition switch.

How to Jump Start a Dead Battery

In the case of the ignition switch, you can easily buy a replacement ignition switch and replace the faulty one in your machine. 

First, you need to test the switch and make sure that it’s malfunctioning, which you can do by using a voltmeter and following the steps in this guide.

If the lawn mower ignition switch is functional, there’s a good chance that your battery is dead. Luckily, you can jump start it the same way as a car as long as the lawn mower uses the same voltage as the car’s battery.

How to Replace a Faulty Switch

This brief tutorial shows you how to replace the ignition switch in John Deere L100, but the same ignition switch and steps can be applied to replace the switch in a wide variety of John Deere lawn mowers.

How Can You Use a John Deere Lawn Mower If You Lost the Keys?

If you happen to lose the key to your John Deere lawn mower and you want to use your machine, here are some of the most popular methods to solve your problem:

#1 The No Keys Method

If the machine is functional because you don’t have your keys on you, you can start the machine on the spot through hotwiring without using any keys.

Hotwiring is also an emergency solution if your ignition switch is malfunctioning, but you need to use the lawn mower. 

#2 Using a Spare John Deere Key

Since John Deere keys are universal, you can easily use just about any lawn mower key to start yours as long as the ignition switch is working. In that case, you can grab an original John Deere lawn mower key as a spare key.

#3 Using a Universal Lawn Mower Key Set

Since many lawn mower models and brands use the same key to start the machine, almost all lawn mowers out there can be operated through a handful of keys.

Luckily, there are plenty of key sets that already contain many of these keys, such as the WAH LIN key set with 10 keys that can start various lawn mower brands, including John Deere.

How to Protect Your John Deere Lawn Mower from Theft

Since most ride-on lawn mowers use the same universal key to ignite the engine, many owners are concerned that the machines are prone to theft. 

However, by following some simple security tips, you’ll be able to protect your John Deere lawn mower from theft. Here are some of the most valuable ones:

Keep Your Lawn Mower Secure in a Shed

Keep your lawn mower out of sight and hidden in a secure shed. This won’t only protect the machine from easier theft, but you’ll also protect the machine from the elements of weather and extend its years of service!

Secure the Lawn Mower with a Unique Padlock

If you’re frustrated about the universal key design but still want to keep your lawn mower outside, you can always use a set of chains and a robust padlock with a unique key to protect your lawn mower from theft.

The only drawback to this method is that you’ll need to chain the lawn mower every time you need it and keep two different keys to operate the machine.

Register and Identify Your Lawn Mower with Your Contact Details

After buying your lawn mower, make sure that you keep your mower’s paperwork in a secure place because it’ll contain important information about the machine, such as its serial number.

You can also walk the extra mile and brand your machine by etching your name and contact details on the machine.

Install a GPS Tracker on Your Machine

Keep a small GPS tracker on your lawn mower and other outdoor machinery to track it if it’s ever stolen. Make sure to hide the tracker inside so that thieves can detect it and throw it away.

Improve the Outdoor Security System Around Your Property

Lastly, always make sure to ramp up your outdoor security by using motion-activated lights, cameras, and motion sensors with alarms in your yard. These tools are the perfect deterrents to thieves and criminals!


There you have it! A brief guide that walks you through everything you need to know about John Deere lawn mower keys and whether they’re all the same.

As you can see, not only John Deere but almost all ride-on lawn mowers out there made in the last 20 years have a universal key. 

Luckily, by following the previously mentioned tips, you’ll be able to protect your it from theft!

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