The John Deere S120 and S130 are among the most popular riding lawn tractors. Designed for small to medium-sized lawns, they pack more than enough power to mow thick grass, pick up grass clippings, and get through tough jobs.
But picking between the two can be difficult as they share multiple similarities. We’ve prepared this guide to make your job easier.
John Deere S120 vs S130: Which is Better?
John Deere S120 and S130 lawn tractors are very similar, except for the manual vs. electric PTO and the addition of a front bumper on the S130.
However, if you must pick one, the S130 makes more sense as it offers slightly more advanced features while costing only $100 more.
John Deere S120 Review
The John Deere S120 is a 22-horsepower (16.4 kW) V-twin engine lawn mower with plenty of power and torque to handle tough mulching, mower, and bagging.
It also boasts a powerful Kankazi Tuff Torq hydrostatic transmission system giving you an infinite choice of speeds while making it easy to change direction.
Speed and direction control is via side-by-side pedals. Meanwhile, an automotive-style accelerator control ensures easy operation.
Note that you can change direction without getting your foot off the pedal. Moreover, the large pedal surface provides great comfort and convenience.
The following are additional features of the John Deere S120 lawn tractor;
- John Deere Easy Change 30-Second oil-change system
- Full-length welded steel frame for reliability and durability
- Comfortable and convenient operator station
- It’s easy to find and use the instruments
- The MowerPlus app helps with proactive maintenance
Pros and Cons
John Deere S120 Pros
- It mows the grass perfectly
- Runs well
- Starts easily
- Drives comfortably
John Deere S120 Cons
- The drive belt breaks too often
John Deere S130 Review
The John Deere S130 is another beautiful and powerful lawn mower, great for small and medium-sized lawns up to half an acre.
Made in Greenville, Tennessee, the 22-horsepower Briggs & Stratton 44 V-Twin gas engine mower is the midway point between entry-level and premium tractors from the John Deere 100 Series.
The 42-inch mower deck is similar to what you’ll find on the S100 and S120. However, users get multiple upgrades only available in the 140 Series or higher models.
Other standout features of the John Deere S130 lawn mower include the following;
- Powerful engine with 5.5 mph maximum forward speed
- 12-gauge solid steel frame
- Solid cast iron front axle
- Electric power take-off (PTO)
- Dash-mounted fuel gauge
Pros and Cons
John Deere S130 Pros
- Excellent power and size
- Smooth, comfortable ride
- Easy maintenance
- Compatible with multiple valuable attachments
John Deere S130 Cons
- Limited capability on hilly terrain
Let’s begin our comparison with the similarities between the S120 and S130. As we mentioned earlier, the two tractors are similar in many ways.
1. Powerful 22hp V-Twin engines
Both the S120 and S130 feature 22 hp (16.4 kW) V-Twin Briggs & Stratton engines with hydrostatic transmission and cruise control.
The powerful engines stand out for electronic ignition and fast starts. They also feature overhead valves for longer engine life.
The fuel tank has a capacity of 2.4 US gallons and features a conveniently sealed cap to keep vapors inside the tank.
2. Both have 42-inch edge mower decks
The stamped steel deck shells are constructed from 13-gauge steel and feature a mower wash port and easy-level mower level adjustment feature so you can set your cutting depths perfectly.
Each mower deck has two mower wheels and one wheel adjustment bolt. More importantly, the three-in-one decks switch between side discharge, mulching, and bagging lawn clippings without the need for extra tools.
3. An easy-read fuel gauge on the steering wheel dashboard
One of the first things you notice on the S120 and S130 steering dashboards is the MowerPlus Fuel Gauge.
The gauge shows how much fuel is left in the tank. More importantly, it’s conveniently located and visible in cloudy and dark conditions.
It also doesn’t slosh from bumps. A MowerPlus smartphone app allows you to keep track of fuel gauge readings from your smartphone.
4. Easy-Change 30-second oil change system
Both the S120 and S130 feature John Deere’s revolutionary Easy-Change 30-second oil change technology that makes oil change as easy as twisting on a new oil filter.
Thus, you don’t need to drain oil from the engine. Instead, changing the filter removes contaminants in the oil tank while replacing 0.76L of the oil.
5. Designed to accept multiple snow removal features
The S120 and S130 boast several features for snow removal. For instance, you can easily add the 44-inch (112 cm) John Deere snow blower or attach the 46-inch (117 cm) front blade to get snow out of the way.
In addition, the mower tractors attach to tire chains and TerraGrip traction belts for snow removal.
6. Convenient and comfortable operator station
Both tractors feature highly convenient and comfortable operator stations. For instance, the controls are conveniently positioned for ease of reach and maneuvering.
Also, the steering wheel is angled to provide plenty of space and comfort. The side-by-side and reverse pedal on the right and brake pedal on the left further increase operator convenience.
7. 2-year or 120-hour single-source warranty
Finally, both the S120 and S130 come with a 2-year or 120-hour warranty (whichever comes first). Both warranties are single-source bumper-to-bumper covers limited to years or hours worked.
Also, they’re hassle-free warranties, with John Deere handling all services and paperwork.
John Deere S120 vs S130: Key Differences
Now, let’s look at the major differences between the John Deere S120 and S130. The most significant differences are in the mower drive system, front bumpers, rear tires, dimensions, and price.
1. Mower drive system differences
The main difference between the S120 and S130 is that the S120 arrives with a manual power take-off drive system, while the S130 comes with an electric PTO, though you can upgrade to an electric PT on the S120.
So, why’s the standard PTO drive system important? Because electric PTOs are significantly more efficient than their manual counterparts.
First, electric PTO systems use electric wires to provide the power needed to operate the clutch. Meanwhile, manual PTOs rely on human energy pushing against several joints and levels.
Additionally, an electric PTO comprises fewer parts, typically the clutch, PTO switch, and the length of wire joining the two.
On the other hand, a manual PTO comprises multiple parts, including U-joints, pedestal connection points, and input connection surfaces. More parts mean more maintenance and increased failure risk.
2. Front bumper differences
Front bumpers aren’t mandatory on lawn tractors as on cars. Nevertheless, responsible manufacturers provide bumpers to protect your investment.
Alternatively, you may be asked to purchase the bumper separately. This is another area where the John Deere S120 and S130 lawn tractors differ significantly.
The S130 arrives with a standard bumper, so you don’t need to purchase one separately. It’s a styled bumper that blends nicely with the tractor’s design.
But more importantly, it’s a strong and durable bumper with sufficient hood clearance for regular maintenance.
On the other hand, the S120 doesn’t arrive with a bumper. Not that it’s not important. On the contrary, it is needed.
However, you must purchase it separately. The bumper costs $48 to $74, depending on where you buy it.
If you’ve owned a garden tractor before, you’ll know that the rear tires are critical to the tractor’s performance. They have a big impact on acceleration.
Additionally, the rear tires help to distribute the weight equally to prevent the front wheels from rising whenever the tractor pulls heavy loads.
3. Rear tire differences
Fortunately, John Deere provides large rear tires for all its tractors, including the S120 and S130. So, whichever you buy, rest assured you won’t run into load-balancing issues.
That said, the S130 has bigger tires than the S120. John Deere S130 rear tires measure 20 x 10-8.
Meanwhile, the S120’s rear tires measure 20 x 10-8. It’s a small difference. But you’ll appreciate it when pulling heavy loads.
4. Dimensions and weight
The difference in dimensions and weight isn’t noticeable until you manually measure the tractors. However, the S130 is bigger and weighs more than the S120.
The John Deere S120 has a height of about 44 inches, whereas the S130 measures 45 inches tall. The S130 is also longer, measuring 74.2 inches long, while the S120 measures 69.7 inches long.
Note that physical dimensions often mean little, provided the user is comfortable and the tractor performs optimally. That said, larger tractors are typically roomier for increased convenience.
Regarding weight, the S130 is slightly heavier. The John Deere S120 weighs an estimated 444 lbs. Meanwhile, the S130 weighs 462 lbs.
Again, the weight matters little, provided the tractor works as intended. But heavier tractors are typically better suited for heavy-duty applications.
Finally, the John Deere S120 and S130 are reasonably priced lawn tractors, though slightly more expensive than comparable ride-on mowers like Cub Cadet. For instance, the S130 is about $500 more than the Cub Cadet mowers in its class.
That said, the S120 and S130 are almost similarly priced, with the S130 only slightly more expensive, depending on where you buy.
For instance, the Everglades Equipment Group sells the John Deere S130 at $2,899 and the S120 at $2,799.
Meanwhile, the New England Power Equipment lists the John Deere S130 at $2,989 and the John Deere S120 at $2,889. So it’s about a $100 difference.
Other equipment stores charge slightly less or more. However, the price difference between the two tractor models doesn’t change much.
Read also: Why John Deere Tractor Keeps Shutting Off
Who makes the engine for John Deere S130?
Briggs & Stratton makes the engines for John Deere S130 tractors. Headquartered in Wauwatosa, WI, Briggs & Stratton is a US company that builds more than 9 million engines for different tractors and automobiles each year. It has manufacturing plants in five other states, including Montana, Alabama, Georgia, and New York.
What is the best series of John Deere tractors?
Many lawn mowing professionals consider the S140 the best lawn tractor from John Deere. It’s the best of the introductory 100 Series tractors and the best-value tractor overall, particularly for small and medium-duty applications. Meanwhile, John Deere X700 Signature Series tractors are the most powerful and intuitive.
What is the difference between John Deere s120 and s130
The main difference between John Deere S120 and John Deere S130 mower tractors is that the S120 is a manual PTO tractor while the S130 is an electric PTO mower. Electric PTOs are newer innovations that transfer power from the engine to the deck and blades via electric current. They comprise fewer parts and are less likely to fail than manual PTO systems.
The S120 and S130 are two of the best-selling John Deere lawn tractors, as they’re compact, powerful, and comfortable.
Also, they are reasonably priced. Nonetheless, the two tractor models are substantially different.
When to Consider John Deere S120: The John Deere S120 is a great choice if you prefer a manual transmission. Of course, it’s also $100 more affordable than the John Deere S130 lawn tractor.
When to Consider John Deere s130: The John Deere S130 lawn tractor is the better option when seeking an improvement over the S120 within the same price range.
Interesting read: John Deere 42-inch Mower Deck Parts.