6 Most Common John Deere 2038R Problems and Fixes

The 2038R is a mid-sized compact tractor in the John Deere’s 2-series lineup. It’s an easy-to-use tractor with some of the best features that John Deere offers. You can use this tractor for residential or light-duty tasks.

But as with any other tractor, the JD 2038R may experience issues from time to time. Some of the most reported John Deere 2038R problems include hydraulic problems, a hard steering wheel, transmission noises, reduced engine power, command cut issues, and cold starting problems.

Do you own a problematic JD 2038R? Keep reading and learn how to fix your compact tractor.

Cold Starting Problems

Starting a diesel engine in cold weather can be five times harder than in warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, the 2038R is not an exception. The engine may prove difficult to start, especially if you want to tackle winter-related tasks.

This problem may occur despite following the correct cold-starting procedure. Many JD 2038R owners report that the tractor won’t start when the temperatures go below 0°F. They’ll turn the key on and let the glow plugs heat up, but nothing happens.

If you experience a similar problem, check the battery’s condition. Usually, cold is a bigtime battery killer. Clean the battery terminals and recharge it in your garage. After finishing any job, you’ll need to uninstall the battery and store it in a warm room.

Another possible culprit could be the engine oil. Cold weather thickens engine oil, making it less viscous. This oil creates resistance in the engine when you try to turn it over. Check the oil’s condition and change it if it’s too thick. You can replace it with a 5W-30 grade oil for cold climates.

Diesel gelling can also cause cold starting problems when it blocks the fuel lines. Install a block heater to warm the tractor and prevent the diesel from gelling. You can also add an anti-gel into the tank to drop the diesel’s freezing point.

John Deere 2038R Hydraulic Problems

John Deere equips this compact tractor with a reliable 3-point hitch that lifts and lowers any connected implement. However, the 3-point hitch may fail to raise or lower the implement.

This issue usually occurs after using the system for an extended period. The 3-point hitch problem may be coupled with other hydraulic issues, such as overheating and insufficient pressure. Sometimes, you’ll need to restart the tractor for the system to work.

The leading cause of this problem is a failing hydraulic pump. A defective pump doesn’t provide sufficient pressure to raise the implements. Before having the pump repaired or replaced, check the hydraulic oil level to ensure it’s as required. Then, clean or replace the hydraulic filter.

A worn-out or damaged O-ring, seal, or control valve could also be to blame. An experienced mechanic can examine these parts and fix them.

Hydrostatic Transmission Noises

Most John Deere 2038R problems related to the hydraulic system occur with age or due to poor maintenance.

Although the 2038R hydrostatic transmission increases productivity, it may fail over time. Parts may wear out or get destroyed in the system and cause transmission failure. You may hear rattling or whining noises when driving the tractor.

If your transmission makes unusual noise and feels weak, there might be issues with the transmission fluid. Low transmission fluid creates lubrication problems, leading to premature wear of parts. It can also cause overheating and power loss problems.

Check the fluid level and refill if necessary. Also, check the fluid’s condition and change it if it looks filthy.

Worn or damaged parts may also cause a noisy hydrostatic transmission. Start with the relief valve and change it if worn or damaged. Then, inspect the speed control linkage to see if it’s properly adjusted. Adjust or replace it if damaged.

Command Cut Issues

The Command Cut is one of the newest features John Deere incorporates in their 2R Series. This feature has an electronic actuator and sensors that accurately adjust cutting height. It comes in handy when reinstalling the mower deck or mowing different lawns.

However, many JD 2038R owners claim that the Command Cut system is a headache. The feature drifts off the set cutting height while mowing. It may drift from 3 to 2 and throw an error message on the dash.

Some owners have tried replacing the actuator, sensor, and mower deck bolts, but the problem persists. Unfortunately, this is a manufacturing defect, and John Deere knows about it. If you encounter a Command Cut problem, contact the dealership or John Deere support for help.

Hard Steering Wheel

A hard steering wheel makes your tractor difficult to turn or steer. This is another John Deere 2038R problem that may result from improper use and maintenance. A hard steering wheel can increase the chances of accidents.

One of the leading causes is inadequate steering fluid. The steering system requires this fluid to lubricate parts and allow smooth operation. If the system has little or no fluid, moving parts will get stuck and stiffen the steering wheel. Assessing and adding more steering fluid can resolve this issue.

If this problem persists, locate and examine the steering filter. A clogged filter blocks steering fluid flow, leading to lubrication problems. Replace this filter with a new one.

Worn or damaged parts in the system could also be to blame. In this case, hire a professional to inspect and fix the worn or damaged steering pump, control valve, cylinder, and column. Lastly, check the tires to ensure they have the recommended pressure.

Reduced Engine Power

Several John Deere 2038R problems may cause the engine to lose power. Before you notice this issue, your engine may have warning signs like overheating, misfires, and difficulty starting.

Check the fuel system for defects if your JD 2038R engine is weak. Insufficient or blocked fuel lines won’t deliver enough diesel in the combustion chamber. So, refill the tank if it’s empty. If the fuel won’t flow as expected, check the filter for clogs and replace it. Flush out the lines to clear any dirt or contaminants blocking fuel flow.

A clogged or damaged fuel pump can cause a power loss issue in your tractor. You can use a fuel system cleaner to unclog the pump or have it replaced if it’s defective. You can also clean the blocked fuel injection nozzles or replace them if they are faulty.

Incomplete combustion may happen if the engine doesn’t receive sufficient air. As a result, your engine will misfire, become weak, and eventually stall. Inspect the air filter, radiator, and radiator fan for dirt, debris, or signs of wear. Clean the filter, fan, and radiator, or replace them if they look damaged.

John Deere 2038R Specs

Engine Power36.7 HP
Displacement1.568 L
Power take-off (PTO) power30.4 HP
Rated engine speed2500 rpm
Torque at rated speed104.7 Nm (77.2 lb. ft.)
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel tank capacity32 L (18.5 US. Gal)
Transmission typeHydrostatic transmission
SteeringPower steering
3-point hitchCategory 1
Lift capacity1356 lbs. (615 kg)
Wheelbase67.8” (1723 mm)
Turning radius8.07’ (2.46 m)
Front tiresR1 Ag 12.4-16R3 Turf 14-17.5
Rear TiresR1 Ag 12.4-16R3 Turf 14-17.5
John Deere 2038R hydraulic problems

Are John Deere 2038R Problems a Deal Breaker?

JD 2038R issues are not a deal breaker and should not discourage you from owning this compact tractor. It’s a robust, reliable, and versatile tractor that rivals many bigger tractors. With regular maintenance, this tractor will provide many years of service.

If you encounter the above John Deere 2038R issues, address them ASAP to prevent other issues from cropping up. Take your 2038R to a mechanic to fix challenging problems.