Lawn tractors can be very troublesome to purchase; there are a lot of brands with their various models out in the riding mower market that all seem to be the right ones for you. So even if you start with a good brand – as you have with John Deere – how do you weigh your options when you’re brought with two quite synonymous models? How do you decide which model will suit you best? The answer to every question you have is a careful and deliberate comparison which, thankfully, I’m here for.

The John Deere S120 and S130 are residential-grade lawn tractors that share a humongous amount of similarities, thus, differentiating them based on value might be a little tricky. However, since they are not the same models, after all, there is a breakthrough answer to your question; The S130 is better than the S120 despite the tight competition between the two. Although each model will satisfy your needs precisely, you’ll find that the S130 will outperform the S120 with an extra pinch– all of which you’ll get to recognize in a bit.

In this article, I’ll be taking you through a full-blown discussion based on the features of both models, how they compare, and why the S130 is the better lawn tractor for you. Let’s get into it!

differences between s120 and s130 lawn tractors

4 Key Differences Between The John Deere S120 and S130

Feel safe to wonder why the John Deere company decided to have two different models that are basically identical– I was wondering the same thing too, and I’m sure a lot more have pondered on the question. Anyway, here are the differences between the S120 and S130:

Tire Size

On reading this point you might think the tires must be so significant to be stated as a case, but the S130’s rear tires are just 2 inches bigger than the S120’s.

To hit the nail, both models are equipped with 15×6-6 tires at the front and the S120 with 20×8-8 tires at the rear in comparison to the S130 with 20×10-8. While the S130 will do a tad better since the tires are evidently beefier in comparison to the S120, both of the models are just good enough to run over all sorts of terrain appropriately.
If you are pinned on tire performance, I will definitely suggest the S130 for the extra inches to meet your expectations better since sizes can affect your ride quality in significant amounts.

I have to admit, bigger tires don’t always guarantee a quality ride; it could be anything from the tire pressure, the weight of the machine, or even the way you steer through the yard. For great quality and safe rides, I advise you to ensure the air pressure in the tires is suitable for your terrain.

PTO System

The PTO system is responsible for disengaging and engaging the cutting deck blades when you put the lawn tractor on, and both models differ in the mechanism.

The S120 mower is equipped with a manual PTO system that involves a lever you can swerve left or right to engage or disengage the blades. In comparison to this, the S130 has an electric pop-up switch instead to push or pull for the same effect. Thus, offering a much more stressless method of operation which places it a step above the S120.
Since operating the cutting deck is compulsory, having an easy way through is always welcome and this is why I recommend the S130 lawn tractor for an effortless method of operation.

Front Bumper

The front bumper is a safety feature for the John Deere lawn tractors that prevents potential wreckage in case of mild or serious accidents on the lawn. Amongst the two models in question, the S130 possesses the front bumper feature which makes it more reinforced in comparison to the S120. If you are new to the mowing task, I strongly advise you to go for the S130 for the extra layer of defense to take you through the learning stage safely.


It’s quite surprising to see that despite the extra jingles placed on the S130, it still happens to be cheaper than the S120 by a few hundred bucks. The S120 starts at $2,700 – $2,800, in comparison to the S130 which starts at $2,400 – $2,500 both depending on your dealer. You have another great reason to purchase the S130 since you can save money on the deal.

similarities between john deere s120 and s130

5 Vital Features And Similarities Of The S120 And S130

With the differences out of the way, you can now observe the key features of both machines and how they operate to your benefit.

Engine Specifics And Power

For both models, the Briggs and Stratton engines are the standard. The motors deliver 22 horsepower through and through, which is impressive for intense residential mowing and multitasking. The emphasis is on residential use because although the horsepower is remarkable, using any of the models for commercial use – which will involve frequent use of the machine – will ricochet on the quality of your lawn tractor over time leading to a shortened lifespan.

Transmission System And Speed

If you’re wondering how smooth your lawn tractor can steer or how fast it can run, the answer is mostly in the transmission system.

Both the S120 and S130 utilize the hydrostatic two-wheel drive system with side-by-side pedals for control. Hydrostatic tranny units are much smoother in comparison to hydro gear units which, frankly, is a breath of fresh air considering the fact that lawn tractors are usually paired with the hydro gears.

Thankfully, for both of the models, steering and movement are pretty smooth for their level of expertise.
In terms of speed, both models will boost you as fast as 5.5 miles per hour in maximum forward speed, and 3.2 mph in max reverse– quite sufficient for mowing effectively, much more than getting the job done in time, but it’s relatively suitable.

Deck Type And Cutting Efficiency

Both the S120 and S130 come with identical decks; the Edge 42-inch stamped 13-gauge steel deck with double scalp wheels and a washing port. Nothing too fancy, but just enough for an adequately residential task.

The cutting performance of the S120 and S130 is surprisingly good. Most of the time, cutting quality is dependent on the speed of the machine, which in this case is a perfect match. Although the decks don’t feature any specific superpowers like the bullnose or accel deep elements on the high-grade lawn tractors, the relative time you spend on each spot allows the deck to properly ruminate on the grass strands before ejecting the clippings through the side. You’ll be impressed by the cut quality of both models, it’s safe to say.

Seating Feature And User Comfort

The seat on both the S120 and S1230 is pretty basic; 15inch two-piece seats with an open back and spring suspension. Although fair, they are not the seats for feeling comfortable whilst mowing. To begin with, there are no armrests, so you will have to request a pair when you purchase your lawn tractor for extra bucks.

Also, bumpy situations will be felt significantly due to the quality of the padded seats. The only way around getting a decent amount of comfort as you zap around your yard is by purchasing a suspension seat and installing it on your machine especially if you are challenged.


The S120 and S130 share the same warranty; a 2year/24-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty on parts and labor for you to enjoy respectively.

Due To Pricing, Is The John Deere S130 Low-Quality?

It’s natural to wonder why the S120 costs more than the S130 since of course they are manufactured without the bonuses. The truth is the reason is not clear, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the pricing of the S130 model has nothing to do with the durability and effectiveness of the machine.

Both models are manufactured quite identically to each other in terms of functionality, if not for the extra 2 inches of tire width on the S130 for traction. That being said, the S130 is not low-quality in comparison to the S120.

How Long Will The JD S120 Or S130 Lawn Tractor Last?

Lawn tractors are sturdy machines that fight against the influence of time effectively. For the S120 and S130 mowers, you’d be looking towards 8 – 10 years of good maintenance. This includes deterring from indulging your machine in activities that are way above its capacity. Once all your lawn tractor’s requirements are seen, you will enjoy your mower for as long as is expected, sometimes even more.

What Is The Towing Capacity Of John Deere S120 And S130?

Both the JD S120 and S130 have the same towing capacity of 400 pounds and nothing more. Lawn tractors can pull even more weight, but just how much are you willing to sacrifice? Because after a few oblivious but extreme tugs, the transmission and engine will start to sputter and faint to your dismay.

The Verdict

The JD S130 is the best model for you in this comparison thanks to the lower price and extra perks. However, it solely relies on you to select which model is best for you. Perhaps you have more confidence in familiarity and would rather go for the later version– the 120, you’d still be getting enough value from your purchase. Both of the models make great residential lawn tractors and will take you through many years worth of good maintenance. I wish you great luck!

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