A natural John Deere hobbyist, I am learning and researching about the various models and sharing my tractor findings.
What Makes the John Deere 318 So Good?
The John Deere 318 lawn and garden tractor, though now discontinued, is said to be one of the best John Deere lawn tractors ever made (if not the best). In fact, many owners bought their model brand new and still work it hard 15–25 years later. I have even heard of a fair few trading in newer JD lawn tractors model for the more hardy, reliable JD 318—it is that good.
Pros and Cons
The general view (thrown in with my own personal experience) tends to be that they are obviously very dependable, heavy-duty, and rugged. Minimum maintenance is required, and it will practically run a lifetime with a lot of custom and official attachments being available for them. In sum, basically an excellent all-around lawn and garden tractor.
The downsides aren't really regarding the tractor itself but are more to do with it being such a well-known, reliable but discontinued product. It is pretty darn difficult to find one for sale (which is understandable, as people will just want to hold on to it). Moreover, finding replacement parts can be difficult and sometimes jaw-droppingly expensive.
JD 318 Overview
Air Cooled Gas
18HP 2 Cylinder Gasoline (709cc/781cc)
John Deere 318 Specs
Here's a quick rundown on the specifications of a 318 (for a more detailed overview, please be sure to take a look at the video review just below):
The 1986 factory-built (i.e. unmodified) John Deere 318s tended to have a 4.5 gallon (17.0L) capacity with a 1.2 gallon (4.5L) hydraulic system. The Onan B43G 18 horsepower, 2 cylinder, 4 valve engine runs on a 12-volt battery.
How Many HP Does it Have?
You will typically come across two types of engine that are specified in the spec sheet above, a low 700c version as well as a high 700c version both on the 18HP Onan Engine.
With hydrostatic steering, this sturdy tractor, unmodified, runs about 8 mph at top forward speed and 3–6 mph in reverse. The wheelbase is 46 inches and the entire base model is 836 lbs (379 kg). It stands 44 inches in height, just over 3.5 feet tall.
Available Add-Ons and Attachments
The 318 also has a lot of available 'add-ons' and official attachments available:
- 36" hydraulic 2 blade mower deck
- 46" hydraulic lift 3 blade mower deck
- 50" hydraulic lift 3 blade mower deck
- 46" single stage hydraulic lift snowblower
- 47" dual stage hydraulic lift snowblower
- 48" 500 lb 0.21 cu yard bucket loader
- 54" 500 lb 0.24 cu yard bucket loader
You will also come across modified attachments for sale too, such as a 3 point hitch, front mount broom, rear blade, hydraulic lift blade, rototiller, garden tractor cab, and a utility cab.
If there is a particular attachment you are looking for to go with your John Deere 318, we certainly recommend taking the time out to research that particular attachment—so you will know what to expect of it when it arrives and be able to assess that it is in good working condition or at least know what measures to take in order to get it repaired.
How Much Do They Cost?
Pricewise, it will obviously depend on the condition and its age. But a general guide price to be looking at is between $1200 and $2000 for a decent secondhand, unmodified base model. We go into more details below on where you can buy one and what you should be looking for but you have basically two options:
I recommend you carry out your research online (through forums and reviews), get to know what you want from a John Deere 318. Then find out more about the tractor offline—take a good look at what you are getting into, then explore both avenues for when it comes to looking to actually buy that one.
That way, by that time you will know exactly what you are wanting from the tractor, what potential issues to look out for when purchasing (especially when it comes to used second-hand models for sale, which the majority of them will be), and whether or not you are landing yourself a bargain.
Take it a step further and potentially get yourself a 'fixer-upper' where you know that it's broken, but more importantly, you know what's broken and you know the part (and where to get it) in order to mend it. Usually, you can get a tractor (or in general most vehicles) for a great price—it just requires a good amount of research into restoration and repair specific to the JD 318.
Of course, let us know if you have managed to get one recently—where did you get it, for how much, and why—we would love to hear your story about your new JD 318.
Where Can You Get a John Deere 318?
As with most vehicles, whether you are buying a 50cc ATV or a full-on tractor, research into the market is certainly required. The first point of call should be to check secondhand sales sites including CraigsList, eBay, and sites such as TractorHouse.com; local newspaper classified ads are always worth checking, too.
Even posting a note in local farm shops and the like stating you are interested in buying such a model should generate some interest from a potential seller.
As the model is discontinued and most owners loyally hang on to them until the bitter end, finding parts for the John Deere 318 can be difficult. You can search your local classifieds (online or newspaper), or have something shipped from further away, which will be more costly.
Amazon sells some of the more commonly needed parts such as alternators, switches, and replacement engines. For Onan engine parts, try their website. If you are still finding no luck, try posting in one of many tractor and/or garden-related message forums online.
First, look for general wear, leaks at the rear axle or under the motor. Also, look for dents to the hood or broken tail lights. Check the motor fluids; check the mower deck for dents, tears, or cracks; check for leaks at the rear axle or under the motor. You want to know if the current owner took care of this tractor and kept it well maintained.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy
- Is there a lot of rust?
- Does it start easily?
- Do you see smoke when it is running?
- Are there unusual noises?
- Is there excessive vibration?
- Are grass clippings packed in the engine compartment and/or the rear axle?
If you find any or all of the above, it may indicate that the owner did not maintain the tractor with care. This could mean that there are more issues that may not be obvious.
Lastly, find out how many hours the tractor has been run. I have read in several places (and have been told) that you could expect to replace some parts every 500–750 hours or so on average.
Operator's Manual, Parts Catalogs, or Technical Manuals
If your tractor does not come with an operator's manual, you can purchase one directly from John Deere. Visit the John Deere Technical Information Book Store for any manual not available digitally.
If you are looking for an incredibly sturdy and reliable lawn and garden tractor, the John Deere 318 is a great choice. The only downfall of this hard-working tractor is finding and paying for replacement parts.
Keep in mind that replacement parts for many tractors are expensive despite the brand or model. This John Deere model, however, is extremely popular and most people who have used one have nothing but good things to say about it.
There are also variants of the 300 series to consider. For instance, the John Deere 332 is the diesel version that came out a year or so later for the 318. It takes on almost the exact same components, however, just runs on diesel as opposed to gas like the JD 318 does.
Of course, there are newer models to consider too—such as the John Deere 425 as well as the John Deere 316 which is basically the smaller version of the 318. For those looking for something a bit more compact than the 318, then this is certainly a great model to be looking into.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: how can I find a rear end for my John Deere 317 garden tractor?
Answer: When looking for specific parts for sale with any John Deere tractor, the best place to be looking is online. Trying eBay and Craigslist is a good start.
Lonnie McClure on June 29, 2020:
I've owned a 318 for 12 years run strong and hard I have two Spires mower when I get a chance I buy any 318 I can find
Lonnie on June 26, 2019:
If it will not pull it it will spin the tires the John Deere will do more than most lawn tractors I like mine better then a grasshopper zero turn that's a $18,000 tractor I'll keep buying used ones for parts I'm 65 years old and I think it's going to outlast me
Nick on October 18, 2017:
I have a 318 and wouldn’t want anything else! Who would want some foreign junk
LARRY on September 03, 2017:
HAVE 318 JD LOVE IT. WHEN I BOUGHT IT HAD DEALER PUT BAR TREAD TIRES AND FLIUD PUT IN TIRES NO NEED FOR WHEEL WEIGHTS . BOUGHT NEW MANY YEARS AGO.
Don Harrison on December 06, 2016:
I have a John Deere 318 that has around 1800 hours and have spent around 350 dollars for a rebuilt starter in all the years of owning it and it run good
RON on November 03, 2016:
I HAVE A JOHN DEERE 318 RIDER NEEDS A MOWER DECK AND A HEAD GASKET . GASKET IS ABOUT $65 INSTALLED I WOULD LIKE TO SELL IT STARTS AND RUNS WELL HAS WHEEL WEIGHTS TOO 814-659-1551
Lenny on August 04, 2015:
They don't make anything that last along time,if it is good,they discotinue it and replace with something with more options,and less quality for buck! That results in replace,not rebuild,(that life!)