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John Deere 318 - JD's Best Lawn Tractor?

Updated on April 6, 2016

The John Deere 318 lawn and garden tractor, though now discontinued, is said to be one of the best John Deere lawn tractors ever built (if not 'the' best). In fact, many owners bought their model brand new and still work it hard 15 to 25 plus 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).

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 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 down sides aren't really regarding the tractor itself, more to do with that despite 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.

John Deere 318 Specs

Just a quick run down 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.

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 and a half feet tall

See an In-Depth Review of the 318 Below

The 318 also has a lot of available 'add ons' and official attachments available such as:

Mower Decks

  • 36" hydraulic 2 blade mower deck
  • 46" hydraulic lift 3 blade mower deck
  • 50" hydraulic lift 3 blade mower deck

Snow Blowers

  • 46" single stage hydraulic lift snow blower
  • 47" dual stage hydraulic lift snow blower

Bucket Loaders

  • 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.

How Much Do They Cost?

Price wise, 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 second hand unmodified base model.

Where to Get Hold of a 318?

The first point of call should be to check second-hand 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 a local farm shops and the like stating you are interested in buying such a model should generate some interest from a potential seller.

Finding parts: 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 http://www.onanparts.com/. If you are still finding no luck, try posting in one of many tractor and garden related message forums online.

Buying Tips: 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 which 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 to 750 hours or so on average.

Operator's Manual, Parts Catalogs or Technical Manuals

If your tractor does not come with a operatorís 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. However, as this John Deere model is extremely popular and most people who have used one have nothing but good things to say about it.


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      Don Harrison 8 months ago

      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

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      RON 9 months ago


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      Lenny 2 years ago

      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!)