All you have to do is Google “John Deere 318,” and you’ll uncover countless results with glowing reviews of this legendary lawn and garden tractor. The 318 has developed a cult-like following over the years, with many enthusiasts suggesting that it represents the #1 lawn tractor ever made in America.
What makes it so great, even after all these years? For starters, the Deere 318 really epitomizes the infamous John Deere slogan, “Nothing runs like a Deere…” Consider that the last 318 rolled off the assembly line over a quarter century ago, and yet many un-restored ones are still in service around the US.
The Nuts & Bolts of the John Deere 318
If you really want to get into the nuts and bolts of the John Deere 318 (no pun intended), we like to say that it revolutionized the industry when it was released for the 1983 model year. At the time, Deere had totally revamped the 300 series, so the then-new 318s boasted a number of popular features, including:
- Hydraulic power steering, a welcome addition for many owners and a first on a common lawn tractor
- Twin cylinder Onan quality air cooled engines featuring cast iron cylinder liners
- Redesigned rear frame and fender deck
- 15-30 mins of additional run time thanks to a reserve fuel tank
- Tecumseh transaxle with standard hydraulic oil cooler
With the release of the 318, John Deere placed a significant emphasis on ease of use and operator comfort, as anyone who has ever used an earlier 300 series tractor will certainly attest to. The 318 was an enormous sales success, outselling other models.
What About Other 300 Series Models?
Other models in Deere’s 300 Series included:
- The 316, aka the “little brother” to the 318, rolled out in 1984
- The very elusive 330, JD’s initial entry into a diesel lawn tractor, released in 1986
- The 332, considered a replacement to the diesel 330, debuted in 1988
- The 322, sometimes mistaken as a diesel, but is gas-powered, liquid-cooled version of the 318, also launched in ’88
Fun fact: It was during production of the 318 that John Deere hit the 1 million mark, when it manufactured its 1 millionth lawn tractor.
Buying a John Deere 318? Here’s What to Look For…
318’s are still sought after even today and you can find them for sale, mostly un-restored, from online sources like eBay or locally from Craigslist or Facebook. Given the age of these tractors, plan to do some mechanical work and basic maintenance – you don’t need to be an engineer, but you should have some mechanical ability.
Here are some basic things to look for:
- Check the overall condition of the tractor for obvious issues, like leaks underneath or rust.
- Examine the deck for dings, dents, rust or other damage.
- Assess how the engine starts (some smoking is normal at startup, but it shouldn’t be long-lasting or excessive)
- Listen for engine or other noises, vibrations, etc. Keep in mind that these are over 25 years old, so they may not be as smooth or quiet running as a new machine.
- If possible, find out from the owner a bit of its history – was it stored indoors for most of its life, or kept outside? Even if kept indoors, rodents can still enter the engine compartment, etc.
Overall, with proper maintenance, your John Deere 318 should continue to last because after all – Nothing runs like a Deere!
The 318 is the most popular model we restore and sell. See our current availability here, along with other similar models:
Looking for more info on the Deere 318? Check out our other post right here for more tech specs, history, and fun facts.
If you ask a group of John Deere enthusiasts what their favorite lawn and garden tractor model is, the 318 is likely to rank at the top of the list. Manufactured from 1983-1992, this perennial favorite has become a bonafide American classic.
At Green Ridge Restorations, the #1 model we buy, sell and restore is the John Deere 318. It’s not uncommon for us to purchase an old 318 from the original owner – still in excellent condition and well-cared for – even after all these years.
These powerhouses reigned supreme throughout the 1980s into the early 1990s, and continue to be found in service throughout the US – a quarter century after the last one rolled off the assembly line in Horicon, WI.
John Deere 318 Basic Specs
During the years 1983 through 1987, John Deere used an 18HP Onan B43G 2-cylinder, air-cooled gas engine. From 1987 on, the B43G was replaced by Onan’s P218 18HP 2-cylinder, air cooled gas engine.
The 318 also featured a shaft-driven hydrostatic Sundstrand 90 transmission. Mower deck sizes were 38”, 46”, and 50”.
Many attachments were available for the 318, including the following:
- 54” wide blade
- 46” single-stage snow blower
- 47” dual-stage snow blower
- 48” shaft-driven tiller
- 30” hydraulic tiller, with optional extension to 42”
- Model 44 loader
- Several bagger systems, ranging from a standard two-bag, 6.5 bushel to an impressively large, 13-bushel collection system.
Our restored John Deere 318’s with Power Flow baggers systems are some of the most popular models we sell.
When Was My John Deere 318 Made?
If you want to determine what year your 318 was manufactured, start by retrieving the serial number, which is located on a small plate beneath the steering column.
Basically, John Deere 318 serial numbers begin with “M00318X”. Following that, you’ll see a group of six digits, such as 285073. A whole serial number stamped on the plate will therefore look something like this: M00318X285073. Those last six digits identify the manufacturing year.
Below is a quick reference chart to help you figure out when your 318 was made:
|If The Year Is,
||Serial Number Begins With…
Similar Models to the JD 318
The John Deere 316 is a lower-end model that is similar to the 318, but without power steering. If you’re used to power steering on your lawn and garden tractor, operating the 316 can definitely feel awkward at first.
Additionally, some lesser known models also produced during that time included the Yanmar-powered 322, 330, and 332 Deere models.
Fun fact: John Deere was riding high in the 80s. In May 1984, its Horicon Works plant in WI produced its 1 millionth lawn tractor there, a 318. Not unlike our own experiences selling restored vintage models today, the 318 was a top seller during its production years.
Where to Find Parts for the Deere 318
If you need parts for your own 318, John Deere still offers many for sale. For engine parts, Onan Parts is a great source. You can also check to see if a farm and garden store in your area has access to the parts you need.
If you’re looking for an obscure part or trying to get a deal, you can always check out eBay since the inventory and offerings are constantly changing.
Need a manual for your 318? Search Google to see what you find – sometimes whole manuals are available for free in PDF form or directly online. Or, try one of the resources already listed above.
If you want more detail on the John Deere 318 or any other model, we highly recommend TractorData.com and the Weekend Freedom Machines Forum.
Looking Back, Riding Ahead
Like any classic piece of American history, the John Deere 318 has a devoted, almost cult-like following. For many, the memories of a beloved family member painstakingly manicuring the lawn with his 318 are even more valuable than the tractor itself.
We get to meet a lot of people – and we hear a lot of stories about granddad taking his grandkids for a ride on a 318, dad plowing the first winter’s snow…
People love reminiscing back to the days when they first purchased their 318’s…in 1983 when the very first 318 model was manufactured, Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Billie Jean” topped the charts. That was followed with his second super hit of the year, “Beat It.” But The Police took the number one spot in Billboard magazine’s Top Hot Songs of 1983 with “Every Breath You Take.”
Movie theaters enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. Return of the Jedi and Scarface were box office hits. And of course – who could forget Flashdance?
And “new” food items became household munchies, like the introduction of flavored popcorn, wine coolers, fruit roll ups and Steak-umms.
And how about cars? Remember what Motor Trend’s Top Car for 1983 was? The AMC/Renault Alliance! Motor Trend admitted it was “certainly no lightning bolt” and its boxy shape looks awkward and out of place compared to today’s smoothly contoured cars.
That can’t be said for the John Deere! It still is ‘in style’ even over 30 years later! Reliable, nostalgic and dependable, it lives up to the old slogan, “Nothing runs like a Deere.”
At Green Ridge Restorations, we’re helping the next generation of John Deere enthusiasts create new memories with the classic 318.
We often have a John Deere 318 for sale, but they don’t last long. Click here to see if we have any currently available.