John Deere Lawn Tractors: Should You Choose Gas or Diesel?

  • Why should I invest in a diesel garden tractor versus a gas-powered mower?
  • What benefits does a diesel lawn tractor have that a gasoline one doesn’t?
  • Can a really expect greater longevity/reliability with a diesel tractor?

We hear questions like these often. My personal choice is almost always diesel.

Why? Here are 3 top reasons:

1) John Deere diesel lawn tractors are robust, powerful machines.John Deere 430 for sale

If you have a larger area to mow, till, plow, etc., a diesel like the John Deere 430 can be a smart choice. These tend to embody the “Nothing runs like a Deere” slogan, with the muscle you need to get the job done.

Powerful and efficient, diesel lawn tractors are well-suited in applications where you’re cutting through high grassy and/or wet areas. Most people find that they’re able to accomplish the job more quickly and effectively than a gas-powered counterpart.

When you’re talking diesel engines, a discussion of torque and horsepower almost always pops up. For instance, a 16HP diesel engine will have more torque than a gas-powered lawn tractor that has a higher horsepower rating.

2) A diesel lawn tractor is fuel efficient…

…especially if you’re using the tractor on a regular basis. While gas and diesel are both petroleum products, diesel has up to 12% more energy by volume versus gas. John Deere 455

What does this mean for you? You get up to 12% more output from the engine for each gallon of diesel burned as compared to consuming a gallon of gas. For those of you using your lawn tractor with regularity, this can result in an appreciable difference in fuel usage over a period of time.

Adapted from a post on Weekend Freedom Machines, here are some numbers for you that show how a John Deere diesel lawn tractor uses up to half the fuel when compared to a gas machine.

Just remember that actual fuel consumption will depend upon the conditions you’re using the tractor in, as well as the tractor itself (transmission type, hours, how well it’s maintained, etc.):

John Deere Tractor ModelConsumption at Half LoadConsumption at Full Load
316 (Serial # -285001)0.9 GPH / 3.4 LPH1.4 GPH / 5.3 LPH
3180.9 GPH / 3.4 LPH1.4 GPH / 5.3 LPH
3220.9 GPH / 3.4 LPH1.5 GPH / 5.7 LPH
3250.75 GPH / 2.8 LPH1.25 GPH / 4.5 LPH
3300.4 GPH / 1.5 LPH0.8 GPH / 3 LPH
3320.4 GPH / 1.5 LPH0.8 GPH / 3 LPH
3450.8 GPH / 3 LPH1.3 GPH / 4.9 LPH
4201 GPH / 3.8 LPH2 GPH / 7.6 LPH
4300.4 GPH / 1.5 LPH0.9 GPH / 3.4 LPH
4250.94 GPH / 3.6 LPH1.57 GPH / 5.9 LPH
4450.98 GPH / 3.7 LPH1.64 GPH / 6.2 LPH
4550.79 GPH / 3 LPH1.32 GPH / 5 LPH

3) Diesel garden tractors are built to last.John Deere 430 for sale

Will a diesel really last longer than a gas garden tractor? That’s the question everyone wants to know. The short answer is yes, provided you perform appropriate maintenance activities.

Consider that a typical John Deere gas-powered garden tractor has parts that can (and do) go bad. These include:

  • Carburetor
  • Spark plugs
  • Points

A lawn tractor with a diesel powered engine does not have these parts to break down or require replacement. In many cases, you can store a diesel garden tractor for extended periods of time and start it right up – try doing that with a gas mower.

Another advantage is that many diesel engines can run for thousands of hours before needing an overhaul. Liquid cooled diesel engines, such as the Yanmar 3TNA72UJ 3-cylinder found in John Deere 430 garden tractors, give the engine a more consistent operating temperature which can increase engine longevity.

Want to learn more about classic John Deere diesel lawn tractors? You may find these articles helpful: