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?
- 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.
- 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.