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

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:

 

When you own a John Deere, you mow because you want to. Not because you have to.

When you own a John Deere, you mow because you want to. Not because you have to.

✪Want to see our John Deere garden tractors currently available for sale? Click here. 

When you own a John Deere, you mow because you want to. Not because you have to.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many a friendly conversation with customers. Most don’t simply arrive at the shop to pick up their restored John Deere and leave. Once they see the various John Deere’s here at Green Ridge Restorations, neatly lined up like attentive soldiers, some totally restored, others patiently waiting their turn at a new life, well…

The John Deere conversation often includes a confession of sorts.

…all that is fuel for the fire – the conversation fire, that is. A lot of reminiscing goes on, a lot of praise for the John Deere line, a lot of “I wouldn’t own anything but a John Deere,” and then…. a confession.

No, not that kind of confession, about something they’ve done that they shouldn’t have.

This is a simple, “let-me-tell-you-something kind of confession that I don’t let on to anyone.”

First time I heard something like this I was bracing for a humdinger of a story. Not sure what I was expecting to hear, I nonchalantly folded my arms over, leaned back against a John Deere 318 that was waiting to be restored, and waited for the real-life confession, whatever it may be.

If you’re a John Deere enthusiast, I know you can relate.

“You know, I don’t mow the lawn because I have to. I mow it because I want to.”

Then he got a big grin across his face.

“Yeah, that’s right. There’s some days I can’t wait to hop on my John Deere and mow the lawn. You know why?

Well, he had me hooked now. I had to know why.

When You Hop on Your Classic John Deere, it’s YOUR time…

John Deere 420 for sale

John Deere 420

“Because it’s my time.  For an hour or so, no one bothers me. No one. I can’t hear anyone talk, I can’t hear a cell phone, and I can’t hear anyone yell at me.  It’s like it’s my private time – away from the world – but enjoying my yard, admiring the work I put into it, seeing birds fly to the feeders, and giving myself a pat on the back for all the work I’ve accomplished.”

He went on to explain how it was ‘his’ time. Even if it was just an hour, it was his own thoughts, ideas, plans, and projects, his own reflections of life. Between work and family, he explained, he just needs that ‘breather,’ like taking a step away, and recharging his inner battery.

After that confession, there was a brief silence in the shop.

He quickly added: “Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like work or family or life. It’s nothin’ like that. It’s just that sometimes I feel like I need a break from the daily grind. So I head to the garage, hop on my John Deere, and out I go. Doesn’t matter if that grass doesn’t need mowing. I need to mow.

Classic John Deere lawn tractorsAnd sometimes, I purposely mow slower, so it takes longer.”

Then he was quiet.

I was, too. Because I understood what he was saying. I get it.

It’s About Taking a Step Back from Life.

He loaded up his restored 318 that he purchased, we shook hands, and he drove off.

In different words, many a customer has expressed the same feelings.

How many times have we heard the old phrase, “the world is too much with us?”  William Wordsworth wrote that over 200 years ago. Heck, I bet he’d say the same words today – and probably a lot more!

I’m guessing that when the John Deere’s were engineered decades ago, the inventor never imagined that not only would the tractor tend to the lawns, in its own way, it would tend the owners, too.

Faithful John Deere owners not only mow lawns, they mow back life, so to speak, for just a little bit.

For a half hour or hour or whatever length of time, they hop on their John Deere’s and take a step back from life.

If we only had a patent for that!

 

 

 

 

Compare John Deere Lawn & Garden Tractor Models: Quick Chart

Compare John Deere Lawn & Garden Tractor Models: Quick Chart

What sets the John Deere 318 apart from the 316 lawn and garden tractor? Which models were diesel? Gas-powered? We hear these questions frequently, so here’s an easy comparison chart for you to reference.

If you want to learn more about any John Deere model listed in the table below, simply click the model name, such as “John Deere 430.” This will take you to a more comprehensive article on each model.

Some John Deere trivia for you: which model represented the company’s first diesel lawn tractor? Many people assume it was the 330, which was later replaced by the 332. However, the diesel powered John Deere 430 garden tractor pre-dated the 330. 

The Deere 332 eventually became known as the diesel version of the beloved John Deere 318…

ModelEngineTransmissionSteeringDeck Size Options
John Deere 316
Years: 1984-1992
-Onan B43E 16HP 2-cyl gas (thru 1986)
-Onan P218G 18HP 2-cyl gas (1987 onward)
Hydrostatic (hand-controlled)Manual38", 46", or 50"
John Deere 318
Years: 1983-1992
-Onan B43G 18HP 2-cyl air-cooled gas (thru 1986)
-Onan P218 18HP 2-cyl air-cooled gas (1987 onward)
Hydrostatic (hand-controlled)Power38", 46", or 50"
John Deere 322
Years: 1988-1992
Yanmar 3TG66UJ 18HP 3-cyl liquid-cooled gasHydrostatic (hand-controlled)Power38", 46", or 50"
John Deere 330
Year: 1986
Yanmar 3TN66UJ 16HP 3-cyl liquid cooled DIESELHydrostatic (hand-controlled)Manual38", 46", or 50"
John Deere 332
Years: 1987-1992
Yanmar 3TN66UJ 16HP 3-cyl liquid cooled DIESELHydrostatic (hand-controlled)Power38", 46", or 50"
John Deere 420 John Deere 420 for sale
Years: 1983-1992
-Onan B48G 20HP 2-cyl air cooled gas (thru 1986)

-Onan P220G 20HP 2-cyl air cooled gas (1987 onward)
Hydrostatic (hand-controlled) with 2-speed locking differentialPowerShaft-driven 50" or 60"
John Deere 430
Years: 1984-1992
Yanmar 3TNA72UJ 20HP 3-cyl liquid-cooled DIESELHydrostatic (hand-controlled) with 2-speed locking differentialPowerShaft-driven 50" or 60"
John Deere 425 John Deere 425 for sale
Years: 1993-2001
Kawasaki FD620D 20HP 2-cyl liquid-cooled gasHydrostatic (foot-controlled) with locking differentialPower (Optional 4-wheel steering)Shaft-driven 48", 54", or 60"
John Deere 445 John Deere 445 AWS for sale
Years: 1993-2001
Kawasaki FD620D 22HP 2-cyl liquid-cooled, fuel injected gasHydrostatic (foot-controlled) with locking differentialPower (Optional 4-wheel steering)Shaft-driven 48", 54", or 60"
John Deere 455 John Deere 455 Years: 1993-2001Yanmar 3TNA72UJ3 22HP 3-cyl liquid-cooled DIESELHydrostatic (foot-controlled) with locking differentialPower (Optional 4-wheel steering)Shaft-driven 48", 54", or 60"
Your Go-To Reference of Classic John Deere Lawn & Garden Tractor Resources

Your Go-To Reference of Classic John Deere Lawn & Garden Tractor Resources

One of the most common questions we’re asked is about owner’s manuals and routine maintenance for classic John Deere lawn and garden tractor models. We’ve put together this post as a resource that we’ll be adding to as we come across additional information that you may find helpful.

Given the age of these machines, it isn’t always easy to find manuals and/or parts. In most cases, you can at least obtain an operator’s manual as a basic resource. If you’re looking for an obscure part that your local Deere dealer or parts supplier doesn’t stock, you can always try searching eBay, where the inventory is continually changing, or Craigslist.

For a wealth of general info and support, we continue to recommend these sites if you’re interested:

Weekend Freedom Machines Forum
DescThe Lawn and Garden Tractor site for John Deere Lawn and Garden tractor discussion groups, Tractor information, Parts information, and more.

TractorHouse.com
DescYour source for used tractors, combines, and all makes of used farm equipment and implements.

TractorData.com
DescInformation, data, and photos on all makes and models of farm tractors.

If you have one of the following models, use any of the links below to access the manual you’ll need:

  • John Deere 316
  • John Deere 318
  • John Deere 420

Access at MANUALSDIR.COM > 316, 318 & 420 Lawn & Garden Tractors

Alternative access link at SlideShare > 316, 318 & 420 Lawn & Garden Tractors

Alternative access link at Weekend Freedom Machines > 316, 318 & 420 Lawn & Garden Tractors

If you have one of the following models, use any of the links below to access the manual you’ll need:

  • John Deere 425
  • John Deere 445

Access at SCRIBED.com > John Deere 425, 445 Operator’s Manual

Alternative access link at John Deere > John Deere 425, 445 Operator’s Manual

Access Tech Service Manual at SlideShare > John Deere 425 Lawn Tractor Service Repair Manual

 

If you have one of the following models, use any of the links below to access the manual you’ll need:

  • John Deere 322
  • John Deere 330
  • John Deere 332
  • John Deere 430

Access link at SlideShare > 322, 330, 332 & 430 Lawn & Garden Tractors

Alternative access link at Weekend Freedom Machines > 322, 330, 332 & 430 Lawn & Garden Tractors

 

Looking for a different model? If yours is a John Deere 455:

Access at John Deere > John Deere 455 Operator’s Manual

Access the technical manual at SlideShare > 415 and 455 Lawn & Garden Tractors | Technical Manual

Because you can never have too many references for your classic Deere, here are a few more we found that you may find useful:

 

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