The John Deere 318 is one of the most popular lawn and garden tractors in the U.S. While the model was introduced in 1983, it remained in production until 1992. Today, millions of homeowners still own this reliable and durable little Deere. And, while it had no direct replacement, the X730 is the most similar John Deere lawn tractor on the market today.
Still, the 318 holds its claim to America’s most popular lawn tractor, even 30 years after its final production run. That’s a feat the near-identical (but lacking power steering) 316 has been unable to maintain.
In addition, the John Deere 318 uses many of the same attachments as prior models like the 300 and 140 series and some of the X series. That makes this little 18-horsepower tractor incredibly versatile for homeowners that still use it.
John Deere 318 Overview
The JD 318 was originally released in 1983 as a successor to the 317. It became immensely popular and was one of the most sold tractors of its generation. Today, it’s also one of the most commonly refurbished and re-sold tractors – even at dealerships. That popularity owes to its power steering, ease of maintenance, and powerful performance with a choice of 2 18HP engines. Plus, with 2000 rear RPM, 3,600 front RPM, and a towing capacity of over 4,440 pounds, the 318 truly is a powerhouse.
That, plus design built around ease of use and operator comfort has made the 318 an enduring American classic. Today, even after over 30 years, it’s still one of the most popular second-hand JD tractors on the market.
John Deere 318 attachments include a full list of decks, baggers, snow blowers, tillers, loaders, and more. In addition, attachments from the 300 and 140 series fit this mower.
- 38” Mower Deck (John Deere BM16600)
- 46” Mower Deck (John Deere M00595)
- 50” Mower Deck (John Deere BM16377)
- 54” Blade (front mount) (John Deere 0611M)
- 46” Snow Blower (John Deere 49 0603M)
- 47” Snow Blower (John Deere 47 2752M)
- John Deere 44 Loader
- Two-Bag Power Flow 6.5 Bushel bagger system
- Three-Bag 6-Horsepower Kawasaki Bagger System
- 13-bushel Material Collection with 6-HP Kawasaki Engine with manual tilt dump OR hydraulic dump
- 48-inch shaft drive tiller * for 2000 RPM rear PTO only
- 30-inch hydraulic tiller w optional 42-inch extension
- Rear-mount finish mower (for 3-point hitch + 2000 RPM PTO only)
The John Deere 318 was sold with two different engines. From 1983 to 1986, the tractor shipped with the Onan 18 horsepower 709 CC Model B43G engine. Between 1987 and 1992, it used an Onan 18 horsepower 781 CC Model P281 engine instead. Both engines are two-cylinder and air-cooled. This means they’re remarkably similar. How can you tell which you have?
Serial number begins with:
- 222001 (1983 – Onan B43G)
- 285001 (1984 – Onan B43G)
- 315001 (1985 – Onan B43G)
- 360001 (1986 – Onan B43G)
- 420001 (1987 – Onan B43G)
- 475001 (1988 – Onan 781 CC)
- 595001 (1989 – Onan 781 CC)
- 010001 (1990 – Onan 781 CC)
- 100001 (1991 – Onan 781 CC)
- 110001 (1992 – Onan 781 CC)
- 120000 (1992 / Final Production Run – Onan 781 CC)
All JD 318 models run on gasoline. Here, you get a 4.5 U.S. gallon tank. This is mounted under the fender deck and attached under the fuel lines with two bolts. The tank is also made of plastic. You also get a smaller reserve tank.
The JD 318 is renowned for its comfort and ease of use. That includes power steering, two PTO clutches for smooth takeoff and movement, smooth transition of power to attachments, and even an annunciator light. While you might have to replace the seat or some of the buttons if you get an older model and refurbish it, this tractor is clearly designed around ease of use.
The John Deere 318 shipped with a Sundstrand Series 15 Model 90 shaft-driven hydrostatic transmission. That’s similar to what many modern John Deere’s use. The hydrostatic transmission means you get infinite forward and reverse variability, with a forward speed of 6.9 miles per hour and a reverse speed of 3.8 miles per hour.
The John Deere 318 has plenty of features for most uses. For example, the rear hitch is capable of lifting 650+ pounds.
The JD 318 features two Power Take Off clutches. In fact, both are independent of each other. This allows the tractor to support multiple attachments, with smooth transfer of power between the tractor and the attachment. These include the integrated 3,450 RPM front PTO. This is standard on all models and is in the tractor.
The JD 318 also features an optional 2,000 RPM rear PTO. This is not standard on many models. However, you can purchase and install it yourself if desired. This PTO is also necessary for running some attachments. For example, the drive tillers and finish mowers normally rely on the rear PTO.
The JD 318 also offers full power steering. This is a marked improvement over the 317. The steering column is a 5 Port AM100268. It’s also the same model used on the 322, 332, 420, and 430 JD tractors.
John Deere offers a 20-amp alternator. You use a 255 CCA battery (12V) with a negative ground. That means you can use virtually any replacement battery when restoring or replacing one.
John Deere 318 uses the same rear tires as the modern X5. This is 23×10.50-12. You can also choose to upsize to 24×12-12 if you want turf tires. However, the brand otherwise does not matter as any tire (Carlisle and Firestone are most popular) will do. On the other hand, the front tires are 16.6.50-8.
If you’re a JD enthusiast, are looking for a dependable used tractor, or already own a 318, this model is one of America’s favorites. In fact, while it’s been out of production for 30 years, the JD 318 remains stellar and able to compete with many modern JD lawn tractors manufactured today.