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John Deere 318 - John Deere 318 Lawn Tractor

The John Deere 318's are one of the most popular vintage John Deere lawn and garden tractors.  It originally came with 2 different model horizontal shaft Onan engines.  The 318 can be repowered with the 18 hp or 23 hp horizontal shaft Vanguard engine and still have the side panels put back on. 

The John Deere 318 lawn tractor came standard with power steering, an American made hydrostatic transmission and rear end (no belts), and a frame that won't give up.  It has individual brakes, try to find that with a new model lawn or garden tractor.
John Deere 318 lawn tractors

If you are considering a John Deere 318 of your own, would like to repower yours, or are looking for an attachment, give us a call: 1-800-618-8738 or e-mail:  Check out the modified John Deere 318
Repair - Repower - Troubleshoot John Deere 318 Lawn Tractors


I have a John Deere 318 lawn tractor that has the 18 hp Onan engine. It does not idle well, the RPM goes up and down. Can you steer me in the right direction to fix this problem?

A: You would need to clean out the idle circuit in your carburetor.

Q: Is there any way to adjust the timing on an Onan P218 with electronic ignition? A motor I rebuilt started shearing flywheel keys, so I put in a new key and welded it in, apparently a degree or two out of time-won't start. I used the JD tech manual to check timing and I'm just a bit off. I'm looking for an alternative to replacing the crankshaft.

I have another 318 (B48G) that runs good for an hour to hour and a half, then blows oil thru the breather into the air cleaner, so the motor blows a bunch of white smoke. If you let it sit a while, you can use it again for another 60-90 minutes. I swapped the reed valve (hoping for an easy fix) but that did not work. Any ideas?

A: On the P engine the flywheel has nothing to do with the timing. There is a round plastic ring that goes around the flywheel with an iron ball in it that makes a spark at the correct time, you could try to relocate that. Your B48G sounds like it is ready for an overhaul.

Q: I recently replaced the electric clutch on my JD 318 lawn tractor and it is set at the recommended .013 spacing at the mounting spring nuts. The clutch is too tight and seams to over heat. I have tried to just running it in short intervals hopping it help wear it in. I even tried to loosen the clutch spacing but then it will not engage properly and slips. There is a good 12 volt supply and ground. Any thoughts on what i may have missed or is this a defective clutch? (This is the second new one I have tried)

A: I think I might know what you are doing wrong. When you put the last part on the engine, I am talking about the pulley piece, are you making sure you line up that groove in the inner hub with your key that is in the crankshaft?

Q: My dad recently purchased a 318 and it has/had a few problems. Between the 2 of us we have fixed most of them.  One problem we are just stuck on, it has the original Onan engine. I forget the model year, but its past 1985.  After running for 30-60 minutes the gas begins to boil in the carburetor (overheating engine?). This creates a backpressure eventually starving the engine of gas. Probably going to put in a new engine eventually but its just not in the budget this year.

A: First of all take off the side covers and completely blow the engine out with an air compressor. That will probably take care of everything.

Follow up: Thanks, that was the problem.

Q:  I'd like to know what group size battery to use to replace the one in my circa 1986 John Deere 318 garden tractor.

A:  The battery group number is a MT26.

Q: Jim I have a 1986 John Deere 318, great machine. In the past, a couple times over different years, the motor has cut out. Like it is starving for gas. I have put a new filter on the line, but don't know if that solved the issue.  It is a sporadic issue. The inline filter I have put on it is clear and I can see the fuel in the filter. The filter never seems to fill, it is always semi full. I would think the pump would have the draw to keep the system full, air tight? How does one know if the pump is working to capacity? I'm wondering if the fuel line has a screen in the fuel tank that needs to be cleaned.

A: It does not mean there is something wrong with your fuel system just because your fuel filter has an air pocket in it. That is okay. Yes there is a fuel screen in the gas tank.

Q: I have a JD 318 with an Onan P218 engine (no points). It will start at first, however about 20 minutes into the mowing it will just stop, the engine stops, and the deck disengages. When I go to restart it will not start. Wait about 10 minutes then things cool down. I can get on it and it will start. I continue mowing for another 20 minutes or so. Then it dies again. I have spark at initial start up (obviously) however when I go to start it after it dies, it has no or very little spark. The fuel pump is working properly. The fuel filter has been replaced. I replaced the coil. I checked the carburetor during the attempts to start and the carb has gas to it. I can smell it and I can put my hand over the throat of the carb and my palm is wet from gas. However if I take out a spark plug at that time. It should be wet. The spark plugs are dry. I feel that the spark is not strong enough to start the engine after it dies. What else could it be? I have new spark plugs, new coil, new fuel filter. To me it could be ignition or a fuel combination. What do you think?

A: Yes, you are correct, You are not having a gas problem, what is wrong is your control module is going out. That means you will have to remove the engine, and take the rear of it apart to get at the module. We do have the module in stock if you need one.

Q: I have a problem with my John Deere 318 with the Onan P218G engine. The oil light stays on constantly. I have changed the oil and filter with a new filter and oil. Have you run across a similar situation? The oil light stays on, since the filter and oil change. Need to know if there is anything obvious to check.

A: Check the wire going to the oil switch and make sure the wire is not grounded out. If that
 checked okay replace the oil pressure oil light switch.

Q: Could you tell me the compression in PSI of the 1985 Onan engine? I have a John Deere 318 with attachments that I want to sell and I checked the compression. Both cylinders were 84 PSI, the engine has 1300 HRS, is this normal? I want to describe the engine as best I can. It starts and runs well, but leaks a little oil at seals.

A: The compression on a good Onan engine should be at 120 lbs.

Q: I have a 318 John Deere I dragged out of the edge of the neighbors woods. It had been there for at least two years. I have installed a new starter, repaired the charging system, and removed about a ten pound rats nest from under the engine covers and behind the flywheel. It fired today and I expect it will run when I reinstall the gas tank with fresh fuel. I am about to start to work on the rest of the tractor. It needs a lot of things freed up due to sitting out in the weather. The hydrostat lever and the hydraulic levers on the left side of the tractor will not move. I was hoping you might have a suggestion as to the cause of this and an idea what might be needed to remedy this. I do expect to have to do repairs to the hydrostat / hydraulic system as this tractor has been towed 250 -300 feet by me very gently and slow.  I think this tractor is a 1987 model. We have several other John Deere's, a 430 and a nicely restored (by us) 1949 A, previously a 400, and several others among brothers and sisters.

A: I think the hydraulic valves have a lock up problem from sitting for 2 years. Clean the plungers that go into the hydraulic valves.

Q: I have a model 318 Deere that needs brakes. I cant get the drums off. I even had a wheel puller.  The shaft has a slot but I believe that's for the large washer that fits inside the large nut.  I would appreciate any information on how to get the hubs off.

A: You will have to use a heavy duty puller that is made to bolt onto 3 of the lug bolts. If this still will not remove it then you will have to heat it and try again with that same puller.

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Hydrostatic Transmission issues

Q: My 318 John Deere runs great and is in good shape but seems to be loosing forward/reverse speed when climbing hills or load. This problem is not in the engine because there is no RPM change so my thought is the hydro pump. I replaced the transmission filter and no change. What do you think? Would I be best to fix before it goes out or just ride it to the end? I have some mechanical abilities and tools so what’s the chance for a first timer to install without much challenge?

A: Yes you are correct, your hydrostatic transmission is failing and it will only get worse. I think any John Deere 318 is worth repairing.

Q: I replaced the tubing and sight glass for the hydrostatic fluid on the rear of my 318 John Deere tractor since it was crumbling and falling apart. It appears the old tubing at the top of the sight glass did not reenter the transmission but simply ended into and was connected into a bolt. My question, does the tubing exiting the sight tube go anywhere? I can't find where it is to be reconnected. Right now, I'm not sure if I'm pumping fluid or I'm running something dry. The rear of the tractor was smoking badly and I'm not sure if I'm running it dry, pumping fluid somewhere, simply overfilled the fluid or did not connect the tubing correctly.

A: That clear plastic tube should be connected from the lower part of the rear end to the top part of the rear end. Fill the transmission until the tube is full in that glass window.

Q: I have a John Deere 318 and I want to use a 46 inch deck I got off of a John Deere 140. The deck does not have front gauge wheels. My friend did this a couple of years ago by purchasing the pieces from Deere and welding them on but, the dealer says they are no longer available.

A: The John Deere 140 deck will work as good on the John Deere 318 as it did on the John Deere 140.

Q: I have a John Deere 318 with two sets of hydraulic ports on front and it has electric clutch drive. Do you offer a two stage snowblower for this unit?

A: Yes I have two new Berco Deluxe model two stage snowblowers that will fit your tractor. I have the big 44 inch and subframe with a pulley system or the 40 inch package. The snowblowers will out throw the John Deere two stage snowblowers.

Q: I am in the process of putting a front end loader on my John Deere 318. Is the pump on the tractor big enough to run the loader, from the existing valve and front outputs? Or would I be better off to get another pump and run it off of the front or rear PTO?

A: The tractor is slow on lifting, with its own pump it will raise it faster.

Q: With John Deere 3-point hitches being hard to come by these days, I've been looking at the alternatives for my old John Deere 318 garden tractor. The pictures of your hitch appear to have the points on the lift arm brackets allowing for the use of my John Deere tiller. Am I seeing things right?

A: If you have the hydraulic John Deere rototiller it does not require the 3 point hitch as it has special brackets that hook to the mower deck lift arms on the rear. 

Q: I have a boat, and would like to use the 318 to pull it. The hitch on the 318 is too low to the ground when I lower the jack on the boat as far as it will go, I am still roughly an inch or so from actually connecting the boat's receiver ball on the hitch plate to the 318. Is there away of purchasing a ball with and extra long shank to bring the ball up farther on the hitch plate to connect the ball to the boat? I used to pull the boat with a John Deere 214 I have but it seems the hitch on the 214 is higher than the 318. And even the hitch on the older 214 was just barely high enough.

A: I have a suitcase weight bracket that goes on the back of your tractor. I could make that over so you would have a hitch hole up much higher than the original hitch.

Q: I have a John Deere 318 with single stage snow blower. So far the single stage doesn't want to blow it very far at all, sometimes just blowing it in a pile next to the tractor. I am not sure if I have the correct size pulley on clutch on the crank or what. We got a lot of snow that was mostly wet and kept plugging the blower. What can I do to solve this problem? I was kinda checking out the John Deere 2 stage which is very hard to find.

A: You could try putting a smaller pulley on the gear box, as that would speed up your snowblower.  If you get the John Deere 2 stage you will need to buy a lot of suitcase weights and wheel weights. I have new Berco 2 stage snowblowers available for your tractor.

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John Deere 318 - John Deere 318 Lawn Tractor

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