In our quest to find the right garden tractor, some of us have spent more sleepless nights than we care to admit. And if you are also one of those, here is a silver lining for you- the John Deere 317 riding lawn tractor. This machine can be the perfect solution for all your garden woes.
The John Deere 317 is a member of the “deluxe” series of 300-class hydrostatic tractors and was first introduced in 1979. This model ruled the market for 4 years till 1983, which was then replaced by the John Deere 318 tractor.
Through its 300 series, John Deere chose to provide its customers with something cutting-edge and novel. But sadly, there were numerous engine problems with the 317. When used on hillsides, the early models (with the Onan P218G engine) had poor connecting rod journal lubrication.
JAs a result, John Deere decided to equip the later versions of the 317 with the more potent and effective KT17 Series II engine in 1982.
Both John Deere collectors and those searching for dependable refurbished tractors highly valued this model. So, it seemed plausible to dedicate a post to analyzing John Deere 317’s characteristics and capabilities.
So, here is our take on the versatile John Deere 317, which still outsells after 39 years of production.
John Deere 317 Specs
The John Deere 317 has several features that can be found in its successor, the 318. However, that does not negate the need for discussion of those aspects.
So here are some tables with the essential details of this small garden tractor before we delve further into them. You’ll be inspired to dig deep after just a glance!
|Model||John Deere 317|
|Type||Riding lawn tractor|
|Length (overall)||69 inches|
|Wheel Base||46 inches|
|Engine Manufacturer/ model||Kolher KT17QS|
|Engine type||Four-stroke, air-cooled horizontal-shaft inline|
|Engine Power (Gross)||17 hp|
|No. of cylinders||2|
|Bore and stroke||3.125x2.750 inches|
|Oil capacity||1.5 qts|
|Oil Change||25 h|
|Lubrication System||Full Pressure w/Filter|
|Fuel Capacity||4.5 US gal.|
|Transmission & Chassis:|
|Model||Sundstrand Series 15 Model 90|
|Brakes||Differential mechanical shoe|
|Gears||Infinite forward and reverse|
|Speed||Forward: 10.5 kmh (6.5 mph)
Reverse: 5.6 kmh (3.5 mph)
|Transmission Oil Capacity||5 qts|
|Oil type||Deere Hy-Gard|
|Oil change||50 h (filter)
500 h (oil)
|Turning Radius||26 in. (inside the rear wheel)|
|Cab||Open operator system|
|Optional flow||27 gpm|
|Optional power||53 hp|
|Mower deck||Mid-mount 46” Mower Deck
Mid-mount 48” Mower Deck
Mid-mount 50” Mower Deck
|Blade||Front-mount 54- inches blade|
|Snowblower||Front-mount 46- inches single-stage snowblower|
|Manufacturing location||Horicon, Wisconsin, USA|
|Production year||1979 - 1983|
|Original price||$2000 (approx.)|
John Deere 317 Tractor History
As we have already mentioned, the John Deere 317 was part of the brand’s deluxe series 300. It belonged to the class of hydrostatic tractors and was manufactured at the brand’s factory in Horicon, Wisconsin, USA, from 1979-1983.
But what made this tractor unique? Well, it was one of the first John Deere tractor models that relocated the steering components to the left side of its chassis. It also featured the strong Kolher KT17QS but not before the brand used the Onan P218G engine.
Unfortunately, the JD 317 was not an overnight hit among customers since the Onan P218G engine was plagued with issues like improper lubrication and engine failures. The 5 psi pressure of the Pressure Spray technology lubrication system did not produce the lubrication needed for proper operation.
However, John Deere took action and replaced the Pressure Spray technology with full-pressure lubrication. Furthermore, the engine was upgraded to KT17 Series 11 (specification number 24300 or higher), which used higher lubrication pressure of 30-50 PSI.
These upgrades changed how the JD 317 performed; the rest is history. But one thing we would like to highlight is that it is due to these changes that this model is still popular among John Deere fans.
Note: Make sure to check the serial number and the John Deere 317 with the new Kohler Engine when purchasing the refurbished model.
Features of John Deere 317 Tractor
Already finding the JD 317 interesting? In this subsection, we’ll whet your appetite by defining this tractor’s specific features and abilities in detail.
You will likely come across two types of tractors when purchasing a riding tractor for your lawn or yard: compact and sub-compact. While each class of machine has its advantages, each job is different and might call for a particular kind.
Compact tractors, also called compact utility tractors, are appropriate for farms and small yards. These tractors are made for small-acreage homeowners and can be used for mowing, landscaping, gardening, snow removal, etc. A compact utility tractor has some features that include the following:
- Less than 40 hp gross power
- Weight of less than 1900 kg
- Designed to be used with mowers
- Designed to attach several implements, etc
We can find all these features in the John Deere 317. Hence, it can be safely categorized as a compact utility tractor. The dimension of the tractor is 69″ X 42.5″ X 44,” and it weighs around 700 lbs, less than its successor, the JD 318.
This compact tractor belongs to the lightweight category and can be maneuvered with ease. It also has a 46-inch wheelbase, which is brilliant because it makes navigation easier. In a nutshell, the John Deere 317 tractor is a good option for anyone looking for a portable and simple-to-operate garden tractor.
The tractor’s hood is slick, strong, and simple to open to inspect the interior components, such as the engine, or perform an oil change. Some other features on the John Deere 317 are the following.
- An hour meter on the dash (not all models have it)
- Light switch
- Amp meter
- Hydrostatic lever
- Hydraulic levers
- Deck height adjust
- Brake lock
The engine is one of the John Deere 317’s primary parts. As we’ve already mentioned, this model initially experienced serious engine problems that damaged its reputation among customers.
But the company took action and installed the potent four-stroke, air-cooled Kolher KT17QS inline engine. The displacement is 691 cc, the rated Replacement per Minute (RPM) is 3600, and the stroke is 3.125 by 2.750 inches.
The gross power output, however, is 17 horsepower. Thanks to all these engine features, this tractor is suitable for small- to medium-sized yard projects.
The electric starter is the icing on the cake because it makes starting the engine incredibly convenient. But the low gross power output, which is higher than the HP 316’s 16 hp but lower than its successor, the JD 318’s (18 hp), bothered us.
On the other hand, this tractor has an electric clutch and a 4.5 gal fuel tank capacity, which is not bad. Additionally, the air-cooling feature circulates cool air over the engine while running to cool it down.
The 317, like other John Deere tractors, has an electric starter that makes it simple to start without needing acceleration. The tractor is powered by a 12 V battery, which provides enough power to start the engine even in freezing temperatures.
Fuel Tank Capacity
The John Deere 317’s fuel tank has a capacity of 4.5 US gal. Even though it’s not the best of the lot, this will assist with small- to medium-sized lawn landscaping needs.
Transmission and Chassis
The Sundstrand Series 15 Model 90 hydrostatic transmission is standard on the John Deere 317 garden tractor. The tractor can run for a long time thanks to the hydrostatic transmission. However, since this model has conventional manual steering, we were disappointed that it lacked power steering.
The tractor also has mechanical differential shoe brakes allowing infinitely variable forward and reverse speeds. In addition, the JD 318 has a 4×2 2WD chassis. Last but not least, this tractor can reach forward speeds of up to 10.5 km/h and reverse speeds of 5.6 km/h.
The front tires on the John Deere 318 lawn tractor are 16-6.50-inch, and the rear tires are 23-10.50-12-inch. The turf tires are the same as those found on its successor, the John Deere 318, and they move without leaving tire tracks on the field because they are large enough to distribute the tractor’s weight evenly.
The John Deere 317’s independent front PTO has electric clutches, which enhances user safety.
The 317 model, like the 316 and 318, has an open, airy operator cabin and comfortable seats. It allows the rider to get on and off the tractor quickly. However, from a safety standpoint, this system is inefficient.
But why is that? Because there is no protection against the elements. Also, the rider could be seriously injured in a sudden turn.
Nowadays, it isn’t easy to imagine a tractor without attachments. Because a lawn tractor is used for more than just mowing, it is also used for weeding, snow removal, tilling, and other tasks.
As a result, the popularity of a tractor is highly dependent on the number of attachments it can use. In this regard, John Deere never disappoints its customers. Its tractors all come with a plethora of attachment options. The same can be said for JD 317. The John Deere 317 can be equipped with various attachments, such as loaders, snowblowers, and mower decks.
Three mid-mounting mowing decks with cutting widths of 46, 48, and 50 inches can be attached to the Model 317. Optionally, a 54-inch front blade can be attached to it.
The 317 is designed to work with a 46″ front-mount one-stage snowblower. This garden tractor has a hydraulic lift system in the back and can be used with tillers, plows, or other ground-engaging attachments.
Pros and Cons of John Deere 317
The John Deere 300 series is known for its “ahead of time” features. Nonetheless, the Model 317 has a bad reputation due to its initial engine.
However, it is not all bad because we discovered some really good characteristics of this tractor. We also read the customer reviews to double-check the tractor’s pros and cons with what we discovered. So, here’s a list for your convenience.
- Powerful to mow
- Looks good
- The Kolher KT17QS
- Decent snowblower
- It is still in good shape
- It uses little oil, and hence, economical
- It features independent rear brakes
- Very low horsepower
- Operational noise
- No 4WS
- No armrest
- Manual steering
- Lack of foot control
- Not suitable for larger yards
- Very basic
According to most websites, the original price of the John Deere 317 was around $2000. However, the price of the refurbished models will be determined by their condition and the equipment that comes with them. Therefore, it is impossible to confirm the exact cost.
Always use the Kolher KT17QS rather than the previous version. However, we recommend that you compare the model’s price and the equipment that comes with it at various online retailers.
Check the engine type they provide as well. Also, go to your nearest offline retailer to see the model and inspect it so you know exactly what you’re getting.
John Deere 317 Tractor Serial Number
The tractor’s serial number is usually found beneath the steering column. Usually, the last one is 285000.
Why Go For John Deere 317 Tractor?
The John Deere 317 may have had a shaky start, but it emerged as a dependable lawn tractor capable of working on rough terrain. So, if you’re wondering why you should buy this tractor, here are some of our top reasons.
- The later version of the Kolher KT17QS air-cooled engine is highly dependable
- This tractor still comes in good shape
- The JD 317 requires less maintenance
- Modifications can be done
- Several custom attachments can also be used with this tractor
- It is a compact utility tractor suitable for homeowners with small to mid-acreage land
- This tractor can be used on almost all terrains
Here are some comments from real-world customers to see if the John Deere 317 is worth the hype.
“Heavy duty for that era. Loved the sound of that Kohler… real tractor sound. Beat the heck out of mine…“
“Would be a lot better if I could disconnect rear PTO output…“
So, that was our impression of the John Deere 317 compact riding lawn tractor. Overall, the John Deere 317 garden tractor is excellent.
And we believe it is worthwhile to invest. However, this is our opinion, and we do not want our customers to believe us blindly. “Seeing is believing,” as the saying goes.
So, go to a nearby retailer and inspect the model for yourself. Please share your thoughts in the comment box below until then.