I have had a 318 for years. I have friends that have had them for 15+ years. None of have had hardly any of the issues you speak of. Hydro is solid, mule drive is not hard on belts, and is not hard to get off, Steering wheel in the gut??? I'm not a big guy but I am 6'0" 200lbs, and I disagree completely. Hand hydro - yes foot hydro are a little more comfortable, but it is all what you have. I don't mind it at all.
For $2K you can have 345 with a deck (maybe) or a 318 with deck, blower, blade.
In my experienced opinion.
Hey, thanks for the welcome to MTF folks! I love to see so much interest in current and older JD machines. I love 'em all
My experience with 318's comes from supporting these machines when they were still used commercially by landscapers. These days, they are only run by residential folks. So, a lot of what I'm talking about were on those units that saw a lot of hours. Often hard hours. However, I feel they are legitimate concerns given that a lot of residential units are growing in hours too. Trust me, I've traded many a 318 for a 345 and folks were tickled pink. Granted, they were not using the "heavy-duty garden tractor" aspects of the 318...they were only mowing.
And in my opinion, an Onan is toast at 1,500 hrs. Some last longer for sure, but I'm spooked beginning at 1,000hrs. From there it's a downhill ride of lost power, smoke, and oil consumption. I've traded for many over the years, and that's what I've seen from average folks. This Onan experience is also from the 420 and the commercial front mowers that used the Onans. A Kaw will out last a Onan any day, air cooled or L/C. Both are rebuildable, which is good.
The 318 transmission is very robust. The hydro is extremely stout given it's pump design and slipper-foot hydro pistons. The turing brakes are a poor-man's diff lock, which is awesome. Just brake the spinning tire and you'll **** power to the other side.
The ergonomic comments are moot if you've never owned or extensively run any post-318 model. 318's are cramped compared to newer models.
Did you know early 318's would crack frames? The fix...JD removed one tranny bolt so the trans could twist some to take some stress off the frame. There was a service bulletin on it back in the day. You just don't hear about that stuff these days. :lalala:
Like I sort of stated, I expected these comments to rock the boat a bit. I bleed green, I really do. And, I love the old 300's and 400's. But, these machines do have some issues that anyone looking to buy one should be aware of. All of this said, a 318 was far and away better than any of the other machines on the market at the time.