This second hand Deere dealer on Craigslist in Portland has what seems to be pretty good info on buying a used Deere.
There are many John Deere riding mowers available. They all look similar, so what's the difference? What's right for you? I hope this helps. Just remember, John Deere sells millions of mowers, some have lasted 25 years and they're still going strong.
Why is a 17 year old machine still worth $2500.00? Because a new one of equal quality is $5000.00 or more. The better quality LX, GT and GX machines can easily last 25 to 30 years if they're properly maintained, just like your car.
Box Store (entry level quality)machines:
Good for 1 acre or less.
The first were the "l" series, Then LA, and now D
Look for one with a Kohler Single or Twin, or the Briggs twin 22 hp or less.
If you have hills avoid these altogether, they have small transmissions and were made for you flatlanders.
Plan on a deck rebuild at about 300 hrs.
LT Series, Slightly better than the L, good for smaller lawns.
LTR- One word-problematic. One of the best finish mowers ever built because the blades overlap, easy to trim on either side. Don't hit anything sizable. It has a cogged timing belt that costs $100.00 plus two hours labor, it's their achilles heal.
Heavy duty, high quality.
LX 100 series machines are getting older and may need some repairs since most of them may have 800 plus hrs. Theses are excellent machines and can easily last 4000 hrs with regular maintenance. Most people prefer the water cooled Kawasaki LX 178 and LX188. They have good serviceable transmissions and excellent quality decks.
LX200 series machines are later improved versions of the 100 series. The main differences are engine type. Single or twin, Kohler or Kawasaki. All of these used the 42" or 48" "C" ("convertible", mulching or standard) deck. Which have greasable spindles that last forever. Usually a Kawasaki engine and a hefty transmission. If you just need a good lawnmower they don't get much better.
GT Series: The GT series is a true garden tractor with large bolt on rear wheels, bigger front tires
and a massive transmission. A bigger transmission means faster ground speed and improved operator
comfort. These are similar to the x500. Capable of mowing and tilling, excellent for hilly property.
300 Series: Early 300 (316, 318)series tractors are as tough as a small tractor can be. They have a frame the size of a ford pickup, cast iron engine and large shaft drive hydro trans.
The 325 and 345 came later, a garden tractor that is a bit more like a riding lawnmower. Still capable of mowing and tilling but not as overbuilt.
The 345 came with the renowned "Big Block" Kawasaki water cooled engine. It features power steering and lots of grunt despite the 18hp rating. Very smooth operation because it weighs 800 lbs.
GX345: My favorite of the bunch, 20HP water-cooled Kawasaki uses a double v belt to drive the massive transmission. Super fast and smooth. Capable of running a 54" deck with ease.
425, 445, 455 garden tractors are highly sought after. They feature Kawasaki 20hp Gas or Yanmar Diesel engines, shaft drive hydro trans and 48", 54" or 60" commercial quality deck. Excellent for finish or rough field mowing. Capable of running tillers, optional 3 point category zero, rear pto, dual hydraulics for deck lift, power steering, or even a bucket loader.
Many of these machines have All Wheel Steering, it nearly cuts the turning radius in half. Excellent for trees and sharp corners.
If you find one for sale I would highly recommend them. It takes some serious linkages to turn the front and rear wheels at the same time. These parts do wear so maintenance costs are higher but well worth it in my opinion.
ZTR or Zero Turning Radius mowers are fast but were really built for bigger lawns. While they turn on a dime there's a price to pay, turn too sharply and you'll damage your lawn. While they don't have a lot of problems, when they do repairs can mean big $$$$. These machines are really built fo the pros, they're very fast but the ride is very firm.
If you have rough ground to mow buy a garden tractor, your kidneys will thank you.
Maintenance: Besides the obvious oil changes (every 25 hrs) there are also other things that go unnoticed until it's too late.
Think of your mower like you would your car and it will last you a lifetime.
1)Clean the mower deck after you mow to prevent rusting of your deck. It's not unusual to see decks with quarter size holes rusted through. At that point repairs are excessive. Grass holds moisture and causes serious rust. Take the deck off and scrape it with a putty knife occasionally.
2)Don't ignore any fluid leaks. Oil and coolant leaks are the #1 cause of engine failure.
3) Check your air filter, you like to breathe, so does your mower.
4) Check belts for fraying and cuts.
5) Grease zircs occasionally, especially front and rear steering as well as deck spindles.
6) Check all rotating parts, If you're hearing any unusual noises it's usually because an idler bearing is bad.