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Have a john deere 318 riding lawn mower. it had been hard to start with it taking several turns of the key to do anything, then would not always engage. once engaged, would start with no problem. now when the key is turned, does nothing. checked 2 fuses near battery and tried jumping but no change. suspect starter and or solenoid. john deer shop claims starter price is $505 with almost 4 hrs labor too. is there good way to test to see if starter, solenoid, condenser, switch, etc is problem? what is the easiest way to access and remove the staqrter and solenoid? is there a relatively cheap equivalent to this starter and solenoid?

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  • davebr60 Jul 17, 2010

    Is the best way for me to access the starter by putting the mower on a stand/jacks and removing from the bottom? I re-checked the 2 & 20 amp fuses but they were okay. Could it be the circuit breaker which on a drawing is shown in close proximity to the solenoid and it looks like the pos. battery cable goes to it first before the solenoid? Can I test the circuit breaker and solenoid myself? The solenoid is separate on this model.

    Thank you

  • davebr60 Jul 20, 2010

    Thanks for your advice, I'll have someone look at it.

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  • Master
  • 2,047 Answers

Usually the shop would make the fixing of an item to look so complicated this is usually to ensure that the customer comes back. To confirm if the starter is the cause of the machine not starting. tell the shop to check the machine if either of the 2 options are the cause of the problem as they will have setup procedures for doing this. Do not settle for cheaper equivalent as this will only cause further damage to the unit. It is rather concrete that starting problems are caused by the starter.
Hope this has been helpful?

Posted on Jul 17, 2010

  • Rockme
    Rockme Jul 18, 2010

    Sir the equipment is an expensive one so i would advice you sent it to the shop so as not to cause other complications. Although you can try to test the solenoid and the amps but usually these things are tested by replacement as only direct testing can determine how good these items are.
    Hope this is helpful?


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  • Master
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By jumping it did you meant connecting both plots on the solenoid (big one for power, small one for start command/solenoid activation) to the + of the battery ? If yes and nothing happened then the starter/solenoid unit is dead and must be replaced. The 4 hour labor estimate is correct, the price... Well, i found a cheaper ones 
http://www.psep.biz/store/john_deere_tractors-lawn_starter_motors_page_1.htm
Onan B43G motor was used before 1987, Onan P218G after. And if the damage isn't too great you can rebuild it  with the spare parts from their page for even less.

Posted on Jul 17, 2010

  • 1 more comment 
  • Azrael SRL Jul 17, 2010

    When i work on one of them i just pull them out from the top, but i have small hands. You should use whatever way you thing it will be easier for you.

    If it's separate then you have a Bendix type and in that case you can definitely test them separately.

  • davebr60 Jul 18, 2010

    Thanks for the information. Sounds like you've been through this before. So to jump the starter, I need to connect positive to both large and small posts on the solenoid and the negative can just touch the body of it? If that works, then is the problem probably with the starter switch, or is there actually a circuit breaker before the solenoid that could be out? To test the circuit breaker, do I just need to check for continuity with a voltmeter? The tractor serial number is 421874 if that helps. I appreciate the advice...my wife & I just sweated through mowing foot high grass today with our old pushmower in nearly 100 deg. heat, so we're anxious to get it running again soon!

  • Azrael SRL Jul 18, 2010

    Yes, if you wand to test the starter outside the engine you must use 2 thick cables: from + to the thick post and from - to the body. Then make sure it's firmly attached to something solid then jump the jump the big post to the small post (command one) with a small piece of wire, the starter should start turning. Beware , it's an almost 1 HP motor so it will turn violently, make sure it's firmly attached or held solidly in place or you might see it fly over the table.

    To test continuity use whatever you have - even a light bulb and some wires will do. Ask your wife to keep the key turned at Start then check if the power is coming thru the command path: first to the command plot of the starter, next to exit of the circuit breaker, then the input of the breaker and finally the output of the key contact.

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