Weekend Freedom Machines banner

420....Some year(s) better than others?

1928 Views 25 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  sethro
Hello All! It's time to add my 3rd JD to my collection, and I think I really like the model 420 (with loader if I can find one). Is there a certain year to look for? Any known problems with the 420? Any changes in later model years that made a difference in quality? Thanks for any and all advice!!
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

Until 1986, the 420s had an Onan B48G engine with points and condenser. From 1987 on, the 420s had an Onan P220 engine with electronic ignition. I believe there were also additional changes in 1987, but I don't recall all the details.

Thanks Rob for the response & info. You know how it is - I'd hate to buy a certain year 420, only to find out that if I'd purchased one that was a year newer, it would of had all these improvements!! So I like to do a little research before I seriously start looking.

I too, was once looking for a 420. Since they're hard to find here in the western states, I had plenty of time to do a lot of research. Although I never ended up finding one, it seems that the general consensus was that the newer (post 1987) machines were more desirable. I've heard that if you look through the parts manuals that a significant number of parts were changed in 1987.

Good luck, wish I could have found one out here.

Hey Rob...Your info has certainly help me make the initial decision. I was trying to decide between the 430 and the 420 (think I'll start another post on the subject) I like the fact that the 430 is diesel, but believe it or not, I just don't like the look of the 430 - it looks disproportionate. The front end sticks out too far, and the front wheels look too small for the size of the tractor! I know that sounds mighty trivial, but I do enjoy FORM & function so it matters to me - oh well!
I bought a 430 and let me tell you that is one hell of a tractor! I just got a 318 a few months earlier. Since I got the 430 I haven't driven the 318. I had to move the 318 the other day after cutting the lawn with the 430 and the 318 was like a TOY compared to the 318. The 420 is a little bigger than the 318 but the 430 is just an awesome tractor. Also diesel is cheaper around here than regular gas. The diesel engine will last longer than the Onan in the 420. If you can get your hands on the 430 do not hesitate its that great of a tractor!


Funny you should mention your preference for the look of the 420 versus the 430. I was struggling with that also...I like the looks of the 420, but the diesel 430 seemed like the work horse I was looking for. The 430 hood resembles the hoods on the bigger tractors such as the 655 - 955 models, so just think of it as a smaller version of one of those. Ultimately, I bought a 455, not a classic like the 420s and 430s, but a diesel work horse with a short nose.

I got the 455 also but like the look of the 430.I prefer the long nose of the 430.The 430 has always been my favorite machine.I got my 455 because the situation was right but still would love to have a 430.As far as the comparison between the 430 and the 420 there is none.The diesel is a much more powerful,economical to operate,longer lasting engine.

AJ....I know what you mean on the diesel. I have a 2002 John Deere 4100 4WD diesel w/ 410 loader, 54" mower deck & box blade & I'm in LOVE w/ this tractor, but I bought it to do some landscape work on my property which is just under two acres. I plan on selling it when the work gets done because I just don't need that much tractor (and money) for my yard. However, I would like a Deere with more muscle than my 214, and more options such as FEL, 3PT, etc. Rob - I like the 455 a lot, but I think I'll try and stick with the vintage Deeres for the fun factor of tinkering! AJ - I guess I need to see a 430 (I've only seen pics). I do like the fact that it has more power. I didn't realize that it was that much of a difference. I do love a diesel! Thanks guys for your input and opinions.
I know you like the vintage ones better,Dave but the 455 has 2 more hp than the 430.The new x series has 4 more hp than the 430.Just something to think about.

Well I have the first year run (1983) JD 420 and as far as I know besides the engine changes I believe the hydrostatic steering was different in the early 420's in that they had one less fitting on them and the tractor had a tendency to "CREEP" when you turned the wheel and it was just sitting. So I guess they ran the fluid thru the box differently for the newer 420's and solved that problem. Like anything else, they usually change at least just a few little things so they can at least use it to advertise how the new ones are "BETTER". Often if I am unsure of the changes I go to the JD parts website and look up the parts that changed and serial # groups associated with the changes. Sometimes you can figure out why. For instance : MY first year run 400 is missing the emergency brake assy and the cam for it is broken under the tractor. They changed the parts and design after around #55,000 and now I know why !........ED.
wow, my 1984 420 creeps just like you describe. it's incredibly annoying, i often find myself racing back and forth to open a gate before the tractor rolls into it. it doesn't do it if you stop abruptly, and if it begins to creep you have to wiggle the shifter around alot to get it to stop. any idea if you can convert the hydro to the later years configuration?

You probably have some worn parts in the hydro linkage!!!
I've been offered an opportunity to purchase a 757 for a very good price. I've searched here because I thought I remembered this exact topic not long ago...but can't find anything.

I've researched the model and have found it has cooling issues (air cooled 25hp Kawasaki) causing problems with the heads/valves. Apparently it is only a problem with extended use, like commercial use, when the engine screen and cooling fins aren't cleaned out regularly. I blow my mowers off after every use so it shouldn't be an issue with me. This 757 was bought by a friend of mine who is a JD turf equipment dealer and he replaced the heads/valves with new ones as it had the valve issues. It has about 1100 hrs and seems to run great now. I drove it today and it looks pretty good as well.

I mow about 1.5 acres and I'm very interested in cutting the mowing time dramatically. I would probably keep my 245 as I've got a snow plow, MC519 system, and custom sprayer for that already.

Anyone have any experience with the 757 or its little brother the 737?
See less See more
I can't see what you're asking. Buy it if you're getting a good price !
It seems like it's been serviced well, friend had it, blah blah blah.
Get it ! Keep in mind though, you can't put a 3 point hitch on it !
Had a buddy who bought a 757 from a dealer. It was a demo. that the dealer had. As far as I can remember he never had any trouble with it. Your right at the time the 757 was the largest air cooled model available.
Mike, my friend bought it "wholesale" priced and fixed the engine issue...he's offering it to me for actually a little less than he has in it. He's only had it since June or July using it sparingly. It was used at a golf course prior. He bought it to sell to a family member, but that family member backed out.

The price is very good, but it doesn't leave room for a catastrophic failure. If that occurred, I would be better off buying a $4000 machine to begin with I think. But I really don't want to spend that much on a mower anyway.

I'm kind of hoping to hear about someone who fixed the heads/valves and has had no issues since keeping the screen/cooling fins clear. I also just scored a JD 1070 for an unbelievable price, so I've got the 3pt hitch covered.
See less See more
I had a M665 which I think is just an older version of the 757. It had the 25hp also and ran very ruff when I got it and sure enough the heads, valves, and intake were all clogged up. I didn't replace anything but did have the heads hot-tanked and cleaned everything up and it ran perfect after that, but I did sell it a few months later so not sure how it's doing now. One guy that looked at it when I was selling it told me he takes his apart for a carbon cleanup every 300 hours or so.
Discussions on John Deere zero turns should go into the Late Model Forum. If anything gets posted here in the Corner Store, it won't be archived.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.