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|Gary||My 318 tractor steers fine but when the tractor is off the steering wheel spins quite freely. The wheel will turn but the wheels stay straight. Is this normal? If not, what is wrong? Since it steers fine is this anything to worry about.
|Dave||Gary - Sounds like the beginning phase of hydrostatic power steering unit failure. There are seals inside the unit that are leaking internally and when the tractor is on and the hydro pump is running, it's not that noticeable.
A lot of people thing the hydraulic assist cylinder on the left side of the tractor is what gives it the power steering. However, there's a rather complicated hydrostatic valve unit that provides the power assist. Depending on the year of your 318, it may have a 4-way or a 5-way unit.
These are rather difficult to repair if you have no experience. And most people who attempt to repair them without that experience, end up trashing them. A new unit from Deere (part number AM107082) is quite expensive, around $645.
Labor to remove, rebuild, and re-install the existing unit at a dealership would be at least half that.
The valve is an HGF model, made by Parker Hydraulics. If you go to http://www.parker.com/frameless/default.asp?substDivId=&FamID=577&DivID=&GID=&Type=2&ID=506&TechID=&PSID=4007 and click on "HFG Series Hydrostatic Steering Units" to select it, then click on "Service Maintenance" within a window to the right, the service manual in pdf format will load. This gives detailed information on repairing the cylinder. Parts are available either from Deere or a local Parker Hydraulics Distributer. Good luck. - Dave