John Deere 165

The John Deere 165 lawn mower is a garden tractor that was built by JD over a period of 2 years from 1986 until 1988. All production of this model took place in JD’s plant in Horicon, Wisconsin. Most people don’t see the JD 165 as a particularly powerful ride on lawnmower due to the fact that it’s engine only produces 12.5 hp. This engine is a Kawasaki FB460V gasoline engine with natural aspiration. The displacement of the engine comes to 0.46 liters and it is air cooled. You will need to make sure that the engine always has 1.8 liters of engine oil to prevent excessive wear on the engine parts.

The transmission used on the John Deere 165 is a hydrostatic one. This makes operating it relatively easy as it gives the machine infinite gears going forward and the same in reverse. In other words, the JD 165 is an automatic. As this John Deere mower is 20+ years old, most people haven’t heard much about it before. However like so many JD lawnmowers and tractors, there is a large restoration community out there that fixes up and fully restores old mowers like this one.

If you are someone who owns a John Deere 165 or has restored one, please feel free to leave a review on it below. If possible try to list the things that were giving you the most hassle during the restoration of it. It will also be informative to the readers to let them know about the modifications you have made if any. Please also try to list any attachments such as snow blowers, snow blades, front blades, scrapers, etc, that you have used with the JD 165.

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18 Reviews of the “John Deere 165”

  1. JWM says:

    I needed an inexpensive mower to cut 1/2 acre of rolling mid Atlantic region grass and found a 165 on craigslist that needed some work. I was able to get it running for a total investment of $165.

    To get the Kawasaki engine running I tested compression and got 75PSI, tested spark then cleaned the CARB. There are many good instructional videos on this specific engine as it was used in many applications including some industrial walk behind mowers.

    I have mowed with the mower once and am presently surprised. The engine uses old school torque rather than high RPM to get the work done. I pull several hills with moderately high grass with me on board (240LBS), I could hear the engine laboring but kept going. Next time I may need to slow down to keep the cut quality high. On that note the overall cut and look after mowing was excellent.

    On hills the machine maintained traction and felt more stable then newer mowers of a similar size. Mine has nice but very old Goodyear tires. I am constantly reminded of larger Deere ag tractors when in the seat.

    Considering the investment and age, I very pleased and am looking forward to many hours of use from this American made machine. Deere makes very good equipment and the 165, 175 and 185 are great small riding mowers and fit my application perfectly.

    Year of Manufacture: 1987
    Pros: Reliable commercial grade engine and transmission.
    Heavy stable tractor, all metal.
    Built like a larger Ag machine.
    Cons: Overall age.
    Seat is uncomfortable.
    No hour meter.
    Attachments: 38″ Mower deck
    42″ Blade
    Modifications: None

  2. Troy Hollenbeck says:

    Just brought this 1986 Hydo 165 with a snow blower on it home yesterday. Haven’t had time to dig into it yet. What I do know is the break sticks even in the unlocked position. Ignition switch does not spring back after it starts so you have to back it off, Steering is super tough, and seat is horrible LOL. Runs strong as far as I can tell and the snow blower works fine with no wobble. I’m taking all suggestions or knowledge of how to get it to at least 75% by winter. I will also need to either create or find a weight system for the back as well.

    Year of Manufacture: 1986

  3. Lou Alberti says:

    fuel system fails if you turn off warm engine and take a break it well start but acts like carb is vapor locking and ramps up and down speeds. I purchased used a few years and have never been able to solve it. had it in a repair shop and they wanted to replace carb as a guess .Can anyone help solve this ?

    Year of Manufacture: 0

    • john says:

      I found that if you take the carb off and clean each of the jets, then adjust the adjusting screw (Cross with a spring) located right behind the air filter it should work much better, and stop most of the surging.

      Year of Manufacture: 1986
      Attachments: 38 inch tri cycler mower deck
      Modifications: None

  4. Marv Miller says:


    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: I have a 165 with mower deck and snow blower , got it from my uncle cause was not running , checked all electrical and found pro switch was bad , got it running and put snow blower on and have used twice this year so far and ran out of snow to blow . The 165 works great , no problems with this 30 year old lawn tractor.
    Cons: none as of yet
    Attachments: 38 inch mower deck and 38 inch snow blower
    Modifications: none

  5. clarence sali says:

    hauling with the trailer

    Year of Manufacture: 1987
    Pros: real nice little tractor
    Cons: none
    Attachments: blower mower trailer
    Modifications: none

  6. Doug Jackson says:

    Very pleased for general use, wish I had the 185, as added hp would be good.

    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: I purchased new and been very pleased. Engine starts well, mows well and leaf collected work well- when leaves reasonibly dry. Parts still available and Bader Service (Linwood, MI) does prompt reasonable service.
    Cons: Could be better powered with 14-15 hp engine, with steep hills, heavy driver or pulling modest load it shows it’s max’d out.

    • Keith Golden says:

      I have had this machine for about 15 yrs. Second owner. Just love it.
      Wondering how much it cost when purchased new. *****

      Year of Manufacture: 1988
      Pros: Always runs strong.
      Cons: Slow start. Takes a while to kick in.Asmall oil leak from front of the crankshaft.
      Attachments: bagger
      Modifications: none

  7. Simon paternoster says:

    Anyone out there have a starter motor

    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: Only just bought mine love em I’m a contract gardener .but really got a thing for John deeres this one won on eBay last week just picked up today one owner . I’ve 4 John deeres two , lx176 s and a lx178 going to do them up . The 165 is the oldest in my fleet and all she needs is a deck drive belt and a starter motor the hope she is up and running love em well impressed with the hood the Lxs hoods very weak . Can’t wait to use her
    Cons: I’ve no pros and cons because haven’t used her yet but I’m sure as all j ds they are good I’ve become a collector I’m going to look around for a lx188 and a lx 279 just the jd bug has me now as I love grass cutting as used to cut the verges on Rushmoor council loved it and used John deeres cut miles miles of grass if I won the lottery it wouldn’t be a Porsche a John Deere x905

    • Larry says:

      Love it for my yard it just right . Plenty of power for me. I did pick up a bagger for pretty cheap

      Year of Manufacture: 1988
      Pros: I have one two I was looking for starter. Deer want 576.00 for one . Found one for in stock at a local mower shop they wanted 275.00 kept looking got one from 165.00 .deer or Kawasaki don’t offer one or parts to rebuild mower to nice to get rid of.

  8. Paul says:

    It cuts great

    Year of Manufacture: 1988
    Pros: Just got mine this week. I find it to be a nice tight well built riding lawn mower but what do you expect from John Deere

  9. Dave A. says:

    Just got it back from John Deere for blade sharpening and lube. Worked great first time I mowed. Just tried to mow again and will not move in any gear. How do I fill the transmission fluid or change? I hope I did not get the Deere Antlers while they had my mower!!!

    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: Great Mower with bagger
    Cons: Needs belts on occasion.
    Attachments: Bagger only.
    Modifications: None

  10. rick gowdy says:

    put straight 30 weight oil in it

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: guessing 1986 replaced deck bearings and drilled holes for grease fittings on hubs save on replacing bearings
    going to change diff and trans next just got tractor in feb.
    Attachments: plow love it plowed off ice for kids

  11. carroll bain says:

    Bought it about 15 yr. ago. Use it every year( 1 acre) and no real problems.

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: Check the 10 blade cooling fan for the transmission. I am now replacing mine. Only about 3 blades left. Total pain to replace. JD dealer got a bunch of repair parts in one day. Really impressed.
    Attachments: mower deck.
    Modifications: plug in for 12 volt sprayer.

  12. Bill Thompson says:

    Impressed with the overall reliability and availability of parts. Nice tight turning radius. Kawasaki engine is great!! Nothing runs like a Deere

    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: This has been a very reliable lawnmower that has served in pseudo-commercial duty for most of its 25 years. I calculated that it has mowed roughly 2500 lawns over the years, as my two sons mowed ours and several neighbors’ lawns while they were in school.
    The Kawasaki has been bulletproof in that it just keeps on running in spite of being completely neglected. I added the spin-on oil filter accessory and I think that may be what has kept it going with few and far between oil changes.
    Cons: The mower deck needs some bearings replaced every year. This has been the weak point for this mower, but I guess it’s typical of any mower deck.
    Also, I had big problems with the starting circuit. The engine would turn over very slowly or not at all, making starting difficult for many years, until I found that JD had a retrofit kit to add a relay that assisted the start circuit.
    And last, but most significant at this point, the hydro transmission will not pull when it gets hot. It will drive for about 20 minutes, then is gradually gets weaker until it won’t move until you shut it off and let it cool. I still don’t have a solution for this issue, but I’m working on it. If any readers have experience here and know what it takes to fix it, I’m all ears.
    Attachments: Bagger
    Modifications: Accessories I purchased are: spin-on oil filter, headlights, hub caps

    • J. B. says:

      Look at the spec’s on conventional and synthetic oil and you’ll see a huge difference in all aspects but the flash point and the sheer protection as heat builds is also a great deal better than conventional oils. I’m an Amsoil guy and use it in everything. My wife’s car’s transmission went agly nearly 3 years ago. I changed the filter and changed to Amsoil synthetic. It’s running still….correctly and the leak stopped, another big plus for synthetics, keeping seals like new.

      I drain out conventional whatever it might be and replace with synthetic. I’m sure you have some clutch pack problems and if new, might never have them with a synthetic oil. I have a dozer with the same problem……in the shop.

      Year of Manufacture: 0

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