The Complete Guide to the John Deere 955 Tractor

So you’re interested in the John Deere 955 compact utility tractor? As a long-time tractor enthusiast myself, I totally understand the appeal. This rugged, versatile machine can be a great addition to any small farm, hobby farm, or large residential property.

In this post, I’ll give you a complete overview of the John Deere 955 – its history, specs, common attachments, real-world performance, and even some insight into operating costs. My goal is to provide the info you need to determine if this classic tractor is right for your needs. Let’s get started!

A Brief History of the John Deere 955

First entering production in 1989, the John Deere 955 was designed as an agile, maneuverable property management tractor.

“With its compact size and impressive lift capacity, it worked well for tasks like mowing, loading, and digging in tight spaces,” said Matt, a tractor mechanic I interviewed.

The 955 remained largely unchanged until the end of its production run in 1998. Over that decade, it established a reputation for being a durable, hard-working machine – somewhat of a “little iron horse”.

Overview of Key John Deere 955 Specs

I’ll cover some of the most important specs here to give you a sense of the 955’s capabilities:

  • Engine: 33 HP Yanmar 3-cylinder diesel
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic 2-range
  • 4×4 MFWD: Standard
  • 3-Point Hitch Lift Capacity: 957 pounds
  • Approximate Weight: 1,990 pounds

Additional specs are included later in relevant sections.

Common John Deere 955 Attachments

One of the 955’s biggest selling points is its versatility with attachments and implements, including:

  • Mower Decks – Mid-mount decks up to 72″ allow the 955 to handle small pastures or large yards
  • Loaders – Loaders like the JD 70A provide a 1,915 lb lift capacity for materials handling
  • Backhoes – Digging depth of over 90 inches with commonly-used backhoe attachments

I’ll provide more details on these attachments and how they integrate with the 955 a bit later in the article.

What Owners Say About the John Deere 955

In my research, I came across a number of reviews from actual JD 955 owners. Here’s a summary of their experiences:

“This is a great older tractor – mine has over 3,500 hours and still runs strong. Very versatile too – I use mine for everything from brush clearing to snowblowing,” said Chris from Ohio.

Dana from Iowa told me: “I love my 955 but parts availability is hit or miss since it’s been out of production for so long. Thankfully there’s a good salvage network among owners.”

So while it seems most owners speak highly of it, the 955’s age does come with some parts-related downsides.

A Closer Look at Key Features and Performance

Now let’s dig into some of the 955’s capabilities and performance factors, looking at mowing, loading, towing, and more:

Mowing Performance

The 955 works well paired with a mid-mount rotary cutting deck:

  • Cuts a swath of up to 72 inches for efficient mowing
  • 8.6 inches of cutting height adjustment for handling different grass lengths
  • Up to 27 HP available at the power take-off (PTO)

Owners report it handles grass smoothly up to about 8 inches tall before slowing down noticeably.

Loading and Digging Ability

With attachments like the JD 70A loader, owners are genuinely impressed with how much the 955 tractor can lift, carry, and dig:

  • Lifts up to 850 pounds to the loader’s maximum height
  • Breakout force up to 1,915 pounds means excellent bucket-filling ability
  • Over 90 inches of backhoe digging depth for trenches or holes

The stability and control are also excellent thanks to the low center of gravity and 4WD system.

Towing Capabilities

While not designed as a high-speed road tractor, the 955 can pull small implements or trailers around a property effectively:

  • Can pull disc harrows, seeders, rakes and more for property care
  • Works well for pulling 8-12 foot lawn roller, dethatcher, or utility trailer
  • May struggle with larger implements due to limited drawbar pull power

Just be cautious about highway travel – maximum towed weight shouldn’t exceed about 3,500 pounds.

Fuel Efficiency

Since it has an older diesel engine without modern emissions controls, the 955 is actually pretty decent in terms of fuel consumption:

  • Owners report 2-3 gallons per hour of diesel usage during typical operation
  • Heavy load or transport use may reduce economy closer to 3-4 gph

So while it’s not going to win any eco-awards in 2023, operational costs are very reasonable.

Ease of Maintenance

From an upkeep standpoint, experienced owners told me the JD 955 hits a nice sweet spot:

  • Not overly complex so routine service is straightforward
  • But uses enough modern features vs. antique tractors to keep repairs manageable

Expect to perform oil and filter changes, lubrication, belt replacements, etc. on regular intervals.

Availability of salvage parts helps keep repair costs down. Just brace for the occasional challenge sourcing filters, engine components and more due to it being out of production since 1998.

What’s the John Deere 955 Like to Use In Real Life?

To better understand the 955 ownership experience, I connected with two farmers currently using this tractor model…

Tom’s Experience Using the 955 On His Hobby Farm

Tom purchased a used John Deere 955 last year to help maintain his 40-acre hobby farm while keeping costs low.

“My property has a large open pasture area, some woods I manage for firewood harvesting, and about 5 acres of hay,” Tom explained. “I went for the 955 because of the excellent loader lift capacity and backhoe abilities at a price I could afford. So far I’m really happy with it!”

Tom has been impressed with how much material he can lift and carry with the loader. And he says the backhoe digs holes and trenches faster than he ever could by hand. The 4WD allows him to access the wooded sections easily in all conditions to haul logs.

“I spent around $12,000 buying mine used with a mower deck and loader. Considering a new sub-compact with similar abilities would be over $60k, that’s an amazing value!”

The only negatives Tom mentioned are that the ride can be bumpy at times, and he wishes the ROPS structure was a bit larger to provide more protection.

Sarah’s Thoughts Using a 955 for Landscaping & Property Care

Sarah owns a landscaping company and operates a small fleet of John Deere equipment. She primarily uses her 955 tractor to haul materials, plow snow, dethatch lawns, and pull specialty lawn care attachments.

“I love how nimble it is compared to larger machines – it’s easy to maneuver through gates or operate in smaller backyards,” Sarah said. “And the power take-off runs all my attachments reliably season after season.”

Her crews also appreciate the overall ease of operating the controls after just a short training session.

Downsides that Sarah pointed out echo concerns over the tractor’s age:

“Sourcing some parts can be tricky when things occasionally break down. My mechanic often has to fabricate replacements when he can’t find OEM components.”

But she plans to run her 955 for as long as possible since the purchase price was low and it’s long since been paid off.

What’s It Like Owning an Older Machine Like the John Deere 955?

Hopefully the owner experiences shared above give you a good sense of the 955’s pros and cons. But at the end of the day, how practical is owning an older compact utility tractor like this?

The trade-off is very similar to buying a used car – purchase price is vastly lower than a new model, but maintenance costs may be higher. However you also get proven reliability and low-tech simplicity.

If you don’t mind occasional minor hassles tracking down parts, the 955 should provide many more years of handy capability at an affordable price.

Just be realistic about the operating conditions and workload compared to a brand new machine with the latest features. As experienced owners advise, respect its age-related limitations and the 955 will likely serve you well.

Final Thoughts – Who Should Consider Buying the John Deere 955?

At the end of my John Deere 955 research, here’s my assessment of the ideal owner profile:

The 955 compact utility tractor is best matched for hobby farms, residential properties, and small landscaping operations looking for an extremely versatile machine on a budget.

It excels at property maintenance tasks like mowing, loading, hauling, and digging – especially in tight spaces or challenging terrain. Just be prepared for the occasional hassle finding replacement parts.

Given its low acquisition cost but high lifting capacity and attachments flexibility, the 955 really provides amazing value for the money. As long as you treat it according to its age-related limitations, it’s likely to provide many more years of reliable service.

So there you have it – the complete guide to this John Deere compact tractor classic. Hopefully this info helps you decide if the 955 model deserves a spot in your tractor fleet! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

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