In the fall of 1992, John Deere introduced the 455 as its top-of-the-line garden tractor. It held that flagship position for the nine model years from 1993 through 2001. No other garden tractor had carried the John Deere banner for that duration. The line at the time also included the 425 and 445, both of which were almost identical to the 455, but with different engines.
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The 455 was powered by a 22-horsepower, liquid-cooled diesel engine built for Deere by Yanmar. It used a hydrostatic transmission and hydrostatic power steering. A 54-inch mower deck was standard, but optional 48- and 60-inch decks were available. The machine came with a mid-body 2000 rpm power take-off (PTO) and had an option for a 540 rpm rear PTO, which could be added after delivery. A Category "0" three-point hitch could also be added before or after delivery.
Due to its longevity on the market and identical mounting systems used by later models, the 455 and its 4x5 siblings had a wide range of attachments available. Options included many different collection systems for its mower decks, mid-mount and front-mount blades, several different snow throwers, a rotary broom, two different tillers, rollers, spreaders, aerators, carts and sprayers. A front-end loader was also available, which was rare for this scale garden tractor.
Two levers on the right of the steering column control the hydraulics on the 455. The upper lever controls the mower deck, the optional three-point hitch and the optional angle adjustment of the front mount for snow blades and snow blowers. An optional lock out valve can be added to the hydraulics to isolate the flow of this circuit to the front mount. This option greatly enhances the performance of the front angle hydraulics. The lower lever controls the elevation of the front mount and the optional rear hydraulic ports.
The 455's lower hydraulic control may see infrequent use, particularly when owners don't use snow removal equipment. In these cases, the lever often freezes. Buyers evaluating a used 455 and finding a frozen lower hydraulic control should not panic. In most cases, some penetrating spray on the linkage connections restores proper function. Also, gauges and warning lights on the 455 are part of a sealed unit, which includes the hour meter. This gauge cluster package has a history of premature failure. The gauge cluster on a used machine may have been replaced or may need this somewhat expensive replacement. Buyers should confirm that the hour meter reading on any used 455 is accurate.
While earlier John Deere models eclipse the 455 in collectible status, the machine maintains strong market value. The range and number of available accessories on the secondary market makes this an attractive choice for a full-featured garden tractor without the price tag of a new machine. Buyers considering a used 455 should test the lower hydraulic lever operation and be prepared to give the linkage a quick squirt of penetrating spray to determine if problems are major or minor. Also be aware that the rear PTO, three-point hitch, and hydraulic lock-out valve options are expensive and difficult to find. Machines with those options installed are in demand.