2012 Craftsman 30 in, 420cc, Model 25000 Riding Mower Review – Updated

Executive Summary: 2013 Update: Yes, there was that one problem with the safety switch on the deck. Craftsman fixed that for 2013 and decided to change the model number to avoid all confusion. Read the review of the 2013 Model 29000 here: Craftsman 29000

 This is Craftsman’s new Small Yard Solutions Rider.  I got a chance to test it yet April 17th.  Read the comments at the end of this article to see what I thought about it.  Hint: It is a good as I expected!  It features a 30 inch 3-in-1 deck, 6 speed shift-on-the-go transmission and a short turning radius for a riding lawn mower.  This is not the same mower that Sears had last year.  This new mower has the same proven trans as the LT 1500 series tractors.

UPDATE 3/24: I had a chance to look this one over last week. This rider has a very nice metal rack and pinion steering. It steers very easily and turns shorter than the Weedeater and the Craftsman 28034. I like the tire size on this mower. The tires are very large for the size of the mower and you will not have the traction issues the Weedeater One’s have. There will be a mulch kit for it, and a bagger. Update: 3/28. The mulch plug and bagger are ready to order.  See the attachments at the end of this article.

You can adjust the steering wheel height!  This means that short and tall people can comfortably drive this mower!

5 foot 2 inch rider with steering down / 6 foot 2 inch rider with steering up

Is this the right mower for you?: If you just want a good mower and you have a flat lawn about 1/2 to 3/4 acre put this little rider at the top of your list. This mower will go through a 32 inch gate. This mower is fun, agile and easy to drive, but it is limited to mowing a flat lawn and pulling a small yard cart. If you try to pull heavy loads or use this mower on hills you will not be happy with it.   This tractor will mow up to .75 acres an hour.

This tractor uses the popular and dependable MTD shift-on-the-go transmission. The 30 inch deck is a vented design.  At this point there is no mulch kit or bagger available.   This is a great yard mower and is designed to primarily mow lawns.  If you need a tractor that will pull a heavy yard cart, sweeper or other normal pull-behind attachment look at a different tractor.

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / MTD
Model/Series: Craftsman 420cc 30″ 6-Speed Rider (49 States) Mid Back

Where To Buy: Craftsman 420cc 30″ 6-Speed Rider (49 States) Mid Back

Buy It Here! Craftsman 29000

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy)  This is a “Good” quality. The Craftsman LT 28881 series is less quality. The  YT-3000 series are better.

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Riding Mower.  This is considered a rear engine rider even though the motor is in front of the rear axle for better weight distribution.

Craftsman 420cc 30 in 6-Speed Riding Mower

Proven Transmission
Tight Turning Radius
EZ on and off
Will Fit Through Most Gates

For Small Yards
Use for light attachments ONLY
No anti scalp wheels

Retail Price: $999.99 Check The Best Sale Price Here: Craftsman 420cc 30″ 6-Speed Rider (49 States) Mid Back

My Review:

There is not a large market for this small of a mower and when Briggs decided to stop making their 30 inch a few years ago no one wanted to fill the gap right away. 

Last year Husqvarna came out with one (Craftsman, Weedeater, Poulan Smart Rider) but the transmission was not heavy enough and Craftsman decided to stop selling it in the middle of the season.  This year though MTD has developed this mower for Craftsman. It features their bulletproof 6 speed shift-on-the-go trans.

This mower is designed to go through most gates, mow small yards and be inexpensive. ($400 less than the 28034) I expect a lot of customers to give this little mower good ratings as long as they use it for it’s intended purpose.

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail at this time. After I get a chance to drive it in April, I’ll come back and fill you in. I don’t expect ANY problems with the rider though.  This mower uses “standard” technology and won’t give you problems in normal use.  If you have specific questions leave a comment below and myself or the readers will be glad to answer them.  

Comfort – Ease of Use:  

Power For Mowing:  The motor is adequate for side-discharge and bagging. I’ll let you know about power for mulching. 

Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by Sears.  

Handling – Traction/Steering:  This tractor has a low-effort steering.   I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes.  It is too narrow to work on slopes. 

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  The 30 inch blade on this mower will cut great, but will tend to scalp your rough lawn.   If you have a rough, uneven lawn be aware of this and just raise the deck up a notch and it will mow fine. 

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website.

Type:  Riding Mower
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): .75 acres at 3 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? No
Excels in mowing around obstacles? Moderate to good

Manufacturer: MTD ?
Brand: Craftsman
Engine Power: 11.5 ?  hp* 
Displacement: 420 cc. 
Manufacturer: MTD ?
Cylinders: Single
Type: OHV, oil filter, Full-pressure Lubrication
Charging System: 12 v ? amp regulated
Battery: 155 ? cold-crank amps
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated levers
Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.3 U.S. gal. 
Transmission: Six Speed Shift on the Go
Transmission Control:  Fender/Clutch pedal
Cruise Control: NA
Forward Speed: 0-5 mph
Reverse Speed: 0-2.8 mph
Chassis: Frame Welded heavy-duty/Primer/Paint E-coat/powder
Front Tires: 13×5
Rear Tires: 16×6
Front Axle: Steel Tube
Hood Material: X
Hourmeter: No
Tool Tray: No

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: No
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: Yes
Deck washout port: Yes
12-volt outlet: No
Steering: Type 2-wheel steer, Telescoping 
Turning Radius: 18 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: ? in. 
Spindle Bushings: Metal, replaceable
Seat Back Height: 11 in. 
Fore-aft Adjustment: 5 in. while seated
Seat Suspension: NA
Deck Lift System:Fender
Mower Cut Height: 1 in. to 4 in., 5 position
Cut Height Increments: ? in.
Preset Cut Height: Yes
PTO clutch: Manual

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge 3-in-1
Mower Cutting Width: 30 in.
Blades: 1.
Mower Deck Material: 14 ga. Steel
Mower Wheel Adjustment: NA
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, Manual PTO
Mower Attachment: 4 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No


Wheelbase: ?-in. 
Overall Length: ?-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) 32-in. 
Height: ?-in. 
Weight: 332 lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year/Unlimited hour

Optional Attachments

Mower Model Number: 25000

Mulch Kit: 3352
Baggers: 24035

Please give your city and state when you comment

    • Hi Marian, I’m not quite sure what you are asking. If it’s the part number for the mulch plug, it is 19A30012OEM through searspartsdirect.com

  1. Bob Simpson – Smithton, Il

    is there a mulch plug for model 247.25000 I recently got one from sears part number 33525 but it is for the model 247.29000 the 247.5000 does not have the small tab on the deck area or the the studs on the deck surface for installation. Can you help

    • @Bob, Yes there is still one available. Click on the banner
      Sears Outlet Logo 120x60
      and then type 3352 into the search box. The Craftsman RER Mulch Plug will come up. Please do this quickly because they are discontinued and this is the only one I can find.

      • Paul thanks for your quick reply however when I click on the banner (the W at top of page on right) and put in 3352 I do not get the mulch plug indicatede – sorry for the continued problem but do you have a web site I can go too – thanks

        • @Bob, Sorry for the confusion. Click on THIS Sears Outlet banner
          Sears Outlet Logo 120x60
          . When you get to the sears outlet page then type 3352 into the search box on the main page. The Craftsman RER Mulch Plug will come up. It’s still there.

  2. Paul,

    I’m happy to report what ended up happening with my poor performing 25000 on two issues. First, the uneven cut. I believe this was caused by the spring holding the deck pully (belt release/engage) was installed incorrectly. After the tech installed the simple spring to the correct location on the tractor, the belt pully worked flawlessly and was delivering full power to the blade, now the tractor cuts perfectly even with the mulch plug on.

    Second, the known problem you discussed above, (the deck safety switch) – there is a Service Kit Fix (p/n 753-08040 – RER 1000 REAR ENGINE RIDER 30″ DECK SWITCH LOCK, Date July 30, 2012) that also works perfectly and is easy to install. The tech ordered it for me, but I’ll have to cancel his return appointment, it would be a shame for him to drive back out to install. It’s literally two brackets and a wing nut and screw that anchors the chute (mulch or discharge) in place so it won’t be pulled from the safety switch. Problem solved, cost = $0.00 since it was still under warranty.

    Anyway, just reporting back since you’ve been so helpful,

    • @AH, The rider has only had a couple of “new tractor” bugs and Craftsman has been on top of them right away. More and more this is turning into a great little rider and I have no problems recommending it to anyone who needs a small mower.

  3. I have bought the crafsman 247 25000 model and am completely satisfied with it after solving the discharge safety switch. also I have read this model had transmission problems is there any truth to this ?

    • @Wells, I have heard of no transmission problems with the 25000. And I don’t expect to hear of any. This is a proven and reliable transmission that is literally in millions of inexpensive lawn tractors. It is the same 6/7 speed shift-on-the-go transmission MTD/Troy-Bilt/Cub Cadet uses in all their lower priced tractors and riders.

  4. @Paul (June 5, 2013)


    I think you’re on to something. Taking your advice, I removed the deck and gave it a good scrub. There was about a 1/8 inch or so buildup of tightly compacted buildup all along the top of the underbottom of the deck. I cleaned it up, put the deck back up, and FIXED…for about 5 minutes. Then it started the strange cutting before. Going with your idea, I thought maybe my mulch cover (I left off that detail before) might be causing the same effect that you’re describing, that the deck is getting all clogged up. So I took the mulch cover off, replaced it with the original side discharge. Problem solved…for good. Seems to be working well cutting evenly.

    But, I didn’t always have problems with my mulch cover, and I pretty much mow under the same conditions, so I don’t think I’m trying to mulch too much as once (because it didn’t have a problem before with a setting of 4 on rabbit throttle mode). So, I’m wondering if somehow I’m not getting a full energy transfer, or whatever it might be called, to the blade rotation. The blade/belt does issue a high pitched squeal when starting up, and seems to take about 3-4 seconds to get up to “full speed.” So I’m thinking maybe that’s the problem, and the blade rotation has been somehow weakened so it doesn’t mulch as well, but with the side discharge it continues to work well even with a weaker blade since it discharges the clippings.

    In any case, you helped quite a bit Paul, and if I can’t figure it out in the end, as least I’ll be able to try and resell the mower as fully functioning with the side discharge chute!

    • @AH, Thanks for the detailed explanation. The squealing and the blade taking a long time to come up to speed is caused by the deck belt being loose. The first choice is always replace the belt, but before you do make sure the belt is routed through the idler pulleys correctly and the springs giving the idler pulleys tensioning are all hooked up.

  5. If you are having with the mulch switch, make sure that all 3 tabs are in the holes and bump the mulch attachment until it fully makes contact with the switch.

  6. Is there a mower lift that will fit this 3o inch mower. I want to sharpen the blade and would like to have a lift to get under the mower – also it would help to get a good clean out from under the mower.

    • @Bob, I used an a-frame with a come-along attached to the front bumper of the Dixon 3030 I had to lift the front end. It had a heavy-duty bumper strong enough to hold the mower.

      There is one mower lift that will go narrow enough for your rider. It is the
      MoJack XT Lawn Mower Lift

  7. I got to say I purchased this mower in large part to the review on this site. First mow was awesome, and I loved it. Second mow, the battery cable came loose, and tractor wouldn’t start. After awhile, I figured it out, tightened up the cable, and then I loved the tractor again. After awhile, I started having the infamouse mulch cover safety switch problem. I fixed that with folded paper, and I have to reseat the folded paper now about every 5-10 mows. I loved the tractor a little less.

    Then, I started having problems that seem to be described by @Mike, @Jeff, et al. The mower cuts very uneven to the point I have to cover the lawn twice, sometimes three times, to even everything up. It’s terrible. When I called in warranty, the tech (after frowning that I bought that mower, calling it trash and I should have bought a real mower) thought it might have had the wrong belt installed, so he ordered a new belt and came back a couple weeks later to put the belt on. He put the belt on, said it didn’t work, that I must have hit something and knocked it all out of alignment, but didn’t offer any way to fix it.

    When he said I hit something, I figured maybe my newphew hit something and didn’t tell me, so I replaced the blade. Didn’t fix it.

    Now I’m looking to dump this wreck on someone else and buy a new tractor at the end of the season, but now I know not to buy any mower that won’t allow you to make front/back AND side/side alterations to the deck to level it out, beyond changing the tire pressure (!?).

    (btw, I’m the same AH that posted last year.)

    • AH, As a side note I am in the process of scrapping a Dixon 30 inch Zero-turn. I’ve had the unit for 10 years and I have to say it had one of the best cutting 30 inch decks I have ever noticed. While tearing it apart I noticed that the underside of the deck was clean even though I had a mulch plug installed for the last 4 years. Not a bit of grass build-up so common with most mowers.

      I also have noticed that the Craftsman 42 inch decks cut a lot better when they are clean underneath. The vents around the spindles need to be free of grass build up so air can get into the deck and allows the deck to lift and cut the grass better.

      So my point. Is the underside clean or is there a lot of build-up? If there is a lot of build-up try cleaning the deck well and then tell us if it mows better. The vents around the spindle should also be free of grass build up

  8. Does anyone have any idea how to level the deck side-to-side….or is it strictly in the tire pressure?

    Than ks

    • @Jeff, You can adjust the front-to-rear (pitch) but there is no adjustments for the side-to-side. The only way to adjust the side-to-side is with tire pressure.

  9. Pingback: New 2013 Craftsman Lawn Tractors, Riding Mowers and Zero Turn Mowers - TodaysMower.com | TodaysMower.com

  10. I have a Craftman 30″ Rear Engine and I have enjoyed. My only problem has been with cutting. Lately, when I cut my grass there are uneven cutting lines. Have you heard of this before or what can I do to correct this problem? The mower is less than two months old.

    • @Mike, No. I haven’t heard of this problem on the 25000 but there are a few things you can look at. I don’t exactly know what you mean by uneven cutting lines so I’ll go through a few ideas. Be sure to follow the safety steps in your manual when you do these things.

      1. Put your mower on a flat, level surface. Check the tire pressure to make sure the front (right and left) tires have the same air pressure. Do the same for the rear.
      2. Leave the deck at your normal mowing height and measure from the bottom of the deck to the ground in four places (front, back, left, right) Left to right measurements should be the same (within 3/8 of and inch) The front will be a little lower than the back measurement (about 1/4 inch)
      3. If the left to right or the front to back difference is more than 3/8 inch see what you can do to even it out. There may be a bent lift rod, or there may be something stuck in the lift mechanism.
      4. Remove the discharge chute and rotate the blade to the opening. Inspect it for knicks, dents, gouges and warping. If the blade is chewed up, replace it. (I always have at least one extra blade around so if I find a “surprise” in the yard, I can make the repair right away.)
      5. Measure the blade from the sharp edge to the ground. Rotate the blade 180 degrees (to the other edge) and measure again. The measurements should be within 1/8 of and inch (replace the blade if the measurements are more than 1/4 inch)
      6. If the blade looks good, get under the deck and clean it, sometimes grass build-up can cause weird air-flows that give you a poor cut.
      7. While you are under the deck look at the blade again. Each end should look the same. If one is twisted more than the other, replace it.

      Let us know what you found.

  11. I absolutely love my Craftsman 30″ model 25000 lawn tractor; that is when it works. When the first tractor arrived, it worked well. The next time I tried to use it, it wouldn’t start. Since it was going to be quicker to get a new one in exchange quicker that a tech could could be scheduled to repair it, I opted for a new replacement. Used the second one successfully twice. When I went out to mow just before leaving town, it would not start. Turn the key, and not a sound. Both safety switches were engaged and proper starting procedures were being followed.I love the mower, but do I risk a repair, ask for a third new tractor, or get a refund and go another direction? There are not many 30″ tractors in this price range. The 28″ snappers are at least $300 more and do not come with an electric start. Any suggestions?

    • @Mike T, The 28 inch craftsman 28034 is the same as the Snapper. Read my review on the right.

      The mulch cover safety switch on the 25000 is giving everyone problems. The mounting hole on the mulch cover is not large enough and the switch doesn’t engage. Most homeowners are using a small block of wood between the mulch cover and the switch to keep it engaged.

      If you do this I’ll bet your mower will start and run fine.

      Sears is working on a fix, but in the meantime this will keep you running.

      This is the ONLY problem people are having with the 25000.

  12. Pingback: Weedeater 190cc 26 in Riding Lawn Mower Review - TodaysMower.com | TodaysMower.com

  13. Paul – I’ve had a chance to use my mower a couple times now. Overall I like it a lot, it handles great and it’s a comfortable ride and I especially like that it fits in my garage. I have been using the Mulch plug and it works fine. However, compared to my neighbor’s 42″ twin-blade (craftsman LT1000, the lowest model) it’s not quite as clean of a cut, and the 42″ would spread the mulch a little bit better. Also, this 30″ mower’s tires are thinner, and thus tend to leave a little more “track” on my lawn than the thicker tires of the 42″ tractor. But again, this is a minor complaint, the 30″ really does just fine, it’s just not the best. This 30″ has no anti-scalp wheels, but it doesn’t need them. The 42″ I used didn’t have the wheels either and I scalped many spots, but not so with this 30″. Finally, the mower has plenty of power to lug my fat butt around and up and down the ditch in my yard with no hesitation. My research indicates it’s probably around 15hp. I should have plenty of juice to pull a leaf-sweeper in the fall. All in all I’m happy with this purchase and it should be good for years to come.

    • @Ed K, I mow my bluegrass/fescue lawn at 3.5 to 3.75 inches and because of that my mulcher works very well. My wife like to mow the dog yard at 2 inches and a mulcher doesn’t work at all. It leaves clumps and a mess all over the place.

  14. How can I modify the 25000 to get it to mow in reverse? I am electrician and I can do it with the right wiring diagram. I have NEVER seen this before, my last Craftsman could mow in reverse. These laws are ridiculous.

    • @Jack, Yes these laws are ridiculous and so are the seat belt laws, requiring air bags in pickups, helmet laws, toe guards on push mowers, helmets on a construction site, speed limits in residential neighborhoods, food safety inspections at restaurants and electrical codes for new buildings.

      What’s next? Requiring that every new car have a backup camera and proximity sensors……or every table saw made in the future have the SawStop safety feature built in.

      You would think every person who owns a mower would have enough common sense to turn around and look before they back up. Unfortunately that’s why there are these laws. People don’t have the experience to know they should look before mowing in reverse and run over their dog, cat, kids, spouse, etc….

      Unfortunately ALL of the current lawn tractors and zero turn mowers manufactured by MTD for Sears, Troy-Bilt, Yardman, and Yard Machines are built not to mow in reverse. About the only mowers MTD makes that will mow in reverse are the cub Cadet steering wheel zero-turns and the 2000 series tractors.

      Now for the bad news…..the only wiring diagrams for MTD lawn tractors are those given to the manufacture of the wiring harness so they can build the harness.

      • Thanks for your prompt reply. When I bought it the other day I noticed they had some Husqvarna’s that mow in reverse. So I did some research and discovered it is not illegal to modify it. This mower is very simple, all I have to do is electrically fool the system and it’s just a matter of finding the correct switch and voila, I can now mow in reverse. I have no kids or pets to worry about anyway and I had two small kids with my old mower and used to mow in reverse all the time. It’s getting out of hand, they even have irons that have warnings not to iron clothes while wearing them. Thanks for your great reviews on this mower. I made the right decision as I have a smaller yard than my last one and this one looks sweet with an 18″ turning radius.

        • @Jack, I’m glad you like it! Myself, I really like the steering on this rider. It is so easy to turn. It’s a very simple mower and I expect it too last well for you.

    • Jack – I think there’s a liability risk by telling you exactly how to do it. That being said, it’s VERY EASY to disable. Takes 5 seconds once you see it, requires no cuts. Just look at all the wires around the levers – you’ll figure it out.

  15. Paul Thank you for the review of this product. I went into the local sears a couple days ago to check this unit out after reading your review. I was very surprised to hear the “salesman” do everything he could to talk me out of buying this unit. He said he had sold one to somebody a few days prior and the customer brought it back the next day saying it was horrible. He told me he vowed at that point not to sell it to anybody else.

    I have a completely flat hard with only a couple minor dips. It is a bit over 1/3 an acre. This seems like it would be perfect for me. I currently use a craftsman riding mower from around 1985 and it still works like a charm. It was a hand me down from my parents and they never bought the bagger. I am mainly buying a new mower so that I can have a bagger and get my lawn mowing done a lot faster and easier. I want to buy a mower that will last me another 30 years without major issues. I am also a larger guy, 6’5″ 210, do you think that my height and weight will make this mower break down faster over time? I don’t plan on hauling anything with it other than myself and the clippings. I can buy this mower with the bagger for $1000 right now which seems like a great deal.

    Thanks for any advice and help with making this purchase decision. Also, do you know what the rules are about bringing it back (and the bagger) if I do buy it and decide that it doesn’t work well enough for me?

    PS Here is a pic of my current mower :-)

    • @Nick, I don’t know why the salesman thought it was horrible. So far everyone has been happy with this machine. But, you are plenty tall for this rider and you may feel cramped on it (weight is not an issue) I feel the mower is the right size for your yard as long as you are comfortable on it.

      FYI: I find it’s not the mower, or the customer. The salesman failed to ask the right questions and didn’t correctly match the mower, yard and customer. Too many people only look at the price instead of determining the best mower for them and then looking for the best sale price on THAT mower.

      Take a look at these two tractors before you make your final decision.

      Model 28881. This is the exact replacement for you old Craftsman. 42 inch deck and the rest of the tractor is the same dimensions as your old one. It’s $1049 until 4 am.

      Model 28851.The 28851 is a longer tractor and it has a lot more room for your height. It’s $1304 until 4 am. This is one of the best value tractors on the market right mow. It has a great motor, turn tight steering, hydrostatic transmission and a really nice seat.

  16. Hi Paul,Anxiously awaiting your review on the Craftsman 25000. It’s now available in Wisconsin. Have heard you cannot mow in reverse?! Does the provided mulch blade do a good job? What about the grass catcher performance? What is your opinion on which extended warranty is the best value? Thanks. Bill

    • @bill, Please read the first 6 comments at the end of this article. I wrote and update there and a few of the new owners have told us about their new 25000. The general opinion is: it mows and bags well. The mulch plug is still not ready (May 15th now) but it should be fine with that big 30 inch blade.

      • Paul,

        I received my mulch plug. It was ordered a few weeks ago and came in last week. I picked it up at my local sears (Near Pittsburgh). It took me 30 seconds to take the chute off and install the mulch plug. I have cut my yard twice since then and the results are terrific. Plenty of power and the blade does a wonderful job with mulching.

  17. Paul,

    Sears delivered my tractor a few weeks ago. I have cut once and am very happy so far. (The statement here about the reverse switch was removed because of liability concerns) The only thing I am a little unhappy with is that with the blade setting in position one, I think it cuts a little too close. In position two, it seems much higher (too high for my liking). Any suggestions on how I could find something in between? Maybe a couple washers on the blade bolt so I can cut in position two but the blade will be a little lower to the grass?

    One other comment….My mulch plug is scheduled to arrive at my local Sears on Thursday. When connecting the plug to the blade deck, would I take the current shoot off (and leave it off) or would I connect the mulch plug undder the shoot and leave the shoot on?

    • @Tim, On this mower you remove the discharge chute and replace it with the mulch cover.

      Go to searspartsdirect.com. Type in 247.25000 and select “search by model” The parts diagram for your mower will come up.

      Select the Lift diagram and look at part #17. The right end has a nut so you may be able to put some washers there.

      The other spot I see to make some mods is the lever #18. You may be able to remove that lever, and bend it a little in a vice or you may be able to drill a new hole in part #1 where that lever connects. The lever looks like it is attached to to #1 with self-tapping screws.

  18. I am planning to purchase this riding mower, however I would like to see your test review before I make a decision. When do you plan to complete your test.

    Thank you

    • @Bob, I apologize. Spring has sprung up here so I am out in my yard, I have a sick dog and my part-time job is giving me way to many hours this week. Here is what I wrote to EdK April 19th.

      I really like the steering on the 25000. The rack and pinion style is very quick and effortless. It is as easy to drive as the Craftsman Premium with power steering.
      Personally I don’t like the shuttle shift under the seat. You have to reach down between your legs to go from forward to reverse. I will caution if you can’t tie your shoes sitting on a chair be sure to sit on the demo at a Sears store and try the shifter before you buy the rider. I wish the shift was up alongside the seat. That’s the only complaint I have.
      The speed and power are just right. The larger motor on the Craftsman will make all the difference for mulching.
      Consumer Reports did not give the Troy-Bilt their best rating for cut. The Troy-Bilt has the same deck as the Craftsman. But they have never given a single blade 30 in deck a high rating (they like a 42 inch twin blade deck) I didn’t see a problem with the cut. It was even and the deck lifted the grass well and cut it evenly.
      Compared to my $2400 30 inch Dixon, the Craftsman is a great buy!

      Feel free to ask as many questions as you need to feel confident about buying this mower.

  19. Paul, I ordered this mower Tuesday (with the additional 3 year warranty) but won’t get it until May 3rd. Maybe that’s an indication that they are selling a lot of these. I’m anxious to start using it. I prefer the 30″, single blade, mowers for my half acre and have owned 30″ mowers before and got very little scalping. You eased my mind concerning the engine being made by the 4th largest manufacturer, can you say who? I’m looking forward to reading your full evaluation after you test drive next week. Thanks for all of the info you’ve provided.

  20. Paul- I just received this mower this week and I have not gotten the chance to try it out on my lawn or hook up the bagger, but it runs great and turns very well. My only concern at the time is that all the pictures of this on the Sears website show a black possibly rubber cup holder insert and the actual holder is just a large opening that I think a drink will fall out of while mowing the grass. Do you know if there was suppose to be a insert for this?

    • @James, I see the rubber insert on the picture on Sears.com. But I don’t remember seeing an insert on the display model I saw at my Sears store. I am going there tomorrow and I’ll look closely.

      The manual and parts list do not show an insert. Here is the manual. http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/owner_manuals/138982/CRAFTSMAN-Lawn-Riding-Mower-Rear-Engine-1203041L?brand_name_search=247.25000

      Give me a couple of days, If it looks like you got an early production model that is supposed to have the insert, but there is none available, you and I will talk to Sears service to get you the newer fender (hood) that has the correct cup holder.

      • @James, You do have the production model of the mower and it does not have the insert. The picture on Sears.com was of a pre-production model. Sears has now changed the picture to show the actual model you will get.

        It would be nice if these mowers all came with an adjustable cupholder like many cars have. Just about all of them won’t hold most “cups” (Snapper has the best) I also agree that the cup holder on the 25000 is little more than a decoration and should be deeper.

        My suggestion is find a container that will fit the holder and then….. don’t lose the container :)

        • I hear what you say but I just can’t get over the fact that the mold of the cup holder has a plastic notch inside it that is clearly for an insert. Is there anyone I could contact?

          • @James, I don’t have any contacts at MTD.

            To keep the price of that machine under the rest of the tractors I can understand why the rubber insert went away in the final production model. I have stared at that notch and the only explanation I can think of is that will keep a pop bottle from falling out of the holder. That makes sense to me because if I had something riding with me it would have a screw on lid and the best solution would be a 1 liter Pepsi, Coke or Water bottle.

  21. I have heard that it is hard to change the oil on the sears craftsman 30 inch model 25000 riding mower. What are your comments. Thanks

    • @Bob, I would be interested to hear where you heard that changing the oil was hard.

      Here is a copy of the manual. http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/lis_pdf/OWNM/1203041L.pdf The oil change procedure is on page 22.

      It looks no harder than my Dixon. The drain is at the bottom of the dipstick tube. Use an open end wrench to loosen the drain plug, attach the drain sleeve and then remove the drain plug.

      With most tractors MTD (the company that makes this mower) gives you a plastic hose that you attach to the oil drain. This time they are giving you a plastic sleeve. I like this drain sleeve and looks easy enough to use.

      Of course it’s not as easy to use as the drain system on the YT series Craftsman tractors. It is a little more difficult than the plastic drain pipes on the Kohlers, but it is similar to most of the other drains.

      Myself, I would probably go to the hardware store and get a pipe, thread tape, and a pipe cap so I don’t have to use the drain sleeve. I had to do that on the Dixon when I got it new.

    • I’ve had it for a month now. Nothing happens when i turn the key. the repair man is coming in two more weeks to look at it. the 3352 MULCH plug is still NOT AVAILABLE!

      • @ron, this year is going to drive all the manufactures nuts because spring is earlier than usual. I don’t expect the plug to be available until mid-May.

        A few owners have been having problems with the mower not starting and ALL of them have found that the nuts holding the discharge chute or mulch plug are loose. There is a safety switch on the chute and if the mounting nuts or bolts are not tight, your mower won’t start.

        I recommend you remove the chute, clean around the mount and then reinstall it.

      • Paul, You were 100% correct! It was the grass chute not tightened correctly, so the inactivated button would not allow it to be cranked. After adjusting the grass chute, making sure the button was depressed, it worked perfect! thanks

        • @Ron, You are welcome. I just got a copy of Consumer Reports and they had the same problem with the Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider.

  22. Paul, I have ordered this mower, but did not come across your site until afterwards. Now I have one slight doubt. My yard is a half acre. The front yard is totally flat, but the backyard is slightly sloped. No rolling hills, but definitely a bit of a slope. I weigh about 140 pounds and will generally be the one doing the mowing with the mulch plug in place. Any wisdom would be much appreciated. Assuming I go ahead with the purchase, do you recommend the extended warranty? What is the approximate cost of that?


    • Susan, At this time I am very confident in this mower. I think you will be quite satisfied with that mower. Just in case…you have 30 days to return it.

      The 5-Year In-Home Repair Protection Agreement is $389.99 ($6.49/month)* After you get your mower take your receipt into your sears and buy it from the store. If it is a mall store go into the lawn and garden dept and look for an associate in a blue shirt.

      Have them tie the Protection Agreement to the mower. (a manager has to call corporate during the day and do this.)

      • Hi!
        This is so informative I actually just bought this mower. One question, will I be able to attach my small garden cart to the back of the mower? It doesn’t weight much and doesn’t need to hold much but is there some
        Kind of hitch I can attatacg the cart to the back of the mower?

        • @Dillon, The model I saw had a hitch on the back. I am going to assume yours will have a hitch too! If yours does not come with a hitch let me know and I will show you how to make and install one.

  23. Hey Paul Came across this website by chance Very informative,Thank You. My question is with the 30in. 420cc model.Because it is a smaller tractor built for smaller flat yards (which I Have) are there any weight restrictions for riding this machine (6’2″ 250lbs).Do you know when in April you’ll be posting a review? Really nawing at the bit get this one but want to wait to hear what your results are Thanks again

    • @Rod, I won’t get to mow with it until April 17. I have spent some time with the display model at my local store so I can give you my impressions now.

      The trans is heavy enough to handle you, (it’s the standard 7 speed manual MTD trans) but you may feel a cramped for how tall you are. You can adjust the steering column up and down.

      The motor and frame are strong enough to handle your weight.

      I really like the steering on this mower. The rack and pinion is better than all the other small mowers. It’s quick and easy.

      The only issue I have with your size is, don’t expect it to pull a load of dirt or rocks in a trailer. While the trans is strong enough you will tear out the drive belt. I suggest keeping the total weight you pull to around 400 lbs or less (you and the load)

      There will be a mulch cover available later this year.

      • Thanks Paul One question:can you confirm weather or not this unit can have a bagger attachment and would you reccomend this unit over the Troy-Bilt 30in neighborhood rider( which is pretty much the same unit)and why. I quess that was more than one question Thanks Again

        • @Rod, Yes it has a bagger and a mulch plug. I added the links for them at the bottom of the article just this morning. The mower is available now but the bagger and plug may be backordered for a few weeks yet.

          The Craftsman has a bigger motor and in my opinion a better optional protection plan. Why? The Sears plan covers fuel related issues, they come right to your home, and it includes wear and tear items the other extended warranties don’t cover. (If you buy a Troy-Bilt through my links I actually make more money than the Craftsman, but I like the Craftsman better. I don’t make a commission on protection plans so my opinion is not biased.) Sears also has more ways to get an issue resolved than the other retailers if you ever do have a problem.

      • Paul- how did the test drive go??? I’m dying here for the updated review!!! (even though I already ordered one, it doesn’t arrive until May)
        Also, in case it’s not mentioned anywhere here, you can get the mulch kit from troy-bilt right now if you don’t want to wait for Sears to get it in stock. Part num 19A30012OEM.

        • @Ed K, I really like the steering on the 25000. The rack and pinion style is very quick and effortless. It is as easy to drive as the Craftsman Premium with power steering.

          Personally I don’t like the shuttle shift under the seat. You have to reach down between your legs to go from forward to reverse. I will caution if you can’t tie your shoes sitting on a chair sit on the demo at the store and try the shifter before you buy the rider. I wish the shift was up alongside the seat. That’s the only complaint I have.

          The speed and power are just right. The larger motor on the Craftsman will make all the difference for mulching.

          Consumer Reports did not give the Troy-Bilt their best rating for cut. The Troy-Bilt has the same deck as the Craftsman. But they have never given a single blade 30 in deck a high rating (they like a 42 inch twin blade deck) I didn’t see a problem with the cut. It was even and the deck lifted the grass well and cut it evenly.

          Compared to my $2400 30 inch Dixon, the Craftsman is a great buy!

    • OK Paul The 17th has come and gone and we are all chewing at the bit to read about your test drive of the unit and to get the real deal on what you think about it. How’d it go?

      • @Rod, Sorry, I spent 13 hours yesterday on mowers. Even for me that’s enough.

        The 25000 is a specialty mower designed for small lawns. It will not give you as good of cut as a YT3000 42 in Craftsman, but the ability to get through gates and other small areas makes up for a slightly less quality cut. The large 30 inch blade does not appear to have as much “lift” as the 42 inch deck. It is shorter than most tractors so it will follow the ground contours well.

        It has a 6 speed manual shuttle shift that works well. Ergonomically, the forward/reverse lever is between your legs under the seat. If you have problems sitting on a chair and tying your shoes this shift location may give you problems.

        The steering is awesome! Even sitting still on asphalt the steering was extremely easy. The turning radius is a lot better than the Snapper RER, last years 30 inch and the Craftsman 28034!

        This mower has a safety switch for the chute. To start this mower you must have a discharge chute, mulch plug or bagger chute attached. On about half of the original shipment of mowers the discharge chute was not tightened and when you got the mower home it would not start. If you get one of these all you have to do is make sure that nut is tightened and it will start and run well.

        I have no issues recommending this mower to anyone. I observed 5 ft 2 inch and 6’5″ people driving it and everyone liked the way it drive.

        Don’t buy this mower because of the price, buy it because you need a small mower.

        • hey Paul Dont quite understand what you mean by “lift” or lack there of with this unit.Will it cut evenly at 4″ on a small yard. and also does it cut in reverse? It sounds as though you give it your endorsement. Is that a full one or are there some other things that come to mind; now that you’ve had a day to think it over. I’m ready to order it,unless you tell me to stay clear. Thanks for your helpful insight.

          • @Rod, Lift is the ability of the mower to straighten out the grass (or lift it) and cut it evenly. Decks like the 42 and 46 inch YT series Craftsman’s have have exceptional lift because of the way they are designed.

            A 30 inch deck will not have as good of lift. It will mow fine for most of the lawns out there, but if your grass is weak and spindly compared to a well maintained bluegrass/fescue lawn you would see the difference between a 30 inch and one of the YT decks.

            I also mow my lawn at 4 inches. Parts are very thick and other parts are really weak.

            Would I buy one? Yes, I would buy one to replace my 30 inch Dixon.

            No, it will not mow in reverse. As of today, I can’t find a mower under $1300 that will.

            • Paul,
              Thanks for the updated review. Did it appear to have enough power for mowing and power to pull a small cart? Is 11.5HP the maker’s conversion from the 420cc? Did you have a chance to mulch or bag? Do you think it can adequately handle both? Do you need a special blade for bagging or mulching to get lift? And finally, I see Sears isn’t allowing orders for the mulch plug…out of stock, will the Troy Bilt mulch plug and other parts fit the 25000?

              • @Larry: Awesome, these are all the same questions I was hoping the review would cover after the test ride! You even covered the mulch plug question, because I had seen elsewhere on the net the TB version and product number (but have since forgotten where I saw the link – was ~$20, if I recall).

              • @Larry, The mulch plug will be available in mid-May from Sears. According to the factory rep one blade will work for mulching, bagging and side discharge. At this time there will be no optional blades. They still have to make it, so the Troy-Bilt plug may not be ready either.

                The Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider and Craftsman 25000 are mechanically the same with the Craftsman having a bigger motor. I know the repairs will be easily available through Sears Services and parts through searpartsdirect.com. That’s one thing that Sears does better than anyone else. You can easily get parts for your 15-20 year old mower. The manual is up at managemyhome.com (search 247.25000) and parts are up at searspartsdirect.com including the Troy-Bilt Version. (Model #13A226JD099 – Mtd Riding mower)

                It has the same trans as the 28883 so yes, it will handle a small cart. Of course, I have to remind you that if you pull heavy loads like dirt, you will have to replace your drive belt more often than if you just mow with it.

                They didn’t have the bagger at the demo, but the rep assured me it would bag ok. As a reference point, I have a 10 HP Briggs L-head on my 30 inch Dixon and it has plenty of power for bagging.

                Get used to the fact that the engine manufactures will be getting away from HP ratings. MTD no longer rates any of their motors in HP. That said the motor in the Craftsman has more cc’s than the motor in the Troy-Bilt and Craftsman is saying it has more power than the motor in the Troy-Bilt. That is one advantage the Craftsman has over the Troy-Bilt.

                • Well to answer the question about the bagger I just mowed my grass here in Illinois yesterday with my bagger attached and it works great! The unit has 2 bins that when full fill up one of those brown paper yard waste bags. The best part is if you need a smaller storage space as I do, you just simply detach the bagging unit by unscrewing one wing nut and lift up.

                    • I think the cut is just as good as my neighbors who has a lawn service come out, but I am no expert. Yes this lawnmower does scalp your lawn if you have the deck too low on uneven ground I found that out when I accidently lowered the deck. I cut my grass at 4 inches so even with a not so flat yard The cut is even without scalp marks. I would suggest buyers do as I did and start off on a higher deck setting and work your way down as they see fit. I am happy with my purchase thus far!

  24. I just bought this last night and it will be delivered on Friday. I was torn between this one and the Snapper knock off. One thing you should be aware of is that it does not mulch. My needs are small, slightly less than 1/4 acre flat contiguous regular grass (no brush). While the other one is all steel and proven for years, frankly, what made the difference for me was the ease of reaching and operating all controls from the saddle. I also purchased the optional 3 year parts & service maintenance plan which covers everything short of bending the shaft. Like most engines these days I’m sure if I keep the oil changed and use Seafoam/Stabil to keep the carb clean I’m sure it’ll be fine. Unseasonable warmth and sunshine here in the Chicago area so I’ll let you know how it does this weekend.

    • @Scott, I have a 28 inch Craftsman and a 30 inch Dixon. I need to replace the Dixon and I’m also seriously looking at this mower myself. Buying the 3 year protection plan is a great choice because of everything it covers that the other retailers don’t.

      Yes, Sea Foam is my choice and I also recommend the blue Stabil because it takes care of water problems in Ethanol fuel like the Sea Foam.

      Let us know how you like it!

      • I’m sorry to say I won’t be writing a review of this mower. I ordered it at my local Sears store in Joliet, Illinois, paid $1,358.72 total ($899.99 for mower, $309.99 for years extended warranty and maintence plan, $69.99 delivery and $78.75 tax ((it’s Illinois)))
        The mower was suppposed to be delivered and set up on Friday the 23rd of March. Friday morning I called the shipping line and the automated system told me I had a delivery for that day but I wanted to get an ball park window. So i got an operator on the line (in India)who then proceeds to tell me that it won’t be delivered until the 30th. I was miffed so I called again and now the automated line is telling me the 30th. Now I’m P.O.’ed so I call the local store. The guy I get there tells me that, yes, it won’t be delivered until the 30th. While I’m on the phone with him I pull up Sears website on my computer and Sears website says that it’s available for delivery by the 28th! I tell the guy this and he says “oh that just means they’ll get it at the warehouse on the 28th, you won’t get it until the 30th.” WHAT??? So I kind of unloaded on the guy. Then I told him to cancel the delivery AND the order and refund my card. He said okay. Then he proceeded to cancel my order and refund my card. He didn’t even try to save the sale. Frankly, if this is the kind of customer service I get on the purchase, what’s going to happen when I need a service call? Forget it. your experience may differ but I’m just not going to deal with an outfit that treats it’s customers this way.
        As an aside, I was told when I made the ourchase that I was the first one to buy this model at the Joliet store. How in the hell could there not even be one at the warehouse? I’m going to look into the Troy-Bilt TB30 R Neighborhood Rider which seems to be comparable.

        • @Scott, The Troy-Bilt is the same machine with a smaller motor.

          I’m originally from Morris so I know your store well. Did you talk to a kid or an older associate?

          I’m not going to make excuses for Sears. I do know they are not the only one this year who will be having problems with supply. Ariens was telling Rural Lifestyle Dealer Mag that some of their southern dealers have sold their year’s supply of mowers in less than a week.

          You are welcome to go to mysears.com. Go to the lawn tractor section and tell them your buying experience. Sears (and all the other stores) need to hear when they screw up.

          I can understand why you may have bought the first one. The display was only delivered into the midwest stores in the last 6 days. MTD has been making tractors since January but no one anticipated this early of spring (last year I got 14 inches of snow this week) Normally the spring buying fever doesn’t get going til mid April.

          This is a new mower. Sears is not quite sure how well they will sell, where they will sell, so getting them into the right stores to have them in stock is going to take a little time. Personally I am seeing a lot of interest and I’ll bet they will sell out of them by May 1st!

          Up here my local store only get’s one load a week, so if the mower doesn’t get to the warehouse on time, it won’t get on the semi, and it will be a week late. At least it sounds like the Joliet store gets their fright more than once a week.

          • I do understand supply problems due to unusual circumstances like unseasonably warm weather. And does it really make any difference whether I get it on the 23rd or the 30th? Heck no. Even if they had waited to call me until the 23rd to tell me it would be the 30th I would have been a little put out having taken the day off work to be present for delivery, but hey, sometimes you can’t have everything right now and your way. What ended it for me was that none of the 3 customer service people I spoke to cared, even to point of not caring that I wanted to cancel a major purchase like this. Like I said earlier, if they are this bad on the delivery what will happen with a servoce call? Will I be out of a mower for 6 weeks until they get to me? I have also heard from others with similar Sears customer service complaints. I’m disappointed because Sears didn’t used to be this way. I’m not going so far as to tell people to stay away, I just won’t do business with them anymore. As I said earlier, it was only a weeks delay. No big deal. It was the bad customer service. I will probably go with a product I can buy from a brick and mortar dealer. Thanks Paul.

        • @Scott: There’s a 4 week delay in VA. Hope 4 weeks don’t go by then they move it back another 4 weeks!

          • @AH, It’s great for Sears that this is turning out to be such a popular mower. It is also making Sears (and all the other retailers) scramble because of the early spring in most areas. But it can be frustrating when you want your new mower!!!

            Sears has been very good at once they set the date, sticking to it. The only thing is their system shows the item to the Distribution center….If your store only gets a truck once a week, there may be an additional 5 to 7 day delay to get the product to you.

    • Paul,

      I have about two acres of flat mountain land to be mowed. Right now, the grass is high (over 12″) from last season, because I didn’t get my last mowing in before the snow. Will this mower handle that? Also, I have the normal indentations that come with the terrain. Will it be shaken to death by those? If the answer to either of these is in the negative, do you have a recommendation? I have to pay around $200 to have a pro do my mowing; so I would like to have my own that is easy to care for, and, ideally, be able to go through several gates into yards in the front. I can do those with a hand-held weed-eater, but it surely would be nice to do them sitting down!

      • @Joe, with everything working right, it will take you 3 to 4 hours to mow your yard with that mower. 2 acres is a lot of mowing for that small of deck.

        To mow that tall of grass you will have to mow it 2 or 3 times. It will knock it down and mow some on the first pass. Then go over it again in the reverse direction. On the last pass mow it 90 degrees to the first 2 passes. So you are looking at 10 hours or so to get it mowed the first time.

        I would recommend looking at the Craftsman 42 inch 21 hp and rebuilding your gates if you really wanted to mow those areas.

  25. I own a Weed Eater One and want to make sure that this one steers better, also, does this one cut in reverse? I need this size because of my 36″ fence gate.

    • @Barbara, I understand. The Wee-One and the Smartrider last year were very hard to steer. I expect this one to steer better because that has been a big complaint, but I won’t get a chance to test drive one of these for another 3 weeks so I’ll let you know then.

    • @Barbara, I had a chance to play with this mower today. The steering is VERY easy. It’s not quite a quick at your Smartrider, but it is a lot easier. I like this mower. It has plenty of plastic (for $1000 what do you expect) but it has less plastic than your Smartrider. It’s balanced well (the engine is tucked under the seat in front of the rear axle)

      • I have been considering one of these but not sure about this engine since it is not a B&S or Kohler, I believe it is an Asian model. Is this a very proven engine? Thanks for your input.

        • @ Tom, The engine is made by the same company that makes the lawn mower and snow blower engines for MTD, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yardman, and Yard Machines. Other than the normal problems of using ethanol fuel and not taking care of your engine, there have been no problems with these motors for the last 3 years.

          Are they any good? The manufacture is the 4th largest engine maker in the world. If you watch a movie, look at a picture or video that shows life in the far east…..most of the motorcycles that you see are made by that company. No it’s not made in the USA but it made to the standards you expect from Craftsman.

          Can you get parts? Searspartsdirect carries parts for all the snow blowers so I will guess that this motor will have ALL the parts available there very soon.

          • Paul, thanks for the info. I wondered about this since Sears offers 2 year Full warranty and lengthy front axle warranty on a lot of the other mowers and this model has a 2 year limited warranty, which made the quality of the engine seem a bit suspicious. I appreciate the help.

            • And, Paul, I am also considering the 28″ Craftsman 12.5 HP mower. Are these two models reasonably comparable?
              Thanks again for your help.

              • @Tom, No they are not comparable. The 28 inch is the same “Snapper” that has been around for years. 100% metal, pivoting frame, etc. You can get the legendary “ninja” mulching blade for it and a rear bagger. It uses a disk drive transmission….the same transmission that has been in this mower for the last 40 years. You can store on it’s end and tip it up to work on the deck. It does not turn as short as the new 30 inch. It is worth the extra money if you want longevity.

                The 30 inch has a lot of plastic. Fenders, footboards, back end, etc. It does have the same shift-on-the-go trans that the LT1500 and is very dependable. The one thing I don’t like just because I have a hard time bending over, the shifter is between your legs. It’s a $1000 mower…what can I say.

      • Paul – I really want to like this mower, but I am concerned about the power (especially since they choose not to specify the HP) – you guessed 11.5 but that seems low – do you think it mulch ok? Will I be able to pull a lawn sweeper in the fall for the leaves??? It has the usual attachment hole. My lawn is very flat so no concerns there, but the leaf sweeper load can get heavy. I know this is a new mower, I guess I’m looking for best estimates!

        • @Ed, I have a Dixon zero-turn with only a 10 hp L-head Briggs and it has plenty of power so I am not concerned. The OHV (overhead valve designs) tend to have more power than the old L-head for the cc’s.

          I am also not concerned about the trans. There are literally millions of them in use and is the trans of choice for the National Lawn Mower Racing Assoc. You may have to replace the drive belt more often pulling a sweeper than just mowing, but that would be my only concern.

          If you really want it, but have concerns…buy the protection plan. It costs about $8 a month and if anything breaks or wears out Sears will replace it at your home. About the only items not covered are tuneups and blades.

  26. Pingback: 2012 Troy-Bilt 30 in, 11.5 hp, Shift-On-The-Go Riding Mower Review - TodaysMower.com | TodaysMower.com

  27. Pingback: NEW Craftsman 30 in SMART RIDER Riding Lawn Mower Model 28001 Review | TodaysMower.com

  28. Pingback: Weedeater SmartCut, Poulan Pro PB 30, Craftsman Smart Rider Problem? - TodaysMower.com | TodaysMower.com