My Opinion: The Yard Tractor Series is Craftsman’s most popular Lawn Tractors. This one, the YT3000 Model 28851, features a 42 inch deck and a 21 hp Briggs & Stratton Platinum motor. This is my favorite mower with a 42 inch deck and will work well for a yard up to 1 1/2 acres. For the features it offers compared to all the other brands it continues to be the best value riding mower on the market and Craftsman’s best value Yard Tractor. It is one of the best 42 inch tactors under $1400. It has a motor that has an expected life 25% longer than the motor on other comparable lawn tractors, a hydrostatic transmission, a great cutting deck, plenty of available attachments and the industry leading Craftsman Turn Tight 6 inch turning radius. It is also priced $100 to $500 less than the competing tractors.
By Paul Sikkema. Find Paul on Google+
I suggest you use this article on the Craftsman Yard Tractor Series as your basis for comparing all the other lawn tractors on the market. After you are finished reading this review you may decide this tractor isn’t the right one but I know you will be able to make the right decision for you and your lawn. This is my longest review to date. I apologize to you if you are reading this on your phone. It’s over 4000 words. Settle in to a comfortable spot and enjoy! When you are done you will know more about lawn tractors than most dealer sales associates.
This lawn tractor review covers the Model 28851, 21 HP, 42 inch version of the Craftsman Yard Tractor with Turn Tight. There are seven other models in the series:
42 in Gear Drive 21 hp Platinum Briggs Model 25022, YT3000 Series
46 in Hydrostatic 21 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28852, YT3000 Series
46 in Hydrostatic 22 hp Kohler Plus Model 28853, YT3000 Series This review covers all the features!
42 in Hydrostatic 24 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28856, YT4000 Series
46 in Hydrostatic 24 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28857, YT4000 Series
54 in Hydrostatic 26 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28858, YT4500 Series
54 in Hydrostatic 26 hp Kohler Model 28008. YT4500 Series
The 42 in 24 hp Gear Drive Model 28925 YT4000 Series is discontinued for 2013.
Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / Husqvarna
Model/Series: Yard Tractor YT 3000
Item Number: 28851 (49 State) NA (CA Version)
Where To Buy: Buy Online, Pickup At Your Local Sears or have it delivered to your home:
Buy Here: Craftsman 42 In. 21Hp Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Turn Tight Yard Tractor Non CA Deluxe high back
Street Price: Less than $1449.99 Check the Special Offers tab to get the best price and exclusive discounts.
Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy) This is Craftsman’s Best Quality. The Craftsman LT2500 is less quality. The Craftsman Garden Tractor better. This is a direct replacement (upgrade) to your old green Craftsman Lawn Tractor. If you liked your old Craftsman, you will love this one!
Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Yard Tractor. (More features than a lawn tractor, less pulling power than a garden tractor)
Compare it to: John Deere D120 42 in. 21 HP Front-Engine Hydrostatic Riding Mower at 1799, Ariens does not have a 42 inch hydro, Cub Cadet Model # LTX 1042KH 42 in. 22 HP Kohler Courage Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower at $1799
Fender Control Trans
Hydrostatic Foot Control Trans
6 inch Turning Radius Easy to maneuver.
Disperses clippings evenly in side-discharge mode.
Mulches well, fine clippings with little or no clumps.
Fills bagger to capacity.
Includes a washout port.
Includes cruise control.
Includes comfortable high-back seat.
21 hp Platinum Full Pressure Briggs & Stratton Engine
Deck is a wide as front wheels!
There are other lawn tractors that work better on steep hills (Husqvarna YT42XLS at $2499 and Simplicity Conquest at $5499)
Retail Price: $1809.99. Usually on sale for over 20% off! Check The Best Sale Price Here: Craftsman 42 In. 21Hp Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Turn Tight Yard Tractor Non CA Deluxe high back
You know I have been doing this blog for a while now and I have spent hundreds of hours researching, testing, reading reviews, analyzing and listening to you about residential lawn tractors. I know that most of you want to spend less than $2000 on a lawn tractor that will mow, mulch, or bag your yard well, do other yard tasks and last you a long, long time. This yard tractor gives you the all of those features plus a great Briggs & Stratton Premium engine all for less than $1500!
This is the best replacement to your old green or silver Craftsman Lawn Tractor. Go here to read about all of the improvement Craftsman has made just for you! 12 Reasons Why Craftsman Lawn Tractors Are Better Today,
I know zero-turn mowers are the hot topic today but for most of us residential zero-turns are not the best choice. They are too light and don’t work on slopes. They are too expensive for what you get. The Craftsman Yard Tractor Series with Turn Tight continues to be the best choice.
The Craftsman Turn Tight 6 inch turning radius on the YT Series allows you to quickly get your lawn done without the pitfalls of using a zero-turn mower. No learning curve to operate it. No divots or scuff marks in your lawn. No worries about mowing the septic mound or slopes. No extra cost for two transmissions. It will pull stuff. The Craftsman Yard Tractors have the tightest turning radius in the industry and it works well. It is the best value riding mower on the market today for most of us. Compared to all the other brands this yard tractor has more of the features you want at a lower price than the competition. It has a better motor than other lawn tractors in this price range, a hydrostatic transmission, a great cutting deck, and plenty of available attachments. It will handle all of the non-ground engaging attachments Sears, Lowes and TheHome Depot sells. With Craftsman continuing the “Turf Wars” this year it will be the best value yard tractor. This tractor has no changes for 2013.
I am not going to TELL you this is the best tractor. But for many of you reading this article it is the best lawn tractor for you. This tractor continues to be the best value tractor on the market for your average size suburban yard! This is a great lawn tractor with an excellent cutting deck. It has an oil port B&S motor, with yellow oil filter. It has only four anti-scalp wheels so it will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping the turf. This tractor continues to get the best reviews from the review organizations for value, cut, and dependability. Sears has the best service and repair network. They come right to your home if your ever have a problem with your tractor. You never have to bring your tractor anywhere or arrange for a pickup to have it serviced.
This lawn tractor will mow in reverse.
If you have a lot of landscape beds and yard stuff to trim around this is the best single cylinder lawn tractor. The 46 inch deck sticks out the side of the tractor a little bit farther than a 42 in mower. This makes it easier to get closer to landscape beds, fences and buildings without the tires making a mess. The Turn-Tight steering allows you to trim as well as a zero-turn.
Owner Reviews: Of the current reviews listed on Sears.com and Craftsman.com only 6 are actually for this tractor. The other reviews are misplaced and for other tractors. Of those six, 2 are for problems in 2011 that have now been fixed (a deck pulley was installed wrong at the factory) One review is of a problem the twin cylinder Kohlers are known for (this engine is a single cylinder) and one owner states he can’t mow in reverse (the lawn tractor mows in reverse with a simple turn of the ignition key)
Deck: It’s all about the deck and how it mows for most of us.
There is always a discussion about fabricated/welded decks and stamped decks over on the tractor forums. The reality is welded decks take more abuse, stamped decks cut better.Welded decks will take more abuse if you are the type to go around and bang your mower into trees, buildings, rocks and other obstructions. If you are mowing fields and properties where you never know what type of metal debris, rocks and other junk you may find a welded deck is the best choice. Welded decks need special, expensive baffles to mulch well. These kits can cost over $150. To install these “mulch kits” you have to remove the deck and bolt the kit into the deck. To switch back you need to again remove the deck and take the kit off. Most welded decks have poorer airflow and require you to buy a separate blower to use a bagger ($500-750)
The Craftsman 42 and 46 inch decks on the YT Series are stamped decks. These decks are engineered to mow well. Because these decks have channels and other stiffeners built into the design making these decks lighter but still as strong as a welded deck. The Craftsman decks have better corrosion resistance than the decks of the past. The powered coated finish resists scratches and rust-through so prevalent with decks 20 years ago. This process has been used for the last 12 years or so. I have seen 10 year old decks that have never been cleaned on top and underneath with no rust of flaking of the powdercoat.
Aluminum Spindles. This deck uses cast aluminum vented spindles with sealed bearings. There is no maintenance or lubrication needed and most last the life of the mower.
I have read some reviews where owners complain that they have had to replace the spindles multiple times on their lawn tractor. (Not just this deck, but other brands as well.) Spindles fail for only two reasons, operator abuse and improper maintenance. Lawn tractor decks are designed to mow lawns. They are not designed to mow fields, cut down brush, hit rocks, stumps, concrete, kids toys, water shut-off valves and other debris. If you hit something and you break a spindle be glad it broke. Replacing a $50 spindle is cheap compared to bending the $400 deck housing and having to replace that. You can also break spindles by not balancing your blades when you resharpen them. If one end of the blade is shorter than the other or it is bent out of factory specs the blade will vibrate and eventually wreck the spindle. If you hit something or if you sharpen the blades and the mower has more vibration than it did before, stop and find out what is wrong. If you don’t know how to properly sharpen blades always replace them with new.
This tractor gets high marks by owners for mowing, mulching and bagging.This lawn tractor will mow in reverse.
The Craftsman 42 inch Precision Cut Mowing System on the YT 3000 side discharges very well and regularly gets great reviews for evenness of cut. The wide discharge chutes spread the clippings evenly and doesn’t leave windrows and clumps like some decks. One of the key features of this deck is the vented spindles. The top of the spindles has slots that let air into the deck. This creates a powerful vacuum effect that lifts the grass and allows the blades to cut your lawn evenly. The blades are offset just right so there are no uncut strips when you make a turn.
These decks have four anti-scalp wheels so it will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping a rough lawn. These wheels allow the deck to ride over tree roots. These wheels do not set the height of the deck. They are just used to protect the deck from obstructions and your turf. The height of the deck is set with a spring assisted lever on the left fender. There is a little red tab that you can adjust to remind yourself where to set the cut height you prefer.
The Craftsman 42 deck on the YT Series is designed to mulch well with a simple $12 “plug” that snaps into the discharge hole. (See the picture with the mulch plug installed) This deck will mulch without special mulching blades. With the mulch plug installed you can raise the discharge chute out of the way for closer trimming on the right-hand side of the mower. For the purest’s there are optional mulching and premium mulching blades that enhance the mulching for extra thick lawns and for owners who want an extremely fine mulch. The other review organizations like Consumer Reports all verify that this deck mulches well.
Because the Craftsman 42 inch deck on the YT 3000 has such good airflow for side discharge mowing, it also bags well. The available 2 and 3 bin baggers are specifically designed to collect all the clippings and fill completely. They have “soft” sided bags that reduce the dust and debris around your neck and back.
What deck size do I need? Besides how large of a lawn you have to mow consider the gates, doors and strips between your landscape beds. The 42 and 46 inch decks on the YT 3000 and YT 4000 will fit into a standard size pickup bed. The 54 inch deck on the YT4500 requires a trailer with at least a 60 inch wide bed. With the discharge chute lifted up the Craftsman 42 inch Precision Cut Deck requires 45 inches of clearance. With the chute down, 50 inches. The Craftsman 46 inch Precision Cut Deck requires 47.5 inches of clearance. With the chute down, 54 inches. The Craftsman 54 inch Precision Cut Deck requires 57 inches of clearance. With the chute down, 61 inches.
I have hills and use tire chains: Tire chains will not fit on a tractor with a 46 inch 2-blade deck installed. This includes the Craftsman YT3000, YT4000, Husqvarna, Poulan Pro and Ariens. I have not checked the MTD built lawn tractors. John Deere does not have a 46 inch deck.
Engine: People who buy this yard tractor want a dependable mower with a dependable motor.
Note: This Briggs & Stratton Platinum motor compares to the Kohler Courage Plus. It is better than Briggs & Stratton Gold, Silver, Intek and IC engines found in most lawn tractors.
Longer Life Engines: The Platinum Series Engine in the YT 3000 and YT 4000 Yard Tractors is a significant improvement over the engine in the 1990′s Lawn Tractors. Briggs & Stratton has made over 80 improvements to this engine ranging from efficient Overhead Valve Design to a better oil drain system that uses no tools and doesn’t get used engine oil all over the frame.
Better Fuel Economy: Today’s engine offer better fuel economy over the 1990′s version. They are also designed to run on todays fuels that seem to have more additives than gasoline.
Full Pressure Lube: The Platinum engine has an oil pump and actually pumps oil to the critical engine components. The lubrication system in this engine works like the system in your car. These engines will run on slopes that used to kill the old side-valve, splash lubricated engines. In addition, a long-life filter removes contaminants from the oil and provides less wear on the engine. This engine uses the same yellow filter found on the Briggs & Stratton Professional Series.
More Efficient Air Cleaners: The air cleaners on the Platinum Series are significantly better than the old paper or foam filters on your old Craftsman. Cleaner air into the engine means less wear and longer life. Advanced Debris Management System proactively deflects dirt and debris from the engine, and any remaining debris is trapped in the high-capacity, dual-sealing air cleaner cartridge.
MRS Spark Plug: Most Reliable Starting (MRS) spark plug delivers optimized performance and extended service life
It’s all about the details: Sears does two things to this motor that really sets it apart from the competition. First they use the high quality yellow Briggs Filter. This gives you the best oil filtration and this engine is designed to make the best use of the filter. Second, is the oil drain. The Craftsman exclusive no-drip drain tube is the easiest to use. Just unclip it from the engine, tilt it down to your bucket and unscrew the cap. No drips on your frame no cleaning, no oily film that collects dirt and debris on your tractor!
This article was first published at TodaysMower.com
These Craftsman tractors are assembled at the factory in Orangeburg, S.C. Like all mechanical devices I suggest you take some time and completely go over the machine when new and understand it’s operation. Read the manual completely. After you use your new mower for an hour or so I suggest you look at all the fasteners and check to be sure they are tight. Especially check the bolts that hold the transmission to the frame and the engine-to-frame bolts. Here is an article showing you the most critical bolts to check. 8 Bolts On Your Lawn Tractor You Need To Check Now I recommend this for all new lawn tractors but I especially recommend it on tractors made by Ariens, Husqvarna, Poulan, Cub Cadet, John Deere and Craftsman.
Hydrostatic Transmission – Simple to use, ideal for most terrain.
Hydrostatic transmissions are ideal for any type of terrain. The transmission in this mower is sized for it and has a proven to be a very reliable part of the tractor. This transmission never needs maintenance. Just clean the dirt and leaves off the aluminum case every few months. All of the components that make it run are completely enclosed in a sealed aluminum case. This transmissions is sized to the YT 3000 and 21 hp motor. It will give you long life for mowing, snow removal and yard work. Like most transmissions in lawn tractors it does not have posi-traction or differential lock for steep hills (greater than 15%). The Husqvarna YT46LS is the least expensive lawn tractor with a locking differential.
The pedal on the left side of the tractor is the parking brake. You do not need to depress that pedal to shift the tractor. The forward, reverse speed and braking is controlled one lever on the right side fender. To go forward move the lever forward. To stop pull the lever back to the middle position. (The parking brake pedal can also be used to stop the tractor.) To back the tractor pull the lever back. Because of the way a hydrostatic transmission operates the braking is part of the operation. When you move the lever towards the middle (neutral) the transmission brakes your travel automatically. You only need to use the left hand pedal to park the mower or to leave it stopped on a hill.
To take this a little farther. Lawn tractors with a hydrostatic transmission will not coast down a hill. The pedal on the left side of the tractor is not a clutch and is not a “feathering” brake like the one in your car. When you press on the left pedal you release the power to the transmission which locks the trans. In addition it sets a parking brake either on or inside the transmission. In other words, you can only go down a hill as fast as the transmission will let you and you can’t coast to a stop. This tractor will not “runaway” down the hill like the old tractors with a manual trans.
Comfort – If you are going to mow, you might as well be comfortable.
Start with the seat: When comparing this lawn tractor to others sit on the seat and ask yourself these questions.
Sit on the seat and envision yourself sitting there for 2 or more hours. Is it comfortable? Does it give you good back and lumbar support? Does it have side supports to help you stay in the seat on slopes and when mowing rough spots? The seat should be easily adjustable if you have more than one person using your lawn tractor. When you sit on the seat, is it level? Some tractors have heavy springs under the seat for “suspension” and it feels like you are constantly sliding forward.
The seat on the YT 3000 sits level, has a nice high back, good lumbar and side support and slides back and forth easily. There is plenty of seat adjustment so any operator from 5 ft 1 inch to 6 ft 4 in can easily operate this lawn tractor.
The Steering Wheel: Does the steering wheel have a rough texture so it is easy to grip? Smooth steering wheels cause your hands to sweat in hot weather. When it’s cold out and you are wearing gloves smooth steering wheels are very hard to use. Your hands keep slipping all over the place. The steering wheel on the YT is textured so your hands won’t get sweaty and your gloves won’t slide around.
Sloping Hood: Some big box stores are still using hoods from 10 years ago on their 2013 tractors. They are tall and boxy and you have to look around them to see in front of the tractor. I know this is a minor issue but if you are used to a sloping hood and then use one with the old box style you’ll realize how cumbersome the old hoods are when trimming and getting close to objects.
Getting On And Off: Ease of Use: The first thing potential buyers notice when they sit on the YT3000 is how easy it is to get on and off. Craftsman has designed this mower with a lot of space between the seat and the steering console to make it as easy as possible to get on and off this tractor.
Deluxe high-back seat, easy to use operator controls, good field of view. This Yard Tractor is very comfortable to operate and drive.
Reliability – What do I do if it breaks?
This tractor is serviced by Sears. Sears service techs come to your home to repair your lawn tractor. You never have to take it anywhere. There have been no issues with the build quality of the Craftsman Model 28851.
People who buy this yard tractor know what they are buying and this is just what they want. That is why you will find so many good reviews on Sears.com. This is a great tractor with a great cutting deck and may just be the best value for you and your suburban lawn.
Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by Sears. There have been very few issues with the build quality. One thing to know – Sears takes the tractor out of the shipping crate but they do not “setup” the tractor. (John Deere dealers are the only retailer who does) You have to put gas in it, and run it for the first time. If there is an assembly problem you call 1-800-469-4663 and a service tech comes out to your home and fixes the issue. The store where you picked it up from or the delivery team does not repair the tractor. If you buy another brand make sure you understand the repair policy if you have a problem. Many of the other brands make you take the mower to an “authorized service center”
Handling – Traction/Steering: This tractor has average traction and is similar to all the other lawn tractors from the other retailers. This tractor has better steering than all the other lawn tractors under $4000. I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes.
Mow – Mulch- Bag: This tractor gets high marks by owners for mowing, mulching and bagging. But, be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a commercial lawn mower. It mows perfectly at 3-4 MPH but don’t expect it to mow as fast as the tractor will go (5.5MPH) and give you the same results. With this tractor/deck you set the height of cut using a lever on the tractor fender.
Specifications, Features, Benefits
The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.
Type: Yard Tractor
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): 1.4 acres at 4 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? Yes, Moderate slopes
Excels in mowing around obstacles? Yes
Will Mow In Reverse? Yes
Engine Power: 21 hp*
Displacement: 540 cc.
Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton
Cylinders: Single, cast-iron liners
Type: OHV, oil filter, Pressurized with automotive style oil pump
Charging System: 15 amp regulated
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated One Lever
Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.5 U.S. gal.
Transmission Control: Direction/speed – fender lever
Cruise Control: NA Fender Lever stays in position.
Forward Speed: 0-5.5 mph
Reverse Speed: 0-2.5 mph
Chassis: 11 ga.
Front Tires: 15x6x6
Rear Tires: 20x8x8
Front Axle: Cast Iron, lifetime warranty on axle
Hood Material: Steel
Tool Tray: NA
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: Yes, Under hood
Deck washout port: Yes
12-volt outlet: No
Steering: Type 2-wheel steer
Turning Radius: 6 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: ? in.
Spindle Bushings: Metal, replaceable
Seat Back Height: Deluxe high back
Fore-aft Adjustment: 6 in. while seated
Seat Suspension: Two coil springs
Deck Lift System: Spring assist, Fender
Mower Cut Height: 1.5 in. to 4 in., 6 position
Cut Height Increments: ? in.
Preset Cut Height: No
PTO clutch: Manual
Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 42 in.
Blades: 42 in.
Mower Deck Material: 13 ga.
Mower Wheel Adjustment: Yes
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, Manual PTO
Mower Attachment: 3 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No
Weight: 505 lb with mower, no fuel
U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 3 and 5 year optional protection plan
Where To Buy: Buy Online, Pickup At Your Local Sears or have it delivered to your home:
Buy Here: Craftsman 42 In. 21Hp Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Turn Tight Yard Tractor Non CA Deluxe high back
Craftsman YT 3000 21 hp - 42 in deck
Have owned/used this machine for over a year (into 2nd season). Overall, a pretty good machine with good power for mowing & towing. I think the turning radius is good but overrated. Handles slopes very well and mows reasonably well, sometimes requires 1/2 overlap to get clean cut (have mulching kit on) in one pass. Since we seldom mow when wet, the deck stays very clean on the inside. Maintenance is easy to perform.
Cons for me are centered around the mulching system. We installed the mulch plate having to remove the wing for side discharge for storage purposes. Since the mulch plate is only a bunge cord attachment, clippings blow up through a gap between the plate and mower deck. These clipping often end up blowing into your face depending on grass moisture and wind/travel direction. In addition, huge volumes of clippings collect on top of the mower deck under the tractor and are difficult to remove.
Response: @FoolBr1, There are a lot of trade-offs between a mower that cuts/bags well and one that mulches well. If a deck cuts/bags well is usually makes a poor mulcher. In this case your deck has a lot of vents that let the air in and help the blades lift the grass to cut it. When you side-discharge or bag all this air goes out the chute.
When you block the discharge with a mulch plug, all that air still has to go somewhere.....and it does blowing grass out from the right front of the deck. This causes all that grass build up on the deck. Blocking the airflow also does not the deck to lift the grass well and that is why you sometimes have to overlap.
A deck that is designed to mulch (has internal baffles installed under the deck) is just the opposite..it mulches well but does not bag well.