2012 Craftsman 46 in 21 hp YT 3000 Model 28852 Yard Tractor Review

My Opinion: This is the 46 inch version Craftsman’s most popular riding mower. It continues to be the best value riding mower on the market today. Compared to all the other brands this yard tractor has more of the features you want.  It has a better motor than other lawn tractor brands, a hydrostatic transmission, a great cutting deck, plenty of available attachments and the industry leading Craftsman Turn Tight 6 inch turning radius. It will handle all of the non-ground engaging attachments Sears sells.  This is Craftsman’s best value Yard Tractor. With Craftsman continuing the Turf War this year it will be the best value single cylinder yard tractor. This tractor has not changed for 2013.

By Paul Sikkema. Find Paul on 

This lawn tractor review covers the Model 28852, 46 inch version of the Craftsman Yard Tractor. There are seven other models in the series:

42 in 21 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28851,
42 in 21 hp Gear Drive Platinum Briggs Model 25022,
46 in 22 hp Kohler Plus Model 28853,  This review covers all the features!
42 in 24 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28856,
46 in 24 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28857,
54 in 26 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28858,
54 in 26 hp Kohler Model 28008.
The 42 in 24 hp Gear Drive Model 28925 is discontinued for 2013.

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / Husqvarna
Model/Series: Yard Tractor YT 3000
Item Number:  28852 (49 State) 28853 (with 22hp Kohler Motor) 28862  (CA Version)
Buy Here:  Craftsman 46 In. 21hp Briggs & Stratton Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA 20 x 8 x 8 in.
Street Price: Less than $1499.99 

Get A Deal On This Craftsman Lawn Tractor |Buyer’s Pick Bundle Deals For 2013

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy)  This is Craftsman’s Best Quality. The 28885 is less quality.  The Premium Craftsman’s are better.

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Yard Tractor. See attachments at the end of this article.
Compare it to: John Deere D105 17.5 HP Single Cylinder Automatic 42-in Riding Lawn Mower $1499.00 at Lowes, Cub Cadet 42 in. 19 HP Kohler Courage Front-Engine Automatic Riding Mower $1499.00


Craftsman 46 in 21 hp Hydro

Fender Control Trans
Hydrostatic Trans
Step-through Platform
6 inch Turning Radius

Single Cylinder Engine

Retail Price: $1899.99  Check The Best Sale Price Here:   Craftsman 46 In. 21hp Briggs & Stratton Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA 20 x 8 x 8 in.

My Review:

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 the 42 in version.  This makes it easier to get closer to landscape beds, fences and buildings without the tires making a mess.

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.  Independent review companies continue to rate this deck as one of the best for how well it cuts. It has an oil pump, pressurized B&S motor, with yellow oil filter.  It has four anti-scalp wheels so it will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping the turf. Sears says you can put a snow blower on it, but I don’t recommend it. Why? I prefer the 24 hp twin in the 28856 so you have plenty of power. This tractor continues to get the best reviews from the review organizations for value, cut, and dependability.  Sears has the best service and they come right to your home if your ever have a problem with your tractor.

This tractor comes in three versions.  The 28852 (49 State) and 28862  (CA Version) have Briggs & Stratton motors.  The 28853 (with 22hp Kohler Motor) has a 22hp Kohler motor for those of you who like the Kohler brand over the B&S. Just use a link on this page and search the model number when you get to sear.com

This lawn tractor will mow in reverse.

People who buy this yard tractor want a dependable mower with a dependable motor.  They want the step-through design, a nice seat all at a good price.  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.

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this review.  If you have specific questions leave a comment below and myself or the readers will be glad to answer them.  This is a great tractor and if you want a tractor to last this should be at the top of your list.

Comfort – Ease of Use:  Deluxe high-back seat, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.  This Yard Tractor is very comfortable to operate and drive. .

Power For Mowing:  This tractor has plenty of power for side discharge mowing every week.  It mulches and bags well.

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.

Handling – Traction/Steering:  This tractor has average traction and handling and is similar to all the other lawn tractors from the other retailers.

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  This tractor gets high marks by owners for mowing, mulching and bagging.

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, Tightest turning radius in the U.S.

Will Mow In Reverse? Yes

Manufacturer: Husqvarana
Brand: Craftsman
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
Battery: DieHard
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated One Lever
Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.5 U.S. gal. 
Transmission: hydrostatic 
Transmission Control:  Direction/speed – foot control with dash mounted cruise control
Cruise Control: Yes
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
Hourmeter: No
Tool Tray: NA

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: Yes
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

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 46 in.
Blades: 2, 46 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


Wheelbase: ?-in. 
Overall Length: ?-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) ?-in. 
Height: ?-in. 
Weight: 513 lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 3 and 5 year optional protection plan

Craftsman 46 In. 21hp Briggs & Stratton Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA 20 x 8 x 8 in.

  1. Purchased a 21.0 HP, 46: mower, model# 917.288525 in July 2013. The Fan Pull Kit (part# 72294) keeps melting. This is the fan pulley on top of the transmission. Called sears parts dept. and first replacement cost 65.10 and 2nd replacement cost 80.35. Why does this keep melting? Could it be because they use plastic parts. The 2nd part is supposed to be metal and hopefully this will correct the problem and the tractor won’t catch on fire or anything. Basically I am putting this out here to let anyone who has this tractor know about the problem we are having.

    • Hi Kathleen, Please replace the belt from the transmission to the engine when you install the new fan. There is something rubbing back there. Either the belt is frayed (you may not be able to see it by just looking at it) or something is rubbing on the fan. When you replace the fan, take your time. Remove the battery and battery box. Look for anything rubbing and move the problem out of the way.

  2. @Dick, I too have not had any luck with the “6 inch” turn radius, no matter the speed, mine will go no more than 2.5 feet. Did you ever find a fix for this? Also,

    @ Paul, I purchased my mower last Sept. and mowed with it for the fall, then used it to blow snow through the winter. Now that spring is here, I have noticed that the “cruise control” on the right will not maintain its position/speed, unless I am physically holding it forward. Also, the reverse seems to have lost its speed and power. In fact if I am trying to back up any sort of incline at all, it won’t do it. I have already replaced the drive belt, and is there some other trick I don’t know about? Could this be a transmission issue?

    Thanks for your help

    • @Matt, It could be something as simple as an adjustment in the linkage but normally these never need an adjustment.

      I suggest calling 1-800-4MY-Home and have a tech look at it. If you don’t have the Protection Plan Sears Repair will ask for a trip charge up front and reimburse you that back when the tech sees it is a defect. Have him look at the steering while he is there.

  3. Dick Lemont, IL I got a new Yt3000 Tractor with the Briggs engine 46″ deck. I have a problem with the tight turn the front wheels are toed out way to far, I have a 4 foot diameter tree in my yard that I can’t even cut around. the front wheels turn sideways and digs into the soil causing the the rear tires to loose traction even at low speeds. The system does not work and the worst part is that the manual says the alignment cannot be adjusted. Does anyone have any ideas?

    • @Dick, Call 1-800-4MY-HOME and get a service tech out to repair your mower. If you don’t have the Protection Plan they may ask for $100 or so up front. That fee will be reimbursed when the tech determines it is a factory defect.

  4. Pingback: 2012-2013 Craftsman 42 in 21 hp YT 3000 Gear Drive Model 25022 Yard Tractor Review - TodaysMower.com

  5. Pingback: 2012-2013 Craftsman 42 in 24 hp YT 4000 Hydro Model 28856 Yard Tractor Review - TodaysMower.com

  6. Paul,

    Do you know why the 28853 is so scarce? Has Sears discontinued this model or is it so popular that it sold out? The only ones I’ve seen for sale are reconditioned models at Sears Outlet stores. I’ve read some really scathing comments about the Kohler Courage engine in other forums, and this was the only mower in the YT3000 line that used this engine. I am wondering if Sears will replace it with another model, remove it from the line, or continue making it.

    St. Louis, MO

    • @Mark, I let the cat out of the bag yesterday. Craftsman is completely upgrading their entire line of riders, tractors and zero-turn for 2014. I wrote the warning shot yesterday. http://todaysmower.com/2013/craftsman-lawn-tractors-garden-tractors-riding-mowers-now-clearance/

      At this point all the info on the new line is under lock and key in a safe, in the back corner of the basement at the Hoffman Estates Sears/Craftsman Headquarters. They have a “secret” that they don’t want getting out for fear that other manufactures will copy it.

      I can tell you that they have been asking questions and listening intently to the current Craftsman owners, owners of other brands, sales associates and focus groups for the last two years. The changes will be positive.

      There is a 90% chance there will be a Kohler in the same price/size category as the 28853.

      I can’t wait.

  7. Paul,
    I bought this tractor, in part, because of your review. Now that winter is coming, I am preparing for throwing snow off the driveway. How well does this handle the blower in reality. I know they are compatible, but will it really handle it, and perform well? Will belts break, will there be enough power, or will the engine bog down? I would like to know before spending the $1400 on it, instead of $800 on a walk behind.


    • @Matt, The 21 hp has plenty of power. It doesn’t break belts very often unless the snow is really wet and heavy. I still recommend having an extra belt and shear pins on hand at all times.

      Some reasons you may not want a tractor mounted snow thrower.
      1. You have a lot of sidewalks. The tractor mounted is 42 inches wide, most sidewalks are 36 inches or less.
      2. You have steep drive
      3. You don’t have a lot of room to store a tractor mounted unit. It’s over 8 ft long.
      4. You get heavy wet snow. There are a lot of videos on youtube showing the craftsman blowing snow, but it does go through belts if the snow is very wet.
      5. You needs weights and chains. Chains scratch your cement drive and leave brown rust marks.
      6. In my opinion if your driveway is smaller than 16 by 120 I always suggest a walk behind over a tractor mounted. On that size drive the only time I agree a tractor mounted may be for you is if you have a hard time walking.
      7. If you clean a spot in the backyard for your dogs a tractor mounted will tear up your lawn.

      How I size walk-behinds (based on about 30 minutes to clean)

      Less than 16 X 80. 24 inch
      Less than 16 X 100. 26 inch
      Less than 24 X 150. 28 inch
      Less than 24 X 200. 30 inch

      -10 percent grade or more on drive. Track drive
      -Steps, ramps, up and over berms, large areas of turf to clean. Ariens track drive with auto turn steering.
      -Lots of ice or car packed snow. Track drive
      -Snow Belt, Ariens Deluxe or possibly the new Cub Cadet 3X
      -Snow Belt, large driveways, Craftsman 88397, Cub Cadet 933 or Ariens Pro

      Of course, please go to MovingSnow.com and I’ll help you find the best walk behind snow blower for you.

  8. Paul,
    I am trying to decide between two 46″ craftsman mowers. We now have an old green Craftsman that has served us well, but is truly on it’s last leg. We have one acre, fairly flat with a moderate slope on one side, not a lot of complicated landscaping. I am torn between the 21hp Briggs & Stratton 28852 or the 22hp Kohler 28853. I know there is a small difference in price, but can you give me your opinion which would be the better choice, especially when it comes to performance and reliability? Thanks!

  9. Thanks for the advice Paul and the quick response. I appreciate that you will look into this for me. I looked over the wiring and didn’t see any obvious unused wires. I was shocked that there is no latch for the hood. Any recommendations on adding one?


    • @Wetlands08, None of the lawn tractors have latches. The higher priced ones like the Simplicity has rubber bumpers that the hoods sit down on otherwise they all just rattle around. Myself, I would use some weatherstripping instead of a latch.

  10. First of all, thank you thank you thank you!!! This site is awesome!! I just bought 5/2013 a yt3000 28852. Great mower, thinking of ordering the mulching kit. I’m disappointed with the lack of an hour meter. Can I order the hour meter for another model and hook it up? I notice the cut out for the meter.


    • @Wetland, Craftsman changed the wiring harness for 2013 so I will look the next time I visit my local Sears. I don’t take much stock in hour meters because most of them record when the key is on, not when the engine is running. I suggest you figure how long it takes to mow your lawn and do the weekly yard work then multiply that by the weeks you mow each year to determine when to change the oil and filters. For example if you want to change the oil every 50 hours and it take you 2.5 hours every week to mow your lawn and you live in Chicago. 2.5 times 26 is 65 hours. So if you change the oil this spring, you should change your oil again in Sept.

  11. Pingback: 2013 Craftsman 46 in 22 hp Kohler YT 3000 Model 28853 Yard Tractor Review - TodaysMower.com

  12. Just bought the 46″ started mowing and noticed a bad smell, drove onto driveway and fluid was running out from under the transmission. From bolt holes and gasket.

    I called Sears and they said bring it back….. Mowed like 10 minutes this is frustrating.

    I took pictures and collected dripping from what appears to be the transmission…

    Hopefully the next one will be OK. Will try one more before I give up.

    • @Ken, I’ll bet the next one will be just fine. Engines and transmission are sub-assemblies in the complete process of making a new tractor. The engine come from one factory that has it’s own quality control, the transmissions another and they are used on a third assembly line. The assembler (in this case Husqvarna) relies on them to do their jobs. In most case these sub assemblies have their own quality control specs.

      Sears has a good repair system when this happens. If the tractor fails right out of the box, they exchange it for another. A Sears repair tech then comes out to the store and replaces the bad part. The tractor is then sold as a Clearnace tractor.

  13. Pingback: 2012 Craftsman 42 in 21hp Turn Tight Hydro Yard Tractor Review - TodaysMower.com

  14. Pingback: 2012-2013 Craftsman YT 4500 54 in 26 hp Hydro Yard Tractor Model 28858 Review - TodaysMower.com

  15. Paul,

    I bought the 28852 mostly on your recommendation last August. So far so good. Thanks. Question: I have 3 acres to cut and mulch (leaves in the Fall). Does a bagger make sense? When doesn’t a bagger make sense? I had to rake grass clippings once in a while last year (when I let it get too high) and had to rake a lot of leaves. Not sure about a bagger being a great help though…I suppose for larger lawns it can be a pain when you’re emptying it out all the time. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  16. Paul,

    I just purchased a 28862 B&S (not my first choice, but I’m cursed by California regulations. The price was right, though, less than $1300 on sale). I’ll be needing to reverse frequently. Is there any non-safety downside to just leaving the key in the reverse operation position for normal operation? Thanks, and thanks for a very informative site.

    • @Jim,

      No you won’t hurt the tractor leaving the switch in that position. It just bypasses the switch on the transmission that keeps you from mowing in reverse

  17. Hey Paul, Thanks in advance for answering my question.I am thinking about purchasing a craftsmant YT3000.I have a 1/4 acre, mostly flat yard with one tree and some shrub and flower landscaping.I am questioning the difference between the two engines.(Kohler vs. Briggs and Stratton)Is one better suited for my situation or just better in general.Any info you can give me is greatly appreciated. Again thank you in advance for answering my question

    • @Rodney, Its really a Ford/Chevy thing. In other words, do you like Ford or Chevy best?

      The Briggs Platinum is one of Briggs & Stratton’s best motors. They claim 25% longer life over the standard Intek motor. These motors feature a full lube oil system, meaning it has an oil pump like your car that pumps oil right to key points within your engine. There are 10’s of thousands of these motors out there working strong everyday.

      The Courage is Kohler’s best homeowner motor. It also has full pressure lube. I personally have used these motors over 1500 hours (about 25 years on your yard) without a wimper. I feel they have just a little more torque (lugging power) than the Briggs, but not enough for you to notice on a normal lawn.

      Either one is fine. If you pick the Kohler you will probably have to wait a week for your new mower.

  18. Hi Paul,

    Thanks so much for such an informative site. It makes me so much more confident making such an expensive purchase. I have a question: my old mower was a Husqvarna with a 42″ deck. The bagging attachment looks identical. Do you think I can use that attachment with this mower/46″ deck?

    • @Mac, Yes you can use your old bagger BUT the lower chute is different. The discharge hole in the 46 inch deck is larger. You can order the new chute through Searspartsdirect.com for around $45. Look over in the right hand column of this page and find the 10% off coupon for searspartsdirect.

      • Thanks for the quick response Paul. I’m ordering the entire bagger simply because I can’t find a part number for the lower chute anywhere. I’ve found “A” lower chute, but nothing that tells me that it would fit the 46″ deck. A talk with a Sears representative had him asking me the model # of the lawnmower, which is different than the one on the website and also not the model number I would need anyway, as it is a bagger part, not a mower part. Thanks again!

        • @Mac, You are welcome. Don’t forget you can get an extra $50 off your bagger when you order it with the tractor online.

  19. Paul, I am looking to purchase this tractor NEW. you are only one of a few that give it such a rave review.
    the comments submitted on the sears sites i have seen complain about vibration and noise, not being as good as the competition. Did you experience the same issues from your test?
    Any thoughts?

    Link to Craftsman.com that had the bad reviews.


    • @Tuttle, Yes, I read the reviews on Craftsman.com. I could not determine from the reviews if they were complaining about the engine or the deck vibrating too much.

      Here is what I know:

      There are at least 50,000 of these mowers out mowing lawns and I have run across about 20-30 owners with vibration problems. Most of these problems were from the initial assembly of the mower deck. If you are unlucky enough to get one that vibrates just call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a tech comes right out and fixes or replaces the deck. ALL of the vibration problems relating to assembly have been with the 46 inch deck. I have read no complaints about the 42 inch deck.

      Some users complain about the vibration of the engine. This is a 540cc single cylinder engine and it does have more vibration than the 740 cc 24 hp v-twin. That piston is huge compared to a 12.5 hp motor and even with a counter-balancer in it the motor will have a “thump” If this is a concern buy the Model 28857 which has the 24 hp v-twin. (The one reviewer on Craftsman.com who ended up buying an Ariens bought the 22 hp V-twin)

      Some users complain about the engine noise. I agree. If the new owner had a 12 or 14 hp briggs in their old mower this engine noise is different. That big piston slapping away seems to produce a different and more irritating noise than a V-Twin. It is louder? No, it’s just a different sound. Again I prefer the noise of a Model 28857 V-Twin myself.

      Is it as good as the competition? This is an easy question to answer. IF YOU LOOK AT ALL THE TRACTORS IN THIS PRICE RANGE THE CRAFTSMAN HAS MORE FEATURES THAN ANY OF IT’S COMPETITION! In other words, if you look at the tractors in the $1200 to $1600 price range the Craftsman has a better turning radius, a better motor, and a better and easier to adjust seat. ConsumerReports rates the 46 inch deck the same as the Cub Cadet and Ariens (Deere does not have a 46 inch deck)

      Finally, remember the HD Ariens is essentially a 2008-2009 Craftsman and for the same money does not have the turn-tight steering and Platinum series Briggs Motors.

  20. Paul,

    I have the opportunity to buy a 2009 54 inch with the 26 HP Kohler for $1000. It has only one season of mowing on it on a flat yard, but is out of warranty. It is a neighbors. Do you have any thoughts on this mower versus getting a new 2012 42 inch tight turn 21 HP? Thanks again.

    • @Mike, if it is a YT4500 that’s half the price of a new one. If it is a GT5000 gear drive they go for $2500. The GT6000 goes for $2999.

      Sounds like a great deal.

      • It is a YT4500. I got the chance to mow with it today. Runs great. I am fearful because it doesn’t have a warranty. But seems like a good deal.

        • @Mike, The only complaint I have heard on the YT4500 is it won’t mow at 4 inches (about 3.5 is the highest) Otherwise, the tractor has no issues that I can remember. Some of the engines develop a head gasket leak, but that always happens in the 1st 50 hours. After that they run forever.

  21. Paul,

    Great site, very informative. You rate the 46 inch Craftsman YT3000 a full star better than the 42 inch. Is this just because of the deck protruding out to the wheels? Or are there other reasons? Thanks!

    • @Mike, Yes, that’s the only reason I rate it better. I feel the 46 is easier to trim with than the 42. Everything else about the two tractors are identical.