My Opinion: The Yard Tractor Series is Craftsman’s most popular Lawn Tractors. This one, the YT3000 Model 28853, features a 46 inch deck and a Kohler motor. This is my favorite mower for a yard up to 1 1/2 acres.
This is my longest review to date. I apologize to you if you are reading this on your phone. Settle in to a comfortable spot and enjoy! When you are done you will know more about lawn tractors than most dealer sales associates.
I am not going to TELL you this is the best tractor. But for over half of you reading this article it is the best lawn tractor for you.
This Yard Tractor has more features than Lawn Tractors for about the same price. This review will explain the differences. After you are finished reading this review you may decide this tractor isn’t the right one.
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.
by: Paul Sikkema
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 Kohler Courage engine!
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 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 The Home 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.
This lawn tractor review covers the Model 28853, 46 inch 22 hp Kohler 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 21 hp Platinum Briggs Model 28852,
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: 28853
Buy Here: Craftsman 46″ 22hp Kohler Powered Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA
Street Price: About $1679.99
Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy) This is Craftsman’s Best Quality. The Model 28885, 28915 lawn tractors have fewer features. There is currently no better quality. (The GT6000 Garden tractor is bigger)
Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Yard Tractor.
Attachments: It will handle all of the non-ground engaging attachments Sears, Lowes and The Home Depot sells including a snow thrower.
Compare it to: Husqvarna YTH18K46 $1839.99, Cub Cadet LTX 1046 $2099, and John Deere D150 $2299
Craftsman 28853 46 in 22 hp Hydro
Hydrostatic Foot Control Trans
Kohler Courage Motor
6 inch Turning Radius Easy to maneuver.
Disperses clippings evenly in side-discharge mode.
Mulches well, fine clippings with little or no clumps.
Filled its bag to capacity.
Includes a washout port.
Includes cruise control.
Includes comfortable high-back seat.
With the deck attached you will not be able to use chains on the rear tires
There are other lawn tractors that work better on steep hills (Husqvarna YT42XLS at $2499 and Simplicity Conquest at $5499)
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.
This tractor continues to be the best value tractor on the market for your average size (1/2 to 2 acre) suburban yard! This is a great lawn tractor with an excellent cutting deck. It has an oil pump, pressurized Kohler engine with a performance oil filtration package. It has four anti-scalp wheels so it will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping the turf. The wheels allow the deck to ride over tree roots. This tractor continues to get the best reviews from the independent review organizations for value, cut, and dependability. With Sears service you never have to haul your tractor anywhere to have it fixed. They have over 10,000 mobile techs nationwide that will come right to your home if your ever have a problem with your tractor.
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.
Craftsman, It’s all about the Deck
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 these decks are 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 and I have seen 10 year old decks that have never been cleaned on top and underneath with no rust.
Aluminum Spindles. This deck uses cast aluminum 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 and 46 inch Precision Cut Mowing System on the YT Series 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 like some decks. One of the key features of this deck is the vented spindles. The top of the deck 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 is 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 the turf. The 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 deck lift located on the left fender is spring assisted so it is very easy to use. There is a little red tab that you can adjust to remind yourself where to set the cut height you prefer.
The Craftsman 42 and 46 inch decks on the YT Series are designed to mulch well with a simple $12 “plug” that snaps into the discharge hole. (See the picture with the mulch plug installed) They 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. The other review organizations like Consumer Reports all verify that these decks mulch well.
Because the Craftsman 42 and 46 inch decks on the YT Series have such good airflow for side discharge mowing, they also bag 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 will fit into a standard size pickup bed. The 54 inch deck 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.
The Kohler Courage Plus engine has a greater displacement giving you more torque than similar engines from other brands to get the job done. The Craftsman Exclusive Courage Plus PRO Performance oil filtration package offers 33% more protection between oil changes.
Note: This motor compares to the Briggs & Stratton Platinum 21 hp engine in the other Yard Series tractors. It is better than B&S Gold, Silver, Intek and IC engines.
Kohler Courage 22 HP
People like their Kohlers and here is a complete list of the features that set the Kohler motors apart.
- Cast iron cylinder bore and oversized, micro-polished crankshaft bearings promise durability.
- Inverted crankcase configuration ensures leak-proof operation, easy oil filter replacement.
- Precision governor controls and overhead valve design deliver peak power performance.
- Full-pressure lubrication with oil filter and bi-pass valve protects for long engine life.
- Tri-phase air induction system dampens noise for quieter operation.
- Dual counter balancer reduces vibration on the operator’s hands and feet
- User-Friendly Maintenance.
- Spend less on Fuel! OHV design for incredible efficiency
- Twin-Cam design provides better cooling, more power and a longer engine life.
- Large 600cc size allows for reserve torque – perfect for tough jobs.
- Consistent-Cut™ technology for higher-quality cut
- Heavyweight design for a stronger engine
- Cast-iron cylinder liner ensure your engine will last long in harsh conditions
- Pressurized lubrication with filter ensures the engine is lubricated even at extreme angles
- Internally vented carburetor
- Extra large electric starter makes starting your mower simple – every time.
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. 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 need 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 22 hp Kohler 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 by two pedals on the right side floorboard. To go forward press on the large pedal on the floor board. To stop lift your foot off the pedal. To back the tractor press the small pedal on the floorboard. Because of the way a hydrostatic transmission operates the braking is part of the operation. When you lift up on the right-hand pedals 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 28853. 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 quickly.
Specifications, Features, Benefits
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
The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.
Cutting Deck & Blade:
Blade Material: Steel
Blade Type: Hi-Lift
Cutting Deck Material: Stamped Steel
Cutting Deck Nose Roller: No
Cutting Deck Style: Side Discharge
Cutting Deck Type: Precision cut
Cutting Height Adjustment Increments: Spring assist
Cutting Height Adjustment Type: Spring Assisted Lever
Cutting Height Maximum (in.): 1.5
Cutting Height Minimum (in.): 4
Cutting Positions: 6
Cutting Width (In.): 46
Deck Thickness (Gauge): 13
Deckwash System: Yes
Discharge Location: Side
Number of Cutting Blades: 2
Number of Deck Anti-Scalp Gauge Wheels: 4
Controls and Features:
Blade Engagement Type: Manual
Blade Lift: Manual
Speed Control: Foot pedal
Wheelbase (in.): 48
General Warranty: 2 year full, 5 year frame limited lifetime front axle
Item Weight (lbs.): 514
Recommended Terrain: Flat with some hills
Recommended Yard Size: Up to 2 acres
Terrain Type: Flat, Hilly, Obstacle
Frame Material: 12 ga. steel
Frame Type: Channel
Front Axle Material: Cast iron
Number of Wheels: 4
Step Thru Frame: Yes
Handling & Operating:
Brakes Type: Disk
Cruise Control: Yes
Electric Clutch For Attach.: No
Hour Meter: No
Steering Type: Conventional
Steering Wheel Type: Standard
Maximum Forward Speed (mph): 5.2
Maximum Reverse Speed (mph): 2.9
Mow in Reverse: Yes
Number of Forward Speeds: Infinite
Number of Reverse Speeds: Infinite
Shifter Location: Fender
Turning Radius (in.): 6
Turn Tight: Yes
Air Filter Type: Auto-type paper
Cooling Fan: Yes
Cooling System Type: Fan-cooled
Cylinder Liner: Cast iron
Electronic Ignition: Yes
Engine Brand: Kohler(r)
Engine Cycles: 4-cycle
Engine Lubrication System: Full pressure
Engine Displacement (cc): 597
Number of Cylinders: 1
Oil Filter Type: Spin On
Overhead Valve Engine: Yes
Throttle Adjustment: Remote
Wheels & Tires:
Anti-Scalp Gauge Wheels: Yes
Front Tire Size: 15 x 6 x 6 in.
Rear Tire Size: 20 x 8 x 8 in.
Wheel Grease Zerks: Yes
Accessory or Attachment:
2 Bin Bagger Part Number: #24903
3 Bin Bagger Part Number: #24904
Ground-Engaging Attach.: No
Hauling Equipment: Heavy Hauling, Light Hauling
Mulch Kit Included: Sold Separately
Mulch Kit Part Number: #33746
Snow Blade or Thrower Capable: Snow thrower, Snow blade
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 2.5
Fuel Gauge Location: None
Fuel Type: Gasoline, Do not use E15 or Greater Ethanol Blended Fuel
Adjustable Seat: Yes
Cup Holder: Yes
Battery Ammeter: No
CARB Compliant: Not Compliant with Cali. Air Resource Board
Location: All other
Buy Here: Craftsman 46 In. 21hp Briggs & Stratton Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA 20 x 8 x 8 in.