2016 Craftsman T2200 Model 20381 42 in Hydro 19hp Yard Tractor Review – 540cc Single Briggs Platinum

Is This Mower The Best For You?

Craftsman has brought this tractor back for 2016 at the request of the Sears Hometown Stores. It is identical to the 2016 Model 25581 except is has the old hydrostatic transmission. You are able to purchase it online at Sears.com and at your local HomeTown Store.

In this review I will go through the new Craftsman T2200 Model 20381. It features a 42 inch deck and a 19 hp Briggs & Stratton Platinum motor and a sleek new look. For the features it offers compared to all the other brands it continues to be the best value mower with a 42 inch deck and will work well for a yard up to 1 1/2 acres.  It is one of the best 42 inch tractors under $1500. The motor 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. Even with more features is priced $100 to $500 less than the competing tractors.

If you are looking at new lawn tractors because the engine on your old one failed, seriously look at this tractor. It features a Craftsman Platinum engine that is designed to handle hills and slopes that will kill a standard Briggs Intek/ Craftsman Gold engine. The oil lubrication inside the engine works like the oil system in your car. Your old engine used a splash-lube system oil system, this one uses oil pump that pumps the oil right to the bearings and other critical internal engine parts.  

My Opinion: The Craftsman Yard Tractor are arguably the most popular lawn tractors on the market. The combination of features, price and service make them some of the best values around. For 2014 Craftsman kept all the features that make this tractor one of the best and added a sleek, new look! This sleek new look has fixed the biggest complaint previous owners have had. The new hood is designed so it won’t rattle around. It features a new hinge that is stronger and keeps the front from vibrating. There are now cushions at the back of the hood just like you would find on the $6000 tractors. In addition new side panels and air plenum keeps the dirt out the engine compartment and funnels clean air into the engine cooling system. There are other new features like a 48 inch deck and new 8 mph, bulletproof transmissions that I will review later. 

I suggest you use this review of the Craftsman Yard Tractor Series as your basis for comparing all the other lawn tractors on the market. This is a comprehensive review and after you are finished reading it you will be able to compare all the other brands. When you are done you will know more about lawn tractors than most dealer sales associates. You may decide this tractor isn’t the right one for you but I know you will be able to make the right decision for you and your lawn.  I apologize to you if you are reading this on your phone. It’s over 6000 words. Settle in to a comfortable spot and enjoy!  

Aurora With Her New 2014 Craftsman Yard Tractor

Aurora With Her New 2014 Craftsman Yard Tractor

 Why a Craftsman?

  • The Craftsman LT and YT series tractors are one of the most popular lawn tractors ever offered to mow your lawn. Just search “Craftsman Lawn Tractor” and you will find millions of pictures and articles of Craftsman Tractor owners proudly showing off their pride and joy. In fact on Google there are more pictures and articles for Craftsman Lawn tractors than John Deere or Cub Cadet.
  • Most of the tractors bought in the late 90’s are still around and mowing lawns every week. Unlike owners of the other makes, Craftsman owners are not complaining about “they don’t make them like they used to.” From my observation many owners of these old lawn tractors come in to Sears today and buy a new tractor not because their old one is wore out.  They are just tired of it and want something new. The owners have had their tractors so long that they really don’t know what to do with them when they buy a new one. They say, “I’ve had that tractor so long it can’t be worth much.”
  • The design is stable: Using computer terms this “build” has been around for a few years now. This year they added a great new look, a 48 inch deck is back but otherwise the tractors are using the same proven designs that made this series so popular. The bugs you normally find with a new product are all fixed and there are no known issues with the T 2000 and T3000 series.  The consumer review magazines continue to like the tractor, the cut and the dependability for the price. Craftsman continues to “tweek” the models by adding features like the Turn-Tight steering but in general this is a proven, reliable platform that will offer years of use….. Just like your old green Craftsman. Craftsman owners are still loyal to the brand because they know the new 2014 tractors are actually better than they used to be. Go here to read about all of the improvement Craftsman has made just for you! 12 Reasons Why Craftsman Lawn Tractors Are Better Today,
  • FYI: The new 2014 Craftsman Yard Tractors are still made right here in the U.S.A. in the same factory where your 1990’s Lawn Tractor was made.  The same quality “craftsmanship” you have come to know and trust.

2014 Craftsman 42 in 19hp T2200 Hydro Model 20381 Yard Tractor

Brand: Craftsman
Manufactured By: Husqvarna
Model/Series: 20381/T2200Yard Tractor
Item Number:  07120381000P (49 State) 07120382000P  (CA Version)
See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Sears.com Buy Online 24/7, Pickup At Your Local Sears at your convenience, or have it delivered to your home.
Street Price: $1425.99  Online Only. Sears wants you to buy online this year. They will have the best deals online this year and your local store is not able to match this price. Buy Online 24/7, Pickup At Your Local Sears at your convenience, or have it delivered to your home. Check the Special Offers tab on the product page to get the special deals price and exclusive discounts.

This is Craftsman’s Best Quality. The Craftsman T1000 is less quality.  This is a direct replacement (upgrade) to your old green Craftsman Lawn Tractor and most of your attachments will fit. If you liked your old Craftsman, you will love this one!

Craftsman calls this a Yard Tractor. It has more features than a lawn tractor but less pulling power than a garden tractor.

Compare it to: John Deere Riding Lawn Mower. D110 42 in. 19 HP Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine BG20708 at 1699, Ariens Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 19 HP Kohler Automatic Gas Front-Engine 960460058 at $1349, Cub Cadet Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 19 HP Kohler Courage Automatic Front-Engine LTX1040 at $1499

Parts – Attachments – Accessories Tractors With 42 inch Decks

Quick Summary Review


  • Fender Control Trans with integral cruise
  • Step-through Platform
  • 6 inch Turning Radius Easy to maneuver.
  • 42 inch deck with spring assisted lift and washout port
  • Disperses clippings evenly in side-discharge mode.
  • Mulches well, fine clippings with little or no clumps.
  • Fills 2 bin bagger to capacity.
  • Easy adjust, comfortable high-back seat.
  • 19 HP Full Pressure Briggs & Stratton Platinum Engine
  • 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


  • Deck is a wide as front wheels!
  • I recommend the 22 HP V-Twin if you want to attach a snow blower.

See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:   Sears.com Buy Online 24/7, Pickup At Your Local Sears at your convenience, or have it delivered to your home.

2014 Craftsman Yard Tractors with a 42 inch deck – Parts – Attachments – Accessories

My Full Review:

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. You want it to last you a long, long time. This yard tractor gives you the all of those features plus a 6 inch turning radius and a great Briggs & Stratton Premium engine all for less than $1500!

I know zero-turn mowers are the hot topic today but for most of us residential zero-turns are not the best choice. Yes, they may mow your lawn faster than a conventional lawn tractor but they don’t work on slopes. They are designed just to mow so they don’t pull stuff. They are 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 this yard tractor 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 the steering 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.

I am not going to TELL you this is the best tractor. But for many of you reading this article it will be the best lawn tractor for you. There are other tractors with larger motors and heavier transmissions. 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 four anti-scalp wheels so it will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping the turf.  This tractor continues to get the “best buy” 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 Turn-Tight steering allows you to trim as well as a zero-turn.

Owner Reviews: Right now there are no reviews on Sears.com because this is a new model for 2014. The real changes though are a new sporty look and a relabeled engine. The basic tractor is still the one everyone likes.

10 reasons why Craftsman Yard Tractors are a good choice for you!

(Disclaimer: All features listed in the remainder of this article are subject to change and my interpretation of the information available on the sears websites.)

1. Look Better:

203812 I don’t know about you, but I like the new look. I like the modern hood and smooth fenders. The rounded edges of the control console (dash) make it much easier to get on and off. And of course the cup holder is essential. That was one of the reasons why I never even considered a Craftsman back in the 80’s and early 90’s. They were UGLY! Todays hoods have more metal. The front of the old 80’s and 90’s hoods was one big chunk of brittle plastic.  Any bump into a tree or other obstruction and it was time to get out the duct tape, and eventually $140 or more for a new nose piece.  Today’s hood uses less plastic, and the plastic appears to be more flexible to withstand more abuse from your teenagers.

2. Deck: For most of us it’s all about the deck and how it mows. 

42 inch Craftsman Deck

Craftsman – It’s all about the 42 inch Deck

Decks Cut Better:

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  The 42 inch deck on 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 $10,000 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 spring assisted lever on the left tractor fender.

It’s hard to beat a “Best Buy” The leading consumer magazines have given this deck many “Best Buy” awards.  (Last year on the 28856) One of the major reasons why they do is the superior cut of the deep, top vented deck.  This deck cuts well, mulches well and bags very well.

Better Anti-Scalp: These decks come standard with 4 anti-scalp wheels and a rounded bottom lip.  The anti-scalp system and the spring assist deck lift lets it ride over obstacles easier than the older decks.

Decks are easy to adjust: The deck lift is almost as great of a change as the Turn Tight Steering.  Your old lever was always in the way. It was hard to use.  Getting on and off the tractor my sweatshirt, coat etc. always gets caught on the lever sticking up in the wind.  The new fender mounted lever is out of the way and the spring assisted system requires very little effort to use.

Leveling the deck is easy. The new 3-point linkage is easy to adjust if the deck gets abused and starts to cut unevenly. One adjustable link levels the deck side to side and one adjustable link levels it front to back .

 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 stumps, metal debris, rocks and other junk you may find a welded deck is the best choice. But, besides the extra cost of fabricating the deck, 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 for the blower)

The Craftsman 42 inch deck on the T2 and 3000 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 than welded decks but still very strong. They can handle a direct frontal hit from a stump and not bend. The Craftsman decks have better corrosion resistance than the decks of the past. The powder 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. They will last the life of the mower with proper blade maintenance and cleaning.

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 and balance 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 side discharges very well and regularly gets great reviews for evenness of cut.  The wide discharge chute spreads 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 in your turf. The height of the deck is set with a spring assisted lever on the left fender. There is a little red tab on the fender control that you can adjust to remind yourself where to set the cut height you prefer.

 The Craftsman 42 deck is designed to mulch well with a simple “plug” that snaps into the discharge hole and a set of 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. There are two types of mulching blades available. The standard wavy type and premium mulching blades that enhance the mulching for extra thick lawns and leaves. The other review organizations like Consumer Reports all verify that this deck mulches well.

Because the Craftsman 42 inch deck 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 deck will fit into a standard size pickup bed. With the discharge chute lifted up the Craftsman 42 inch Precision Cut Deck requires 45 inches of side to side 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 fit on a tractor with a 42 inch 2-blade deck installed but will not fit on a tractor with a 46, 2 bladed deck. This includes the Craftsman, Husqvarna, Poulan Pro and Ariens tractors. I have not checked the MTD built lawn tractors. John Deere does not have a 46 inch deck.

3. 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 and the new Kohler 7000.  It is better than Briggs & Stratton Gold, Silver, Intek and IC engines found in most lawn tractors.

Craftsman Platinum Engine

Craftsman Platinum Engine

 Why are These Engines Are Better?

Longer Life Engines: The Platinum Series Engine in the T 2000 and T 3000 series 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. These engines will runs on 10% ethanol BUT WILL NOT RUN ON THE 15% BLENDED FUEL!

Full Pressure Lube: The Platinum engine has an oil pump and actually pumps oil to the critical engine components. 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.

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 no-drip drain is the easiest to use. Just unclip the no-drip cap, attach the extention hose, tilt it down to your bucket and push/twist the drian. No drips on your frame no cleaning, no oily film that collects dirt and debris on your tractor!

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. 

4. Hydrostatic Transmission – Simple to use, ideal for most terrain.

K-46-angle Transmissions Are Better:

Today’s hydrostatic transmissions in Craftsman Yard Tractors 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 is sealed and 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 transmission is sized to the tractor. 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 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. 

5. 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 T2200 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.

203813 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 T2200 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 T2200 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. The step through design allows you to get on and off the tractor easier than before.  No more banging your knees trying to get on or off the tractor.

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

6. Frames Are Just As Strong: 

The frame on the T2200 is a little longer than your old green Craftsman to accommodate the step through design but this longer frame but just as strong.  I never hear about frames cracking with the old machines and the new frames are built just as well.  In fact the frames are built so well they now come with a 5 year warranty!

7. Better Wiring: The insulation on older wiring harnesses tends to get brittle and crack over time.  The new polymers that are used in todays wiring insulation will stay flexible longer.  The safety switches are mounted better and I expect them to last longer than your old ones.

8. Six Inch Turn Tight Steering: Better Steering Box, Axle and Steering System:

One of the major improvements is the steering.  If you own a 90’s green Craftsman LT you probably have at least a 1/2 revolution of play in the steering wheel by now.  Replacing the $4 plastic pinion gear that wears out takes about and hour with power tools and at least two skinned knuckles. Long gone is the old half-moon system with the plastic pinion gear.  Today’s Craftsman tractors steer easier and the pinion gears don’t wear out. I have seen Craftsman Turn Tight Yard Tractors with 100’s of hours with no more play in the steering than the day they were purchased.

The steering wheel feels better: The steering wheel is bigger and has a better feel. I see many of the old 1990’s steering wheels cracked and the plastic bracket that’s supports the steering rod on the dash broken.  This doesn’t happen with the new Craftsman Turn Tight Yard Tractors.

Front axles are better: The front axles are now cast iron and have a lifetime warranty. I have yet to see a broken one!

Tighter Steering: The exclusive Turn Tight steering is one of the “wonders” of the YT Series.  With a 6 inch turning radius this tractor is the most maneuverable tractor on the market today.  In most cases you can trim and mow without ever taking your walk-behind mower out of the shed.  I personally feel for most homeowners this is a better solution than a zero-turn. It works on slopes, requires no training to use and even your spouse will like to drive it.

9. 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”

Replacement Parts Are Much Easier To Get:

15 years ago to get Craftsman parts you had to go to the Sears Service Center and order them.  Your local repairman wouldn’t touch your Craftsman because he said that he couldn’t get parts.  (He could, he just had to go to the Service center and order the part himself) The Internet is a wonderful thing and today is very easy to get parts. All you need is the model number from under the seat, go to searspartsdirect.com, order the part and within a few days it arrives at your home. You can even use this link: Shop at Sears PartsDirect and get 10% off your purchase with code: 90055 Searspartsdirect has all of the parts diagrams for your mower, making it very easy to get your part. If you are not really mechanically inclined, all you have to do is write down your model number, go to your local Sears and anyone in the Lawn & Garden Department can help you order the part.  Again, it comes right to your home. By the Way: If you lost your tractor manual, get the model number from under the seat, use the link above and you can view or download a copy there for free!

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.

10. Better Value:

A Sears Custom with a deck in 1975 cost about $2300.. That’s $9650 today. That’s for 8hp, 3 speed hi/lo, 38″ steel mowing deck. Electric start, head lights and tail light… and that’s it” (source: http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/relativevalue.php) You can still buy this 2014 lawn tractor with a larger deck and motor for less than $1500.  That’s a much better deal than your last new car!

See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Sears.com Buy Online 24/7, Pickup At Your Local Sears at your convenience, or have it delivered to your home.

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.

Product Specifications
Cutting Deck & Blade:
Blade Material: Steel
Blade Type: 3 in 1
Blade Width (in.): 21.25
Cutting Deck Material: Steel
Cutting Deck Nose Roller: No
Cutting Deck Style: Mulch/Rear Bag/Side Discharge
Cutting Height Adjustment Type: Spring Assisted
Cutting Height Maximum (in.): 4
Cutting Height Minimum (in.): 1
Cutting Positions: 6
Cutting Width (In.): 42
Deckwash System: Yes
Number of Cutting Blades: 2
Controls and Features:
Blade Engagement Type: Manual
Blade Lift: Manual
Speed Control: Fender Control
Overall Item Dimensions: 72.75 x 45 x 46
Wheelbase (in.): 48
Product Overview:
Commercial/Residential: Residential
General Warranty: 2 Year / 5 Year Frame & Axle
Recommended Terrain: All Types
Recommended Yard Size: Up to 2 acres
Terrain Type: Flat
Terrain Type: Uneven
Terrain Type: Hilly
Terrain Type: Steep
Terrain Type: Obstacles
Frame Material: Steel
Frame Type: Stamped steel
Front Axle Material: Cast iron
Handling & Operating:
Cruise Control: Yes
Hour Meter: No
Drive System:
Maximum Forward Speed (mph): 5.5
Maximum Reverse Speed (mph): 2.9
Mow in Reverse: Yes
Number of Forward Speeds: Infinite
Number of Reverse Speeds: Infinite
Turning Radius (in.): 6
Turn Tight: Yes
Air Filter Type: Dual
Cooling System Type: Air Cooled
Cylinder Liner: Cast iron
Engine Brand: Briggs & Stratton(r)
Engine Cycles: 4-cycle
Engine Series: Intek Platinum
Engine Displacement (cc): 540
Horsepower: 19
Number of Cylinders: 1
Oil Filter Type: Full pressure
Overhead Valve Engine: Yes
Wheels & Tires:
Anti-Scalp Gauge Wheels: Yes
Front Tire Size: 15″ X 6″ – 6″
Rear Tire Size: 20″ X 8″ – 8″
Accessory or Attachment:
Accepts Bagger: Yes
Ground-Engaging Attachments: No
Hauling Equipment: No
Snow Blade or Thrower Capable: Yes
Fuel System:
Fuel Capacity (gal.): 2.5
Fuel Gauge Location: None
Fuel Type:Gasoline
Adjustable Seat: Yes
Cup Holder: Yes
Headlights: Yes
CARB Compliant: Not Compliant with Cali. Air Resource Board
Location: All other
Tractor Grade: Yard Tractor

See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Sears.com Buy Online 24/7, Pickup At Your Local Sears at your convenience, or have it delivered to your home.

Here are 3 videos showcasing the 1999 Craftsman Tractors. Tractors of this era were extremely popular and are a good reference point for this review.

CRAFTSMAN Lawn & Garden Tractor Use and Maintenance Guide -VHS, 1999 [1 of 3]

CRAFTSMAN Lawn & Garden Tractor Use and Maintenance Guide -VHS, 1999 [2 of 3]

CRAFTSMAN Lawn & Garden Tractor Use and Maintenance Guide -VHS, 1999 [3 of 3]

Leave a Reply

97 Comments on "2016 Craftsman T2200 Model 20381 42 in Hydro 19hp Yard Tractor Review – 540cc Single Briggs Platinum"

Notify of
Jeff Frizzell
Hi Paul, Me again. OK. Here’s my wish list. Under $2,000.00. V-Twin B & S Platinum. Is there a fender mount CVT transmission model or are all fender mount speed controls hydro? I don’t want foot pedal controls. Cruise control. Tight turn. Fast. What’s your recommendation? Thank you Jeff
Jeff Frizzell
Hi again Paul, I have changed my mind. I was considering the 46″ 19 hp. but it doesn’t have cruise control. Looks like the only sub $1,500.00 Craftsman with cruise control is the T2200? Right? Any other recommendations? I was hoping for a cvt transmission vs. hydro. Thanks again Jeff
Brad Miller
Hello, Paul, Great site you have going here – I stumbled upon it doing lawn tractor research, and find myself continually returning. Here’s my situation: I live in Cape May County, NJ, and have about an acre and a half of lawn, flat (excepting the 3′ or 4′ high septic bed) but somewhat rough and uneven in some areas due to roots, ground depressions, etc. There are many obstacles (house, outbuildings, pond, trees, gardens, woodpiles, and the like. Over the past 30+ years I’ve had first a Mark Master hydrostatic, then two Craftsman six speeds. I’m looking to find a… Read more »

Hi, Paul. I really enjoy your reviews. I sent an email earlier, but I am not sure it went through. From what I read, it appears that you really like the craftsman 25581, 25081 or 20381. Ii have two questions. My questions are… what is the real difference among these models other then the hydrostatic vs automatic transmissions? And which model do you prefer for a half acre flatland area with small trees? Look forward to your reply!

JEFF MAY 27, 2016 I am looking at craftsman t2200 # 20381. it has the turn tight & hydrostatic trans . Does this come with the “BULLETPROOF” GT RS800 ?? The other one is the craftsman # 20380 listed as manual . I was wondering if this is a shift on the go trans listed as manual trans but is actually CVT listed as 6 speed ??? I have almost a 1 acre yard , little slope . I LIKE the craftsman # 25581 BUT I DON”T LIKE THE FOOT PEDAL thats new for 2016 . This is replacement for… Read more »
Michael M.
Chicagoland IL… Hi Paul, Fantastic reviews. They provide incredible information and a wealth of knowledge without bias. I am writing to ask about the differences among the Craftsman models 25581, 25081, and 20381 other than the hydrostatic drive vs the “automatic”. I have a flat area to cut, only about a half acre. It appears from what I read, you like each of these models. If I did my research correctly, the frame, engine, cutting, etc… are the same. What are the differences and which do you prefer? Thanks for all your time, effort and information.
mike williamson

I’ve been told by a lawn tractor repairman that the 19hp briggs used in the craftsman 20381 model has had problems with the crankshaft breaking. Have you heard anything about this? What is your overall opinion of this tractor compared to others in its price class.


I have a 2200 and it is great. Two years old now. Make sure you turn the key back to allow reverse operation.

Mike Williamson

I bought a T2200 that was a return yesterday. It had a flat front tire and was reduced by $400. I have noticed that when I try to cut in reverse the motor dies. According to the specks this tractor does cut in reverse. Is this something that is an ez fix or should I return it?


Do replacement blades have to be the craftsman blades? Can you use Scag Mulching or Walker blades on this mower (as long as the size is the same?)

Shawn Herzog
Sir, I curently own a 2015 Craftsman T2200 19HP, 42″ deck. My question I cant find anywhere, even in the owner’s manual is can I haul any weight, or how much weight can I haul in an authorized Craftsman trailer and in accordance with my warranty with out voiding the warranty if something does go wrong? I am considering purchasing the “12 cu. ft. Swivel Dump Cart with Hydraulic-Assisted Lift & Run-Flat Tires, item # 07130440000”, which is goof for 1100 lbs and while I’m guessing this tractor most likely can not or should not haul this much weight, I’m… Read more »
Paul S.

Grand Rapids, MI

Greetings from another Paul across the pond! Very thorough great review, thanks! I just ordered the T2200 Model 20381 from my local Ace Hardware. It’s probably too late now but I was wondering if you know if there’s any difference ordering it from Ace vs Sears. I was also wondering if you could share your thoughts on whether it’s worth buying the Extended Protection Agreement and if that’s even available if you purchase at Ace Hardware? Thanks!

Steve (Hendersonville, NC)
Steve (Hendersonville, NC)

Paul. When is the best time to buy this (based on lowest price)? I can do without until next season but want to take advantage of best pricing. Thoughts? When I buy, I will use your CJ link. If you have special link or coupon, email me. Thanks for the review.

Steve (Hendersonville, NC)
Steve (Hendersonville, NC)

Paul. How would you compare this to the Husqvarna V-Twin Hydrostatic 46-in Riding Lawn Mower with Briggs & Stratton Engine (Item #: 521687 | Model #: 960450045) at Lowes?

The T2200 at Sears with a 5-year warranty is 1866.
The Husky at Lowes with a 4-year warranty is 1709 (using my 10% coupon).

I appreciate your input and service to this community.

Steven Day

Here is an interesting issue on oil capacity on this model 20381. The Sears manual lists 56 oz. When I changed the oil, it was waaay over. I had to drain out some to get back to the full mark. I was checking the BS manual 330000 on this engine and it lists 46 – 48 oz. I learned a lesson. Has anybody else run into this? Steve, Fairfax Station, VA

Bill Garlinghouse
Just got back from my local Sears. Went there to look at, and probably buy this tractor based primarily on this review. Looked it over before I went inside. Made sure the wife could reach the pedals with the seat slid forward (She couldn’t on the Troy Bilt), and went inside ready to buy. Sales person was not too clear on details. That’s unfortunately understandable. But it was what she said about repair that got me wrapped around the axle. I was attracted, in part, by the comment I read here that “This tractor is serviced by Sears. Sears service… Read more »

Question about proper zerk fitting grease procedure? The spindle fitting on my T2200, should I pump grease until it starts coming out? Take off the cover to see it? what about the zerk fitting for the front bearing? how much grease? Is there an actual shop manual for this tractor besides the owner’s manual? thanks

Joe Cool

Thanks, Paul!

Joe Cool

What is the correct oil filter for the 20381? I don’t see it in the owners manual or in the link that has the other parts and accessories listed. Thanks for your help!

Joe Cool
Paul, Thanks for all of the info and responses to everyone’s questions. I am ready to purchase the 20381. I wanted the 20390 for the extra horsepower / less vibration, but the height of the accelerator pedal is a deal breaker for my family to use it. I wanted to download the Owner’s manual in advance at the link that you provided. For anyone else looking for the same, I found that the model number to search for at the link is 917203810. The manual can be downloaded directly at this link http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/pd_download/lis_pdf/OWNM/1402675L.pdf The Tips and Care links can be… Read more »

I don’t have the smoothest of yards so I’m wondering about the clearance between the rear tires and the deck. I’m worried about the deck bouncing up and hitting the tires. Sears’ website has a fairly good view of the left side where the clearance looks pretty good, but the right side isn’t clear. Is the clearance on the right the same, less, or more? Thanks.


Hi, this is Dan from earlier comments. I just had this tractor delivered today. It was raining today so I will be using it for the first time tomorrow. Was reading the manual and it states to purge the transmission. Wasn’t this done at the factory or do I need to do this step before I use the tractor? the delivery guy did not mention this. thx

Paul, Thanks so much for all this information I bought a T2200 2 weeks ago based on your review. This was my first riding mower and I’m very happy with it. Looking at my mower I only see gauge wheels in the front. There are brackets installed on the back of the deck but no wheels. Looking at pictures of this mower it looks like it should have come with rear wheels. If so should I call sears or talk to the store where I picked up the mower. I’m a little worried since I’ve had it for a week… Read more »
Paul thanks for your help..I ended up forgoing this model and jumped up the 22hp 42″ deck t3000 20390. I was able to compare both odes, and this one was quieter and less vibration (IMHO). I do believe this is a FINE mower, just figured the t3000 had some additional pluses I liked better. As far as moving over the existing bagger. You were correct. Just remember to take off the 2 bolts from the old tractor so your hitch can mount, almost forgot. There was a small plastic wedge piece (spacer) on the removable that the DYT4000 needed, had… Read more »
Thank you for the review. I had a dyt4000 18.5 purchased in 2004 and the engine finally has died. A couple of questions before i purchase this mower, perhaps you can provide some assistance 1) I have a 3 bucket 9 bushel bag collector. Do you know if I can still use this. I love the hard bags as I just dump the contents it over the fence for the cows to eat. 2) Up here in the NW (Tacoma area), I have kept my riding lawn mowers outside. Will i be asking for trouble in the long run, or… Read more »

Thinking of buying this 42in instead of the 46. I was wondering if there is a weight limit of the user of the mower. i’m over weight again since my lower back acts up and its hard to walk behind a mower. I just bought a new car and bought the v6 instead of the 4cy cuz it was more peppy driving it. Do I need to buy a twin engine mower for the same reason? And how will it work when using a snow removal blade? First time riding-mower buyer. Thanks… DS in Altoona, Iowa.



I believe the Ariens (Home Depot) is also made by Husqvarna in the same factory. Is there a big difference in their 42″ B&S Hydrostatic and the T2200? The Ariens seems to have more metal on board. Also, Kohler engine version has good reviews. Thanks in advance.

Trumbull, CT

Philip Bateman

Paul great review of this lawn tractor. I ordered one today based largely on your review. It will be a replacement for my 2000 craftsman LT1000 that the engine just bit the dust in. My question is can you put a nose roller on the deck of this mower? I had fitted one on my LT and it saved the nose on the deck quite a few times.
Wilson, NC


[…] T3000 Model 20390 42 in Fast Tractor 22 hp Yard Tractor Review – 724cc V-Twin Briggs Platinum 20381/20382 Review, 2014 Craftsman T2200 Model 20381 42 in Hydro 19hp Yard Tractor Review – 540cc Single […]


Awsome review, however I just bought one based on your review and it did not come with an hour meter, went to Sears website and it stated under specifications hour meter NO, right below cruise control YES. Can’t find a part number to order one even tho there is a popout filler where the instruction manuel says it should be. Please advise if I misread your review or if there is a meter available?

Mike smith

Lansing, Michigan. I am considering purchasing a T2200 lawn tractor. Can I use a dethatcher with weight on with this machine? Also can you use a spike aerator with it. I received conflicting info from different salesman. Thank you.

Dennis Diemer

We have about 2.5 acres to cut, mostly flat with the occasional “hidden” tree stump. Is the T2200 the one to get or would you recommend another?
Dennis D Kelleys Island,, OH

Paul: My 20+ year old 42″ MTD has given up the ghost. I’m looking to replace it. I have a 1.5 acre yard, generally level but with a slight slope in front. It has many trees and beds. I don’t generally bag or mulch. I have a Toro ZTR mower as well, but I a lawn tractor comes in handy form mowing, towing, etc.. I’m considering the T2200 and the Deere D105. Always wanted a Deere; what guy doesn’t. But reviews here seems to really favor the Craftsman. I’ve compared both. I liked the hours meter and separate RIO switch… Read more »
I really appreciate your time & details of mowers & decks. Was thinking of purchasing the 19 hp w/ 46 ” deck until I read about the vibration problem w/the larger deck. A couple questions please….(1.) Have the new quick change blade decks come out yet? (2.) If the hydrostatic drive belt breaks how hard is that to change? Does the mower have to be taken apart or can it be done like on the old mowers? I have a 1996 Craftsman & have used it 17 mowing seasons & it’s been one lil’ workhorse of a machine. I don’t… Read more »

I was told this was made by Husqvarna, I know a lot of craftsmen mowers are made by Husqvarna and MTD, Do you know if this one is made by Husqvarna?

John Wray

citrus springs, fl
I have about half an acre. I want to use a trailer to haul rocks, sand, mulch up a slight incline to the back yard.

Which Craftsman mower is best suited for this task?

Josh Adams

Can you use snow thrower/blade attachment with this machine? is frame “beefy” (know people complained of bending frame in older craftsman machines)? Does this tractor come with mulching blades on it, or do you have to buy separately?


Paul — I’m seriously considering the craftsman T2200 after reading your review. This is my first time purchasing a rider – can this little workhorse handle pulling a dethatcher or aerator over my 1/2 acre+ yard. Can you mow and dethatch/aerate at the same time is that a bad idea.


Murfreesboro, TN. I have owned a rear engine Snapper for 18 years and looking at the craftsman T2200 as a replacement. The snapper was simple to repair and blade removal for sharpening was a breeze. How is blade removal done on a yard tractor? Years ago I used a Cub Cadet at work and had to lay down to get the blades off, it was not an easy thing to do.

Awesome Review.. I really appreciate the detail that went into this b/c online has no reviews at this point. I have been reviewing the Deere D110 and this model. I had a craftsman in the past but was debating on getting a Deere for their following and reputation – brand. But, I feel after reading this, I will be getting almost the same machine at a couple hundred dollar savings. I also like the fact that craftsman is more servicable than the Deere. I am waiting one more week until the model arrives at our local sears to get a… Read more »

[…] of saying “Don’t Buy” I would like to suggest you either consider the 42 inch Craftsman Model 20381 – Hydrostatic – Craftsman – 19 HP – Turn Tight® , or the  Craftsman 19HP 46″ KOHLER Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor – Non CA […]


[…] This mower has been updated: Go here to read my 2014 review.  2014 Craftsman T2200 Model 20381 42 in Hydro 19hp Yard Tractor Review  […]

Get more stuff like this from

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.