2010 Craftsman Zero Turn 42 inch 21 hp Model 28986 Review

This mower has been discontinued: I recommend the Husqvarna 42 in 19.5 hp Zero Turn Model RZ4219 Review as the best replacement.

This mower is essentially the Model 28992 with a smaller motor and deck.  Last year this Craftsman zero turn mower got a new deck and it went from a mediocre lawn mower to decent homeowner machine.  I personally know at least 8 owners of the 2009 version who are very happy and glad they purchased this one.

Read the rest of the review below the specs:

Sears Item 07128986000

Listed on Sears.com as: Craftsman 21 hp 42 inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

Buy Online – Pick Up At Your Nearest Sears

Buy Online – Have Delivered To Your Home. Use the coupon code during the checkout process to save an additional $5 over the sale prices listed on Sears.com.  Be sure to sign up for the free “Shop Your Way” rewards card and place the number in your Sears.com Profile.  Signing up will always give you the best possible prices including the Craftsman Club savings if there is one on this mower.  (The Craftsman Club savings vary from month to month and are for specific mowers for that month.  Be patient, if there are Club savings it will be reflected JUST BEFORE you click pay)


Read My Review Below These Specs:

Brand: Craftsman
Series: ZTS 6000
Model: 28986
Ca Model: None
Engine HP: 21
Engine Brand: Briggs & Stratton
Cylinders: 1
Transmission: Twin Hydrostatic
Transmission Control: Lever with dampeners
Mower Width: 42
Blades: 2
Cutting Positions: Infinite with electric lift
Gauge Wheels: 2
Washout port: No
Blade Engagement: Electric
Turning Radius: Zero-turn
Front Axle: Cast iron pivoting
Rear Tires: 18 x 8.5
Seat: High Back with arm rests
Slide Seat Adjust: adjustable
Service Minder: Yes

My Review:

For your reference I was one of the first landscapers to use zero-turn mowers in the Chicago area and I have owned a dozen different brands and types.  I currently use a Dixon 30 inch on my lawn (It’s is the worst zero-turn I have owned) I like the ExMark Lazer Z,  Toro Grandstand, and Wright Stander commercial zero turn mowers. When reviewing zero-turn mowers I use these as my reference point.

Today’s residential zero-turn mowers fall into two general categories.  Barely adequate or worthless.  Many of them are at worst unsafe for most users or at best tear up your lawn.

Most of them either:

1. Turn well  but are unstable going up a hill.

2. Go up a hill well but don’t turn well.

3. Don’t do either well.

All of this has to do with how the unit and operator’s weight is balanced in relation to the rear drive wheels, the type of front axle, the tires, and the stiffness of the unit.

With that in mind, let’s continue on with the review of the 28986.

The 28986 is designed for relatively flat lawns.  If you have a road ditch or slopes more than 15 degrees you will have difficulty mowing them with this mower.

What I like about the 28986:

Zero-turns that allow you to sit up straight are the most comfortable to drive.  This zero-turn let’s you sit up straight (like you do in a pickup) and allows your spine to stay vertical.  You won’t get back aches from reclining in the seat.

This zero-turn puts the engine just in front of the rear drive axles.  You sit over the engine so all the primary weight is centered slightly forward of the rear wheels.  This allows this mower to be very stable going up and down slopes(zero-turn mowers that have the engine behind the rear wheels turn better but are not as stable going up and down slopes)

Putting your weight over the engine also gives a good balance for turning.  (Zero-turn mowers with too much forward weight tend to dig into poor lawns when turning.)  This design gives the front caster wheels the best traction when turning yet it doesn’t put too much weight where it wants to dig in all the time.

I really like the floating front axle.  On most of the residential zero-turns the front caster wheels are just welded to the frame and there is no flex.  This stiffness makes the units hard to turn, gives you an uneven cut and are rough to drive.  The floating axle on the 28986 gives you a better cut, and gives you a smoother ride.  (Ladies, you will still have to wear a sport bra when using this or any zero-turn.  The way zero-turns bounce will cause you some discomfort without one)

The new deck Craftsman put on this mower in 2009 really cuts well.  The owners I know like the evenness of cut. (If your cut is uneven always check the tire pressure first)

I like the dampeners on the drive levers.  Mowers without dampeners are very jerky to use and most people complain about having to hold the levers in one position while mowing.  Dampers give you a much smoother feel and take some of the pressure off your wrists when mowing large areas.

The electric blade clutch and electric lift are usually not found on this price range and they are a welcome addition on the 28992.

The zero-turn itself is narrow enough that the 42 inch deck sticks out the side well enough to trim around obstacles easily.

What I don’t like about the 28986:

You sit up nice and high on this machine and this may feel like the mower is unstable on slopes.  If you have slopes greater than 15 degrees I recommend you seriously look at the 28933 .

In Summary:

Zero-turn mowers are not for everybody.  If you have never drove one, it does take some practice to mow well without tearing up your yard.  But if you are willing to learn the 28986 can easily mow your lawn 30% faster than a 42 inch lawn tractor.

The Craftsman Model 28986 is a decent residential zero-turn mower.  It is designed well  and all the trade-offs of balance and weight transfer are well designed.  The additional perks of steering dampeners, electric lift, and front floating axle make this zero turn one of the best for the money of all the residential zero-turns.

Ask a question, leave a comment, tell us about your mower below:


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RicPaul Sikkematim bushJamesJames Ahn Recent comment authors
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I have this model which I bought new in 2010. With in the Warranty period, the engine shot a rod. I am very good about changing and checking the oil. Sears came out and replaced the engine in September of 2012. Again, I have been diligent with checking and changing the oil. Today, the engine failed again! I cut a yard that is less than a half acre. My question for you is do you know of any issues with this Briggs & Stratton 21 hp engine? I have not scheduled a service call yet, because when they replaced the… Read more »

tim bush
tim bush

The Craftsman ZTS 6000 nd Snapper 150Z 42″ look like the same mower are they both made by the same company and which would you recommend?

James Ahn
James Ahn

I am looking at buying a dump cart to use behind my recently purchased 28986. Can I use a cart made for a riding mower…or must I only use a cart specifically made for a zero-turn?

Thank you,


Thanks for this review. Just came across the 28986 on clearance @ my local sears for $1999.88. Wasn’t considering this model, but seems like too good a deal to pass up, especially considering your favorable review. Others I’m considering in the general $2000 – $2500 price range include the Ariens Zoom 34 or Zoom 42 and the Husqvarna RZ4216 “The Perfect Mower”. Any input to help me decide would be appreciated!

Rick Ferrell
Rick Ferrell

Thanks again.


Rick Ferrell
Rick Ferrell

I checked on Sears Parts Direct and the 33743 kit is pictured with 3 blades. I own the ZTS 6000 like the one above which has only 2 blades. What I would like to do is put a set of the Gator blades on and wonder if the 42" Gators are ok to put on the higher rpm Zero Turn model? Seems to me like the thing to do but would like your opinion before I start ordering parts. By the way, I am very happy with this mower. For residential use, I consider it a great buy. Thanks, Rick… Read more »

Rick Ferrell
Rick Ferrell

what do you suggest for a mulching kit for this model?

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