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.
by: Paul Sikkema
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. The bugs you normally find with a new product are all fixed and there are no known issues with the YT 3000 and YT 4000 design. 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 2013 tractors are actually better than they used to be.
FYI: The new 2013 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.
Let me go through 12 reasons why they are better:
1. Engines Are Better:
Longer Life Engines: The Platinum Series Engine in the YT 3000 and YT 4000 Yard Tractors is a significant improvement over the engine in the 1990’s Lawn Tractors. Briggs & Stratton has made over 80 improvements to this engine ranging from efficient Overhead Valve Design to a better oil drain system that uses no tools and doesn’t get used engine oil all over the frame.
Better Fuel Economy: Today’s engine offer better fuel economy over the 1990’s version. They are also designed to run on todays fuels that seem to have more additives than gasoline.
Full Pressure Lube: The Platinum engine has an oil pump and actually pumps oil to the critical engine components. 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.
2. Transmissions Are Better:
Today’s transmissions on the YT Series are sealed and require no oil changes or maintenance for the life of the tractor. That was a problem in the past. If you changed the oil you had the distinct possibility of introducing dirt into the trans. Just a spec of dirt severely shortened the life of the trans. Blow the grass and dirt off the trans once in a while is all you need to do now-days.
3. Frames Are Just As Strong:
The frame on the YT3000 and YT4000 is a little longer 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!
4. 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 YT series tractors steer easier and the pinion gears don’t wear out. I have seen YT’s 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 YT Series.
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.
5. Better Value:
“A base model Sears Custom with a deck in 1967 cost about $700.. That’s $4650 today. That’s for 8hp, 3 speed hi/lo, 38″ steel mowing deck. Electric start, head lights and tail light… and that’s it” (Thanks Hugh-SS/16 over at mytractorforum) You can still buy a six speed YT 3000 for around $1300. That’s a much better deal than your last new car!
6. More Operator Room:
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.
Seats are better: The deluxe, high back seat is a lot more comfortable than the one on your old green Craftsman. The padding is thicker and the lumbar support let’s you mow longer without getting tired.
Seats adjust easier: The single lever under the seat makes it easy to adjust. The is plenty of adjustment so it doesn’t matter if you are 5 ‘ 2″ or 6’ 4″ there is plenty of room.
7. Decks Cut Better:
It’s hard to beat a “Best Buy” The leading consumer magazines have given the YT Series tractors many “Best Buy” awards. One of the major reasons why they do is the superior cut of the 42 and 46 inch decks. These decks cut well, mulch well and bag well.
Better Anti-Scalp: These decks come standard with 4 anti-scalp wheels and a rounded bottom lip. They ride over obstacles easier than the older decks without the anti-scalp system.
Decks are easy to adjust: The new 3-point linkage is easy to adjust if the deck gets abused and starts to cut unevenly. One adjustment levels the deck.
8. 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, go to managemylife.com and you can view or download a copy there for free!
9. Deck Lift:
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 and had very little range (height) 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.
10. 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 stays flexible longer. The safety switches are mounted better and I expect them to last longer than your old ones.
11. More Metal In the Hood: The front of the old hoods was one big chunk of plastic. Any bump into a tree or other obstruction and it was time to get out the duct tape, and eventually $100 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.
12. Look Better: I don’t know about you, but I like the current style. I like the rounded 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!
The 2013 Craftsman Yard Tractors mentioned in this article are:
YT 3000, Model 25022, 42 inch, 21 hp, 6 Speed Manual Transmission Yard Tractor. See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 42″ 21 hp Turn Tight Yard Tractor 49 States Deluxe high back
YT 3000, Model 28851, 42 inch, 21 hp, Fender Controlled Hydrostatic Transmission Yard Tractor. See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 42 In. 21Hp Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Turn Tight Yard Tractor Non CA Deluxe high back
YT 3000, Model 28852, 46 inch, 21 hp, Fender Controlled Hydrostatic Transmission Yard Tractor. See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 46 In. 21hp Briggs & Stratton Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres
YT 3000, Model 28853, 46 inch, 22 hp Kohler, Foot Controlled Hydrostatic Transmission Yard Tractor. See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 46″ 22hp Kohler Powered Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres
YT 4000, Model 28856, 42 inch, 24 hp V-Twin, Foot Controlled Hydrostatic Transmission Yard Tractor See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 42″ 24hp Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres
YT 4000, Model 28857, 46 inch, 24 hp V-Twin, Foot Controlled Hydrostatic Transmission Yard Tractor See it on Sears.com here:
Craftsman 46″ 24hp Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres
Here are 3 videos showcasing the 1999 Craftsman Tractors. Tractors of this era were extremely popular and are a good reference point for this discussion.
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]