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A Guide to the Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower

Craftsman riding lawn mowers are a well known lawn mower brand that has been around for generations. Many people recognize the brand for their tools, but they are also known for their lawn mowers. Craftsman offers push mowers, self-propelled mowers, riding mowers and zero turn lawn mowers.

Here is a guide to some of the most common Craftsman lawn mowers. I will go over operating your lawn mower and maintenance steps to make sure your lawn mower continues to operate in good condition. Some models may vary and you will need to refer to your owner’s manual for information specific to your lawn mower.

guide to craftsman riding lawn mower

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower

The riding lawn mower, also known as a lawn tractor, is a model for yards over 1 acre. It is pretty simple to operate and easier to learn how to maneuver than the zero turn mower. It comes with a steering wheel to turn which is similar to driving a car when turning. The drive pedal is on the right and the brake pedal or brake-clutch pedal is on the left side of the mower if it is equipped with these pedals.

Starting Your Craftsman Riding Mower

  • Before starting the engine, make sure the PTO lever is off, the parking brake is on, and the choke control is activated.
  • Turn the key clockwise to start the engine and release once the engine has started.
  • Deactivate the throttle/choke control lever.
  • Set the throttle lever to the fast position (rabbit position).

Driving Your Craftsman Riding Mower

Most Craftsman riding lawn mowers come with both forward and reverse positions. How to move the lawn mower depends on the transmission option you have on your riding mower.

  • Hydrostatic:
    • Place the throttle lever in the fast position.
    • Depress the parking brake pedal to release the brake.
    • Move the speed control lever forward to go forward and reverse toward the operator to make the mower move in reverse. Pushing the lever further forward or further backward will increase the speed of travel.
    • Stop the lawn mower by moving the speed control lever to neutral.
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT):
    • Depress the clutch-brake pedal to release the parking brake.
    • Move the throttle to the fast “rabbit” position.
    • Move the shift lever into forward or reverse.
    • With your foot depressing the clutch-brake pedal, move the speed lever to your selected speed and slowly release you foot off of the clutch-brake pedal.
    • Stop the lawn mower by pressing your foot on the clutch-brake pedal.
  • Foot Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT):
    • Depress the brake pedal to release the parking brake.
    • Move the throttle to the fast “rabbit” position.
    • Move the shift lever into forward or reverse.
    • Press down and apply pressure to the drive pedal. The more the pedal is depressed, the faster the mower will move.
    • Step by removing your foot from the drive pedal and depressing the brake.

Engaging Your Craftsman Riding Mower Blades

Engage your Craftsman Riding Mower Blades by placing the throttle lever in the fast rabbit position. Move the PTO into the “PTO ON” position. Always mow with the throttle lever in the fast position for best performance.

Setting Mower Deck Cutting Height on Craftsman Riding Mower

To change the height of cut on your lawn mower deck you need to move the deck lift lever to the notch that represents the height you want to cut your lawn.

Changing Engine Oil in Your Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower

Your engine oil and filter needs to be replaced after 5 hours of use on a new lawn mower followed by changing every 50 hours of use.

1. Locate Oil Drain Plug
The oil drain valve on a Craftsman mower is located on the side near the base of the engine. Open the hood by pulling up on the hood near the steering wheel. Look for the oil valve or drain port.

2. Drain Engine Oil
Make sure you have a drain pan or an approved container that holds about 2 1/2 quarts of oil to collect the used oil.

  • Let your engine warm up before draining the oil as warm oil will run more freely.
  • Turn off engine and be careful to avoid burns from the hot engine.
  • Remove the oil fill cap and dipstick to create a vent to allow the oil to drain more quickly.
  • Determine whether your mower has a drain valve or drain plug.
    • Drain Hose: Uncap the drain valve. Attach the drain hose that came with your mower to the drain valve and place opposite end of the tube in the drain pan. Push in drain valve and turn counter-clockwise to open the valve and allow the oil to flow out of the engine. Remove hose and reattach the drain valve cap.
    • Drain Plug: Place the drain sleeve around the drain plug. Make sure the end of the drain sleeve that isn’t attached to the mower by the drain plug is placed a a drain pan. Remove drain plug and let oil flow out of the engine. Replace plug once emptied.

3. Replace Filter (If Engine Has One)
Replace the engine oil filter if your Craftsman mower is equipped with one. Have a cloth ready to catch any oil that may run out of the filter when removed. Remove by turning the filter counter-clockwise. Let the oil drain out of the filter into the oil drain pan. Take a little fresh engine oil and wipe it on the gasket of the new filter before spinning on the engine.

4. Fill with New Engine Oil
Use an SAE30 or 10W-30 air-cooled engine oil. Refill to the fill level on site gauge or according to the dipstick. Do not overfill your engine with oil or you may encounter engine issues.

Oil for Your Craftsman Lawn Mower

You can use an SAE30 engine oil in your Craftsman lawn mower. A 10W-30 oil can also be used in place of the SAE30. The 10W-30 works well in colder temperatures. For more information about the right type of oil to use in your lawn mower, read this article.

Routine Service for Your Craftsman Lawn Mower

It is important to regularly check over and service your lawn mower. Here is a guideline for many of the Craftsman riding mowers. Refer to the owner’s manual for your specific model to get the manufacturer’s recommendations for your lawn mower.

Before Each Use

Make sure your lawn mower is kept clean from all debris. This includes checking and cleaning cooling fans, around the engine, under the hood, the mower deck, and around the transmission.

Every 10 Hours

  • Lubricate pedal pivot points
  • Clean battery terminals
  • Clean hood/dash air vents

Every 25 Hours

  • Lubricate axles and rims
  • Lubricate engine cooling fans
  • Clean air filters
  • Check your lawn mower blades

Every 50 Hours

  • Change engine oil and filter
  • Change fuel filter
  • Change air filter
  • Check belts & pulleys

Read more about changing your mower drive belt.

Every 100 Hours

  • Check hardware
  • Check spark plug

Craftsman Lawn Mower Attachments

The Craftsman riding mower is a versatile piece of equipment with the multiple attachments and implements that can be added to the mower.

If you are considering adding attachments to your lawn tractor, make sure you purchase a riding mower with the capacity to handle these attachments. You don’t want to be stuck with an underpowered machine when you go to use a snowblower or tiller.

Here are some of the attachments that can be added to many Craftsman lawn tractors:

  • Snowblower
  • Aerator
  • Tiller
  • Mulch Kit
  • Hitch & Cart
  • Bagger System
  • Dethatchers

Craftsman Lawn Mower Problems

As a Craftsman mower owner, you’re bound to run into problems with your lawn mower. Your mower might not start, can develop a fuel leak, has a bad cut and other problems. I’ve put together a list of problems and solutions for your Craftsman mower. Check it out at Common Craftsman Lawn Mower Problems & Solutions.