Craftsman Self-Propelled Design Flaw

barryguyJuly 15, 2008

May 12, 2008 I bought a Craftsman 6.75 front-wheel self-propelled mower from Sears.

By the end of June I noticed the left front wheel wasn't turning as well as the right wheel when the drive was engaged. I removed the wheel and found that the ring of plastic teeth inside the wheel was being eaten up by the metal sprocket wheel with which it engages when in self-propel mode.

Seems like a serious design flaw. I mow every week and may have discovered this self-destruct feature sooner than others who mow less. The machine was noticably impaired after 4-6 weeks. My self-propelled mower is quickly becoming a push-mower only. Ever hear of this??

Sears would like to replace the plastic wheel (so would I if I were them!). I'm considering a full refund return (allowable within 90-days; not sure if they'll try a 15% restock charge). The wheels will need replacement at least once a year. And I'm sure they won't supply any free after 90-days.

The machine was well over $300, but I got it on sale for about $270. Thought it was a good deal. Think again.

I like the mower, but hate this unacceptable self-propel design flaw. Will probably bring it back, but then what?

Your thoughts??

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The older ones had a steel insert in the drive wheel hubs themselves. I have seen that the replacements do not. when that plastic hub shrooms' on the inside, throws the wheel off (toe out?) then bam, steel strips plastic. sounds like this little nylon bushing thats in there doesn't like any pressure. Be glad it's under warranty, I paid 20.00 apiece for 2 new lifter wheel assemblies & I believe about 14.00 a drive wheel x2.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 7:32PM
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We've been telling anyone who asked not to buy a FWD mower. Its not like a car, where its a good idea. On a mower, it stinks.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 8:03PM
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    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 8:16PM
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I'm beginning to see the problem.
What are the recommended solutions?
Are there any good front drive self-propel mowers?
If not, what are the recommended alternatives?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 9:18PM
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Look close at how the front wheels sit. A bend in the adjuster arm area means that the gears don't mesh well and the softer plastic gets chewed up. It takes one drop on that corner to do it and it could have happened in the crate.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 9:31PM
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Thanks, I'll have to take a look at that particular adjuster arm to see if it's bent. One thing I noticed with this problem: the Left wheel (the wheel closet to the drive mechanism)is far more chewed up than the Right wheel. Although the Right wheel is showing noticable damage too -- after 4-6 weeks.

So the Left wheel damage could be caused by a bent arm or it's closer proximity to the drive, as well as bad design.

I'll bring the Craftsman mower back. But what are some good alternatives for self propelled walk behind mowers under $300??

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 4:21AM
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also the transmission gear case has a plastic plug that needs lube once and awhile.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 6:37AM
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I'll bring the Craftsman mower back. But what are some good alternatives for self propelled walk behind mowers under $300??

You can do a a Toro pretty close to 300.00 at a Home Depot or Lowes. Even if their a little over they are worth the money. Many times both stores offer interest free charging for a year on their charge cards if you spend over 299.00 that may warrant buying even more expensive than you intended.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 6:54AM
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I would not buy ANY FWD mower, not even a Toro. What you want is a Toro or Lawn-Boy with 'Variable Speed', 'Personal Pace' or 'Sens A Speed' RWD. Most of these will be over $300, but you should be able to find some kind of a buy on one.

Here is a link that might be useful: LB 10684

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 9:20AM
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Go for the Toro #20066 with the Briggs engine.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:51PM
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I bought my Craftsman mower back in 2000. It has the Honda160 GCV engine. It now has a little over 470 hours on it. I use it year 'round, cleaning up leaves and other yard debris during the winter. I, too, have replaced my front wheels, but not because the gear teeth messed up. They still looked just fine when I replaced the wheels at about 300 hours because they had worn smooth. The rears were replaced at about the same time because they had split apart.

The gearbox, that's another story. I had to replace it at about the same time as the wheels because it had developed some kind of a leak and was almost filled with grass. The gears were worn off almost smooth. This cost me $75. The last 3 years the mower has been perfect, requiring only yearly oil changes (usually 60 to 65 hours, according tro the hour meter I have installed on it), a spark plug, and occasional blade sharpening.

I have never had a mower with a rear wheel drive; I like to just raise the front of the mower up. True, it does require a little push when the bag begins to get loaded up, but I compare that effort to power steering in a car. A little effort is required, but not much. I am going to keep this mower going until I find out just how long this Honda motor will last.

If it does wear out at some future date (it still does not burn any oil between yearly oil changes), I am tempted to try a rear wheel drive mower in light of all the recommendations I see on this board. As I am now 71 years old, it may not wear out in time for me to get much use out of any future mower.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 1:02PM
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I have a sears craftsman II 917.374520 self propelled lawn mower I purchased new around 1991 or earlier. It came with an eager 1 engine. I can say but for one of the most sorry excuses for a drive system this mower could have rivaled a Honda lawn mower.I still have this lawn mower and the engine still starts on the first or second pull after all these years albeit I have not used it after the first three years because the front wheel drive system has been locked up for all these years and because I purchased a Honda Lawn mower in 1992 which I still use to this day.The Honda has only been in the shop twice, once for a tune up and just recently in November 2010 to replace a worn throttle cable.I find that the quality of every thing else of the Crafstman lawn mower is great though.The padded handle bars and levers design can't be rivaled by any of the lawn mowers sold by Sears, Toro, Lawn boy, John Deere and many of the Honda models sold Today.These companies have been cutting corners, quality and the good material workmanship in there products for the most part.I strictly believe in keeping lawn equipment in a closed garage and not even in a car port. This is very important for longevity.My final complaint about craftsman lawn mowers and their other out door equipment is after about five years or so they stop making parts for there products.This is not the case for Honda and probably john deere or lawn boy. My strong suggestion is to go with the rear wheel drive. Belt is okay but direct drive is the best.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 6:28PM
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I bought a Craftsman Self-Propelled 3 years ago and I'm having the same exact problems with my wheels . Every year I have to replace the wheels. There should be a recall on this type of design.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 10:34PM
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I have both front wheel and rear wheel drive craftsman mowers (we have 2 houses). My wife uses the front-wheel mower and the cheap plastic wheels break very easily. Hit a rock - bump a tree - touch the fence - buy a wheel. And they are very proud of their wheels. So in addition to the 300 price tag I have to figure at least $60 a year on wheels.

The rear wheel drive is better, the rear wheels do not break as easily. They just fall apart. While the plastic with the gear is still good, the tire surrounding both wheels has disentigrated, like driving for a few miles on a flat tire. I am shopping for 2 new wheels now and the grass is getting mighty high where I can't get the rider into. I will never buying a Craftsman push mower again due to the tire issues.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 1:38PM
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We should take the junk back to sears and leave it. All hire a lawyer for class action suit.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 9:09AM
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