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Sears - Hoffman Estates, Il / Craftsman Lawn Mower / very poorly made piece of equipment, terrible service!

1 United States Review updated:

Here is the text of a letter that I sent :

John C. Walden
Executive vice president
Chief customer officer.

Sears Roebuck and Co.
Sears Holdings
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179

Dear Mr. Walden:

In March, 2004 I bought a Craftsman model 917.273641 riding lawn mower for $1,637.08. It was my first riding lawn mower as well as my first major purchase from Sears Roebuck and Co. Over three years later now I can safely state that it has been one of the biggest mistakes and worst purchases that I have ever made. If the lawn mower I bought is any indication of the quality of the products that Sears sells, then it will be the only purchase I ever make at Sears.

While I have meticulously maintained the Sears Craftsman riding lawn mower from the day of purchase, I have had nothing problems.

In the beginning the problems weren't serious, - all of the tires developed slow leaks and the gas line was constantly clogging. Although there was plenty of tread on the tires, they were developing small leaks in their sidewalls. They appeared to have a case of "dry rot" something that is usually not found in rubber products for at least several years. I was lucky and four cans of stop-leak fluid solved the problem, though not after a lot of frustration. The gas line clogging problem was due to dirt in the gas tank. I have no idea how it got there, but it appeared to have been sold with it in the tank. It required a thorough flushing of both the gas tank and gas line, after replacing numerous fuel filters, to resolve it.

Six months later, in December 2004, the main drive belt broke. The reason that it broke also seemed to be "dry rot." The entire belt had segmented into 6 inch sections before it broke. The replacement belt has been in use for two and a half years with no problems. Please note that none of these items - tires, gas tank and belts were covered under warranty and their repair cost was $200.00.

In September 2006, the mower would not start. At that time there was only 98.9 hours on the engine. It was discovered that the engine had a bent pushrod. I consider this to be highly unusual. Nothing can explain why it happened, and it certainly wasn't anything that I could have done. Luckily, I managed to have it replaced for less than $100.00. Once again, the warranty didn't cover the cost. It was then over two years old and no longer valid.

The latest problems occurred in June of this year. The electric clutch bearings seized. This is not only very serious, but also very expensive. An electric clutch costs $218.52 (uninstalled.) In addition, both of the mandrel bearings located on the deck need replacing. The total cost for all the repairs necessary to have a functioning mower would cost $680.00.

The only thing that I would consider being "normal" in all of the maintenance that needs to be performed is the battery replacement. But two years is a considerably shorter life than I would normally expect to receive from a battery. Please note that I have not included any oil, air and oil filter changes, spark plugs, new blades and lubrication in any of the above mentioned maintenance costs.

I honestly do not know what I am going to do. I am very hesitant to put any more money into what seems to be a very poorly made piece of equipment. I would have to put more than half the value of the original purchase price in repairs (for just three years use) to be able to continue to use it.

Since the development of the bearing problems, I have endeavored to look at riding lawn mowers made by other manufacturers to see if they would have the some of the same problems. I have made some interesting observations that I would like to share with your.

1. Craftsman riding lawn mower deck design is the only design that seemed have completely neglected what happens to yard clippings after lawn is mowed. All other mowers have a flat top that prevents the collection of debris. Craftsman has an indentation where the bearings that hold the spindles for the lawn mower blades that does an excellent job of collecting and holding debris. It is also difficult to remove. If water is used to remove debris, it results in the eventual destruction of the mandrel bearings which leads to observation #2.

2. Almost all other riding lawn mower manufacturers use shielded or sealed bearings. If they don't, then they equip their bearings with zerk fittings so that they can have additional grease added which flushes out debris in addition to providing new lubricant. Craftsman mowers have almost no zerk fittings anywhere and they have none on any of their bearings. This guarantees that there will be significant maintenance problems for the life of the mower.

A piece of equipment that is intended to be used outdoors, should be designed appropriately and have parts that are intended for outdoor use, or at the very least, be able to be maintained to continue reasonable operation. Exposed bearings, in a location that has been designed to collect debris will cause rapid deterioration of the bearings. This applies to the mandrel bearings as well as the clutch bearings.

I was told recently that the engine on the mower has "good compression." However, considering the repairs that have incurred for less than 125 hours of operation, I have serious doubts as to the overall longevity of a lawn mower that requires over $900 in repairs every three years.

As a result of my experience, I have very serious reservations about ever buying anything at Sears Roebuck and Co. I can't imagine why anyone would want to purchase what appears to be nothing but problems.

After reading numerous complaints about Craftsman riding lawn mowers on the internet, I have have noticed several things about Sears and Craftsman products:

* I am not alone with my problems. In fact, compared to some other people I have been relatively lucky.

* Craftsman quality seems to be an oxymoron. There appear to be a LOT of Craftsman riding lawn mowers that are unreliable. The reason appears to be that they are poorly designed and use inferior parts.

* Sears service is an oxymoron. Repair and service of Sears Craftsman products is not only expensive, but unreliable.

* Sears doesn't seem to care very much, if at all.

As a result, there are a LOT of people who emphatically state that they will never buy anything from Sears and have told their friends to not buy anything from Sears.

--
"Commune hoc ignorantiae vitium est: quae nescias, nequicquam esse profiteri"

(A common thing with the ignorant, to despise what they do not understand; James Leoni's translation, London 1726 - this translation is not entirely to the point, either, I feel - a better one might be: "A common vice among ignorants is to reject the idea that there is anything to know" i.e., "don't confuse me with the facts.")

"It's much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem." -- anonymous

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Comments

  • Ph
      15th of Jul, 2008
    0 Votes

    I also purchased a Craftsamn, lawn tractor, model # 917.274390 from Sears. Since the purchase 3 years ago (only been used for 2 years) I have probably spent as much in repairs as I paid for the mower. I have replaced almost every part on the mower except for the motor.

    I had not planned on purchasing another new mower this soon, but I refuse to continued to throw good money into a bad product. I have been very disappointed in the service I received and the product. My next purchase will definitely not be a Craftsman.

  • Su
      18th of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    We bought a model #917.273641 in July 2004 thinking I would have a good lawn tractor for many year of service at the price of $1600. Not so! We have had trouble every year at the beginning of the season. Every year it's something different that has to be replaced, just like the persons above, Randy and Phyllis! From the motor to the deck has had problems and I only have 150 hrs. on this tractor. Now we are off today to get a V belt! Something is always wrong with this lawn tractor and we will never buy another one from Sears or a Craftsman. Besides how can you not wash a lawn tractor? We have been blowing it off and scrapping the grass clippings off the bottom of the deck and it is still rusting out at only 4 years old!
    We are very disappointed in the quality of this Sears product! Shame on you!

  • 44
      8th of Mar, 2009
    0 Votes

    I agree that Craftsman mowers are expensive to maintain. The mandrel bearings on my mower deck are constantly failing and expensive to replace. There are no grease zerks for lubricating them on a regular basis. The 2o hp Kohler engine runs great and I have experienced no problems with my transmission but feel betrayed because my shop is filled with Craftsman labels and I've never run into a buy 3 get one FREE offer on the mandrel bearings ! Oh yeah, I wanted to add a clippings catcher to the machine after I owned it only 3 years and Sears told me the assembly was NO LONGER AVAILABLE / DISCONTINUED !

  • Da
      19th of May, 2010
    0 Votes

    I don't know the model # but I bought a 08 54" deck 27hp mower. Biggest piece of s@#* I have ever owned, I mowed the yard 3 times before the mounting bracket that the idler pulley bolts to broke into causing the belt pulley to lose tension, belt coming loose and cutting a 1/4" gap into the belt. Called Sears to find out where to take it only to find out you can't take the riding mowers in that they send a service man out to you. Which happens to take 2 weeks for him to get there to tell you that you need a new deck which you already knew, then 2 weeks for it to come in then 2 weeks to reschedule for the service man to come out and put the new deck back on. So I had to pay someone to come cut my yard after spending almost 3000.00 for a new mower while I waited for 6 weeks for sears to get someone out to my house to repair my pos mower. Well It's been 2 years and about 4-5 belts later, about 6 re welds on the replacement pos deck and I just came in from spending 2 hours re welding the bracket back on under the idler pulley again and it broke in a different place after mowing for about 35 minutes. Sears should be ashamed of their mowers and if they had their old "satisfaction guaranteed" policy I would drive right up to there front door and dump this POS out and ask for a refund so I could go buy a real riding lawn mower that I could actually mow with one time without having to put a wrench on the damn thing!!! I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER OWN ANYTHING THAT SAYS CRAFTSMAN ON IT AGAIN EXCEPT FOR THEIR TOOLS!!!

  • Mi
      31st of Jul, 2010
    0 Votes

    i agree. craftsman is the biggest crap ever. 42 inch 6moths old and 2 transmissions later... never buy this CRAP

  • Li
      15th of Jun, 2011
    0 Votes

    54" DYS 4500 mower with 114.9 hours on it. Started having trouble with it 5 months in. mower deck is cracked in 3 places, have lost 3 gauge wheels becuase the metal has cracked, the shifting mechanism has popped off leaving me with no way to select my deck depth... i could keep going. Have been through 3 mandrel assemblies ($270 installed!) not necessarily because the mandrel gets f'd up but because the bolt enterring the lower shaft assembly is so finely threaded that when it the threads roll over, you can't get it out and end up either paying a machinist to remedy it, or just taking out the whole kit n' kaboodle. Hey what is necessary to start some sort of class action lawsuit? Have you all been to Better Business bureau and filed a claim against sears there? I'm heading in that direction. My initial purchase of $1700 amounts to $567 a year in mowing.. which is more than I'd have paid a lawncare company to use their equipment, their gas and their time on my lawn. Forget about sears, go with john Deere or Cub Cadet... at least they stand by their equipment. Sears is a company filled with thankless losers- they don't even realize that its us customers that keep them afloat. I am going to do my due diligence by telling everyone i know, and putting stuff on facebook and everything (maybe i'll start a page where people can post pictures of their repair bills and obsolete pieces of metal) that will shed Sears/Crafstman in a negative light. THey deserve it.

  • Cr
      12th of May, 2013
    0 Votes

    Oh boy!!! This is a case of getting ripped off cause I didn't do my reacerch! In June of 2011 I bought a crapsman riding lawnmower model# 917258591 used for $280. Seems how it came from my neighbor who is obsessive with maintence, I figured it would be a good deal... WRONG! In my ownership I have replaced these parts... Air filter, spark plug, fuel filter, blades, and that's when the "consumable maintence parts" ended. Then I've replaced the carborator, tie rod bushings, drag link, steering gear assembly witch is about 6 parts, FRONT AXEL cause it had split at the welds, including all bushings for the axel, muffler, all tires "due to rotting", all belts, seat, ALL BUT ONE of the pullys on the mower deck, tensioner pully for the drive belt, linkage arm for the mower engagement, all 3 mandrel bearings on mower deck. I think that's it but probably not. So any way it's May now in 2013 and have been getting noise from the mower deck. Apon inspection I found that 2 of the mandrel bearings need to be replaced AGAIN!!! Barely making it 2 yrs. Also found that the drive belt is about to shred, another 2yr part! As for what Randy L. Said about the mower deck and grass clippings I agree. With razor sharp blades I have to mow at a mind numbing slow speed or it will not cut the grass all the way. And they didn't offset the blades enough so if I turn sharply ill leave a strip.

    This has not always been the case with Sears cause 6 yrs ago we had to junk the "SEARS" lawn mower that we had. It was my grandma's riding mower, it did only last 28 YEARS!!! It was still running, just couldn't get parts for the transmission. With that being said, I DON'T KNOW WHAT SEARS IS PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE BUT IF THEIR QUALITY KEEPS GOING DOWN HILL I'M SURE THEY WILL END UP LIKE MONTGOMERY WARDS, TROY BILT CO. ETC.

    ONE THING IS SERTAIN "I WILL NEVER AND I MEAN EVER EVEN IF ITS FREE, WILL EVER OWN ANOTHER CRAFTSMAN RIDING MOWER"

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