The Craftsman 24 inch 208cc Model 88173 is my choice as the best value 24 inch snow blower on the market. The combination of features, durability and service and parts availability make this one of the best value snow blowers. As a homeowner with a 2 car driveway up to 80 feet long, this is a great choice.
The recent article/review from Consumer Reports states this snow blower does not have single-hand controls. THEY ARE WRONG! The Craftsman 88173 does have single-hand controls. You can continue to blow snow and move forward, take your left hand off the controls and adjust the chute or change the speed.
Is the Craftsman 24 inch 208 cc Model 88173 snow blower right for you?
If I place this snow blower next to any other 24 inch model, at least half of you will buy this one. It has a large motor to move snow faster, better tires than your old snow blower and single hand drive control. The quick-turn hanging discharge chute is very robust and reliable. The chute is unique to this 24 inch snow blower and I highly recommend it.
This snow blower is the right fit if you have a typical 2 car driveway (up to 80 feet long) and you usually get 2 to 16 inches of snow at a time. It has enough power to handle heavy, wet snow and the intake is tall enough to handle 24 inch drifts. It works well on gravel driveways. I recommend this snow blower to a lot of people and very few are disappointed with it.
Compared to the other reliable brands this is a great value snow blower. It is $130 to $200 less than a comparable Ariens, Cub Cadet, or Husqvarna. Troy-Bilt and Power Smart do not have a comparable snow blower. You can purchase one and still have money left over for Christmas presents!
Craftsman is offers a snow blower for every homeowner – from “good” models that are the least expensive on the market to a “premium” model that is larger than you tractor mounted snow thrower. This “better” snow blower offers the normal suburban homeowner features never found on a Craftsman this size before at a price below the other brands. This model has quickly become one of Sears biggest sellers.
The two features I like most is the motor and the chute control.
The 208cc Craftsman motor has way more power than you will ever need. You will be able to move snow faster than you ever could with your old 5 hp/179cc snow blower. The motor has a throttle control so you can idle the snow blower down if you want to before turning it off and a safety key. (Other brands do not have a throttle and you can only shut off the motor by removing the safety key.) It also has a stepped choke so you can control the fuel mixture for all temperatures.
I also like the chute control a lot. It quickly rotates, is very easy to operate and is designed to last longer than the old bottom crank designs. The chute rotates quickly with only 3 cranks for the full 180 degrees of rotation. The “hanging chute” design eliminates the chute binding up from heavy wet snow. The hanging chute stays in place when you let go of the crank. The extra long chute controls the snow better than your old short chute and you don’t get as much snow blowing back in your face. The chute is made of a durable polymer chute and has proven just about indestructible. Snow never sticks to it.
Note! If the item is in stock at your local Sears you can order it here and within 30 minutes pick it up. If the item is not stocked you can order it here and it will get to the store in about 5 days. You can have it delivered or pick it up!
Other Important Features
What makes this snow blower a value?
Large 208 cc motor. On a 24 inch snow blower this is plenty of power to go through the heaviest snows. This efficient Over Head Valve motor with electric start is sized to get you job done quickly and efficiently.
Poly skid shoes that don’t mark your new patio or stained driveway yet are as tough as the steel shoes on other brands.
New EZ chute control. This new chute is one of the easiest and fastest to use.
The extended polymer chute puts the snow where you want it. I witnessed a chute driven over by a pickup and still bounced back to it’s original shape. Try that with a steel chute.
Push button electric start
24 inch clearing width, 21 inch intake height
12 inch impeller and 12 inch auger
6 forward and 2 reverse speeds
13 X 4 X-trac tires
Single hand operation. You can continue blowing snow and adjust the chute or speed without stopping
Optional HID LED light . This bright light gives you the illumination you need to move snow all night long.
The tires have a lot more traction than the ones found on the cheaper 24 inch snow blowers. But, if you go off-roading with your snow blower and need to clear a spot off your lawn for your dogs, the tires are a little small. They work well on your driveway, patio and sidewalks but you will have to work with the machine to get your lawn area cleared.
Reviews on Sears.com
Sears.com does not edit reviews. I read all of the 1, 2 and 3 star reviews and over 80% of the reviews were not about this machine. This machine has only been around for 1 season and Craftsman fixed issues the previous machine had (Model 88957). In particular:
Carburetor – I had to change. I’m older than you and I’m sure you can change to! The problems with the carburetor is today’s fuel. Throw out that old metal gas can. Always close the vent and put the cap on your gas can. Take the fuel you used this summer and last winter and put it in your car. Buy new fuel and I strongly recommend only buy a month’s supply. (I have a 2 gallon can) If you live in an area that has high humidity (anywhere in the U.S.) use a fuel stabilizer with a moisture absorbent. Sea Foam and Marine StaBil are two that come to mind. When you buy fuel do not buy the cheapest fuel. If possible buy unleaded fuel without ethanol. If your engine has a fuel shutoff, use it. By the way, a fuel filter will not eliminate fuel problems on a snow blower. The current instructions from the engine manufactures is to leave stabilized fuel in the snow blower. Don’t run it dry for storage.
Oil in the shipping box – Most two stage snow blowers come with the oil already in the engine. If you get a new one and there is an oil stain inside the box, the snow blower is not broke. Someone has left the snow blower tipped on it’s side or upside down. The oil has leaked out of the fill tube. Check the oil before you start your new engine and add oil to the fill mark if it needs it. There have been no other engine oil leaks reported.
Auger won’t spin – You will break shear pins. They are designed to break if you hit anything that might damage the snow blower. Sticks, garden hoses, branches, rocks, shoes, kids toys and chunks of ice will break the shear pins.
Overall the Craftsman 24 inch 208cc Model 88173 two stage snow thrower is one of the best value snow blowers on the market. I called it a “best buy” first last year and all of the other major magazines and review sites agree. I have a 2 car drive, 70 feet long, a patio and I clear an area in the backyard for my dogs. I would buy this machine for my own use.
Where To Get One
Sears is the best place to buy your Craftsman! They always have the best price and a great reputation for getting the purchase to you quickly. They also have good customer service.
Be Careful! This snow blower is sold through Sears and Sears Hometown Stores ONLY! You may find other “factory-direct discount” stores and websites trying to sell it, but make sure they are authorized Sears sales representatives.
All Snow Blowers need maintenance. When you get your new snow blower home be sure to read the manual, check all the fluid levels and bolts. Learn how to change the shear pins and inspect the drive belts. (The belts are easy to change if you tear one up) ALWAYS have extra shear pins on hand. Learn how to start it and operate it. Snow blower engines run differently than your lawn mower engine. Most of the time you will have the choke on to some degree. (That’s why there are 4 positions on the choke) Practice using it on you driveway. (Don’t run the engine more than 10 minutes if the temperature is over 45 degrees) If you have any questions leave a comment below and we (other readers and myself) will gladly answer your questions. Above all PLEASE use a fuel stabilizer like Sea Foam or blue Stabil in your gas.
Value: At around $689 on sale it is a good value. Watch for special “Shop Your Way Rewards” sales, no interest or cash back with a Sears Card, Family & Friends, and Midnight Madness Sales that will discount the price even more.
Service & Parts Availability: With this snow blower you have the choice of calling 1-800-4MY-Home and have a tech come out and fix it OR take it to your local Sears and they will have it serviced for you. With a protection plan either way is no-charge to you. If you damage the snow blower yourself parts are easily available through searspartsdirect.com.
Here are a few tips to get the best out of this snowblower. 1. Read the operator’s manual and familiarize yourself with the operation of the machines BEFORE you have to blow snow with it. 2. The 3 or 5 year home protection plan can be a great value. Sears will fix your snow blower and give the satisfaction that it will work for you for the 3 or 5 years. 3. Practice using the chute so you really understand how to use it. The deflector has a tensioning adjustment that you can change it for light or heavy, wet snow. 4. When you get your new blower home, get it out of the box, learn how to start it and use it before the first snow. Take it out and practice with it in the driveway. (If there is a manufacturing issue, you will find it now instead of when the snow is 12 inches deep.) 5. Use a fuel stabilizer like Stabil (Marine) or Seafoam. Put it in your gas can when you fill it at the pump.