2017 Craftsman Snow Blowers – What’s New – Which One Is Best For You?

What’s New For 2017 Craftsman Snow Blowers?

Officially, Craftsman added one 24 inch 2-stage with power steering this year.  The brand new Craftsman 88640 24″ 208cc Dual Stage Zero-Turn Snowblower features large tires, large poly skid shoes and a simple, easy to use chute control. This is a snow blower that I’ve felt Craftsman should have had many years ago and I’m really excited that they built it with the features that owners want the most. I’ll review it a little later in this article.

There are also a few engine and other updates for individual machines. I’ll list those down below.

I know many of you also missed the introduction of the heavy-duty 30 and 34 inch Craftsman Pro models and the larger 28 inch quiet engine model last year so I’ll also go over them in detail.

How this article is laid out:

I’m going to start with the economy models first and then the most popular Deluxe models. After that I’ll review the heavy-duty models followed by the 3-stage snow blowers. I’ll leave the single stage machines for last.

Reading Craftsman Snow Blower Reviews:

When you read snow blower reviews you are going to find reviews that state “the engine would not start,” “the engine won’t stay running.” and “the engine runs rough.” You will find these reviews for all brands and sizes of snow blowers.

98% of the time engine problems with snow blowers are either fuel or operator related. Snow engines run/operate differently than your lawn mower engine. Educating yourself on how to store fuel, how to keep your fuel clean and how/why your snow blower engine runs the way it does will go a long way to liking your new snow blower. Please read this article to learn more: Buying A New Snow Blower FAQS – Read This For The Truth

By The Way – Craftsman is doing fine.

You and I know that the news media feels the only way they can get your attention is to write “gloom & doom” headlines. Craftsman, Sears Repair Services and Sears Parts Direct are all doing well and will continue to serve you for many years to come. Remember – the news media wrote all those “the company will never make it” headlines about Amazon for the first ten years it was around.

To take this a little farther here is an accurate response I wrote to a reader last month who wanted to buy a new Craftsman.

From Terri: thanks Paul…thing is, Sears standing in the universe is questionable at best…what would happen with the warranty…if they go and I get my machine from them? Thanks again!

MY RESPONSE: Hi Terri, Did you know Sears is building/remodeling stores? Of course you didn’t – the main stream news only wants you to know the negatives about Sears and other things that don’t agree with their viewpoint on the world. Sorry, that’s my politics for the day……

Three points you should know. I hope this helps.

1. Sears may or may not go out of business but that will not affect the repair/warranty and parts for Craftsman. The company who actually repairs your tractor is Sears Repair Services and the company you get parts from is Sears Parts Direct. These two companies are not part of the Sears that the news says is going belly up.

2. Craftsman is now owned by Stanley/Black & Decker. Sears sold it off in January. Part of that sale allows Sears to sell Craftsman products for quite a while but the sale also allows Stanley/Black & Decker to sell Craftsman anywhere they want.. I wouldn’t be surprised in the next 5 years to see Craftsman in the same stores that sell Black & Decker and DeWalt.

3. When you buy your tractor there will be a model number under the seat. The model number on your snow blower is on the rear frame. If that model number starts with 247 the tractor/snow blower is made by MTD and 90% of the parts are also found on a Cub Cadet, Columbia or Troy-Bilt. If the model number starts with 917 the tractor/snow blower was made by Husqvarna and 90% of the parts are also found on Husqvarna and Poulan Pro machines. In addition, the engines and transmissions are made by companies that sell to all brands and you can get parts for them at any mower repair shop.

Most models of snow blowers are in stock at your local Sears store. Order it online through the links in this article and pick it up at your nearest Sears. You may also have it delivered to your home. Note: Sears Hometown Stores may not carry all models in stock.

One last Note: All of the links in this article will take you to Sears.com. There you can purchase/order your snowblower and have it delivered to your home or pick it up at your local Sears. Sears has many ways to buy and many ways to save. Always check the special offers tab on the snow blower page itself. Yes, You ALWAYS get the best deal buying online at sears.com. When you buy through those links I make a small commission on the sale.

Let’s get started!

2-Stage Economy Craftsman Snow Blowers

Craftsman has 3 snow blowers that are inexpensive, yet do the job for many homeowners. All three machines use the same quality parts as the more expensive machine – they just don’t have as many features or power.  They have the same warranty as the more expensive models. One model, the 88173 is one of the best value snow blowers on the market today.  If you live in a subdivision with a 2 car driveway and get 80 inches of snow or less a year it’s a great choice.

Model 88173: The 24 inch 88173 continues to be one of the best value snow blowers on the market. Craftsman arguably has sold more units than any model. It works well for 2 car driveways up to 80 feet or so and can easily handle a 12 inch or deeper snow.  The high intake also means it can clear that 21 inch snow plow drift the snow plows left you over night. I highly recommend this snow blower if you have a 2 car driveway about 80 feet long, (or single car equivalent) get an average snow fall of 80 inches or less a year. It’s designed to work on gravel, turf, cement and black top. The deep lug tires and 208cc engine are just the right size for this snow blower. It also has the poly skid shoes so it won’t scratch your stamped and decorative driveways and patio. Last but not least, the long discharge chute puts the snow where you want it and is very easy to use. This model does not have power steering but is light enough for most people to use. Yes, there are a lot of bigger, larger, and more expensive snow blowers on the market, but if you just want a decent 2-stage to clear your smaller driveway this is one of the best choices. It is still one of the best value machines out there.

One last thing – the Model 88173:  has a 5 star rating of 68%!. That is one of the highest rating of all the snow blowers. I’m not the only one who likes this snow blower!

Model 88172: If you have to have the least expensive 2-stage snow blower on the market this is the one.  The 179cc 24 inch 88172 is most like your old 5 hp Craftsman that you are replacing it with. It’s a simple snow blower capable of handling 8 to 12 inch snows. Understand the engine is not as big as the other models so it won’t throw 50 feet. With the smaller engine it will also take you longer to clear your driveway – but it will still get the job done. It’s a much better snow blower for most people than a single stage snow thrower. It’s one of the few snow blowers in this price range with electric start. The intake is higher than your 20-year-old Craftsman which means it can clear that 21 inch snow plow drift the snow plows left you over night. This is a decent snow blower if you have a 2 car driveway about 40 feet long, (or single car equivalent) get an average snow fall of 50 inches or less a year. It’s designed to work on gravel, turf, cement and black top. The deep lug tires are the right size for this snow blower. It also has the poly skid shoes so it won’t scratch your stamped and decorative driveways and patio. This model does not have power steering but is light enough for most people to use. Don’t expect this model to clear heavy, wet snow or have a lot of traction for clearing the snow plow drift.

Model 88433: There are a few people who just have to have a 2-stage snow blower that is less than 24 inches. If you are one of those people this snow blower is basically the same snow blower as the 88172 above but with a smaller 22 inch cutting width, smaller tires, and steel skid shoes. This is a decent snow blower if you have a 1 car driveway about 40 feet long and get an average snow fall of 40 inches or less a year. Don’t expect this model to clear heavy, wet snow or have a lot of traction for clearing the snow plow drift.

Sears has many sales and special offers running all the time. Please click on the links below to see the latest.  Be sure to look under the special offers tabs on their product page.

Sears Stock Item # 88433 88172 88173
engine 4-cycle / 179cc OHV 4-cycle / 179cc OHV 4-cycle / 208 cc OHV
starter type electric electric electric
clearing width 22″ 24” 24″
intake height 21″ 21” 21″
auger / impeller 12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
speeds 6F/2R 6F/2R 6F/2R
Drive Control      
operation control     single hand control
chute control crank / manual crank / manual EZ Rotation Chute
tire size 10″ x 4″ Snow Hog 13” x 4” X-Trac 13″ x 4″ X-Trac
headlight    
skid shoes Steel Glide-Tech™ Glide-Tech™
handle steel panel steel panel panel
warranty 2 year limited 2 year limited 2 year limited
extended chute     Yes
drift cutters      
Typical Sale Price  (Sales Change Often) $629.99 $599.99 $679.99
Check Sale Price – Buy Here -> Craftsman 88433 22″ 179cc Dual-Stage Snowblower  Craftsman 88172 24″ 179cc Dual-Stage Snowblower Craftsman 88173 24″ 208cc Dual-Stage Snowblower

 

Sears always has special financing offers for you.

Sears has many sales and special offers running all the time. Please click on the links below to see the latest.  Be sure to look under the special offers tabs on their product page.

2-Stage Deluxe Craftsman Snow Blowers

Craftsman snow blowers are among the most popular snow blowers. Along with the Model 88173 above the Deluxe models in this group make up a large share of snow blowers sold in the U. S. They are just the right size and power for the majority of the homes and driveways north of Interstate 80.  In other words if you normally get 2-14 inch snows and average 60-100 inches a year these are great machines. They all have a 21 inch intake height so they will handle drifts and the occasional blizzard. No, they don’t have the capacity of the heavy-duty, “snow belt” machines but for most of us they are just the right combination of features, power and price.

Model 88640: If I wanted a new snow blower this year for my 2-car Midwest driveway this snow blower would be on my shortlist. It has large tires for the best traction on gravel and turf and power steering so anyone can use it. The discharge chute is simple to use, won’t bind up and is long so the snow goes where you want it too. The engine controls have been redesigned so they are easier to see and use.

The intake is higher than your 20-year-old Craftsman which means it can clear that 21 inch snow plow drift the snow plows left you over night. This is a decent snow blower if you have a 2 car driveway 60-80 feet long, (or single car equivalent) get an average snow fall of 80 inches or so a year. It’s designed to work on gravel, turf, cement and black top. The deep lug tires are better and larger than Craftsman has ever installed on a 24 inch snow blower so it will have excellent traction. It also has the poly skid shoes so it won’t scratch your stamped and decorative driveways and patio. This model has power steering and is light enough for most people to use. Don’t expect this model to clear heavy, wet lake effect snow, but it will handle the snow plow drift at the end of your driveway well.

Model 88694: This snow blower has all the operational features you want like power steering and 4-way chute and is 45% quieter than other 208cc  gas engines. If you don’t want to wake the neighbors or just want the quietest gas-powered snow blower this is the one. Best of all this snow blower is a good, quality American made snow blower that costs the same or less than the Chinese models that are trying to sneak into the country.

Model 88394: This is one of the better value snow blowers in the 28 inch size. It has all the features you want including headlight, drift cutters, long-lasting poly skid shoes and 4-way chute control. The power steering makes it easy to use the Quiet engine makes it a great engine to operate. If you need “stealth mode” to keep peace in the neighborhood this snow blowers engine is 45% quieter than the standard Craftsman 208cc engine. This is a great snow blower if you have a 2-car drive 100-150 feet long, live in an area that gets up to 80 inches of snow a year and also have gravel and turf areas to clean.

Model 88396: This is one of the large frame snow blowers that just about anyone can operate. It’s balanced very well and the controls are right where they need to be. The controls on the redesigned engine are easy to see and use. This snow blower has been around for quite some time and has proven to be an excellent, dependable machine. It’s great for larger areas and 16” x 6.5” X-Trac tires give it the extra traction and flotation needed to work well off the pavement. It is very smooth and easy to use so it works well on 2-8 inches of snow just as well as a 14-18 inch’er.  Yes, Like I’ve been saying for the last 10 years – the electric chute control and thumb-joystick on this snow blower is bulletproof.

Sears Stock Item # 88640 88694 88394 88396
engine 4-cycle / 208 cc OHV 4-cycle / 208 cc OHV
Quiet Engine
4-cycle / 243cc OHV
Quiet Engine
New Engine Redesign 4-cycle / 357cc OHV
starter type electric electric electric electric
clearing width 24″ 26” 28″ 30”
intake height 21” 21” 21″ 21”
auger / impeller 12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
12” serrated auger /
updated 12” impeller
speeds 6F/2R 6F/2R 6F/2R 6F/2R
Drive Control Power Steering Power Steering Power Steering Power Steering
operation control single hand control single hand control single hand control single hand control
chute control EZ Rotation Chute 4-way joystick 4-way joystick 4-way electric
tire size 15” x 5” X-Trac 15” x 5” X-Trac 15” x 5” X-Trac 16” x 6.5” X-Trac
headlight     LED headlight LED headlight
skid shoes Deluxe Glide-Tech™ deluxe Glide-Tech™ deluxe Glide-Tech™ Deluxe Glide-Tech
handle deluxe panel design deluxe panel design deluxe panel design deluxe panel design
warranty 2 year limited 2 year limited 2 year limited 2 year limited
extended chute Yes Yes Yes Yes
drift cutters     Yes Yes
Typical Sale Price  (Sales Change Often) $799.99 $899.99 $999.99 $1,199.99
 Check Sale Price – Buy Here -> Craftsman 88640 24″ 208cc Dual Stage Zero-Turn Snowblower Craftsman 88694 26″ Quiet 208cc Dual-Stage Zero Turn Snowblower  Craftsman 88394 28″ 243cc Dual-Stage Snowblower with Quiet Engine Craftsman 88396 30″ 357cc Dual Stage Zero-Turn Snow Blower

 

Did you know Sears.com has free layaway on snow blowers?

Sears has many sales and special offers running all the time. Please click on the links below to see the latest.  Be sure to look under the special offers tabs on their product page.

Heavy-Duty Craftsman Pro Snow Blowers

Last year Craftsman introduced this new snow blower to replace the old, tired 33 and 45 inch models but no one really explained why it’s such a leap forward for Craftsman.. I won’t spend any time explaining why the old MTD built models were so bad. Let’s just say – they are gone! – and move on.

The Model 88976 and Model 88978 snow blowers are completely new and very heavy-duty. They feature thicker steel, better components including all steel discharge chutes, 14 inch impellers and 14 inch front auger systems. These new snow blowers even have handle supports so using them is much easier than the old models.

It’s big and awesome but balanced well and surprisingly easy to use. I highly recommend these snow blowers if you have a long driveway to clear, or you get large doses of heavy, wet snow. These are high-end home owner snow blowers not commercial machines but I would have no problems recommending them to a church or other business that needs to clear large areas once or twice a week.

Compare this new heavy-duty Craftsman Pro to the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm, Ariens Platinum 30, Husqvarna ST330P and the Toro PowerMax HD 1028.

I’ll say it – “For half the price as the Honda you get a snow blower that will perform just as well.”

This year (2107) Craftsman added the new sloped engine design. It’s much easier to see and use the engine controls.

This year Consumer Reports rated this snow blower and its fraternal twin – the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm, as the two best 2-stage machines. In addition, it scored just as well as the Cub Cadet 3X HD. 

By the way, the only difference besides the service/parts between the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm and the Craftsman Pro is the Craftsman has a separate hand crank for the chute and lever for the deflector. The Troy-Bilt uses the electric joystick. The Craftsman Pro also has drift cutters, LED lights and an extra front light. You can watch my videos of the Arctic Storm here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=vNHWM3JYG4c and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASJb3_PqKoI&t=121s

   
Sears Stock Item # 88976 88978
engine New Engine Redesign 4-cycle / 357 cc OHV New Engine Redesign 4-cycle / 420 cc OHV
starter type electric electric
clearing width 30″ 34″
intake height 23″ 23″
auger / impeller 14″ serrated auger /
14″ impeller
14″ serrated auger /
14″ impeller
speeds 6F/2R 6F/2R
Drive Control Power Steering Power Steering
operation control single hand control single hand control
chute control crank / remote pitch crank / remote pitch
tire size 16” x 6.5” X-Trac 16” x 6.5” X-Trac
headlight LED in dash plus LED light bar LED in dash plus LED light bar
skid shoes Large Deluxe Glide-Tech Large Deluxe Glide-Tech
handle deluxe panel design deluxe panel design
warranty 2 year limited 2 year limited
extended chute Yes – Metal Yes – Metal
drift cutters Yes Yes
Typical Sale Price  (Sales Change Often) $1,499.99 $1,699.99
  Check Sale Price – Buy Here -> Craftsman 31AH8DSH799 30″ 357cc Dual-Stage Snowblower w/ Power Steering  Craftsman 31AH8ESJ799 34″ 420cc Dual Stage Snowblower w/ Power Steering

 

You can also lease Craftsman Snow Blowers

 

Sears has many sales and special offers running all the time. Please click on the links below to see the latest.  Be sure to look under the special offers tabs on their product page.

3-Stage Craftsman Pro Snow Blowers

Craftsman makes a snow blower for just about every driveway in the U.S.  So, they offer two 3-stage machines.  The snow blowers work well if you typically get 8-16 snows.  These snow blowers don’t work well on solid, frozen snow and tend to be a little messy when blowing snow falls less than 4 inches.

Someday I’d like Consumer Reports to explain how these two snow blowers rate lower than the Troy-Bilt and Cub Cadet counterparts. They are made for Craftsman by MTD and use the same parts and come off the same assembly line as the Troy-Bilt and Cub Cadet machines. The ONLY difference is the color. Maybe their way of testing is not as an exact science as they’d like you to believe…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H451OQnNgzk

   
Sears Stock Item # 88870 88874
engine 4 cycle / 277cc OHV New Engine Redesign 4-cycle / 357cc OHV
starter type electric electric
clearing width 24″ 28″
intake height 21″ 21″
auger / impeller 12″ / 12″ / 12″
3 Stage System
12″ / 12″ / 12″
3 Stage System
speeds 6F/2R 6F/2R
Drive Control Power Steering Power Steering
operation control single hand control single hand control
chute control 4-way joystick 4-way joystick
tire size 15″ x 5″ X-Trac 16″ x 6.5″ X-Trac
headlight LED headlight LED headlight
skid shoes Deluxe Glide-Tech™ Deluxe Glide-Tech™
handle deluxe panel design deluxe panel design
warranty 2 year limited 2 year limited
extended chute Yes Yes
drift cutters Yes Yes
Typical Sale Price  (Sales Change Often) $1,199.99 $1,399.99
  Check Sale Price – Buy Here -> Craftsman 88870 24″ 277cc 3-Stage Snowblower w/ Power Steering Craftsman 88874 28″ 357cc 3-Stage Snowblower w/ Power Steering

 

Parts is parts and Sears has all the parts and service for your current and new Craftsman snow blower

Sears has many sales and special offers running all the time. Please click on the links below to see the latest.  Be sure to look under the special offers tabs on their product page.

Single Stage Craftsman Snow Blowers

     
Sears Stock Item # 11683 88780 88782
engine 4-cycle / 123 cc OHV 4-cycle / 179 cc OHV 4-cycle / 208cc OHV
starter type recoil electric electric
clearing width 21” 21” 21″
intake height 13” 13” 13″
auger / impeller Snow Claw Snow Claw Snow Claw
speeds auger propelled auger propelled auger propelled
Drive Control      
operation control      
chute control manual manual 2-way joystick
tire size 8″ x 2″ 8″ x 2″ 8″ x 2″
headlight     LED
skid shoes n/a n/a n/a
handle ergonomic ergonomic ergonomic
warranty 2 year limited 2 year limited 2 year limited
extended chute      
drift cutters      
Typical Sale Price  (Sales Change Often) $399.99 $499.99 $599.99
  Check Sale Price – Buy Here -> Craftsman 11683 21″ 123cc Single-Stage Snowblower Craftsman 88780 21″ 179cc Single-Stage Snowblower w/ Electric Start I don’t know when this snow blower will be available.

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4 Comments

  1. Tony Nguyen September 20, 2017

I'll be glad you help you find the best snow blower. Please tell me the city, state and how large an area you want to clear.

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