No frills, but most can operate it easily. The Craftsman 88957 lacks amenities such as a headlight and heated handgrips, but Paul Sikkema of MovingSnow.com nonetheless says it's "balanced well and easy to use." Many owners agree; "it would nearly walk all by itself," says one on Viewpoints.com. That's impressive, considering that this blower weighs nearly 200 pounds.
You can control the 88957's motor and auger with one hand, leaving the other free to steer and control the joystick that changes the chute direction. If you want to adjust the chute's deflector top, you'll have to stop the machine first. The blower has an electric starter, offers six forward speeds and two reverse, and is quiet enough that hearing protection isn't needed. However, smaller users -- or those with bad backs -- may find the 88957 hard to turn; it doesn't have power steering, and you can't disengage either or both of the drive wheels to make turning easier.
Reviewers across the board approve of the unit's "beefy" 13-by-4-inch tires, and although some regular maintenance is required, you don't have to mix gas with oil for its four-cycle engine. The Craftsman 88957 is also relatively quiet for a gas blower, and Sikkema says its polymer skid shoes won't leave marks. A few owners complain about the cost of replacement parts, a common theme with Craftsman snow blowers, but most report multiple years of trouble-free use.
Powerful enough to tackle deep snow and plow berms. The Craftsman 88957 scores near the top of its category in one independent, expert evaluation; reviewers say the blower is powerful enough to tackle moderate snowfalls, and it performs well at both removing snowplow berms and clearing surfaces. However, it gets only average scores for speed. According to Sikkema, this 24-inch snow blower is "just right" for a 16-by-80-foot driveway, but it won't remove snow as quickly as larger, more powerful blowers can.
A majority of owners posting feedback at Sears.com agree that the 88957 "does well in deep snow," and one says that when he "woke up to 1 foot of heavy snow, it cleared the snow very easily in front of our house, and for five other neighbors over the next two hours." The consensus is nearly unanimous with another positive review: "We are going on our fifth winter with this snow blower and it has worked great. We have a longer than average driveway and this blower clears it in no time -- even when we have a really heavy snow, it goes through it quickly."
Users say the Craftsman 88957 goes fairly easy on your gas budget, too. One posts at Viewpoints.com that he did his "upper and lower driveway along with a neighbor's upper and lower driveway and another neighbor's driveway on 1-1/2 tanks of fuel."
A power-packed value. Reviewers say the Craftsman 88957 two-stage snow blower is a great value for paved or gravel surfaces, including slopes. This machine is overkill if you only need to clear a short sidewalk or deck, but if you deal with frequent, heavy snowfalls, you'll want something bigger.
Excellent ConsumerReports.org includes the Craftsman 88957 among the 14 22-to-24-inch two-stage snow blowers in its latest ratings chart. Blowers are put through objective tests and rated on factors such as handling, throwing distance, snow removal speed and noise.
Review: Snow Blowers Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of September 2012
Good Paul Sikkema gives the Craftsman 88957 his best value award. He explains, "I rate 'value' based on the quality of the snow blower, ease of use, the service record, parts availability, the ease of getting your unit repaired and the price. This is the best."
Review: 2011 Craftsman 24 inch 179 cc Snow Blower Model 88957 Review, Paul Sikkema, Aug. 16, 2011
Good More than 180 owners rate and review the Craftsman 88957 here and most give it high scores, especially for its affordability and dependability. About 20 negative comments say it's hard to turn or change direction, and a few owners say they received a defective machine.
Review: Craftsman 24" 179cc Dual-Stage Snow Blower, Contributors to Sears.com, As of September 2012
Good Almost two dozen reviewers post opinions about the Craftsman 88957. It's one of the higher-ranked models here, with a score of 93 out of 100. User feedback is generally articulate, and most offers a good balance of positive and negative commentary.
Review: Craftsman 24" Dual-Stage Snow Blower 88957 Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of September 2012