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Craftsman 88173 Review

By: Carl Laron on November 14, 2017

Bottom Line

Experts and owners say a blend of performance and value make the Craftsman 88173 the best two-stage gas snow blower. The four-stroke engine and steel auger are burly enough to clear the largest snow accumulations. Unlike single-stage snow blowers, it works well with gravel driveways.

Pros

  • A top value among two stage snow throwers
  • Powerful enough for wet, heavy snowpack
  • Compact size
  • Electric start

Cons

  • Can be hard to turn
Our Analysis
Specs

Breaking it down

Ease of use

Tough turns but easy otherwise. If the Craftsman 88173 has an Achilles heel it is that it lacks any kind of steering assistance, meaning you will need to put your back into turning the snow blower. Despite that, Paul Sikkema at Moving Snow says that most should be able to handle this snow thrower with little trouble. Otherwise, ease of use rates well. There's an electric starter to ensure that the machine fires up quickly and reliably, even in cold weather. Although fairly quiet for a gas snow blower, according to reviews, experts still recommend wearing hearing protection.

Performance

Beefy snow blowing power. The Craftsman 88173 is considered a compact two-stage snow blower, but it sports a 208 cc four-stroke engine powerful enough to tear through berms packed by a snowplow. Sikkema says the motor has "way more power than you will ever need on a 24 inch snow blower." Some users agree that it can be overkill, but others say the power is just what's needed to handle any amount of snow (up to nearly two feet) and type -- from light powder drifts to heavy, dense-packed snow piles -- with ease. Consumer Reports which also names it a Best Buy, rates it very good or better in most snow-removal tasks, though only found its throwing distance to be good.

Durability

Quality machine at a good price. Though its list price is higher, the Craftsman 88173 is often available for $600 or less, making it a great value in the eyes of all the experts that have reviewed it. Most owners agree. Sikkema also names Craftsman's "service and parts availability" a factor in his calling it "one of the best value snow blowers." Few owners mention how long the 88173 lasts, but we saw reports covering several year of usage, and many call it durable and well-built. We also saw feedback that indicates that Craftsman provides excellent customer support. The 88173 is covered by a two-year warranty.

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