The winter months are those when we tuck up tight and warm and stay inside! Or, we could if we didn’t have to get up and go to work! Or, you might have to get up early to take the kids to school, and it’s a chore when there’s been snowfall overnight. Of course, snow is part of life in the winter – more so in some places than others – and there is nothing we can do about it, but it does cause many headaches. Getting out of your drive is a problem, and then there’s the inevitable traffic jams, and your garden may be covered causing problems for your pets!
The answer is to get a shovel out and start digging! It’s hard work, and it is not what you want to be doing at any time of the day in the cold winter months – let alone the early morning when it is dark and wet – but it has to be done, or how are you going to get your car out of the drive? There is an alternative to the old shovel option, and it’s one that is surprisingly affordable and ultimately effective: the craftsman snowblower.
Now, you may have seen these used commercially – they have long been popular in the city and with companies who need their car parks clearing – but did you know they can be bought for residential and domestic use? There are many models – and makes – on the market that are perfect for home use, and they are easy to use, very effective and you can tuck it away in your garage during the rest of the year for use when the snow comes. Does this sound like an ideal solution to you?
Think about it: several inches of snow can fall overnight, and it can make the difference between getting your car on the road or not when the morning comes. A snow blower can have your driveway and paths cleared in minutes, compared to much longer when using a manual spade to get the job done. It is easy to use – anyone in the family can handle one – and cheap to run, and once you have one, it will last you many years and get the use it deserves.
The only problem you might have is choosing one, so we’re doing a Craftsman 88173 review to show you just have great this ultra quiet 24″ snow blower is and why we believe to be one of the best on the market for home and domestic use. This is a well-designed model, with many fine features, and one that we reckon is well-priced, and while we recommend you check out our reviews of other snow blowers, we strongly advise that this one goes on your shortlist.
So, before we look into the details of its many functions, let’s have a quick look at whether a snow blower is for you and, if it is, whether this one is the model that will serve you best.
Is The Craftsman 88173 2 Stage Snowblower for You?
The first thing you need to do when looking at craftsman snowblowers is to decide what it is you want from one. Do you have a large area of ground that will need clearing regularly each year? Does it include a garden as well as drives, paths and patios? Or are you just in need of one for occasional use each winter? Does your snowfall amount to several inches each time, or is there just a light build-up over a few days? Sudden deep falls are not unusual in many parts of the USA, and this tends to be when snow blowers come into their own.
What you need from a snow blower is ease of use, efficiency and reliability – the latter very important when you are getting it out of the garage on freeing, dark winter mornings and expecting it to do its job – as well as affordability, low-maintenance and features that make it worth your while. We feel that the Craftsman 24″ Snow Blower fits the bill on all of these points, and we also believe it to be one of the best value of all the similar models available.
So, now that we have an idea of what they are and why you need one, let’s have a look in more detail at the features of the Craftsman two stage snow blower that make it stand out.
Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower Features
What are the features of the Craftsman 88173 snowblower that we like the best? It’s difficult to know where to start, so we’ll begin by highlighting some of the obvious areas of ability that this model offers over others – and also where it compares nicely with its rivals – and take it from there.
208cc engine – whole not a stand-out point – in fact most of the best snow blowers use this very engine – this is an important one as it means you get enough power for all applications. Not only that, but this is a tried and tested engine that is famed for its reliability and usability, and one that is very impressive when it comes to moving your machine around when you need it.
It’s quite a sophisticated engine for a small machine such as this, but comes with some very important attributes that make it very much the one to have. Perhaps most important of all is that it has an electric starter; this makes it far more efficient for early morning use on cold winter mornings, and much better to use than one of the old pull-cord starter models. All in all, this is the engine to have, so that’s one box ticked for the Craftsman 24 inch snowblower in terms of viability.
Gearing – as with all good snow blowers, the Craftsman 24″ 208cc dual-stage snow blower has six forward speeds – great for setting your own pace and for clearing different depths of snow – plus two reverse speeds. This may be the norm – and should be considered so, too – but it is very important that you have such driveability if you are to achieve your aim.
EZ Chute Control – All Craftsman snowblowers feature a unique chute design that is rugged and impressive, and that provides superior performance. The EZ chute and its control system are both exemplary and allow you to send your snow wherever you want with simple controls for direction and distance. It’s a polymer chute so is more flexible than some, and is very low-maintenance too.
24-inch Clearing Width – the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower features a full 24-inch clearing ability – again the norm for one of these machines – that allows you to create a viable path in no time at all, and to clear large areas of driveway, patio or garden surprisingly quickly. It can also clear up to 21-inches in height, so will easily tackle smaller drifts, and is great for getting rid of the annoying pile of snow that the snowplough has left in your way!
Tyres – whereas some models have larger tyres, those on the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower are just 13×4-inches, but don’t let this put you off as they are very impressive indeed. They are special X-trac tyres that are designed for use with this machine, and they provide excellent grip on both hard and gravel drives. Some users have said they would like larger tyres for use on lawns, so it may be worth bearing that in mind if you have a garden that is regularly snowed-under.
Skid Shoes – cleverly designed poly skid shoes mean that they will not mark your drive or patio when in use, and yet provide excellent performance every time.
Simple Operation – the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower is operated with a single hand controller, so you can make adjustments to the reach or chute direction without stopping. This is great for when you need things done quickly and easily, so you can get to work in the morning with no fuss!
That’s a few of the major selling points of this Craftsman Snowblower, and while most are standard, that is no bad thing. Without any of the above, this model would not feature in our reviews, so it is important that we mention them and give you an idea of why they remain important.
It’s also only fair that we mention a couple of potential problems that this well-priced model may present you with, so that we give you a fair and honest review. Have a look at the following which, while not the end of the world, may mean you want to look elsewhere:
No Power Steering – to be frank, we think this the biggest downfall of the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower. Unlike many similar models, it does not feature power steering. This could be a problem for some users, as those with assisted steering can be a lot easier to use, especially in heavier conditions. It is a well-balanced machine, however, so has been carefully considered, but we still feel that many people may be put off by the fact it can be heavy to push around. Have a look at our other reviews, if this concerns you, for details of machines that do have power steering, and at not much more in terms of cost.
Optional Lights – perhaps the makers thought that, as you are presumably opening your garage door to get the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower out, you will leave the light on. This is all very well for the areas immediately next to the garage, but what about the rest of the driveway, which will likely be left in the dark? This model can be fitted with lights, but they are an optional extra. If you only have a short drive and a small area close to a light that you need to clear, then this may not bother you, but there are other similar models that have built in spotlights. Having said that, the optional light is very impressive, and bright enough for any use.
That’s a good round-up of what you need to look for in a snow blower, and why the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower ranks highly among our choices. Despite a couple of points, and they are relatively minor bar the potentially troublesome lack of power steering, this is a model that we advise you to consider, and we also advise you to check our other snow blower reviews for more information.
Is there anything we have missed? Let’s have a look in our conclusion.
The Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower is a good all-round machine, perfect for clearing driveways and patios and for use on gravel, and we like it a lot. It is compact and simple to use, well-designed and efficient, but does lack a couple of features that other models offer. The major factor in its favour is perhaps the price: you can find this model for under $700, which puts it a good way cheaper than some of its 24-inch rivals, and it may be worth considering whether you want to pay a couple of hundred dollars more for power steering – the major lacking feature – or you can do without.
What does go in its favour is that it is easy to use and, as it uses the standard engine that most snow blowers feature, is low-maintenance and very reliable. It can cover a sensible area in no time at all, tackles deep falls and drifts, and may just be the perfect model for your home and garden use. If your Craftsman snowblower won’t start, check this video out.
Overall, we like the Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower, but we do recommend you compare it carefully with our other reviewed models such as the Cub Cadet 524 SWE or the Husqvarna ST224P, as you never know, one of these snow blowers may be better suited for you. To sum up, at this price, it is hard to beat, if you don’t need power steering.