Craftsman Rear Engine Riding Mower 420cc Review

Maintaining a beautiful lawn takes a lot of effort and with this Craftsman Rear engine Riding mower you can cut down on that effort by a few notches. With a reliable 420cc Craftsman OHV engine relying on a 6 speed transmission and operating a 30 inch deck, your only job is to guide it in the right direction and watch as it eats through yards of grass with relative ease. No more push mowers, no more self propelled mowers, with this compact riding mower, you can relax and let it do the job for you. Max of 5mph forward speed and the ability to switch gears on the go, halt and charge reverse, do your landscaping the way you want to. By the way, this rear riding mower can easily take on rear attachments in the form of a wheelbarrow, tiny plough and more. It even allows for quick changing between mulching, side discharge or rear bagging modes.

2016 Update: Discontinued by Manufacturer

Craftsman 30” 6-Speed Rear Engine 420cc Riding Mower review

Product Info:

  • Riding Lawn Mower
  • Rear Engine Rider
  • 420cc, one cylinder, 6-speed Kohler engine
  • 16 inch rear wheels and 13 inch front wheels


  • 30 inch cutting deck
  • 18 inch turning ratio
  • 5 Cutting height
  • 5mph forwaurd and reverse speed
  • Weight: 335 lbs
  • 2-years warranty

In-Depth Review of the Craftsman Rear Engine Riding Mower 420cc 

Ease Of Use

Craftsman_420cc_30_6-Speed_Rear_Engine_1412031No, this is definitely not an easy rear riding mower to drive nor maintain. Does it need a lot of DIY handling? Not exactly, but you have to understand that this Craftsman Rear Engine Riding Mower is a delicate work of art. For such a small footprint and a powerful enough engine, I feel it has not done its best at being an easy to use machine.

First off, you will have a problem with the rear rider when reversing if you leave the blades engaged because of the reverse cutoff engine switch. Going through online forums, I found a quick solution for this, which is to place a short 3/8 inch plastic tube three inches long on the shift rod insulating it from the engine cutoff contact. Guess what, it works!

Moving on, the transmission and clutch both feel a bit twitchy although I believe this will calm down over time. Another potential problem you may face in its lifetime is the oil filter which tends to come with a tiny, but that a conventional car wrench can’t tighten it. As for the sensors on the deck, they can get a bit jarred with a bump causing the ignition to switch off. The first time this happened to me I was flabbergasted since everything seemed fine. It wasn’t until a dive into the exhaustive manual of the Craftsman 420cc rear riding mower that I figured out this problem.


Cut Quality

Thankfully, this Craftsman Rear engine riding mower does not suffer from poor cut quality and isn’t affected by the condition of the grass either. So if you do manage to handle all mechanical DIY issues, cut quality will be the last thing on your mind – it is always perfect. The machine can side discharge, rear bag and convert to mulching with a separately sold mulch kit. The 16 inch rear wheels and 13 inch front wheel have Turf Saver Tires which reduce skidding on wet grass and increase cut efficiency. With all these features, this rider delivers an excellent overall cut quality.


Height Adjustment

Total of 5 adjustment levels and a single height adjustment lever conveniently positioned close to the deck underneath the seat helps quickly change deck height and make a perfect transition cut. I actually used it a couple of times to avoid sudden change of terrain from bumping against the deck underside. You get a maximum of 4 inch cut height and a minimum of 1.5 inch, which I think is more than sufficient for all home owners.


Craftsman 30” 6-Speed Rear Engine 420cc Riding Mower
Craftsman 30” 6-Speed Rear Engine


Motor Power

420cc Craftsman OEM engine with a lightweight construction manages to pump out decent torque and power driving this machine at a speed of 5mph in the forward and reverse direction. Just remember to use the trick I mentioned before with respect to reverse mowing otherwise you will always have to disengage the blades before putting the rider into reverse.



While the warranty is for two long years, it is the hefty amount of maintenance and DIY necessity that I really don’t appreciate. If only it did not need some much maintenance, I would have gladly rated it as my top rated rear riding mower. Remember the oil filter issue, reversing shut-off, deck sensors and also take care of the spark plugs as they tend to die out rather quick.


Cost Effectiveness

Because of all the expense that goes into maintaining this rear rider, I feel its below $1000 price tag does not do any justice. Nevertheless, it does cost less than a thousand quid and that in itself is quite an achievement. If you are a handyman or someone with enough experience operating mechanical instruments, this should not be a problem otherwise you will mostly depend on your local Craftsman service center or engineer nearby.


Craftsman 30” 6-Speed Rear Engine Riding Mower

  • Powerful motor
  • Excellent cut quality

  • Overall ease of use
  • Amount of maintenance needed

7.4 Total Score
Perfect DIY Challenge

Aren’t afraid of a little grease? Love DIY projects and getting all mechanical with your mower? This Craftsman rear engine riding mower will be enough of a challenge to you while being efficient and effective with lawns less than 0.7 acre in size.

Ease of Use
Cut Quality
Height Adjustment
Motor Power
Cost effectiveness
Add your review  |  Read reviews and comments
Show all Most Helpful Highest Rating Lowest Rating Add your review
  1. Reply
    Bedford Brown November 22, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Where is the spark plug located?

    • Reply
      Bill Martin May 20, 2016 at 10:45 am

      You can find the spark plug just beside the motor. See image:

    Leave a reply

    Your total score

    Compare items () compare