Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46″ Gas Riding Lawn Mower Review

Craftsman spent decades building a reputation for quality tools, devices, and equipment. They’ve done their best to carry that through with their line of lawn tractors. This includes backing many of the mowers in this range with a 2-year warranty program.

The T-135 has an 18.5 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine that powers the cutting blades as well as the hydrostatic transmission system. It also has the ability to mow in reverse, which lets you keep cutting the grass as you work your way around complicated landscaping features and trees.

It also has a deck washing system built in. Hooking it up to your standard garden hose makes it incredibly easy to clear away grass and other debris that builds up under the deck. Not only does this spare you the sweat and elbow grease of manually clearing the deck, but it also helps extend the life of the deck itself.

The built-in CVT foot pedal transmission system is also very helpful. Not only does it help with the smooth operation it also makes it easier for the machine to power up hills and other patches of uneven terrain. It also has a special “Mow in Reverse” feature, which you rarely see in lawn tractors of this size and weight.

Key Features

  • 18.5 Horse Power Briggs and Stratton engine
  • 46-inch mower deck
  • Mow in reverse feature
  • Can Accommodate a bagger attachment accessory
  • Backed by Craftsman’s two-year warranty program
  • Built-in deck washing system


Craftsman and Briggs and Stratton took their time designing the T-135 to be powerful enough to accommodate their special “Mow in Reverse” feature. Most other competitor mowers in this class tend to bog down badly when they are in reverse. In some cases, they can even stall out if they are asked to back up a significant incline, which can even become a potential safety hazard.

Craftsman also put some thought and energy into designing the mower to be comfortable. The seat has a high back, and the steering is smooth.

Ease of Use

Riding lawn mowers by their nature can be a little bit of an effort to get started. Proper maintenance will go a long way toward making sure the T-135 does what you want when you want it to.

The seat and the built-in suspension system help improve overall ride comfort and handling. The height adjustment level for the mower deck can feel a little awkward at times. If possible, you should try to find a setting that covers most of the special places in your lawn.

The CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission system is half a step down in overall quality from the hydrostatic transmissions you see in much of Craftsman’s line. It can take a little bit of getting used to if you are used to a hydrostatic system.

Cut Quality & Options

The 46-inch mower deck cuts a nice wide path through even tall grass. Craftsman doesn’t include a bagger in the original purchase of the T-135. This means it comes setup for side discharge. With no mulching feature to speak of, you might want to consider the bagger accessory’s cost into the price. Especially if you have dense or thick bladed grass.


Like all riding lawnmowers, the Craftsman T135 needs some basic maintenance to stay in good running shape. This means changing the oil at least every spring. If your area doesn’t get much of a winter, you should plan to change the oil at least twice, if not three times per year.

In parts of the country where winter gets cold, the T-135 will need to be properly stored away. This includes adding fuel stabilizer to the tank when you put it away for the last time in a year.

When you are ready to take it back out for the first cut of the spring, you should give it a good once over. Grease all the pulleys, and check all the belts to make sure they are all in working order. If the blades are dinged or dulled you can try sharpening them yourself, or you could simply order replacement blades. Then charge the battery, top up the tank with fresh, premium gasoline, and you should be ready to go!

The T-135 comes mostly assembled, and even has the oil already in it. However, there is a little bit of monkey wrenching to be done. If you aren’t the most mechanically inclined person in the world, there are some online retailers who offer a very affordable “Expert Assembly Service.”

Safety Features

The Craftsman T-135 has the standard pressure sensor built into the seat suspension. If you get off or reduce the load on the seat by standing up, it will power down the motor.

Special Features

The mow in reverse feature is a nice touch. Not only does it help you clean up little missed spaces, it also gives the mower the power to not bog down when going up a hill with the cutting system engaged.

The deck wash also isn’t something to overlook with the T-135. Properly cleaning the deck will go a long way toward preventing corrosion and rust. If you spring the extra money for the bagging system, the clean deck will also be less likely to clog the chute.

Cost Effectiveness

Like most riding lawnmowers the Craftsman T-135 needs to be properly maintained to ensure that you get a full return on your investment in the long term. In my personal opinion, I think springing the extra money for the bagger attachment up front will help reduce aeration costs due to thatch buildup in the turf. You can always mix the grass clippings into your compost pile to help boost your garden!

7.5 Total Score
Good price for a quality riding lawnmower

  • Large 46-inch cutting deck
  • Comfortable seat
  • Backed by a 2-year warranty
  • Deck wash included
  • Mow in Reverse feature to prevent bogging
  • Can accommodate an accessory bagger
  • CVT transmission instead of hydrostatic
  • Some assembly required
  • Needs routine maintenance
  • Replacement blades can sometimes be hard to find
  • The headlight can be prone to cracking
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Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46″ Gas Riding Lawn Mower Review
Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46″ Gas Riding Lawn Mower Review
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