How to Repair a Lawn Mower Pull Cord. Chainsaw pull cord replacement

repair, lawn, mower, pull, cord, chainsaw

How to Repair a Lawn Mower Pull Cord

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

valentinrussanov/Getty Images


Replace a broken starter rope on your lawn mower quickly and easily by following this simple step-by-step procedure.

Materials Required

You tug one last time to get the lawn mower started, and suddenly the pull cord breaks and the end goes spinning into the hole. Don’t blow a gasket. If you have even a tinge of mechanical aptitude, replacing a starter rope is pretty easy. If the spring breaks—a rare event, according to our repair expert—the fix is a lot harder, and we recommend you take the mower to a repair center.

Stuck Cord or Broken Cord?

First, check to confirm that the cord is actually broken and not just stuck. If it’s stuck, it may be an easier fix than full pull cord replacement and you likely won’t have to buy any new parts. Here are a few tips for fixing an electrical cord.

Run through your troubleshooting checklist if your cord isn’t working. Check to ensure the brake is off, make sure there isn’t any lawn debris clogging the blade, and finally, if all else fails, use our steps below to open the rewind unit. There, you’ll be able to see if the cord is stuck or fully broken.

What to Know About Replacement Cords

Different lawn mowers need different types of pull cords. If you don’t have time to spend looking for the right match, you can opt to get the thinnest kind, which will fit no matter what. But the thinner the cord, the more likely it is to break again soon. If you don’t already have replacement cord on hand, go to your local hardware store with the broken cord. The associates there should be able to help you get the exact kind you need.

How to Replace a Pull Cord on Lawn Mower – A beginners guide

Replacing a pull cord can be challenging, especially if the recoil spring gets loose. Taming a recoil spring can be like herding cats.

Follow these six steps to replace a lawnmower pull cord:

Replacing the cord requires the removal of the pull start assembly. Some manufacturers, like Honda, make it easy. One screw, three nuts, and you’re in. Other mowers may take a little more work. If your spring is damaged or unravels, go ahead and buy a whole spring and pulley. They come already assembled; messing around with a recoil spring isn’t worth losing an eye.

This post covers pull cord replacing pretty well. However, if you need video help, check out “Pull cord faults video”. It covers diagnosing and repairing all the common pull cord problems, including pull cord replacement.

Choosing The Correct Cord

All cord isn’t the same; we’ll need to choose the correct cord to nail this repair successfully. Pull cord comes in different thicknesses; if you choose a card that’s too thick, the correct length won’t all fit in the pulley when wound in. A cord that’s too thin will work OK but will have a shorter life.

Cord – The thickness of the cord is important.

Replacing A Frayed Cord

The easiest cord to replace is the cord that hasn’t yet broken, just frayed. You still need to remove the pulling assembly from the mower; although it’s possible to do it in place, I don’t recommend it. Your mower may look different from the models used in the demo shots here, but no matter the repair procedure will be very similar to most mowers.

1 – Cut the correct length of the new cord, and measure it against the old one. Don’t remove the old cord yet.

2 – Have sharp pliers and a flat screwdriver to hand. Pull the cord out all the way, secure the pulley, use a screwdriver to lock the spokes of the pulley, and stops it from retracting.

3 – Cut the old cord and discard it; now, feed in and knot the new one. Fit the pull handle and double knot. Remove your screwdriver and test. Now refit the assembly; that’s it, you’re done.

The complete repair for a broken cord is covered below with pictures, or check out “Pull cord troubleshooting” video here.

Replacing A Broken Cord

The cord replacing process is just slightly longer. Remember, when the cord breaks, the pull assembly spring unloads, and so the spring must be wound up to reload it. In the guide below, I have removed the starter pulley from the assembly to fit the cord.

On most mowers, it isn’t necessary to remove the pulley from the housing. Instead, you can manage to feed the new cord into the pulley with a pulley in place; it’s just a little more awkward.

If you choose to remove the pulley, wear eye protection. Working with recoil springs can be dangerous; removing the pully from the assembly comes with the risk of the spring breaking free. I don’t advise working with the spring. If your spring does break free or is damaged/ worn, go ahead and replace the complete pull assembly.

They arrive fully assembled, just bolt them into place, and you’re done. Obviously, they’re a little more expensive than some rope but a lot less work. Anyway, here’s the roe replacing process. You can check out the “Pull cord troubleshooting video”, which covers pull cord replacing also.

If you need to pull assembly parts delivered to your door, check out the Amazon link below.

Pull Twist – Pull the plug wire when working on your mower.

Remove Blower Assembly – The pull starter assembly lives in the blower assembly, and so we’ll need to remove it.

Remove – Some mowers, like Honda, allow access to the pull starter assembly without removing the blower housing. Nice!

Blower Assembly – Move to a workbench.

Pulley Cap – Remove the cap; this is a BS assembly; Honda uses a left-hand thread here, meaning to remove turn clockwise.

Pulley – Wear protective eye-ware for this step. Remove the pulley by lifting upwards gently; if the pulley doesn’t come out freely, don’t pull it, and the spring will unravel. Turn it clockwise to unhook it from its tang.

Replace – Replace the pulley if the spring is damaged.

Feed – If you have the old cord, use it to measure how much new cord you need. If you don’t have it, approx. two and a half meters does the job.

Go ahead and take the old cord from the pull handle. Feed one end of the new pull cord into the cord hole in the rim of the starter pulley.

Chainsaw Recoil Starter Spring (How to Rewind). The Repair Specialist

Knot – Pull it through and knot it. I use a lighter to melt the nylon cut end and tidy it up.

Wind Cord – Wind cord tightly, clockwise around the pulley, and tuck it in neatly (Spring facing up).

Mark – It’s helpful to mark the rim where the pull cord ends with white paint. It helps to find it later.

Tab – Spring hook aligns with blower housing tab.

Fit – Align the spring hook with the metal tab on the pull start assembly housing; you’ll be fitting this blind.

Stihl MS180c Chainsaw Pull Cord Repair With “Easy2Start” Feature

Now seat it; confirm it’s seated by turning it anti-clockwise; you should feel the spring resistance. Fit both pawls and cap, and tighten the bolt.

3 Turns – Now wind the starter pulley anti-clockwise three to four revolutions, and align your white mark with the cord hole in the assembly housing.

You can’t let go or the spring will unwind.

Feed – While holding the loaded starter pulley, locate the cord end that you marked earlier. Using a fine screwdriver, feed the cord end into the blower assembly housing cord hole.

Pull – Pull the cord through the hole and wrap it around your hand to prevent it from recoiling back in.

Handle – Burning and clipping the cord into a point helps the feeding process. Feed the remaining end into the pull handle, and use a fine screwdriver to help guide it.

Rubbing a small amount of oil on the end of the pull cord helps it slip through. When through the double knot.

Test – Pull to test; the pawls should shoot out when the cord is pulled and retract when the cord rewinds. Nice work, refit assembly; you’re done!

Pull Cord Troubleshooting

A broken cord is obvious, but some pull cord issues aren’t. Here are a couple of other common pull cord symptoms I hear a lot:

  • A pull cord doesn’t retract – usually a broken recoil spring
  • A pull cord doesn’t catch and turn the engine – usually means worn pawls

If your problem is a damaged recoil spring, then the pulley will need to be removed from the assembly; as said earlier, I would favor replacing the pulling assembly completely; working with a recoil spring is a lot like herding cats.

The pull assembly must be removed to fit new pawls, but it’s a simple job.

Replacing any of these is a job you can do without any special tools, and you’ll find all these repairs are covered in the “Pull cord troubleshooting” video here.

Cord Hard to Pull

If your pull cord is hard to pull (stiff), make sure the bail lever is held during the starting process. I know most of you are in no doubt about how to start your mower, but for anybody that’s a little rusty, check out “How to start a mower”.

Other likely reasons for a stiff pull cord are:

  • Engine brake – On or out of adjustment.
  • Blade obstruction – Dried grass, branches, etc., blocking blade.
  • Oil – Too much or the wrong type.
  • Hydro-locked engine – Caused by a faulty carburetor.
  • Excessive valve lash – Adjust clearance.
  • Engine damaged – Seized or bent crankshaft.
  • Broken flywheel key – Blade impact

Engine Brake

The engine brake, also known as the flywheel brake, is, as you know, controlled by the bail lever at the handlebars (most mowers), and it must be held to start the mower.

Its function is twofold – it grounds the coil shutting down the engine, and it applies a brake pad to the flywheel, not unlike a bicycle brake. This stops the blade within 3 seconds of bail lever release. The bail lever is operated by cable. If the cable is broken or needs to be adjusted, the brake will still be on or partly on as you’re trying to yank on the cord.

Brake – Check that the bail lever is releasing the flywheel brake. If not, check the cable for adjustment.

Blade Jammed

This is a simple one but worth checking. Old dried grass and debris can collect under the mower; this can prevent the blade from turning and consequently the pull cord. Some mowers, of course, have a blade clutch, meaning the blade doesn’t move until you engage a lever. If this is your mower, then blade obstruction won’t apply to you.

Blockage – Grass and stuff stopping the blade turning, the simple fix here.

Oil Level

You wouldn’t think too much oil could cause a stiff pull cord, but it will. Too much oil is also bad for the engine. It will cause it to smoke, leak oil, and despite all that oil, it’s not being lubricated properly. So the correct oil level is extremely important to the life of the engine. This guide will show you all you need to know; you’ll be a pro 2 minutes from now – “Lawn mower oil check” or check out the video here.

Too Full – Too much oil or oil that’s too heavy will cause the pull cord to be heavy.


This is basically a cylinder filled with gas, and because a fluid can’t be compressed, the piston won’t move to give you a stiff pull cord. The gas enters the cylinder because the carburetor float needle seal is worn.

The fix – remove the spark plug to drain the gas and replace the needle or the whole carburetor. This guide will show you how to solve all these problems – “Lawn mower leaking gas.”

Important, you’ll need to change the oil, as the gas has likely leaked into the crankcase, which dilutes the oil, making it worse than useless at lubricating and cooling the engine. Fitting a fuel tap and turning the tap off when the mowers are not in use will prevent this from happening again. Check out “How to unflood a mower” video here.

Needle – The needle and float together to control gas flow to the fuel bowl.

Valve Lash

Incorrect valve lash will cause excessive combustion chamber compression, meaning it’s physically difficult to pull the cord against this pressure. I wrote this guide to help you solve that problem; it’s a step-by-step with pictures – Check and “Adjust valve lash,” or check out the video here.

Another possibility is a faulty compression release assembly. It’s fitted inside the engine, and its function is to release compression so that the operator can easily crank over the motor. Replacing it would require the total dismantling of the unit.

Check – Valve lash should be checked every season; it’s usually overlooked.

Flywheel Key

The flywheel key is a shear key, and when it shears, it puts the timing out on the engine. The key usually shears because the blade has hit something solid, and the engine has come to a sudden stop. The function of the key is to protect the crankshaft from twisting and to keep the flywheel to crankshaft alignment. This guide will show you how to diagnose and replace the Shear key. check out – “Flywheel key replacement” or check out the video here.

Shear key – Check the flywheel shear key.

Engine Damage

Lawnmower engines are very well designed and built, but poor maintenance, low oil, and abuse will kill them. A mower should have a tune-up every spring and an oil change every 50 hours of operation. Check the oil with every fill of gas.

Lawnmower engines are not designed to cut on slopes of more than 15 degrees; this causes oil starvation, which, as you know, can seize an engine. When an engine seizes, it fuses the metal components together, and the starter rope won’t pull. Check out “Mower tune-up” or check out the video here.

A seized engine can’t be repaired. Replacement engines are not difficult to fit, but sometimes it’s better to just buy a new mower.

Related Questions

Lawnmower pull cord loose? A lawnmower pull cord is likely to become loose when the recoil spring loses its tension. Replacing the spring is the correct fix.

Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.

I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.

How to Replace Pull Cord on Lawn Mower – Easy Guide

Do you have a lawn mower that won’t start because the pull cord is broken or missing? Don’t worry; it’s a common problem, and we can show you how to fix it! In this easy guide, we will walk you through the steps of how to replace the pull cord on your lawn mower’s small engine. It’s a job that can be done in just a few minutes and doesn’t require special tools or skills. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Remove Starter from Mower

Before you can repair the pull cord, you’ll need to remove the starter from the lawn mower. Begin by locating the mounting bolts that hold the starter in place. Then remove the mounting bolts and carefully lift the recoil assembly up and away from the lawn mower.

Step 2: Remove Broken Pull Cord from Starter

Once you have the starter removed, locate the broken pull cord. Carefully remove it from the starter housing.

Step 3: Measure Broken Cord (both Pieces) – Cut New Rope and Burn Ends

Measure the length of both pieces of the broken cord. Cut a new piece of rope the same length as both pieces combined to ensure you get the correct length, and burn the ends of the rope.

Burning the rope ends will prevent fraying and ensure your new pull cord is secure when you replace it.

Step 4: Wind Spring Counter Clockwise to Put Load on Spring. Hold in Place

When rewinding the starter, it’s important to wind the coil spring counterclockwise. This will load the spring and help keep the pull cord tight once you change it. Hold the spring in place with one hand while winding with the other.

Step 5: Line up Hole on Starter Housing and Rope Rotor

Line up the hole in the starter cord housing with the rope rotor hole. This is where you will insert the rope.

Step 6: Insert New Cord Into Hole on Starter Housing and Rope Rotor. Tie Knot

Once the holes are aligned, insert the new cord into the starter housing and rope rotor, also called the starter pulley. Tie a knot at the rope’s end to secure it in place. Keep a tight hold on the rope rotor to keep it from sucking the rope back in completely.

Step 7: Holding Rope – Release Spring to Pull Rope In

Once the rope has been inserted and secured, you can release the spring. This will pull the rope in and wrap it around the rotor. Keep a tight hold on the rope to prevent it from being sucked in completely.

Step 8: Insert Rope Into Starter Handle and Tie Knot

Once the rope has been rewound, insert the outside end into the pull handle. Tie a double knot at the end to secure it in place. The knotted end will keep the rope from pulling out of the handle.

Step 9: Pull Rope Handle to Check the For Proper Recoil

Pull on the rope handle to check for proper recoil. If it doesn’t recoil properly, try rewinding the spring and adjusting how much rope is pulled in.

Step 10: Reinstall Starter on Mower.

Once the pull cord works properly, you can re-install the starter onto the mower. Make sure all mounting bolts are tight and double-check how the pull cord works again for good measure.

And there you have it! Now you know how to fix a broken or missing pull cord on your lawn mower.

If you follow these steps correctly, you can get back to smooth-running and healthy lawn maintenance in no time!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Is Mower Pull Rope?

When you need to replace lawn mower pull cord make sure you use the correct size. Most lawn mower pull cord ranges from #4.5 to #6.5 rope diameters.

Is It Hard to Replace Pull Cord on Lawn Mower?

Starter rope on a lawn mower is not difficult to do. Anyone can easily replace the starter rope of a pull cord assembly if they know how. Refer to the ten steps above to replace the pull cord on a lawn mower.

How Do You Fix a Limp Pull Cord?

A lawnmower pull cord can sometimes not recoil all the way back into a starter and appear limp. If this happens, it means that the recoil spring is not strong enough to pull the cord back into the starter. Try rewinding the recoil spring and adjusting how much rope is pulled in. Either that or cut off excessive rope if the lawnmower pull cord is too long.

What Kind of Rope Is Lawn Mower Pull Cord?

Most rope used in a lawn mower starter assembly is made of nylon. Nylon is a durable and flexible material that can withstand extreme temperatures and heavy loads without breaking or fraying. It’s also relatively easy to find and replace.

Are all lawn mower pull cords the same?

No, all pull cords are not the same. Depending on the size of the engine and the way the rope is mounted, the rope can be different. A larger engine like a Honda GX390 will require a larger diameter rope than a Honda GC160. Check your manual and replace the pull cord with the size specified.

How do you fix a pull cord that won’t retract?

If the pull cord does not retract and recoil properly, there are a few things that you can do. First, check if the rope is frayed and replace it if necessary.

Second, ensure the spring is wound properly to pull the rope back in and that the assembly does not have worn pawls. If the pawls are plastic and worn, they will need to be replaced with new pawls before the repair can be completed. Some engines use metal components for the pawls and are less likely to get damaged or worn.

Third, check how taut the rope is and adjust how much it recoils into the assembly. Finally, check how tight the starter housing screws are. If they are loose, re-tighten them for proper recoil repair.

repair, lawn, mower, pull, cord, chainsaw

How do I fix my lawn mower pull cord not retracting?

If your lawn mower pull cord does not retract properly, the first step is to check how tight the starter housing screws are. If they are loose, re-tighten them. Next, check how taut the rope is and how much it is drawn into the assembly.

Adjust as necessary if needed, and then rewind the spring. Finally, check for frayed rope or worn parts, and replace any damaged ones. Following these steps should help to get your pull cord retracting properly.

Wrapping Up

Replacing the pull cord in a lawn mower is an easy task that can make all the difference in keeping your lawn healthy and looking great. Just make sure to follow the steps and use the right size rope for your mower.

The proper diameter and length of the starter cord can be determined by measuring the old cord. The starter cord replacement process should take 20 minutes or less, and you are back to cutting your grass.

You can return to mowing with a working pull cord in no time.

As a shop owner, I can say this with 100% confidence. A new lawn mower can have a broken recoil rope, just like an old lawn mower. A new mower is no immune to a broken rope. It is important to know how to fix this issue to save you money by not having to take your mower to a repair shop.

Also, the same principles apply to repairing a recoil rope on all equipment, like a leaf blower or chainsaw.

Most homeowners never think about the starting rope until it breaks. Replacing the recoil cord on an engine can be pretty easy and should be done during your annual equipment tune-up to avoid any equipment downtime.

I have been part of the chainsaw and outdoor power equipment business in one way or the other for over 35 years. There are not many things that I have not seen in the business. From repairs, sales, equipment operation, and safety I can help you with your questions.

Recent Posts

Chainsaw accidents are avoidable! Discover common pitfalls and practical safety measures. Equip yourself with knowledge for safer operation.

Choosing a safe chainsaw made easy! Dive into our comprehensive guide to find the ideal chainsaw for you, focusing on safety.

About Us

Hello, My Name is Steven R, and I’m here to help!

My family has been in the chainsaw and outdoor power equipment business for over 35 years.

We are as qualified as anyone regarding tips and how-to’s on operating, maintaining, and repairing chainsaws and other power equipment.

I hope you find the information you are seeking. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section and I will do my best to answer them!

Thank you for stopping by chainsawace.comSteven R


This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.


  • May 2023
  • April 2023
  • February 2023
  • January 2023
  • December 2022
  • November 2022
  • February 2022
  • January 2022
  • December 2021
  • November 2021
  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • February 2019
  • January 2019

report this ad report this ad

Why Is My Chainsaw Hard To Pull? [Simple Fix]

Problems are relatively easy to fix when they occur in an immediate type of way. It is those annoying ones that creep up slowly in almost puny increments that are so difficult to resolve.

When the threat of a dislocated shoulder becomes a real possibility as you reach for the starter cord on the chainsaw the signs are there that it’s time to check a few things on the saw.

The starter cord gets progressively difficult to pull and we question whether it’s just us getting older or is there really something wrong?

Before we go into any repairs, please, at the risk of sounding silly, check that the chainsaw has a decompression feature. If it does please check that it is working.

Start with the Cylinder. It’s the easiest.

Let’s start with gradually more difficult scenarios. It’s important to remove the bar and chain. We will get back to these two parts later.

Remove the spark plug and give a tug on the starter cord. If it is easy to pull the starter cord and there is no fuel spurting out through the spark plug opening, then you are on the right track.

When there is almost no resistance to pulling the chord with the spark plug removed, it is a safe bet that the bearings are fine, and the cylinder and piston are in an acceptable condition. If the spark plug is refitted and the cord remains seriously difficult to pull, then the exhaust system needs some attention.

If it is a case of ‘gradually getting worse’ type of problem, chances are that the exhaust has become a little choked and there is nowhere for the gasses to escape to. Cleaning the exhaust passage should sort this problem out.

To do this, the muffler will have to be removed and the exhaust port will need to be inspected for a possible build-up of carbon and other material deposits that will require careful removal.

Please take care when inserting instruments into the exhaust port. It is important that the piston is positioned to prevent any foreign material from entering the cylinder.

And the golden rule about this operation is to not use any sharp metal object that may risk damaging the side of the piston or the cylinder.

The muffler can be cleaned with a stiff wire brush to remove any build-up of material. Once cleaned, refit the exhaust and remove the spark plug. Try to pull the starter cord. It should be easy because there is no compression.

repair, lawn, mower, pull, cord, chainsaw

Next, refit the spark plug, and try the starter cord again. If it is easy enough and the only resistance is derived from the compression, give yourself a gold star for another successful chainsaw repair.

A small precautionary tale. Always check when replacing a spark plug that you are fitting one with the correct reach. That means check the length of the thread on the spark plug. Make sure it is correct for your machine.

What’s wrong when the spark plug removal has no effect

What faults to look for in the starter system

After carefully removing the cover of the starter pulley you need to check on the condition of the springs and the fitting of the pulley. Check for damage to the alignment of the pulley and the opening in the cover to ensure that there are no foreign bodies restricting the travel of the cord.

Applying a little lubrication to all the moving parts in the system will not do any harm. Having checked that there are no broken parts, the pulley itself is in a good condition and rotates freely, and the new cord is fitting well the system can be refitted.

The final step

Hopefully, this has resolved the problem and the starter cord is moving more freely, and starting the machine is a whole lot easier.

It is time to replace the bar and chain. Having refitted both items, manually move the chain around the bar and check that it moves freely. Check the chain brake. Does it engage and release properly?

All being well it’s time to tension the chain correctly and tighten the retaining bolts for the bar.

AMAZON AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to