How To GuidesLawn CarePower Equipment Repair

How To Replace the Pull Cord On A Lawnmower

Simple DIY Instructions to Replace Worn-Out Starter Pull Cord

So you’re wondering exactly how to replace the pull cord on a Lawnmower. No worries; as anyone who’s had an older lawnmower can tell you – we’ve all been there. The Lawnmower won’t start so you yank and yank on the pull cord but without success. After 15 minutes (and a few expletives 🙂 the pull cord jambs or breaks.

Well unless your mower is less than 3 years old, breaking or fraying the pull cord on a lawnmower is fairly common. However, repairing or learning how to replace a pull cord on a mower does require just a bit of general knowledge. Namely, what the Pull Cord assembly is composed of, how it operates, and why you’re here “how to replace the pull cord on a lawnmower”.

Here are the main parts of a Pull Cord assembly or housing:

Pull cord starter For lawn mower
Typical Pull Cord assembly for lawn mower

● Starter Pull Rope.
● Handle.
● Recoil spring.
● Pulley.

Knowing the name of each component should make it easier as you go through this guide, and help you understand the role of each part.

Do I need to Replace the Pull Cord on my lawnmower?

Pull cord won’t retract.
Pull cord is frayed or broken.
Pull cord is stuck.

DIY guide: How to Replace Pull Cord on a Lawnmower

Ok here’s that video we promised you. This short video shows you step by step instructions to replace the pull cord on a lawnmower. It also closely follows the same steps we’ve outlined below:

How to Replace a Pull String on a Push Mower : Lawnmower Maintenance & Repair


A)  Gather the right tools:

Needle-nose pliers.
Phillips or 4-in-1 screwdriver.
Nut driver
New Pull Cord (with correct length and thickness).
New lawn mower spark plug to match your mower ( suggested)
Fresh gasoline on hand – to start mower after repair.
Lighter or Matches (don’t panic, we’ll explain!).

B)  Identify Pull Cord Part That Needs Repair:

1. First, you need to identify whether the Recoil Spring is in good condition and is working correctly or not. If the recoil spring itself appears to be damaged or has no tension to recoil back to its origination point, then it’s highly recommended that you buy a new spring and pulley assembly. It’s much easier than trying to repair or replace just that recoil spring. If you’re in a hurry, however, and want to repair the coil spring at home, see our suggested video below.

Pull cord for lawnmower
Typical Pull Cord Replacement with Handle Included

2. If the Recoil Spring appears to have the correct action and returns to its coil efficiently, you probably need a new Pull Cord. Which is quite inexpensive. Some are sold with the handle some without, but the main thing is making sure the new pull cord is the same thickness as the one you’re replacing.

3. Purchasing the Correct pull cord thickness is a critical step. A cord that’s too thick won’t fit properly and a thin one will work OK but will have a shorter life. Make sure you match up the pull cord you remove, with the one you buy at your local mower shop or hardware store.


How to Replace a Worn-Out Pull Cord on a Lawnmower


Follow These Simple Step by Step Instructions:

1. Now it’s time to pull the cord completely out, making sure the pulley is held firmly with your thumb. Don’t let it retract. If you do, you have to start over.

2. Now, using both hands, gently wind the pulley assembly counter-clockwise gradually until the tension tells you it’s fully wound. Keeping a firm grasp, slowly let the pulley release just until the rope hole on the pulley lines up with the hole in the pulley housing. Insert a screwdriver to hold it firmly in place.

3. Measure the new pull cord against the old one to make sure you have the correct length. Do not remove the old one just yet.

3. Remember the lighter mentioned above? Now it’s time to use it! Melting the end of the cord slowly with a lighter makes it easier to fit through both holes in the housing and in the handle. You could also push it through using your screwdriver.

4. It’s now safe to cut the knot off the cord attached to the pulley assembly and remove it. Insert the new pull cord, and double knot it to ensure it’s well secured.

6. Holding the wound pulley firmly, remove the screwdriver to unlock the pulley.
Slowly release the pulley to allow the new pull rope to retract into the pulley, making sure to secure it with your hand, and STOP when you have 18” of cord left to retract and tie it into a temporary knot. This will hold tension on the recoil spring.
7. Tie a double knot at the end of the “pull cord handle”.

8. Remove the temporary knot from the 18” of extra cord, and slowly let the recoil spring retract all of the extra cord. Test the Pull Cord assembly with a light pull and holding the handle allow the pulley to retract slowly.

9. Place the starter assembly back on the lawn mower, fasten it, and insert the Pull Rope and Handle back in place.

10. Test the pull cord assembly with fresh gasoline and a new spark plug – by starting the mower, and off you go!

Some quick and important tips

Always remove the spark plug on your mower before working on it.
After removing the assembly from the lawnmower, test it by pulling out the cord to see if it retracts back properly when recoiling.
Test the pull cord assembly after repair after fixing each part, and before you reinstall it on the mower.
The problem could be a damaged spring. In that case, you might need to remove the pulley from the assembly. Although most pulleys don’t require removal, it may depend on the quality of your lawnmower. It’s recommended to buy a new spring with the starter pulley (one unit) and install it.
Always have a small box or container handy for the small parts that need removing to avoid losing them.

How to Repair a Broken “Recoil Spring” on a Mower

Recoil spring for lawnmower
Typical Recoil Spring for A Mower (Styles Vary)

Note:  If your miles away from a Hardware store, and want to Repair a Recoil Starter Spring Now, You can do it at home. The process is a little tricky, so we’ve provided this short video to walk you through that repair.


How to Repair a Small Engine Recoil Starter

Troubleshooting: Your Lawn Mower Won’t Start!

2) The Pull Cord is Stuck

Check the reason behind it stopping to retract. Is it stuck or did it just stop retracting?

If the pull cord is stuck, remove the entire pull cord assembly and follow the steps above to remove and if necessary, replace the pull cord.

2) The Pull Cord Won’t Retract

If the pull cord isn’t retracting the problem is most likely the Recoil Spring. Follow the YouTube video above to learn how to rewind a lawn mower recoil spring.

3) The Pull Cord Works Fine – But the Engine Won’t Start

The problem could be you’re using old gasoline (last year’s gas :), or a bad spark plug. Easy. Only two things are required to start a combustible engine. Gas and spark.

Replace both of those items, then try to start the mower again.


While the step by step instructions we’ve provided may seem a little intimidating, the process of changing a pull cord on a small engine is quite easy for a typical DIY’er. In fact, the average time spent on this project is about 30 minutes.

Make sure you watch the videos provided before getting started, they are a great visual tutorial and might save you time and frustration!

Good luck with your repair, and thanks again for visiting BestHomeGear.Com


In the market for a Great Leaf Blower? Check out the “Best Cordless Leaf Blowers” here!

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How To Replace the Pull Cord on a Lawnmower
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Easily replace the pull cord on your mower with these Step by Step DIY instructions
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As a Homeowner, Builder, and Property Developer/Manager for 30+ years, I’ve worn a lot of “different hats”, and In that capacity, owned or used about every tool or piece of home equipment one can think of.Managing property in Michigan, Arizona, and Florida, also allows us to test many of the products we review firsthand, and in vastly different climates and conditions. Our goal at BestHomeGear.Com is to share the first-hand experience by providing exceptional Home & Garden Techniques, Product Reviews, and useful DIY Guides for our faithful readers - Homeowners like you. We trust you will find BestHomeGear.Com very informative - and extremely helpful.

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