Lawnmower Pull Cord Stuck-Help And Repair

Lawnmower Pull Cord Stuck-Help And Repair

Why Is My Lawnmower Pull Cord Not Working?

I’ve been asked hundreds of times for help with customers that have a lawnmower with a stuck pull cord. Let me offer an answer to your question on how to fix a lawnmower with a stuck pull cord.

So how do you fix a stuck pull cord? The simple answer is to take the starter recoil off the lawnmower and inspect the spring, as 90% of the time the spring has broken or has a problem with the spring rewind mechanism.

When To Repair Or Replace Your Pull Cord Recoil And How.

The problem with my short version of the answer is there a few other things we can do and check to make sure we don’t get this diagnosis wrong and spend our money purchasing a new starter recoil assembly (pull cord and mechanism) as these are generally more expensive than you might imagine.

You can purchase new pull cords here

There are also inexpensive tools we can use to repair the stuck pull cord or starter recoil. This article will cover all the options to repair or replace a stuck pull cord.

You can find lots more information and start repairing lawnmowers for profit by checking out my online training here

Is My Stuck Pull Cord Worth Repairing?

Let’s find out.
An easy guide to whether a stuck lawn mower pull cord needs replacing depends on why it stopped retracting, for example, did it snap? Did it just fail to retract? Has the pull cord rope tangled itself up? Is your starter rope stuck all the way in and won’t retract?

You can find all parts required to repair your pull cord here

Does your pull cord work perfectly fine but fails to turn over the engine? Did you use it to hang the washing on? Just kidding with the last one!
Let’s start with what to do if your pull cord suddenly failed to retract back towards the lawnmower.

Take a look at my Youtube video on how to complete the process.

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This usually happens when you are having difficulty starting the mower and you have been, let’s say a little annoyed that it won’t start.. (We’ve all been there!) and sometimes it happens because it’s simply at the end of its life.

Note some lawnmower pull cord starter mechanisms are MUCH better than others.

A lot of the lawnmowers I repair have a damaged pull cord mechanism because the lawnmower was difficult to start in the first place and was either difficult to pull over as it didn’t feel smooth or simply kicked back and tried to rip your arm off.

If this sounds like yours there’s a good chance there is a problem with the spring. I have to say a problem with the spring so you have a basic understanding of whereabouts I mean on the lawnmower.

The spring sits right on top of the lawnmower in the circular part where the pull cord should retract to.
To be clear, the problem with the spring is that it’s no longer under the correct tension, they very rarely snap. The reason for this is there is a small hook at the centre of the spring that sits into a (usually) plastic part of the recoil assembly.

Over time the tension of the metal spring against the plastic wears the plastic down and eventually, something has to break and it’s usually the plastic. In this case, you have a few options:

You can start to take the recoil apart but take great care when working with springs they can expand from very small and tightly wound to fully unwound a much larger in a split second.
Unless you have good experience with mechanics you would be better to replace the part in its entirety BEFORE you unscrew anything.

If you have a mechanical background and remove the spring, take a look at the centre of the spring where it should hook onto the plastic cutout.

If it doesn’t look broken and you really want to have a go at rewinding the spring you can purchase a spring rewind tool. Usually, I would source another part and replace it at this point but its personal preference and I know plenty of people who have done this successfully.

Did Your Pull Cord Snap?

If it did snap but the rest of it retracted inside, there is a repair that’s not too difficult to do. Take off the recoil and turn it over, without unscrewing anything find the end of the rope and pull it back through the holes it should go through, there are usually two, one on the inner and one on the outer.

Note: cut and burn the end of the pull cord a little and it will help you push it back through.

You will be working against the spring tension but just pull starter rope out all the way out and hold everything together with a clamp or wedge something safe in the gaps of the recoil so it can’t move.
Line up the inner and outer holes pull out the old snapped pull cord and replace it with a new one.

Burn the end of the new one and feed it back through as before.

Fit a new handle to the other end of the pull cord then release the clamp whilst holding the pull cord firmly. Let the spring tension take in the new rope slowly.

You will then have successfully replaced a broken pull cord on your petrol lawnmower.

How To Fix A Lawnmower Pull Cord That’s Stuck All The Way In!

This does happen! If your lawnmower pull cord won’t pull out here’s a few reasons why. Does your lawnmower have a brake? Most UK lawnmowers have a lever on the top of the lawnmower push handle when activated it releases a brake.

That brake pushes against the flywheel of the lawnmower and stops the engine turning. It will be worth checking the operating lever and cable are releasing the brake, if not you will be virtually unable to pull the pull cord.

“I’ve seen this so many times when I’ve been buying lawnmowers in bulk at auction centres to repair for profit. People actually think the engines seized as the pull cord won’t work”!
Something else to check for if the pull cord won’t retract is that there’s nothing stuck between the outer edge of the blade and the deck (remove spark plug before checking) also if the blade is bent and catching the cutting deck, or the crankshaft is bent.

What To Do If Your Pull Cord Works Perfectly Fine But Doesn’t Turn The Engine At All

Believe me, I’ve experienced it all. This happens rarely but I once bought a very expensive lawnmower for around £20 when the owner said it had no compression. I pulled it over and the pull cord worked perfectly, the only problem was I noticed the engine didn’t turn at all! The flywheel did not spin.

If this happens on your lawnmower take off the starter look underneath, then pull the cord a little bit.
On most Briggs and Stratton recoils there are two white plastic pieces in the centre, when the cord is pulled they should pop out.

When the recoil is fitted back onto the lawnmower they connect with the flywheel and spin the engine.

Sometimes they get slightly stuck and don’t pop out! Just spray some WD40 on them and free them off. That’s what I did and I went on to sell that lawnmower for over £300 profit!
Where To Buy The Correct Parts For Your Lawnmower

If you wish to purchase the correct parts for repairing your lawnmower, take a look at the recommended products section of the website or take a look at your lawnmower as somewhere on it there will be a service ticket with all the details you need to pass on to a spare parts supplier

Which lawnmowers won’t I easily find parts for?
If you own a Briggs and Stratton, Mountfield, Honda, Masport Champion, Hayter mower etc then just look at the service ticket and quote that to a supplier, however, the problem comes when you buy an unbranded lawnmower usually from a supermarket or somewhere similar.

If you look on the side of the engine there may be something stamped on it to help you but it’s always nearly impossible to find parts for these mowers. In this instance, I suggest trying a repair.

What thickness starter cord do I need?
For most small home lawnmowers such as the Briggs and classic 35 engine or a Honda IZY Or Mountfield SP470 for example, anything between 4 and 6 mm will be fine.

How Do I Avoid Having Starter Rope Recoil Problems In The Future?

Keep an eye on the cord if it starts to look frayed then replace it.

Set the valves on your lawnmower

If you have to really struggle to pull over your lawnmower to start it there’s a good chance you need to set the overhead valves. Not all models of lawnmower have overhead valves.

To see if yours does look for a metal cover at the front of your lawnmower it will have OHV stamped on it.

The valves set the engine timing of your lawnmower and if set incorrectly makes it very difficult to pull the starter rope.

You can find a full playlist of lawnmower repair videos here that covers various subjects!

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How To Avoid Lawnmower Kick Back

Kick Back is when you pull the starter rope and it suddenly jumps back and almost rips your arm off!

Usually, when the pull cord snaps it’s because it is being overworked due to starting problems, take a look at this article for further information, take a look at this article on how to help a lawnmower that won’t start easily

Kickback is awful and it certainly won’t help your pull cord. To avoid kickback you will need to check the crankshaft key as it will be either damaged or sheared.

you can find more information here

This should help with any problems you have with a stuck pull cord on your petrol lawnmower.

Check out for all your pull cord spares.

You can find lots more information and start repairing lawnmowers for profit by checking out my online training here

Happy Mowing


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