How to Fix a Lawn Mower Pull Cord

How to Fix a Lawn Mower Pull Cord thumbnail
Lawn mowesr that use a starter pull cord may experience problems due to wear of the cord.

Many walk-behind lawn mowers use a pull cord to start the engine. After pulling the cord, it wraps around a spring-loaded pulley that recoils the rope around the pulley in preparation for the next pull. Over time, the cord can deteriorate and break. Fixing a lawn mower pull cord can be done in a few moments with some basic hand tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Wide-jaw vise grips
  • Needle nose pliers
  • New pull cord with handle
  • Socket set
  • Lighter or matches
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    • 1

      Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug by pulling on the rubber boot that covers the tip of the spark plug.

    • 2

      Loosen the three bolts that secure the starter shroud to the top of the engine. Lift the starter shroud off of the engine and place it upside down on a work table.

    • 3

      Hold the starter shroud with one hand, and turn the center pulley counter-clockwise until it stops turning. Clamp the pulley in place with a pair of wide-jaw vise grip pliers.

    • 4

      Grasp the knot in the knot hole near the center of the pulley with a pair of needle nose pliers, and pull out the damaged section of rope.

    • 5

      Insert the end of the new pull cord (with the handle on the other end) into the hole in the starter shroud. Guide the end of the rope into the pulley toward the knot hole near the center. When the rope appears in the knot hole, grasp it with the needle nose pliers and pull out about a foot of rope through the knot hole.

    • 6

      Tie a knot in the end of the rope. Singe the end of the rope past the knot with a match or lighter to prevent fraying.

    • 7

      Pull on the starter rope from outside the shroud until the knot seats firmly in the knot hole. Remove the vise grip pliers, allowing the rope to recoil around the pulley.

    • 8

      Reposition the starter shroud onto the engine, and tighten the three bolts to secure the shroud. Reconnect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.

Tips & Warnings

  • For long life, use only cord designed for small engine starters.

  • To prevent accidental firing of the engine, always disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug when working on a small engine.

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  • Photo Credit mower image by Tomasz Wojnarowicz from

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