How to Fix a Broken Pull String on a Lawn Mower?

The satisfying “thunk” of a lawn mower starting up is a sound that brings peace of mind to any homeowner. But what happens when that familiar sound is replaced by a frustrating silence, the culprit being a broken pull string? Don’t despair! This article will guide you through the steps of diagnosing the problem, gathering the necessary tools, and fixing that broken pull string, returning your lawn mower to its glory.

A broken pull string can be a common problem with lawn mowers, usually caused by wear and tear, improper use, or even a simple snag. While the task may seem daunting, it’s a surprisingly straightforward repair that can be tackled by most homeowners with a few basic tools and some patience. Let’s get started!

Diagnosing the Problem

The first step is to identify the exact problem. Is the pull string completely broken, or is it just tangled? If it’s tangled, you might be able to untangle it and get the mower started. But if the string is truly broken, you’ll need to replace it.

Here’s how to tell if your pull string is broken:

  • The recoil mechanism doesn’t engage: If you pull the string and it feels loose and doesn’t engage the recoil mechanism, it’s likely broken.
  • The string feels frayed or ripped: A frayed or ripped string is a sign that it’s nearing its end and needs replacement.
  • You hear a snapping sound when you pull the string: This indicates that the string has completely broken.

Tools and Materials

To fix a broken pull string, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • New pull string: You can find replacement pull strings at most hardware stores or online retailers. Make sure you buy a string that’s compatible with your lawn mower model.
  • Screwdriver: You’ll need a screwdriver to remove the screws holding the recoil housing in place.
  • Pliers: Pliers will be helpful for removing the old pull string and attaching the new one.
  • Gloves: This will help protect your hands from any sharp edges.

Replacing the Pull String

Now that you’ve diagnosed the problem and gathered the necessary tools, it’s time to replace the pull string. Here’s how:

Step 1: Disassemble the Recoil Housing

  1. Locate the recoil housing: The recoil housing is the black plastic or metal casing that houses the pull string and the recoil mechanism.
  2. Remove the screws: Use your screwdriver to remove the screws holding the recoil housing in place. The number and location of screws can vary depending on the model.
  3. Carefully remove the recoil housing: Once the screws are removed, gently pry the recoil housing off of the mower. Be careful not to damage any of the internal components.

Step 2: Remove the Old Pull String

  1. Locate the old pull string: The old pull string will be attached to the recoil mechanism inside the housing.
  2. Remove the old string: Use your pliers to carefully remove the old string from the recoil mechanism. Be sure to note the way it was originally attached.

Step 3: Install the New Pull String

  1. Thread the new string: Take your new pull string and thread it through the recoil mechanism in the same way the old string was attached.
  2. Attach the new string: Once the string is threaded, use pliers to secure it to the recoil mechanism. Make sure it’s tightly attached.

Step 4: Reassemble the Recoil Housing

  1. Place the recoil housing back on the mower: Carefully align the recoil housing with the mower and place it back in position.
  2. Reattach the screws: Use your screwdriver to reattach the screws that hold the recoil housing in place. Make sure they are securely tightened.

Testing the New Pull String

Once you have reassembled the recoil housing, it’s time to test the new pull string.

  1. Pull the string: Pull the string a few times to make sure it is working properly. You should hear the recoil mechanism engage.
  2. Start the mower: If the pull string is working, you should be able to start your lawn mower as usual.

Additional Tips and Considerations

  • Be careful not to overtighten the screws: Overtightening the screws can damage the recoil housing.
  • Clean the recoil mechanism: Before reinstalling the recoil housing, it’s a good idea to clean the recoil mechanism with a brush or compressed air. This will help to remove any dirt or debris that could prevent it from working properly.
  • Replace the pull string regularly: Even if your pull string isn’t broken, it’s a good idea to replace it every few years to prevent it from fraying or breaking.
  • Consider upgrading to a rope-less starter: If you’re tired of dealing with pull strings, you may want to consider upgrading your lawn mower to one with a rope-less starter. These starters use an electric motor to start the mower, eliminating the need for a pull string.


Fixing a broken pull string on a lawn mower is a simple repair that can be done by most homeowners with a few basic tools. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can get your lawn mower up and running again in no time. Remember to replace the pull string regularly to prevent future problems and enjoy a smooth-running lawn mowing experience.


What is a pull string on a lawn mower and what does it do?

The pull string, also known as the recoil starter, is the rope you pull to start a gasoline-powered lawn mower. It’s connected to a spring-loaded mechanism inside the mower. When you pull the string, it winds the spring, which then releases energy to turn the engine crankshaft and start the mower. The pull string is essential for starting the mower, as it provides the initial force needed to get the engine running.

Why does the pull string break on a lawn mower?

The pull string can break due to several factors. Over time, the string can become frayed or worn from repeated use. Improper handling, such as pulling the string too forcefully or letting it snap back violently, can also cause breakage. In some cases, the string can become entangled with other parts of the mower, leading to a sudden break. If the string is too short or the recoil mechanism is faulty, the string can also break easily.

How can I tell if my pull string is broken?

A broken pull string is usually quite obvious. The string may be completely detached from the recoil mechanism or torn at the point where it attaches. If the string is still attached, but it feels loose or doesn’t retract properly, this is another sign that it is broken or about to break. You can also check if the string is frayed or worn. If the string is in poor condition, it’s best to replace it before it breaks completely.

Can I fix a broken pull string myself?

Yes, you can usually fix a broken pull string yourself. The repair process is relatively simple and requires minimal tools. You’ll need a new pull string, a screwdriver, and possibly some pliers. Most lawnmower manufacturers sell replacement pull strings, and they are usually inexpensive. You can find the right string for your mower by searching online or at a local hardware store.

What are the steps to replace a broken pull string?

To replace a broken pull string, you’ll need to access the recoil mechanism. This is usually located under a cover on the side of the mower. Remove the cover and then carefully disconnect the old string from the mechanism. Attach the new string to the recoil mechanism, making sure it is securely fastened. Wind the new string onto the spool, following the instructions provided with the replacement string. Replace the cover and test the new pull string.

What if the problem isn’t the pull string?

If the pull string is in good condition, but the mower still won’t start, there could be other issues. Check the spark plug and make sure it is clean and functioning properly. Ensure the engine has enough fuel and that the fuel lines are not clogged. If you suspect the recoil mechanism itself is faulty, you may need to have it repaired or replaced by a professional.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when fixing a pull string?

Yes, there are some safety precautions you should take. Before working on the mower, make sure it is unplugged from any power source and that the engine is completely cooled down. Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyes and hands. Be careful when handling sharp tools and avoid getting your fingers caught in moving parts. If you are unsure about any part of the repair process, consult a professional mechanic.

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