How to Replace a Lawn Mower Pull Cord: A Step-by-Step Guide?

The sweet smell of freshly cut grass is a summer staple, but it can quickly turn sour when your lawn mower refuses to start. A common culprit behind this frustration is a broken or worn-out pull cord. This vital component allows you to engage the engine and get those blades whirring. But fear not! Replacing a lawn mower pull cord is a relatively simple DIY task that can save you a trip to the repair shop and a hefty bill. This guide will walk you through every step, from identifying the problem to reassembling your mower, so you can get back to enjoying a manicured lawn in no time.

A Quick Overview: Replacing a lawn mower pull cord involves disconnecting the old cord, removing the recoil spring, installing the new cord, and reattaching the spring. The process varies slightly depending on the model of your mower, but the core steps remain the same. With the right tools and a little patience, you can easily tackle this repair and have your mower running smoothly again.

Identifying the Problem

Before you start replacing the pull cord, it’s important to confirm that it’s the real culprit. Here’s how to diagnose a broken or worn-out pull cord:

1. The Pull Cord Doesn’t Move

If you pull the cord and it feels loose or doesn’t move at all, the cord has likely snapped or become disconnected.

2. The Engine Doesn’t Engage

Even if the cord moves, if it doesn’t engage the engine, the problem might be a broken or worn-out cord. In some cases, the cord may be slipping on the recoil spring or the spring itself might be faulty.

3. The Cord Feels Stiff or Doesn’t Return

If the cord is difficult to pull or doesn’t return to its starting position, it could be a sign of a worn-out cord, a damaged spring, or a clogged recoil housing.

Once you’ve determined that the pull cord is indeed the issue, you can proceed with the replacement.

Gather Your Tools

Before you dive into the replacement process, ensure you have the following tools on hand:

  • New Lawn Mower Pull Cord: Make sure you purchase the correct replacement cord for your model.
  • Phillips Screwdriver: You’ll need this to remove and tighten screws.
  • Flathead Screwdriver: This is used for prying off the cover of the recoil housing.
  • Pliers: These are useful for holding the cord while you reattach it.
  • Work Gloves: These will protect your hands during the process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing a Lawn Mower Pull Cord

Now that you’ve got your tools, let’s get started:

1. Disconnect the Old Pull Cord

  • Locate the Pull Cord Assembly: This is usually found under the engine shroud, near the starter handle.
  • Detach the Old Cord: You’ll see a small metal clip that holds the cord in place. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry off the clip and release the cord.

2. Remove the Recoil Spring

  • Locate the Recoil Spring: This is a coiled spring that sits inside the recoil housing. It’s typically secured by a metal plate or a plastic cover.
  • Remove the Cover or Plate: Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove any screws holding the cover or plate in place.
  • Remove the Spring: Carefully pull out the spring. You may need to use pliers to help release it.

3. Install the New Pull Cord

  • Thread the Cord: Locate the small hole in the recoil housing where the old cord was attached. Thread the new cord through this hole and guide it through the recoil mechanism.
  • Attach the Cord to the Recoil Spring: The new cord will have a small hook or a loop on one end. Attach this to the recoil spring.
  • Reattach the Cord to the Starter Handle: There should be a small metal clip or a hole on the starter handle. Secure the other end of the cord to this point.

4. Reassemble the Recoil Housing

  • Insert the Spring: Carefully place the recoil spring back into the housing, ensuring it sits in its correct position.
  • Reattach the Cover or Plate: Replace the cover or plate and secure it with the screws.
  • Reconnect the Pull Cord: Attach the cord to the clip on the recoil assembly.

5. Test the New Pull Cord

  • Engage the Engine: Pull the cord several times to ensure it engages the engine smoothly.
  • Check for Smooth Operation: Make sure the cord retracts properly and doesn’t feel stiff or catch.

Tips for Replacing a Lawn Mower Pull Cord

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear gloves to avoid injuries while working on the mower.
  • Don’t Force It: If you encounter resistance while removing or installing parts, don’t force them. This could damage components.
  • Clean the Recoil Housing: Before reassembling, clean out any debris or dirt from the recoil housing.
  • Lubricate the Recoil Mechanism: Use a light oil or grease to lubricate the moving parts of the recoil mechanism. This will help prevent future problems.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • The Cord Breaks Again: If the new cord breaks quickly, you may have a faulty spring or a damaged recoil housing.
  • The Engine Still Doesn’t Start: If the engine doesn’t start after replacing the cord, you may have a different issue, such as a fuel problem, a spark plug issue, or a clogged air filter.

Final Thoughts

Replacing a lawn mower pull cord is a simple task that any homeowner can handle with a few basic tools and a little patience. This guide has provided you with a step-by-step process, troubleshooting tips, and valuable information to ensure you successfully complete this repair. With a renewed pull cord, you’ll be back to enjoying a perfectly manicured lawn in no time.


What tools do I need to replace a lawnmower pull cord?

You’ll need a few basic tools to replace your lawnmower pull cord. These include a Phillips-head screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a small flat-head screwdriver or a similar tool to pry off the recoil housing cover. You may also want to have a pair of wire cutters on hand, although these aren’t strictly necessary. It’s best to have all these tools readily available before you begin the process to ensure a smooth and efficient replacement.

Additionally, you will need a new pull cord. Make sure you purchase a cord that is specifically designed for your lawnmower model. You can usually find this information in your owner’s manual or by contacting the manufacturer.

What if my pull cord is broken but still attached to the recoil housing?

If the pull cord is broken but still attached to the recoil housing, you’ll need to carefully remove it before installing the new cord. Use pliers to gently grip the broken end of the cord and pull it through the recoil housing. Be careful not to damage the recoil housing or other internal components while doing this. Once the old cord is completely removed, you can proceed with the steps outlined in the article to install the new cord.

If the broken portion of the pull cord is stuck inside the housing, you may need to use a small flat-head screwdriver or similar tool to pry it loose. Be cautious to avoid damaging the recoil housing during this process. After successfully removing the broken cord, you can proceed with installing the new one.

Can I replace the pull cord without removing the recoil housing?

No, you cannot replace the pull cord without removing the recoil housing. The recoil housing contains the spring and other mechanisms that are responsible for retracting the pull cord. To access these components and install the new pull cord, you need to remove the recoil housing from the lawnmower.

Removing the recoil housing is a relatively simple process that involves loosening a few screws and then carefully detaching it from the engine. Follow the steps outlined in the article for a detailed guide on how to remove the recoil housing.

How do I thread the new pull cord through the recoil housing?

Threading the new pull cord through the recoil housing is a crucial step in the replacement process. You’ll need to guide the cord through the various grooves and holes within the housing. Refer to your lawnmower’s manual or the diagrams provided in the article for a visual guide on how the cord should be routed.

Be sure to thread the cord through all the necessary points to ensure proper tension and functionality. It’s essential to avoid any kinks or tangles in the cord while threading it through the housing. Make sure the cord is properly aligned and securely attached to the recoil spring before reassembling the recoil housing.

How do I know if the new pull cord is installed correctly?

After installing the new pull cord, it’s essential to double-check that it is correctly installed and functioning as intended. You should be able to pull the cord smoothly and effortlessly. If the cord feels stiff or catches, there might be a problem with the installation.

Check for any kinks or tangles in the cord, and make sure it’s properly routed through the recoil housing. Also, ensure that the cord is securely attached to the recoil spring and that the housing is properly reassembled. If everything seems in order, test the starting mechanism by pulling the cord a few times to verify its functionality.

What if I can’t find the correct pull cord for my lawnmower?

If you’re having trouble finding the correct pull cord for your lawnmower, you can consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer directly. They can provide information on compatible replacement parts and where you can purchase them. You can also try contacting a local lawnmower repair shop or an online retailer that specializes in lawnmower parts.

It’s crucial to use a pull cord that is specifically designed for your lawnmower model. Using an incorrect cord can lead to improper functionality and potential damage to the recoil mechanism.

How can I prevent the pull cord from breaking again?

To prevent the pull cord from breaking again, it’s essential to use proper starting techniques and maintain your lawnmower regularly. Avoid pulling the cord too forcefully or jerking it abruptly. If the engine doesn’t start after a few pulls, stop and check for any problems. You may need to adjust the choke or clear any debris from the spark plug.

Regularly inspect the pull cord for signs of wear and tear. If it shows any fraying or damage, replace it promptly to prevent a complete breakage. Lubricating the recoil housing mechanism can also help prevent wear and tear on the pull cord.

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