Why Can’t I Pull the Lawn Mower Cord?

You’re ready to tackle the lawn, armed with your trusty lawn mower, but disaster strikes – the pull cord won’t budge. Frustration mounts as you tug and yank, but the engine remains stubbornly silent. This common problem can be a real pain, but fear not! This article will delve into the most common reasons why your lawn mower pull cord might be stuck and offer solutions to get you back to mowing in no time. We’ll explore everything from simple fixes like tangled cord to more complex issues like a seized engine. So, grab your toolkit and let’s get this lawn mower running!

In a nutshell, there are several reasons why you can’t pull the lawn mower cord. The most common include a tangled pull cord, a stuck recoil spring, a worn-out starter rope, or a problem with the engine itself.

Common Reasons Why Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord Won’t Pull

1. Tangled Pull Cord

The most straightforward reason for a stuck pull cord is a simple tangle. The cord can become knotted within its housing, preventing it from pulling freely.


  • Inspect the cord: Carefully inspect the pull cord for any knots or tangles. You might need to use a small tool like a pair of pliers to gently disentangle the cord.
  • Release the tension: If the cord is tangled, you might need to release the tension on the recoil spring. This is usually done by loosening a screw or nut located on the recoil housing. Once the tension is released, you can carefully untangle the cord.

2. Stuck Recoil Spring

The recoil spring is responsible for storing energy and retracting the pull cord. If this spring becomes stuck or jammed, it can prevent the cord from pulling.


  • Check for obstructions: Examine the recoil housing for any debris or obstructions that might be preventing the spring from moving freely. Use a small brush or compressed air to clear out any blockage.
  • Lubricate the spring: Apply a few drops of light oil to the recoil spring to reduce friction. This can help to free up a stuck spring.
  • Replace the spring: If the spring is severely damaged or worn out, it will need to be replaced. You can purchase a replacement spring online or at your local hardware store.

3. Worn-Out Starter Rope

The starter rope is the part of the pull cord that you actually pull. Over time, it can become frayed, worn, or even broken.


  • Inspect the rope: Examine the starter rope for any signs of wear or damage. If it’s frayed or broken, it needs to be replaced.
  • Replace the rope: You can purchase a replacement starter rope at most hardware stores or online. Make sure to get a rope that is the correct length and diameter for your mower model.
  • Properly install the new rope: Most starter ropes have a knot at one end. This knot should be inserted into the recoil housing before the rope is threaded through the starter mechanism.

4. Engine Problems

While the problem might seem related to the pull cord, the culprit could be a deeper issue with the engine itself.

H4: 1. Seized Engine:

This occurs when the engine’s internal components become stuck due to lack of lubrication or other issues.

  • Solution:
    • Try to manually rotate the crankshaft: Try to manually rotate the crankshaft using a wrench or socket. If the engine is seized, you’ll feel significant resistance.
    • Check the oil level: Ensure the engine has the proper oil level. If the oil is low or contaminated, it can cause the engine to seize.
    • Professional repair: If you suspect a seized engine, it’s best to seek professional help.

H4: 2. Defective Spark Plug:

A faulty spark plug can prevent the engine from starting, making the pull cord seem stuck.

  • Solution:
    • Inspect the spark plug: Remove the spark plug and visually inspect it for signs of damage or carbon buildup.
    • Replace the spark plug: If the spark plug is faulty, replace it with a new one that matches your mower’s specifications.
    • Gap the spark plug: Ensure the spark plug gap is set to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

H4: 3. Fuel Issues:

Problems with fuel delivery, such as clogged fuel lines or a bad fuel filter, can also hinder engine start-up, making the pull cord feel stuck.

  • Solution:
    • Check the fuel lines and filter: Inspect the fuel lines for any cracks, kinks, or clogs. Replace the fuel filter if it is dirty or damaged.
    • Flush the fuel system: If you suspect fuel system contamination, you may need to flush the system with a fuel system cleaner.

Troubleshooting Tips for a Stuck Pull Cord

  • Check the spark plug: Before you start troubleshooting, ensure the spark plug is connected and in good condition. A spark test will determine if the spark plug is working correctly.
  • Inspect the fuel line and filter: Check for any blockage or damage to the fuel line and ensure the fuel filter is clean.
  • Inspect the air filter: A clogged air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, preventing it from starting.
  • Don’t force it: If the pull cord feels unusually stiff, don’t force it. Pushing too hard could damage the recoil mechanism.

When to Seek Professional Help

While many pull cord issues can be resolved with DIY solutions, it’s best to call in a professional for more complex problems:

  • Seized engine: If you suspect a seized engine, it’s best to have a mechanic diagnose and repair the issue.
  • Damaged recoil housing: If the recoil housing is cracked or broken, it will need to be replaced.
  • Complex internal engine problems: If you’re not comfortable working on the engine, it’s best to let a professional handle it.

Maintaining Your Lawn Mower

Regular maintenance is crucial for preventing pull cord problems and ensuring your lawn mower runs smoothly.

  • Change the oil regularly: This ensures the engine is properly lubricated and prevents wear and tear.
  • Clean the air filter: A clean air filter ensures optimal airflow to the engine.
  • Inspect the spark plug: Check the spark plug regularly for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Store your mower properly: When not in use, store your mower in a dry, clean place to prevent rust and corrosion.

Final Thoughts

A stuck pull cord can be a frustrating experience, but by understanding the common causes and implementing the right troubleshooting steps, you can get your lawn mower running again in no time. Remember to always prioritize safety and seek professional help for complex repairs. By following these tips and practicing proper maintenance, you can keep your lawn mower running smoothly and tackle your lawn with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common reasons why your lawn mower cord won’t pull:

H3: Why Won’t My Lawn Mower Start?

If your lawnmower won’t start, it’s likely due to a simple problem like a dead battery or a clogged air filter. Check the battery first, and if it’s dead, replace it. If the battery is fine, check the air filter. A clogged air filter will restrict airflow to the engine, preventing it from starting.

If the battery and air filter are both fine, there may be a problem with the spark plug. A fouled spark plug can prevent the engine from igniting. If you’re not comfortable replacing the spark plug, take your mower to a qualified mechanic.

H3: My Lawn Mower Cord is Stuck – What Do I Do?

The lawn mower cord is essential for starting the engine. If the cord is stuck, it can be frustrating and prevent you from mowing your lawn. There are several reasons why the cord might be stuck, such as a worn or broken recoil spring, a damaged recoil starter assembly, or a buildup of debris.

To fix the issue, you’ll need to diagnose the problem. If the spring is worn or broken, it needs to be replaced. If the recoil starter assembly is damaged, it may need to be repaired or replaced. If debris is causing the problem, clean it out.

H3: How Can I Tell if the Recoil Spring is Broken?

A broken recoil spring can prevent the cord from pulling properly and result in the engine not starting. To determine if the recoil spring is broken, you can try pulling the cord and feeling for resistance. If there’s no resistance, the spring is likely broken.

You can also visually inspect the spring. Look for signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, breaks, or rust. If you see any damage, the spring should be replaced.

H3: Why is My Lawn Mower Cord So Hard to Pull?

If your lawnmower cord is very difficult to pull, it could be due to a few factors. The recoil spring may be worn out, causing it to bind and make it hard to pull. Additionally, a buildup of dirt or debris in the recoil starter assembly could be contributing to the problem.

You can try cleaning the recoil starter assembly to see if that resolves the issue. If the spring is worn out, it will need to be replaced.

H3: Can I Use WD-40 on the Lawn Mower Cord?

It’s generally not a good idea to use WD-40 on the lawn mower cord. WD-40 is a lubricant, but it can attract dirt and debris, which can actually make the problem worse.

If you’re having trouble pulling the cord, it’s best to diagnose the problem and address it directly. This could involve cleaning the recoil starter assembly, replacing the recoil spring, or even replacing the entire recoil starter assembly.

H3: Why Won’t My Lawn Mower Cord Stay Out?

If your lawn mower cord won’t stay out, it may be because the recoil starter assembly is broken. The recoil starter assembly is responsible for retracting the cord after it’s pulled.

If this assembly is broken, the cord may not retract properly, or it may retract too quickly. If you’re experiencing this problem, you’ll need to replace the recoil starter assembly.

H3: How Often Should I Replace the Recoil Spring?

The recoil spring is a vital part of the lawn mower, and it’s important to replace it when it starts to wear out. How often you need to replace it depends on how much you use your lawn mower and how well you maintain it.

As a general rule of thumb, you should replace the recoil spring every 2-3 years. If you notice any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, breaks, or rust, you should replace the spring immediately.

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