How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step


You have finally decided to take your lawnmower out to give your grass a nice, elegant look. Just as you try to pull the starter rope on your handle, it seems badly jammed. You don’t want to damage your cable, so you stop pulling it right away. You can’t resume your mowing unless you fix the pull cord. Luckily, fixing isn’t a lengthy procedure and can be performed in less than an hour. There can be several reasons for a stuck pull cord, and we shall investigate those causes separately in this blog post.

How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step:

  • Step 1: To start, inspect your blade for any stuck strands of grass or debris. Remove them as they cause the pull cord to get stuck.
  • Step 2: Open the blower housing and inspect the recoil starter. If it appears damaged, you need to replace it.
  • Step 3: Check if the engine is hydro-locked, remove the spark plug and pull the rope repeatedly to restart the engine.
  • Step 4: Inspect if there’s some structural failure in the engine, such as a bent crankshaft.
How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step 1

The pull cord on a lawnmower is connected to a hub that spins the crankshaft of your mower’s engine, thus causing the blades to turn. At the same time, the engine draws an air-fuel mixture from the carburetor. The firing of the spark plug initiates the ignition. Hence, your engine starts over. If there are obstructions within the mower blades or the engine’s starter hub, you won’t pull the starter cord.

If you are looking for an elaborated description of the fixes mentioned above, you should stay tuned to this blog post as we shall provide you with insight regarding the pull cord-related problems.

Causes and fixes of a stuck pull cord on a lawnmower:

A stuck pull cord on a lawnmower may be an outcome of various issues. We shall address them one by one as mentioned below:

Equipment needed:

For performing these fixes, you don’t need sophisticated equipment. Just make sure you have a screwdriver, wrench set, a rag, and a pair of safety gloves at your disposal.

● Step 1. Inspect for blade obstruction:

You may often witness a situation when the blade gets stuck with debris or any branch. This condition prevents It from spinning due to obstruction between the blade and the mower deck. As said before, the pull cord is responsible for spinning the mower blades that eventually start the engine. Hence, blades not able to spin mean that the cord cannot be pulled.

– Fix: Tilt the mower to dislodge the obstruction:

To free the blades from any debris caught, you should tilt it over first. However, you should do that with your air filter pointing upwards. It is better to remove the spark plug cable so that the engine doesn’t start over. Now check if debris, grass, or a branch getting stuck between the debris curtain and the blade prevents the blades from spinning. If it does, you should remove it. Putting the spark plug back on and tilting the mower back shall now fix your problem with the pull cord.

● Step 2. Check and fix the recoil starter:

If there isn’t any debris preventing the blades from spinning, then the chances are that your recoil starter might be damaged. For such walk-behind lawnmowers, the recoil starter is easy to find and replace.

– Fix: Remove the mower housing to view the starter:

The recoil starter is situated under the blower housing. Before doing anything, ensure that the spark plug wire is removed. Also, release the starter cable or the pull cord from the mower handle. Now, remove the screws securing the blower housing.

Check the recoil starter for any damage. Check whether it can spin by pulling the starter cable right near to it. Also, see if it is free from any debris or obstruction that may prevent it from spinning. If the cable appears tangled, you should rewind it.

Replacing the recoil starter:

Replacing a recoil starter is seldom difficult. To perform the replacement, remove the recoil starter guard. Next, use a screwdriver to remove the tabs connecting it to the blower housing.

Remove the old starter and add the identical one to its place in the tabs. Reinstall the guard and attach the blower housing back onto the mower.

Note: Please make sure that you go through your owner’s manual to search and purchase the recoil starter precisely in accordance with your device’s model number.

● Step 3. Check for hydro-locking:

Hydro-locking of the engine is a condition when oil escapes from the crankcase into the cylinder casing. The high viscous fluid jams the cylinder, thus preventing it from sliding and thus rotating the crankshaft. Hydro-locking generally occurs when you have tilted the mower upside down with the air filter pointing downwards. If you’ve heard about this for the first time, then don’t worry as the remedy to this problem isn’t much difficult.

But first, you need to diagnose whether the problem actually is hydro-locking or not. To check for this, remove the spark plug and the spark plug wire. Clamp the control bar at the mower handle to release the blade brake. With the blower housing removed, manually rotate the starter cup to see if the engine turns. If it turns, reinstall the blower housing.

– Fix: Remove the spark plug and pull the rope:

To fix this, make sure that the spark plug is removed along with its wire. Place a dry cloth near the spark plug hole since we will spray the oil out of the engine. Try to start your engine by pulling the rope several times. You shall notice oil being thrown out of the spark plug hole.

When the oil has stopped spraying out, reattach the spark plug and connect the wire back to the plug. Pull the rope again to see if the engine starts. When the engine starts, it might run erratically and throw out some white smoke. That is due to it being burning oil remnants along with the fuel. It shall start running smoothly once the oil has been completely burnt away.

Note: To prevent the hydro-locking of your engine in the future, we recommend that you should consult the owner’s manual regarding the tilt instructions. Generally, for most walk-behind mowers, tilting the deck with the air filter pointing up is the way to go.

● Step 4. Engine seizure:

While diagnosing for hydro-locking, if the engine’s starter cup doesn’t turn at all, it indicates your engine’s serious problem. This condition means that the engine has either encountered a bent crankshaft or a stuck piston.

– Fix: Spraying lubricant in the plug’s hole:

Although engine related faults can seldom be repaired, some ways of fixing a stuck cylinder involve spraying a lubricant in the spark plug hole and turning the blades with the spark plug fixed back on. Don’t forget to wear gloves while dealing with the blades. If the engine seizure can’t be fixed, then you don’t have any choice other than to buy a new lawnmower.

Related Questions:

1. What causes a push mower to lock up?

If the mower has been sitting in wet conditions for a long time or haven’t replenished the engine oil, the piston can get stuck, and the engine can lock up. To prevent this lock-up, you need to remove the spark plug and add the lubricant from the hole into the engine. Afterward, put the spark plug back on and rotate the mower blades with the safety gloves on. This remedy shall help you in cranking up your dead engine.

2. Why is my pull cord stuck?

If you see that your pull cord is stuck, a few reasons might make this happen. For one, the development of grass or debris needs to be removed to allow the pull cord to work again. You might also have an issue with your recoil starter, which may be broken.

3. Why is my lawnmower not starting?

If you can’t start your lawnmower, the chances are that the following factors might be causing this problem:

  • Spark plug: A worn out or damaged spark plug
  • Carburetor: Deposits formed in the carburetor that can clog its jets.
  • Air filter: The air filter might have been dirty due to the accumulated dust.
  • Flywheel key: A broken flywheel key might not be delivering enough power from the engine
  • Fuel: An empty fuel tank can also be a problem.
  • Battery: If the battery voltage is down, the ignition won’t occur.
  • Starter motor: For riding lawnmower engines, a bad starter motor can also cause starting problems.

Final Remarks:

When the pull cord from your lawnmower is stuck, it means you can not start. There can be several reasons why this happens. This blog post helps you check the various causes and help you fix them. If you look at the multiple reasons, you will notice that proper maintenance is not always the cause, but it will prevent many problems. It will ensure a long and relatively trouble-free usage for many years to come.

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