How to Repair a Lawn Mower Cord


The manual pull starter cord on lawn mowers will break from use and the elements. The thin nylon rope is especially susceptible to the hot engine temperatures and moisture. Repairing the starter cord generally will not take much time as long as the lawn mower has cooled down. A few hand tools are needed as well as a couple of handspring clamps to hold the spring tension pulley in place during the process.

Step 1

Allow the lawn mower to fully cool down. Pull the rubber spark plug wire from the spark plug. The spark plug is typically located on the side of the engine that faces the push handles of the mower.

Step 2

Use either the 7/16-inch end wrench or the ½ -inch end wrench to remove the three bolts that hold the starter housing to the engine. The make and model of the mower engine will determine the size of the bolt heads, and which wrench will be used. Turn the wrenches in a counterclockwise direction to loosen the bolts. Remove the bolts with your fingers. Set the bolts in a safe location so you do not misplace them.

Step 3

Lift the starter housing from the engine. Lay the housing upside down on a flat and firm surface. Observe the plastic pulley that has an internal tension spring.

Step 4

Wind the plastic pulley in a clockwise direction. This will place tension on the internal spring with every revolution of the pulley. Tighten the spring and pulley until you can no longer turn the pulley.

Step 5

Back the pulley off just enough to align the rope hole in the pulley with the hole in the top of the starter housing.

Step 6

Place one of the handspring clamps so it will hold the pulley to the top of the starter housing. Set the second handspring clamp directly across from the first one to firmly hold the pulley in place while it is under the spring tension.

Step 7

Use the pocketknife and make a clean cut to the broken end of the pull rope. The end goal is to have the frayed end of the rope as tight as possible in the weave of the cord. If the end of the rope is too frayed, apply a small flame to the cut end with a lighter or matches. The heat from the flame will melt the loose frays and make the end of the rope easier to feed through the holes.

Step 8

Feed the cut end of the pull rope through the hole in the starter housing. Use the needle nose pliers to help you in moving the end of the rope, and feeding it into the small hole on the plastic pulley.

Step 9

Pull approximately 8 inches of the rope through the pulley hole. Tie a knot in the end of the rope. Pull the rope back through, so the end of the knot is resting up and against the hole in the plastic pulley.

Step 10

Remove the two handspring clamps, while holding the pulley with your other hand. Allow the spring tension pulley to slowly rewind the rope.

Step 11

Replace the starter housing back on the engine. Install the three bolts. Secure the spark plug wire over the spark plug.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always allow any small engine to cool down before servicing. The hot portions of the engine can inflict severe burns to any exposed skin.

Things You'll Need

  • 7/16-inch or ½-inch end wrench
  • Pocketknife
  • 2 hand spring clamps
  • Lighter or matches (optional)
  • Needle nose pliers


  • Small Engine Repair: Pull Rope Repair
  • Cockeyed: How to Replace the Starter Cord on a Lawn Mower
Keywords: pull rope, starter, push mower

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.