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How to Repair a Stihl 031Av Pull String Chainsaw

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Pitch, dirt or sawdust can all get inside the recoil starter, clogging the pull string on a Stihl 031 Av chainsaw. If the rope retracts slowly or not completely, you can usually assume the recoil spring and pulley are fine. But, if it doesn’t pull out at all or gets stuck, then either the starter assembly or recoil spring have been damaged. Cold weather can also affect the lubrication on the recoil spring. Regardless, you will need to remove, disassemble and clean the entire starter assembly.

Undo the fan housing cover’s four screws with your screwdriver. Lift the base of the cover and pull it away from the housing area. Unhook the spring clip with the flat edge of the screwdriver from the starter post. Pull off the clip, the entire rope rotor, washer and pawl.

Pull off the old string from the rope rotor. Replace the string if it’s frayed, sticky, dirty or broken in any areas. Cut the old string away from the base of the rotor and the starter handle. The old string cannot be cleaned and it’s better to just replace it.

Thread the new string into the center of the rotor and secure it to the rotor with an overhand knot. Thread the string through the rope guide on the fan cover. Burn the tip of the tied with the lighter to prevent fraying. Push it through the bottom of the starter handle and tie a figure eight knot into the end. Pull the knotted end down into the handle.

Clean the rotor’s bushing with a little gas from the fuel tank and the rag. Lubricate the bushing and the starter post with a little engine lubricating grease. Slide the rotor back onto the starter post.

Turn the rotor back and forth until the slotted area engages the anchor loop on the recoil spring. Turn the cover back over and tighten down its four retaining screws with the screwdriver.


The recoil spring is under enormous tension and can cause serious injury if it pops out unexpectedly.

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