Replace Lawn Mower Pull Cord

How to Replace Lawn Mower Pull Cord (step-by-step)

At some point, all household maintenance tools are subject to wear and tear, and your lawn mower is no exception. A broken lawn mower pull cord is a pretty common problem. Today, I’m providing a step-by-step guide explaining how to replace your lawn mower pull cord.

And fortunately, it is easy to get done DIY. It’s more cost effective to go that route instead of getting help from the pros.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S., and by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

Why Lawn Mower Pull Cords Break

There are a few common reasons why your cord may break, and it’s important to make sure that the problem is a broken cord and not that your mower’s pull cord is just failing to catch.

Why Lawn Mower Pull Cords Break

When a pull cord is broken, it means that the starter rope has detached from the rest of the cord.

The starter rope is the visible part of the cord. You can access it from outside of the mower. Make sure you replace it if it breaks.

Usually mower pull cords break from regular wear and tear, but your cord may have broken because:

  • Tension from the crossing of the cord over itself that causes it to snap.
  • Low quality material causing the rope to sever.
  • Sharp points in the lawn mower that can cut the cord.

Is It Difficult to Replace Your Lawn Mower Starter Cord?

Replacing a lawn mower pull cord is a simple DIY project and you won’t have any problems getting it done. It just takes about 30 minutes.

You can find the tools you need at home or at your local hardware store. One item you’ll definitely need to buy is a new pull cord.

Best Replacement Pull Cord Kit

My Go-To Replacement Pull Cord for Mowers

Want a budget-friendly option to replace your worn or broken pull cord on your mower?

Part 5042 from Briggs and Stratton is exactly what you need for a quick, hassle-free starter rope replacement. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Pull Cord on a Lawn Mower?

As I just mentioned, you will have to purchase a new pull cord. There are several different types of pull cords you can buy, but as long as you have a few common tools available, this project should cost you less than $20 to DIY.

Replace Mower Pull Cord

If you’re looking for an affordable DIY pull cord replacement kit, there are many available for just a few dollars on Amazon.  But do you want to invest in a higher quality pull cord? If so, I recommend choosing heavy-duty braided starter rope rolls like this one. Braided rope is generally more durable and less likely to break quickly, though it’s a little more expensive.

If you buy braided rope, you can usually re-use the handle on your mower (a kit will come with a new handle).

Now, let’s go over the tools and other materials that you’ll need to replace your pull cord. Then, I’ll guide you through the process step-by-step.

What You Need to Replace Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord

Here are the tools and materials I recommend to have at hand for replacing your lawn mower pull cord:

  • Vice Grips or Socket Wrench to Remove the Starter Assembly,
  • Screwdriver to Hold Pulley in Place,
  • Needle Nose Pliers to pull cord out of pulley and handle (optional, but nice to have),
  • Knife to Cut Cord, and the
  • New Lawn Mower Pull Cord

You may also want to wear some gloves just in case the starter assembly slips, and even on a small project like this I always recommend safety glasses (you only get one set of eyes!).

Again, I recommend you consider the following products for this job:

How To Replace Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord

As you’ll see below, replacing your lawn mower pull cord is pretty simple and easy.

How to Replace Lawn Mower Pull Cord

I’ve listed all the steps of the process below. Prefer learning by video? Check out the corresponding video tutorial that will walk you through the process.

Replacing Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord (step-by-step)

Here’s how to replace your lawn mower pull cord, step-by-step.

Step 1 – Remove Your Mower’s Starter Assembly

You’ll probably find the starter assembly on the outermost part of your lawn mower. This is the pull cord housing.

Depending on the type of assembly you have, you will want to undo the screws of the starter assembly, using the necessary tools to reveal the coil where the starter cord feeds through.

Step 2 – Pull the Rope Out of the Starter

Once you’ve detached the starter from the lawn mower, you’ll see where the rope has been coiled around.

How to Detach the Starter from the Lawn Mower

You will want to remove the entire rope from the starter, using a slow and steady motion. You want to avoid further damaging the original pull cord.

Keep in mind that the pulley may move as you do this so you will want to proceed with caution.

Step 3 – Lock the Pulley in Place & Remove Rope

Using a screwdriver or any other available tools, you will want to lock the pulley in place by inserting the tool of choice between the groves to prevent movement.

You will then proceed to remove the rope from the center. You can do this by unknotting the rope or simply cutting it from the center.

Step 4 – Remove the Rope from the Handle

Cut the knot off to remove the rope from the handle. You can use a pair of scissors and some pliers to do this.

How to Remove the Mower Pull Cord

Step 5 – Install the New Pull Cord

Before you install the new pull cord, you first have to situate the pulley to where it is aligned with the hole in the starter.

This requires winding it all the way back, before aligning the two holes, then locking the pulley in place.

Next, you will feed the pull cord into the hole of the housing and pulley and begin coiling the pull cord around the pulley by rotating it.

Make sure to leave about 18 inches for the starter cord. After you’ve done this, pull the cord through the handle and secure it.

Video Walk-Through

In case you’re a visual learner, here’s the process broken down in an excellent short video from eHow:

Other Problems You May Run Into with Your Mower’s Pull Cord

Of course, your cord breaking is not the only issue you can have with your pull cord.

Below, you will find common issues that lawn mower users face with pull cords as well as simple remedies for each problem.

Damage to Pull Cord Spring

The pull cord spring of your lawn mower acts as a guide that allows the pull cord to coil through and around the pulley.

Lawn Mower Starter Cord Replacement

If the cord spring is detached or bent out of place, there will be difficulties with coiling and recoiling the pull cord.

For a quick fix, use a pair of pliers to reshape the spring to its original form (which is usually a v-shape that faces in the same direction of the outer end of the spring).

Mower Pull Cord Won’t Retract

This could either mean that the pull cord has gotten stuck somewhere in the assembly, or that the assembly is broken.

The best way to figure this out is to open it up and take a look inside. It will be an easy fix if the rope is caught.

Is there a jammed assembly? You may have to recoil the cord again.

Your Pull Cord Won’t Catch When Pulled

There can be different reasons if your lawn mower’s pull cord is failing to catch. These include broken prawls, a damaged pulley system, or standard wear and tear from use over the years.

Why Pull Cord Won’t Catch When Pulled

There are different remedies to fix a pull cord that won’t catch, other than replacing the rope itself, such as opening up the assembly and replacing the pawls.

You can also search your mower’s model number on MTD Parts or on HIPA for replacement parts to DIY repairs or maintain your mower.

If you need to replace the whole fly wheel assembly, you can often find these like this one on Amazon with a search for your model number and the part name.

Final Thoughts About Replacing Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord

Replacing your lawn mower pull cord is an easy DIY job. It takes less than 30 minutes, and it requires almost no new tools or previous technical know-how to get the job done.

With all the right tools, and my step-by-step replacement guide, you’ll be well on your way to replacing your lawn mower pull cord at home.

Before you go, read my complete guide for how to deal with a lawn mower pull cord that isn’t catching.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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