How to Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract

Like me, you learned how to start a manual lawn mower the hard way. First, you pull the cord until your arm is so sore you can’t move it anymore, and then the machine finally starts. However, after a few uses, the pull start cord seems to get stuck and doesn’t want to retract anymore.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this! In just a few simple steps, you can have your lawnmower up and running again. In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps necessary on how to fix a pull start that won’t retract. Keep reading for more information.

How to Fix a Pull Start That Won't Retract

Summary: If you have a pull start lawnmower that won’t retract, the issue may be caused by a clogged or stuck recoil pulley. To fix this issue, begin by removing the spark plug and then gently prying off the plastic cover of the starter mechanism.

Inspect for debris in the recoil assembly and clear it with compressed air if necessary. Once cleaned, try to manually retract the starter rope to see if it is stuck. If so, use pliers to carefully remove the rope before resetting it into place.

8 Reasons That Causes a Broken Pull Start

1. Pull Start Rope Jammed:

The pull start on a lawn mower can sometimes get jammed with dirt, stones, or other debris. If this happens, you can try to clear the obstruction and see if the pull start will retract properly.

2. Broken Rope:

The pull start on a lawn mower has a rope that can sometimes break. If the rope breaks, the pull start won’t work properly and will need to be replaced.

3. Worn Out Gears:

The gears in the pull start can become worn out over time. This can cause the pull to start to slip or not retract properly. If the gears are worn out, they will need to be replaced to get the pull start to work properly.

4. Damaged Springs:

The most common problem with pull starts is that they don’t retract. This is usually because one or more of the springs is damaged. To fix this, you need to replace the damaged springs.

5. Replacing the Pull Start:

If the pull start is beyond repair, you will need to replace it. This can be a difficult task, but it is not impossible. There are several different pull starts available on the market, so you should be able to find one that will fit your needs.

There Are Several Different Pull Starts Available

6. Dirt in the Fuel Tank:

If there is dirt or other debris in the fuel tank, it can cause the pull to start to malfunction. The best way to clean the tank is to remove it and thoroughly clean it with a brush and soapy water. If you cannot remove the tank, you can try using a vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt.

7. Damaged Pulley:

The most common cause of a broken pull start is a damaged pulley. The small, plastic teeth inside the metal rim can become stripped or bent, making it difficult for the cord to grip. You’ll need to replace the entire pulley assembly if this is the case.

Another common issue is a damaged or frayed cord. The cord can be replaced, but you’ll need to make sure the new one is properly secured to the pull start housing.

If your pull start is still not working after replacing the cord and pulley, there may be an issue with the engine itself. Consult a professional for further diagnosis and repairs.

8. Stripped Screws:

If the screws that hold the pull start in place become stripped, it can be difficult to remove the pull start. This can be a tricky problem to fix, but it is possible. First, you’ll need to use a screw extractor to remove the screws. Then, you can replace them with new ones once they are out.

15 Effective Steps on How to Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract

Step 1: Gather Necessary Tools

To fix a pull start that won’t retract, you will need the following tools: a flathead screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, a pair of needle-nose pliers, a pair of regular pliers, a small container for screws and parts, a can of WD-40 or other lubricant, and a clean cloth.

Step 2: Disconnect the Engine

Disconnect the engine from the equipment it is attached to, like a lawnmower, generator, or snow blower. This will allow you to easily access and repair the pull start mechanism without any obstructions.

Step 3: Remove the Pull Start Assembly

Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the pull start assembly to the engine. Place the screws in the container to prevent loss. Once the screws are removed, gently pull the assembly away from the engine.

Step 4: Inspect the Pull Cord and Handle

Check the pull cord and handle for any signs of wear, fraying, or damage. If the cord or handle is damaged, it may need to be replaced. If they are in good condition, proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Remove the Recoil Spring Cover

Using the flathead screwdriver, carefully pry off the recoil spring cover, which is usually held in place by a small metal clip or a series of tabs. Be cautious, as the spring is under tension and may suddenly release.

Step 6: Inspect the Recoil Spring

Examine the recoil spring for any signs of rust, damage, or deformation. If the spring is damaged, it will need to be replaced. If it’s in good condition, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 7: Clean and Lubricate the Recoil Spring

Use the clean cloth to wipe away any dirt or debris from the recoil spring. Apply a generous amount of WD-40 or another lubricant to the spring, ensuring that it is evenly coated. This will help the spring retract smoothly and prevent future issues.

Step 8: Reinstall the Recoil Spring

Carefully reinstall the recoil spring into the pull start assembly, making sure it is properly seated and aligned. If the spring has a hook or tab at the end, make sure it engages with the corresponding slot or hole in the assembly.

Step 9: Reattach the Recoil Spring Cover

Once the spring is reinstalled, carefully reattach the recoil spring cover. Make sure the cover is securely in place and that the spring is not visible. If the cover is not properly secured, it could come loose and cause injury.

Step 10: Rewind the Pull Cord

Grab the handle of the pull cord and slowly pull it out to its full length. While holding the cord, use the needle-nose pliers to grip the end of the cord where it attaches to the pull start assembly. Slowly wind the cord back onto the assembly, making sure it is evenly and tightly coiled.

Step 11: Test the Pull Cord

Once the pull cord is rewound, give it a few test pulls to ensure that it retracts smoothly and completely. If the cord does not retract, repeat steps 5 through 10, checking for any issues that may be preventing the cord from retracting.

Step 12: Reassemble the Pull Start Assembly

With the pull cord functioning properly, reassemble the pull start assembly by attaching it back to the engine. Replace the screws and tighten them securely. Make sure that the assembly is properly aligned and that the pull cord can move freely without any obstructions.

Step 13: Reconnect the Engine

Reattach the engine to the equipment it was removed from, ensuring all connections are secure and properly aligned.

Step 14: Test the Pull Start Mechanism

With the engine reconnected, give the pull start mechanism a few test pulls to ensure that it starts the engine and retracts smoothly. If the engine does not start or the cord does not retract properly, retrace the previous steps and identify any issues that may be causing the problem.

Step 15: Perform Regular Maintenance

To prevent future issues with the pull start mechanism, perform regular maintenance on the engine and its components. This includes cleaning and lubricating the recoil spring, inspecting the pull cord for wear and damage, and ensuring all moving parts are in good working order.

By following these steps, you can fix a pull start that won’t retract and ensure that your engine starts reliably and smoothly. Regular maintenance and attention to the pull start mechanism will help prolong its life and keep your equipment running efficiently.

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Some Helpful Tips and Suggestions

Here we have given tips on how to fix a pull start that won’t retract

  1. Check the pull cord for any kinks or tangles. A simple fix may be all that is needed.
  2. Be sure that the recoil starter mechanism is free of dirt, dust, and debris. Cleaning it off may resolve the issue.
  3. If there is slack in the recoil starter cord, you can adjust it by tightening or loosening the screw on the side of the recoil starter.
  4. If the cord is still loose after adjusting the screw, you may need to replace the recoil starter mechanism.
  5. If none of these solutions work, the pull start assembly likely needs to be replaced.
  6. Pull start assemblies are usually easy to find and fairly inexpensive. You should be able to find one at your local hardware store or online.
  7. Follow the instructions for the new pull start assembly to install it. If you are not comfortable doing this, you can always take it to a professional.

Why Does Pull Start Get Stuck?

The pull start on your lawnmower, snow blower, or other small engine is a coiled rope attached to the flywheel. The flywheel is a large, round metal disk with blades attached to the outer edge. The flywheel turns and starts the engine when you pull on the start cord. Unfortunately, the pull start can become stuck over time and won’t retract. However, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

A Coiled Rope Attached to the Flywheel

One reason the pull start might get stuck in that the flywheel blades have become worn and no longer grip the cord tightly. If this is the case, you can replace the flywheel. Another possibility is that the cord itself is frayed or broken. If so, you’ll need to replace the cord.

If the rope is still attached to the flywheel but won’t retract, you might be able to fix it by lubricating the pulley. The pulley is the metal wheel that the rope winds around. Lubricating it will help the rope move more freely.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is My Pull Start Locked Up?

Pull starts are one of the most popular types of bike pedals, and for good reason. They’re easy to use, efficient, and make cycling more enjoyable. However, unsurprisingly pull start locks can sometimes become jammed or stuck.

The cause of a lock becoming jammed is typically due to dirt or debris getting inside the machine where the key goes in order to turn it. If this happens frequently enough, it will eventually stop turning altogether which will render your pedal locked up! The best way to prevent this from happening is by regularly cleaning all parts of your bike – including the derailleur – with a degreasing solution like CRC’s WD-40 Bike Cleaner/Degreaser before each ride. Doing so will help keep everything lubricated and free from build-up that can lead to accidental lockups.

What Causes a Lawn Mower to Lock Up?

A lawn mower can lock up for a number of reasons, the most common of which is poor blade balance. If the blades are not evenly balanced, they will tend to remain in one position instead of moving back and forth along the width of the cutting deck. This causes excessive wear on the gearbox and eventually leads to failure.

In addition, improper use or maintenance may also lead to Lawn Mower Lockups. For example, if you’re using your lawnmower in wet conditions or over hard surfaces (such as compacted snow), it will be difficult for it to grip properly. This can cause sudden jerks that could result in a machine lockup.

Finally, weather conditions have an effect on Lawn Mowers too- extreme heat can damage engines while cold temperatures reduce efficiency and increase emissions from machines running at high speeds.. So always be sure to check engine oil levels, grease all moving parts regularly with mineral oil or lube agents like WD-40®, store your lawnmower indoors when possible, and tune up your equipment once per year by replacing worn gears & bearings., empty fuel tanks at least once every three months to avoid buildups inside valves that might cause stoppages.

What Do You Do When Your Lawn Mower Locks Up?

If your lawn mower locks up, there are a few things that you can do in order to troubleshoot and fix the issue. The most common issue is that the blade is not spinning freely, which can be caused by a number of different things. Some of the more common causes of blade-spinning issues with lawnmowers include:

  1. The belt is worn out or broken
  2. The clutch is broken or not functioning properly
  3. The blades are not sharp enough
  4. The mower has been overused or abused
  5. There is debris or grass caught in the blades

In order to fix the issue, you will need to take apart the lawnmower and inspect each part for damage or wear. If there is damage, you will need to replace the part in question. If the issue is due to worn-out or broken parts, cleaning and/or lubricating them may resolve the issue. If the blades are not sharp enough, you may need to get a new set of blades for your lawnmower. Finally, if the lawnmower has been overused or abused, it may require a full rebuild.

Why Can I Not Pull the Cord on My Lawn Mower?

There are many possible reasons why your lawn mower may not be pulling, and the most common ones include blade obstruction, clogged gas or oil engines, and worn-out blades.

If you are able to visually see something blocking the blade, it is often best to pull the cord slowly and try rotating the wheels in different directions. If this doesn’t work, try disconnecting the spark plug while keeping hold of both ends of the engine cable. Be sure to reconnect everything correctly before trying to start your machine again.

If your lawnmower has an automatic cutting system like a string trimmer or edgerawan dune buggies (a small tracked vehicle designed for outdoor use), then it is likely that one of its gears is stuck or broken. In this case, you will need to take it to a service center for repair/replacement.

Finally, if you’re experiencing difficulty starting your machine regardless of what steps you’ve taken so far, there could be an issue with fuel lines or plugs leading from the carburetor to the ignition engineer tractor battery. It’s important to check all these connections when performing routine maintenance on your equipment- otherwise, serious problems can develop that will require professional intervention!


Although this guide is specific to the pull-start, the same concepts can be applied to fixing any retractable cord. First, if there are no kinks in the cord, check the handle for any dirt or debris buildup. Cleaning it off may help get things moving again. Another thing to check is the retraction spring. It’s possible that it has become disconnected or damaged and will need to be replaced. 

Finally, if everything else checks out, you may need to lubricate the pull cord and housing with some WD-40. Be sure to take your time and use caution when working with cords or other electrical equipment, as they can be dangerous if mishandled.

With a little patience and these simple steps, you should be able to have your pull start-up running like new in no time. We hope this blog post on how to fix a pull start that won’t retract has been helpful. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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