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 your pull start won’t retract, there are a few things you can do to fix the issue. First, check to see if the cable is wrapped around the pulley correctly. If it’s not, unwrap the cable and re-wrap it around the pulley. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace the pull start.

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.

10 Effective Ways on How to Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract

1. Check the Fuel Level:

The fuel level is the first thing you should check if your pull start won’t retract. If there isn’t enough fuel in the tank, the engine won’t start, and the pull cord won’t retract. So make sure the fuel tank is full before attempting to start the engine.

Check if Your Pull Start Won't Retract

2. Check for Air leaks:

If there are any air leaks in the engine, the pull start won’t retract. Check all the gaskets and seals on the engine for damage, and replace them. You can also use a light oil coating on the gaskets to help them stay in place. If you’ve determined that there are no air leaks, it’s time to move on to the next step.

3. Check the Spark Plug:

You’ll want to ensure that the spark plug is in good condition and that the spark plug gap is set correctly. If the spark plug is fouled or damaged, it could cause the pull start mechanism not to retract properly.

4. Clean and Lubricate the Pull Start Mechanism:

The pull start mechanism can become dirty or rusty over time, which can cause it not to retract properly. To clean and lubricate it, you’ll need some WD-40 or similar lubricant, a toothbrush, and a rag.

First, remove any dirt or debris from the mechanism with the toothbrush. Then, liberally spray WD-40 onto the mechanism and let it sit for a few minutes. Finally, use the rag to wipe away any excess lubricant.

5. Check for Damaged or Worn Parts:

If the pull start cord is frayed or otherwise damaged, it will need to be replaced. Inspect all of the other parts of the starter assembly for wear or damage. If any other parts are damaged, they will need to be replaced.

6. Lubricate the Starter Assembly:

If any of the parts in the starter assembly are worn, they may need to be lubricated. Lubricating the parts can help them move more freely and reduce wear. Apply a light coat of lubricant to all of the moving parts in the starter assembly.

Lubricating the Parts Can Help Them Move

7. Adjust the Throttle Cable:

If the throttle cable is too tight or too loose, it can affect the operation of the pull start mechanism. To adjust the throttle cable, loosen or tighten the screw on the cable clamp. Be sure to retighten the clamp screw once the throttle cable is properly adjusted.

8. Check the Recoil Assembly:

The recoil assembly is what winds the starter cord when you pull the starter handle. Over time, this assembly can become gummed up with dirt and debris, causing it to seize up. To clean the recoil assembly, remove it from the engine (consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions).

Once it’s removed, use a can of compressed air to blow out any dirt and debris that may be clogging it up. You can also soak the assembly in a small container of carburetor cleaner for 30 minutes to loosen any stubborn debris. Be sure to rinse it off with clean water afterward and dry it completely before reinstalling it on the engine.

9. Check for Foreign Objects:

Once you have ruled out all other potential causes, it’s time to look at the pull start itself. Make sure no foreign objects are preventing the pull start from retracting. Sometimes, something as small as a piece of dirt can cause the mechanism not to work properly.

10. Replace the Pull Start:

If you’ve tried all of the above steps and the pull start still won’t retract, it’s time to replace it. Pull starts are relatively inexpensive, so this is usually the best course of action. You can purchase a replacement pull start from your local hardware store or online. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on installing the new pull start.

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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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