March 1, 2016

How to replace a lawn mower recoil starter on an OHV engine

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower recoil starter on an OHV engine

The step-by-step instructions in this lawn mower repair guide explain how to replace a recoil starter on a lawn mower that has an overhead valve (OHV) engine. If recoil starter rope doesn't retract, it's likely the recoil spring is broken. Replacing just the spring is difficult; the best way to repair a recoil starter is to replace the entire assembly with a manufacturer-approved replacement part.

This repair procedure works for replacing the recoil starter on common Briggs & Stratton OHV engines that power Craftsman, MTD, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Toro, Troybilt, Snapper, Murray and Ariens walk-behind lawn mowers.

If you have an older lawn mower model with a flathead engine, see How to Replace a Lawn Mower Recoil Starter on a Flathead Engine.

Quick links
Tools required
Nut driver set
Slot screwdriver
Work gloves
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less
Replacing a recoil starter on a lawn mower OHV engine

This video explains how to replace the recoil starter on a walk-behind engine with an OHV engine.

Instructions

02.

Disconnect the spark plug wire

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.

Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.

Disconnect the spark plug.

Disconnect the spark plug.

02.

Remove the blower housing

Release the starter rope from the lawn mower handle.

Remove the screws from the blower housing.

Pull the blower housing off the engine.

Remove the blower housing screws.

Remove the blower housing screws.

03.

Remove the recoil starter

Snap the recoil starter guard out of the blower housing retainer clips and remove the recoil starter guard.

Release the recoil starter from the blower housing retainer clips and remove the recoil starter from the blower housing.

Remove the recoil starter guard.

Remove the recoil starter guard.

04.

Install the new recoil starter

Position the new recoil starter in the blower housing and snap recoil starter into the blower housing retainer clips.

Reinstall the recoil starter guard by snapping it into the blower housing retainer clips.

Install the new recoil starter.

Install the new recoil starter.

05.

Reinstall the blower housing

Position the blower housing on the top of the engine and line up the mounting holes.

Reinstall the mounting screws.

Reconnect the starter rope to the mower handle.

Reinstall the blower housing.

Reinstall the blower housing.

06.

Reconnect the spark plug wire

Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.

Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable guide and follow all instructions. Do not proceed until you are confident that you understand all of the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.
Symptoms for gas walk-behind mowers

Choose a symptom to see related walk-behind mower repairs.

Main causes: drive control cable failure, worn or broken drive belt, bad transmission, broken drive wheel
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, loose cutting blade, damaged flywheel key, engine needs tune up
Main causes: dirty carburetor, bad spark plug, clogged air filter, engine choke problems, clogged gas cap vent
Main causes: stale gas, engine needs tune up, bad spark plug, dead battery, bad recoil starter, faulty safety switch, bad ignition coil
Main causes: engine needs tune up, dirty or clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key
Main causes: uneven wheel height settings, damaged wheel, dull or damaged cutting blade
Repair guides for gas walk-behind mowers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your walk-behind lawn mower.

How to replace a lawn mower ignition coil on an OHV engine

Replace the ignition coil if it isn't sending electric current to the spark plug when you pull the recoil starter rope.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a lawn mower flywheel key on an OHV engine

The flywheel key couples the flywheel to the engine crankshaft. Replace the flywheel key if it's broken.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
March 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower drive cable

The drive cable engages the transmission to spin the drive wheels and move the mower across the grass. Replace the drive cable if it's broken or frozen up inside the sheath.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
Articles and videos for gas walk-behind mowers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.

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