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.
This video explains how to replace the recoil starter on a walk-behind engine with an OHV engine.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Reconnect the spark plug wire
Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.
These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your walk-behind lawn mower.
Replace the ignition coil if it isn't sending electric current to the spark plug when you pull the recoil starter rope.
The flywheel key couples the flywheel to the engine crankshaft. Replace the flywheel key if it's broken.
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.
Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.
See how to tune up your mower once a year to keep it running well.
Do these 5 things this spring for a lawn that's healthier all summer.
Prevent your mower deck from rusting by following our advice for keeping grass clippings from sticking.