April 1, 2013

How to replace a lawn mower starter rope

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower starter rope

This DIY lawn mower repair guide has instructions for how to replace a lawn mower starter rope. Over time, the starter rope can wear out and eventually break, and the mower won't start. You can replace a broken recoil starter rope with a manufacturer-approved replacement part by following the steps below.

Use these steps to replace the recoil starter rope on common Briggs & Stratton engines that power Craftsman, Toro, MTD, Troybilt, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet and Poulan walk-behind lawn mowers.

Quick links
Tools required
Phillips screwdriver
Slot screwdriver
Socket wrench
5/16-inch socket
3/8-inch socket
Knife
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Disconnect the spark plug wire

    Wear work gloves to protect your hands.

    Disconnect the spark wire so there's no chance that the mower could accidentally start.

    Disconnect the lawn mower spark plug wire.

    Disconnect the lawn mower spark plug wire.

  2. 02.

    Remove the starter rope from the guide

    Remove the starter rope from the rope guide.

    If the rope won't slip past the guide and the handle, loosen the guide.

    Remove the starter rope from the guide.

    Remove the starter rope from the guide.

  3. 03.

    Remove the engine cover

    Remove the screws securing the engine cover to the engine.

    Slide the rope through the hole in the engine cover. 

    Remove the engine cover.

    Remove the engine cover.

  4. 04.

    Remove the fuel tank

    Remove the screws that secure the fuel tank to the engine.

    Lift the tank off, being careful to keep the fuel tank upright so it doesn't leak.

    Remove the fuel tank.

    Remove the fuel tank.

  5. 05.

    Remove the dipstick tube

    Remove the screw that secures the dipstick tube to the housing.

    Remove the dipstick tube from the engine and plug the hole with a paper towel to keep debris from falling into the engine.

    Remove the dipstick tube.

    Remove the dipstick tube.

  6. 06.

    Remove the engine blower housing

    Remove the bolts securing the blower housing to the engine and remove the housing from the engine.

    Remove the blower housing.

    Remove the blower housing.

  7. 07.

    Rewind the recoil spring

    Inspect the starter pulley and remove any remaining starter rope.

    Turn the rope pulley counter-clockwise 7 times to wind the spring. Align the hole in the pulley with the hole in the housing and insert a screwdriver through the holes to keep them aligned as you work.

  8. 08.

    Thread the rope through the pulley

    Thread the new rope through the hole in the housing and pulley. Tie a knot in the rope to keep it from slipping out of the pulley.

  9. 09.

    Attach the rope to the starter handle

    While holding the rope, remove the screwdriver from the holes in the pulley and housing, and let the rope slowly rewind.

    Attach the other end of the rope to the starter handle. Feed the rope through the hole in the handle and secure it with another knot.

  10. 10.

    Reassemble the mower

    Position the engine blower housing on the engine and bolt it into place.

    Remove the paper towel from the dipstick opening, slide the dipstick tube into the engine and secure it with the screw.

    Feed the starter rope handle through the engine cover up to the rope guide.

    Reinstall the fuel tank.

    Position the engine cover on the engine and screw it into place.

  11. 11.

    Reconnect the spark plug wire

    Attach the spark plug wire and make sure the mower works properly.

Warning: Undertaking repairs to appliances can be hazardous. Use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the 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 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: 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: uneven wheel height settings, damaged wheel, dull or damaged cutting blade
Main causes: engine needs tune up, dirty or clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key
Main causes: drive control cable failure, worn or broken drive belt, bad transmission, broken drive wheel
Main causes: stale gas, engine needs tune up, bad spark plug, dead battery, bad recoil starter, faulty safety switch, bad ignition coil

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.

March 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower carburetor

The carburetor mixes air with fuel to drive the piston. Replace the carburetor if it's clogged or damaged.

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

When you hit a hard object with your mower, the flywheel can shear to protect more expensive components. Learn how to replace this tiny but essential part.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
How to replace a lawn mower ignition coil on a flathead engine

If the spark plug doesn't fire when you try to start the mower, you could have a defective ignition coil. Follow these step-by-step instructions to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all walk-behind mowers

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

October 1, 2019

Types of walk-behind mower blades video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn about the different kinds of mower blades and how to maintain them.