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.
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.
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 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 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 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 engine blower housing
Remove the bolts securing the blower housing to the engine and remove the housing from the engine.
Remove the blower housing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reconnect the spark plug wire
Attach the spark plug wire and make sure the mower works properly.
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.
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Prevent your mower deck from rusting by following our advice for keeping grass clippings from sticking.