How to Replace a Tiller Recoil Starter



This DIY repair guide explains how to replace the recoil starter on a tiller. The recoil starter spins the crankshaft to start the engine when you pull the rope, and the rope retracts when you release it. If the recoil starter doesn't engage or if the starter rope doesn't retract, replace the recoil starter with the manufacturer-approved replacement part.

This basic procedure works for Craftsman, MTD, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet and Poulan tillers.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 15 min.

Parts Required

  • Recoil starter

For manuals, repair guides, and specific part recommendations, enter your model number.

Tools Required

  • Wrench set
  • Work gloves

Before you begin

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.


 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.

Step 1: Disconnect the spark plug wire

Pull the spark plug wire straight up and off the plug.

Step 2: Remove the mounting nuts

Use an 8mm wrench to remove the 3 nuts that secure the starter recoil assembly to the engine.

Step 3: Remove the recoil starter assembly

Pull the recoil starter assembly off of the 3 threaded posts.

Step 4: Install the new recoil starter assembly

Position the new recoil starter assembly over the 3 threaded posts and reinstall the mounting nuts. 

Tighten the mounting nuts firmly.


Step 5: Reconnect spark plug wire

Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.