How to Replace a Lawn Mower Starter Rope


starter rope PD_0071_500_697316

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.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 30 min.

Parts required

  • Starter rope

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

Tools required

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • 5/16" socket
  • 3/8" socket
  • Knife

Before you begin

Let the engine cool. Wear 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

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

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: Remove the engine cover

Remove the screws securing the engine cover to the engine. Slide the rope through the hole in the engine cover. 

Step 4: 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. 

Step 5: Remove the dipstick

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

Step 6: Remove the engine blower housing

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

Step 7: 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. 

Use a screwdriver to keep the holes aligned.

Step 8: 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.

Thread the rope through the pulley.

Step 9: 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. 

Step 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 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.

Step 11: Reconnect the spark plug wire

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