How to Replace a Lawn Mower Recoil Starter on an OHV Engine



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.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 30 min.

Parts Required

  • Recoil starter

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

Tools Required

  • Nut driver set
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Work gloves

Before you begin

Let the engine cool.

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.


 Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable 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 or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.

How to Replace the Recoil Starter on Your Lawn Mower

Step 1: Disconnect the spark plug wire

Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: 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. 

Step 4: 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.

Step 5: 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.

Step 6: Reconnect the spark plug wire

Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.