How to Fix a Pull Start that Won’t Retract- 4 Effective Ways

A lawn mower has a pull cord that you use to start the engine. Most lawn mowers in the market usually come with the pull cord – where a few come with a switch or key.

When you want to start your mower, you pull the T-shaped handle outside the pull cord hub. The pull cord comes out when you pull, and it retracts after releasing it – in normal conditions. That is possible because springs are used to pull back the pull start.

However, the pull start may fail to retract, thus preventing you from starting your lawn mower. Therefore, we have created this guide on how to fix a pull start that won’t retract for you.  

Let’s get started:

How to Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract

There are various reasons why your pull start will not retract. The problem is caused by different problems that you need to fix.

They include:

1. Damaged Pulley

A damaged pulley is one of the reasons why your pull start in the lawn mower will not retract. The pull cord and its recoil spring are found on the side of your lawn mower engine.

When starting the engine, you have to pull the cord, and it unwinds the recoil spring and pulley. In the end, the recoil spring will rewind itself, pulling the pull start cord back.

A cracked or broken pulley will not be effective because the recoil spring won’t maintain its tension. Therefore, the pull start will not retract. Sometimes, the pull start gets stuck in those crevices from the broken parts, even cutting the pull cord.

The solution to the problem is inspecting the integrity of your pulley. Remove the starter to check for damaged parts. Those you find damaged or cracked require replacing with new and high-quality parts.

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2. Pull Cord Problems

The other reason why pull start will not retract is a problem with the pull cord. A pull cord should be made of high-quality material, but they get old, wear and tear with time.

The rope is attached to the pulley in the starter house. With many repeated engines starts, the rope wears out due to friction against the pulley. Sometimes, the rope is tangled, forming a knot that prevents it from retracting.

The chance of forming a knot inside is low. The space is enough for the rope to get inside or outside. In most cases, it occurs outside after you have pulled the rope out and knot larger than entry.

If a pull start won’t retract because of tangled rope, pull it out and undo the knot to solve the problem. But for an old and frayed rope, you must replace the rope with a new one.

Also read: What can I use to drain my lawn mower oil?

3. Malfunctioned Recoil Spring

A recoil spring in the lawn mower is responsible for retracting the pull cord back after pulling during the starting phase of the mower. It is also responsible for enabling you to use over and over the recoil starter.

Sometimes, the spring will fail when worn out, lose tension, is broken, or get stuck won’t retract the pull cord into the starter. If you have experienced a sudden problem, most cases are where the recoil spring is stuck and sometimes comes off the pulley.

On the other hand, when it is a problem you have noticed for some time, such that the rope remains outside the pulley hub, the recoil spring has lost its tension.

Before taking any measures, examine the recoil spring and establish the cause of the problem. When you realize it’s a problem with the recoil spring, replace it with a new, high-quality spring that will not lose its tension fast.

Also read: Which jacks work best for riding lawn mower

4. Worn-out or Broken Friction Plate

There is a friction plate in the starter, one of the interlinked parts available. The plate undergoes a lot of friction, making it wear out and break.

Some of these plates are made of plastic, making them not long-lasting. When worn out or broken, the pull cord will not move freely, thus stuck inside or outside after pulling out.

If you want to check the part of the starter, then you need to remove the starter. When you find it broken, you can see that straight away.

Also read: Jumping a starter solenoid on lawn mower

When not, pull the cord and see how the parts will behave, and when you hear a funny grinding noise, that means the plate is worn out. Replace with a new one and test the pull cord for a smooth flow before you can reinstall the other parts.

In addition, check any dirt and debris in the pulley system causing the pull cord to get stuck. Clean the area with blow air and a soft brush to remove dirt.

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FAQ: How to Fix a Pull Start that Won’t Retract

Why does the pull start get stuck?

After pulling the starter rope, a pull starter has a spring to spin the engine crankshaft and lawn mower blade.

The rope will not cross over itself with a broken spring when rewinding.

Why does my pull cord not recoil?

After the pull rope or starter cord fails to recoil after pulling while starting the lawn mower engine, there is a problem with the mechanism inside. The rope may develop kinks or twists, preventing it from rewinding back.

Also read: Get rid of mice nesting in lawn mower engine

Why is my lawn mower’s pull cord stuck?

When the starter rope doesn’t budge while pulling it, the recoil starter has problems. You have to fix the problems to avoid pull cord sticking.

All machines experience different problems in one way or the other. With your lawn mower, you may want to mow your lawn, but after giving it a hard pull of the cord, it fails to retract as it is supposed.

Subsequent pulls, but the pull starter won’t retract. Now what? This is among the common problems most lawn mowers experience.

We have provided you with tips on how to fix a pull start that won’t retract. You can quickly check the cause of the problem and fix it. If the problem does not end, call a technician.

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