Why Is The Pull String On My Lawn Mower Stuck?

There are many different reasons the pull string on your mower is stuck. Without the proper knowledge, it can be hard to diagnose the problem, much less fix it. Mowers are machinery, and something is bound to go wrong at some point. There are a few common problems, which we just so happen to know the solutions for. 

It’s a beautiful crisp day, and you’ve finally decided to mow the lawn. You’re excited (maybe); we’re excited. It’s going to go seamlessly. Well, except for when the pull string gets stuck or becomes excessively hard to pull. Though it may be tempting, you don’t need to throw the whole mower out. Let’s look at some common problems and solutions for a stuck pull string. 

How Does The Pull String Work?

The pull string works in mysterious ways (we’re kidding, it doesn’t). As you pull the pull string (and hopefully not your back), a hub connected to the crankshaft begins to spin. This creates an electro-magnetic connection, causing the spark plug to fire. Simultaneously, the combustion chamber is filled with gas, causing the gas to ignite and the engine to fire.

While it might seem like a simple pulling motion, a lot goes on behind the scenes. Meaning, there is quite a bit of opportunity for mechanisms to fail, causing the engine not to fire and, more than likely, your patience to run out. 

What Causes The Lawn Mower Pull Cord To Get Stuck?

What Causes The Lawn Mower Pull Cord To Get Stuck

A few different things cause the pull cord on a lawnmower to get stuck. Many of them are simple problems, and the good news is that they don’t require a visit to the mechanic.


If the mower is not frequently checked and cleaned, it doesn’t take long for debris to build up in the blade. As grass and small rocks build up, the mower blade gets caught and cannot spin. We know what you’re thinking; what does that have to do with the pull cord? Quite a lot, actually. The blade is connected to the starter coil. Simply put, the blade is directly correlated with the pull cord, so if it is stuck, the pull cord will lock up.

Automatic Break

A common problem with the pull cord is the automatic break. Lawnmowers have an automatic brake, controlled by a lever found on the lawnmower handle. To pull the pull cord, the automatic brake must be held down. 

Recoil Starter

This particular problem sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is. We would recommend checking the automatic break and for debris first, as that is the most common problem when it comes to the pull cord. However, if that does not seem to fix the issue at hand, check the recoil starter. 

To break it down, when the pull cord recoils, it can get crossed over itself. This causes the cord to become stuck, making it difficult to pull it. In some cases, the cord beings to rust and may just need lubricant.

How do you fix a stuck pull cord?

Stuck Pull Cord

Depending on the problem, there are several different ways to fix a stuck pull cord. It is a fairly common problem, so don’t worry; you’re not alone. Once you have determined the root of the issue, fixing it is pretty straightforward.

Clearing Debris

If the blade is covered in debris, start by tilting the lawnmower and cleaning the surrounding area. Take caution when working around the lawnmower blade, as in most cases, it is sharp. Once that area is cleaned, you can unscrew the top of the housing and remove it from around the motor. Clean out any debris, especially roots, from the top of the mower, and replace the housing. 

Recoil Starter

As we mentioned earlier, this one is easier to repair than you probably think. As long as you have a socket wrench or a screwdriver, there’s nothing you can’t do (except pull the pull cord). First things first, the owner’s manual is going to be your best friend, so consult with that before beginning. 

To repair the recoil starter, you will need to remove the starter. Because each lawnmower may be slightly different, refer to the owner’s manual for instructions on removing the starter. Once removed, recoil the starter cord and work out any tangles.

FDJ Recoil Starter for Honda GX160,GX200 (Steel Rod Paws) 28400-ZH8-013YA

After recoiling the cord, the pull cord spring will need to be replaced or reset. To reset the spring, the hub will need to be separated from the starter cover. Owners manual, check. Once the spring has been replaced, feed the cord through the holes in the cover and tie a small knot, allowing the hub to rewind. After this is completed, the starter can be replaced. 

Take a moment to congratulate yourself, and realize you really are unstoppable with nothing more than a screwdriver (maybe give the owner’s manual some credit as well). 

Applying What We Learned

Now, if it still sounds confusing, that’s okay. One of the most common models of lawnmower is Brings and Stratton. To break it down, let’s take a look at how to remove the starter. Keep in mind that other models such as Craftsman and Troy Bilt have a similar removal process. Again, referring to the owner’s manual before you begin to remove parts is highly recommended.

Brings and Stratton

  • The pull cord is attached to the starter disc. To begin, locate the starter disc.
  • Remove the plastic cover that goes over the engine (you will need to unscrew it).
  • Remove the 4 screws on the top of the gas tank, and loosen the screw on the bottom.
  • Unscrew the bolts holding the engine shroud.