Lawn mower pull cord not catching
Pull assembly pawls
Pull assembly components and what they do
The Pull Cord
The Pull Cord handle
When fitting a new pulley, best to opt for the spring and pulley combined.
Springs can be difficult to handle and the combo, for a few extra dollars saves a lot of frustration.
pulley recoil spring
The Pulley cover
The flywheel receiver (fixed to the engine flywheel) seen here, has four recesses.
The pulley pawls will catch two of these (which ever closest) recesses and turn the engine over.
Pull start assembly housing
A mower that won’t catch an turn the engine most likely has a faulty pawl issue. The pawls are made from plastic as you know, simply wear out. There are other possible reasons that the engine won’t catch and turn and we’ll look at them below.
Basic tools are needed and the whole job shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes.
Remove plug wire
Test pull assembly
Honda fix their cap using a Torx head screw, it's important to know that it is a left hand thread. Meaning to remove the screw turn the Torx head clockwise.
Other types may use a clip, the clip just slides off, but I place a rag over the clip when removing as these guy's can fly and you could spend a whole afternoon searching and still never find it.
Your pulley pawls may be worn, damaged or just dry. Remove them to examine.
The pawls should fit snugly in the pulley, if they're loose, they're worn.
On the top side of the pawls, you should see a spud, it seats in the track of the cap. If the spud is missing or worn go ahead and replace the pawls.
If however the pawls are just dry, put some silicone grease on them, reassemble and test.
The pulley cap must also be checked for wear and damage. A damaged cap will prevent the pawls from working.
Reassemble & test
other possible issues
So what if my pawls and cap look good, what else could cause the problem?
Other possibilities include:
- Damaged pulley
- Damaged receiver
The pulleys are made from plastic so don’t out live the engine. A cracked or worn pulley will cause the pawls to bind and stick. Replacing a pulley is a little more work, but is a job you can take care of yourself. I’ve written a post about it here “Pull cord repair”
A damaged receiver isn’t very common but it can happen. Most are made from metal and are durable but others are made from plastic and you know what happens to plastic.
So if your pawls looked fine focus your attention on the pulley and receiver.
Check for wear and cracks
check for damage
Why can’t I pull the string on my lawn mower? The most common cause of a lawn mower string not pulling, is worn pull assembly pawls. However, other possible causes include:
- Sticking flywheel brake
- Pull assembly failure
- Blade jammed
- Crankshaft bent
- Engine sized