Why Your Lawnmower Cord Won’t Pull and How to Fix It

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

Your lush green yard is overgrown, and you’re eager to tackle the task of mowing it. Yet, you’re faced with a frustrating issue – your lawnmower’s cord won’t budge, or it jerks violently when you attempt to start it. 

Dealing with this problem can be perplexing if you’re not sure where to begin. Luckily for you, I’m here to provide you with solutions and guidance on how to resolve this issue. Read on to learn more!

Why Won't My Lawnmower Cord Pull?

Pulling the lawnmower cord can be challenging for various reasons, including hydrolock, stuck debris or grass, and low oil level. As a beginner, it might be difficult to pinpoint the exact issue. However, don’t worry; you’re not alone in facing this problem. With the following tips, you can resolve these issues quickly.

lawn mower cord won't pull

5 Steps to Fix a Lawnmower Cord That's Stuck or Won't Pull

Step #1: Clean Grass and Debris Stuck on the Mower

You may not know this, but grasses and debris buildup on the blade shaft can obstruct the cord from pulling. The blade can also get stuck on the debris skirt that attaches to the lower end of your cub cadet deck.

The blade shaft is connected to the deck and runs through the engine, where it meets the starter cup. This component connects to the pull cord. 

Remove the rubber spark plug boot to see if grasses are on the blade. If there are any obstructions, it will affect the shaft, then the pull cord. A deep clean will suffice. 

Step #2: Check Oil Level

Next is to check the oil level in the crankcase. If it’s low or empty, the metals in the engine will warp, resulting in engine overheating. It could cause the mower cord not to pull.

checking lawn mower oil level

What’s needed here is an engine top-up. Ensure the oil is at the required level by using the dipstick to measure it. If the oil is older than three months, replenish with a fresh batch.

Step #3: Check for Damage on the Recoil Starter

When you release the cord after pulling, it winds up on the recoil starter – a round, giant spring. Sometimes, they can get damaged, and you won’t be able to discover them until you open up the assembly. 

Inspecting this component does require some expertise. For those who may not feel confident in their ability to handle it, I recommend seeking the assistance of a qualified professional.

This way, you can address the problem accurately while considering your safety. Lawnmower injury statistics are gradually increasing so make sure to prioritize your safety over anything else.

Step #4: Check for Hydro-Locking and Remove the Spark Plug

Hydrolock is when gas or oil enters the combustion and sits on the piston. Because of this, compressibility is hindered, resulting in no movement. 

lawn mower spark plug

If the piston can’t compress, the blades won’t spin, which affects the recoil cord. This is one of the reasons your lawnmower cord won’t pull. An excellent way to know if the hydrolock is responsible is to check for oil seeps from the exhaust during pulling. 

To fix this problem, remove the rubber boot, then the spark plug, and press the brand lever to pull out the starter cord [1]. Pull it up a few times like you are about to start the mower to let the gas and oil escape. 

Step #5: Pull the Cord

After checking and resolving all the issues mentioned above, you should try to pull the cord again. If resolved correctly, you should have no problem pulling the cord or starting the mower. But, if it is still stuck, check if you missed anything during the inspection. 

If not, consult your nearest service center for a more thorough inspection and repair.

Tips to Avoid Lawnmower Cord Issues in the Future

You can prevent your used lawnmower from developing cord issues by indulging in consistent maintenance practices. Most lawnmower issues develop due to a lack of proper maintenance. Below are some tips to keep in mind before and after mowing.

red lawn mower tune up

Tip #1: Clean the Mower Regularly to Avoid Debris Buildup

Make it a point of duty to keep the mower clean after use to avoid debris and grass buildup on the blade. Doing this will prolong the mower’s lifespan and cut down repair costs.

Tip #2: Clean and Maintain Mower Blade

The zero-turn mower blade should be cleaned after each use. It means removing debris, stick, or grasses on the blade. You risk leaving the edge blunt and having less work productivity if you neglect this practice. 

Tip #3: Check the Recoil Starter Regularly

Many engineers emphasized the significance of the recoil starter, which I totally agree with. Just like any other component, it’s important to perform regular checks to prevent any potential issues with your lawnmower cord.


There are a variety of factors that can lead to cord issues with your lawnmower. As with any machinery, it’s crucial to pinpoint the problem in order to address it effectively. So, I took the initiative to identify these common issues and provide solutions. The steps and tips outlined here will prove valuable in resolving your lawnmower cord problems, ultimately extending the lifespan of your machine.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson
Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!