Why Does My Starter Cord Stick, and What Can I Do to Fix It?

It’s never a good start to the day of yard work when the starter cord on your push mower sticks, and will only pull out part of the way – or not at all. This sort of thing can throw a wrench into the whole day of yard work. So what are some of the common causes of your starter cord sticking, and how can you fix them to get your lawn work back on schedule?

Hydraulic Lock

One way the starter cord can get stuck is due to hydraulic lock, which is caused by oil getting trapped in the combustion chamber. You’ll need to release the compression and the oil, so remove the spark plug and then give the cord a tug. This should help to release the oil and the compression – don’t be surprised to see some oil run out through the hole where the spark plug was. Replace the pug, and see if the mower can get past the compression stroke with a pull of the cord.

Bent or Stuck Mower Blade

The blade itself can be damaged during use, bending it to the point that it might come into contact with other components and not spin freely. This will prevent the blade from spinning freely when the cord is pulled. A more likely occurrence is grass and other debris that might be binding up the blade. In both cases, you’ll need to either change out the blade or clean out the blade and the area around it so it can spin freely.

Bent or Damaged Mower Deck

Just as with the blade being damaged, the mower deck being damaged can prevent the blade from spinning freely. Just as with a bent blade, a bent or damaged mower deck will prevent the blade from spinning freely, again causing the starter cord to stick.

Drive Belt Wedged Against Pulley

If you are using a self-propelled mower, you may have an issue with the drive belt that connects the blade to the engine through the front drive. Most likely, the starter cord is wedged tightly against one of the pulleys it weaves around, and will need to be pulled free.

Crossed Starter Cord

Sometimes, when the cord rewinds itself, it will cross over itself enough to pinch the cord tight, and when the cord is pulled. the action will bind the cord tighter. In this case, you may need to remove the cord cover and unwind the cord by hand until the pinch is eliminated.

Component Damage

If none of the above seem to be the cause of the problem, it means there is a good chance you may have damaged components. Check through all of the parts along the system, paying particular attention to parts such as wheel the cord coils around and the parts that allow that wheel to turn.

Take a look through your owners’ manual to see anything that may be specific to your model, as well as diagrams for repairs and further troubleshooting hints and tips.

About AndrewT

Written by Andrew T for LawnEq - The specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable brands.