Lawn Mower Pull Cord Hard to Pull (Easy Solution)

5/5 - (1 vote)

We’ve all been there, ready to mow the lawn on a nice Saturday morning, only to be met with frustration when the mower won’t start. You pull and pull on that starter cord, but it just won’t budge. Why is it so hard to get your mower going?

Pulling the Mower Is Difficult because the mower engine to life takes a coordinated effort between the starter, engine, and cutting setup. Resistance in any of these systems makes the pull cord uncooperative. Issues like binding, friction, compression, and blade drag all hinder the starting sequence.

This article will explain why your lawn mower pull cord hard to pull. We will also list common causes and solutions to help you resume a smooth pull. The key to a successful pull start is identifying and resolving the root cause, and proper maintenance helps to avoid issues that could arise.

How to Fix a Lawn Mower Cord That’s Hard to Pull (5 Easy Fixes)

A lawn mower engine that won’t start no matter how hard you yank on the pull cord can leave you frustrated and stranded in the yard. But don’t despair. With a few targeted troubleshooting techniques, you can diagnose and fix a stubborn pull cord to get that balky mower running again in no time.

Age and Wear: The Silent Culprit

After years of wear and tear, the physical components inside a lawn mower’s starter system can degrade, leading to a pull cord that is difficult to engage and start the mower. Frayed starter ropes that bind and stick when pulled along with weakened recoil springs that fail to retract the cord are two clear signs of concerning age and deterioration.

As these internal starter parts break down from repeated use over time, the pull start mechanism has to work increasingly harder to crank the engine when pulling on a lawn mower cord that now feels stiff and uncooperative.

This increased resistance translates straight to difficulty and frustration for the user, resulting in a seized up pull cord that no longer starts the lawn mower like it used to. Replacing worn out pull cords and springs can help restore smooth starting.

But if the issue persists, further inspection of the entire starter assembly may be needed to get an aging mower starting easily again. With proper maintenance and component replacement, an old mower can keep starting reliably season after season.

Don’t let starter resistance snowball from manageable wear into an engine that refuses to turn over. Identify deteriorating starter parts early and restore smooth functionality so a worn lawn mower pull cord doesn’t leave you stranded in the yard.

Oil and Lubrication Woes

Insufficient lubrication of key internal components is another issue that can drastically increase friction and resistance between rotating engine parts. This added friction prevents the pull cord from catching and engaging the starter pulley properly. Potential oil problems that contribute to a loose lawn mower pull cord include low oil levels which allow grinding metal-on-metal contact and oil sludge or debris which act like sandpaper inside the engine. 

Without enough clean oil to coat surfaces and protect critical engine components from excessive friction, the pull start mechanism has to work much harder to turn over the engine. This results in a looser, harder to retract lawn mower pull cord when trying in vain to start the mower.

Don’t overlook oil level and quality maintenance. Clean oil reduces friction so the pull cord can properly engage the flywheel and crank the engine. Monitor levels, change oil regularly, and use the manufacturer recommended weight and detergent levels.

Fuel System Issues

Trying in vain to pull start a stubborn lawn mower can also stem from fuel delivery issues that prevent proper compression and ignition. Blocked fuel filters that restrict flow to the carburetor, sticky carburetors in need of adjustment, and contaminated old gas obstructing carburetor components are some common causes.

These fuel flow deficiencies lead to inconsistent combustion and increased cylinder pressure inside the engine, creating a lawn mower that simply won’t start no matter how hard you pull. 

The pull cord has to fight against this added pressure, resulting in an extremely tough and ineffective starting sequence. Smooth fuel delivery is critical for clean combustion and easy mower starting. Keep fresh gas in the tank, clean filters and lines regularly, and get the carburetor adjusted annually. Proper fuel flow prevents frustrating hard starting issues.

Spark Plug Surprises

Likewise, problems with the spark plugs can also be a frequent culprit behind lawn mower pull cords that stick and become hard to retract when trying to start the engine. Defective or excessively worn spark plugs disrupt the precise ignition timing required to fire up the mower.

Lawn Mower Pull Cord Hard to Pull
Spark Plug

Specific issues like carbon buildup on the electrodes that blocks the spark, widened gaps between electrodes, and cracked insulators allowing voltage leakage can affect ignition. 

These spark plug issues lead to incomplete fuel combustion with unburned gases in the cylinder. This vastly increases resistance against the pull cord when trying to start the mower, resulting in a sticky, tightly jammed pull cord for the increasingly frustrated user. Well-maintained spark plugs are essential for easy and reliable mower starting. Replace plugs annually and check/adjust gaps for optimal ignition performance. Don’t let spark issues leave you yanking in vain!

Blade and Deck Complications

Finally, problems underneath the mower itself can also contribute to surprisingly difficult pull starting related to increased resistance on the engine and starter. Damaged, unbalanced cutting blades put extra strain on the engine when trying to crank it over.

And cutting decks set too low can add significant drag resistance against the blades trying to spin at start up. Anything that causes extra friction to turn the mower will place additional load on the manual pull start mechanism when engaged. 

This overlooked factor can be just enough to make the starter cord feel too tight and hard to pull to start the lawn mower. Properly maintaining the cutting components reduces mechanical drag for easier pull starting. 

Sharpen blades annually, check balance, and ensure the mower deck is set to the optimal height per the owner’s manual. Don’t let hidden resistance derail smooth starting.

Also check out:

Craftsman Lawn Mower Pull Cord Hard to Pull

A lawn mower pull cord that is difficult to pull or completely stuck can be very frustrating. But the issue is usually fixable with some targeted troubleshooting. 

Check for Fraying or Damage

First, check along the entire length of rope for any frays, knots, or damage. Frayed, broken, or damaged pull cords are a common cause of a stuck starter.

If any damage is found, the pull cord will need replacement. Be sure to use manufacturer-approved OEM parts to ensure proper fit and function.

Inspect the Recoil Spring

Next, inspect the recoil spring that provides the retraction to reset the pull cord. Remove the starter housing and check the spring. 

Make sure it is hooked properly and shows no signs of damage. If needed, replace it with a Craftsman OEM spring.

Clean and Lubricate the Pulleys

Dirt, debris, and lack of lubrication can cause a stuck cord. Remove any built up grass, leaves, and grime from the pulleys inside the starter housing. 

Then apply a light spray lubricant to the pulleys and pull cord, being careful not to over-lubricate.

Check the Spark Plug

While not directly related to the pull cord, an improperly gapped or failing spark plug can make the mower harder to turn over. 

Inspect the plug annually and re-gap if needed. For Craftsman mowers, the ideal gap range is 0.020–0.030 inches. Replace if excessively worn.

Briggs and Stratton Engine Hard to Pull Start

Many popular lawn mower brands like Craftsman and Troy-Bilt use dependable Briggs & Stratton engines. But after years of use, starter resistance can develop leading to pull cords that seem stuck.

Inspect the Pull Cord and Recoil Starter

Frayed pull cords are a common cause of hard starts. Check for damage and replace cords using the Briggs & Stratton 792757 kit. Also inspect the recoil spring and pulleys, replacing any worn parts. Keeping the recoil components in good shape makes pull starting smoother.

Check the Spark Plug

The spark plug is key to easier starting. Replace plugs annually using a Briggs & Stratton 5062K plug. Make sure to gap the plug to the 0.030 inch spec for optimal ignition. Worn or fouled plugs can lead to more pull resistance.

Change Oil Regularly

Old oil lacks the lubricating properties to keep starter components moving freely. Stick to the recommended oil change intervals, usually every 50 hours or annually. Use Briggs & Stratton oils like SAE 5W-30 for proper lubrication.

Prevent Fuel Gumming

Stale fuel can gum up carburetors causing hard starts. Always use Briggs & Stratton foam pre-filters when servicing fuel systems. And completely drain tanks when storing engines over 1 month. Also add fuel stabilizer to prevent gumming.


With specialized OEM parts and proper maintenance, Briggs & Stratton engines will deliver seasons of smooth, trouble-free pull starting. Just be diligent about regular tune-ups and replacement of worn components like cords, springs, and plugs.

Also check out:

Husqvarna Lawn Mower Pull Cord Hard to Pull

Husqvarna makes premium mowers known for power and reliability. But the pull start can wear down over time, making the cord hard to engage. Here are tips for fixing a stuck pull cord.

Look for Fraying and Replace Pulleys

A frayed or broken pull cord is often the culprit for hard pulls. Check the rope’s entire length and replace any sections that are damaged using Husqvarna OEM parts.

Also, inspect the pulleys for excessive wear or debris buildup. Sometimes cleaning and lubricating the pulleys and rope can help.

Examine the Recoil and Spring

Issues with the recoil starter assembly can cause pull resistance. Remove the starter housing and check the spring is hooked properly and not damaged.

Replace any worn springs or pulleys using Husqvarna components to maintain fit and performance.

Change Oil and Plugs Frequently

Stale oil and worn plugs make the engine harder to turn over. Follow prescribed intervals for changing oil and replacing spark plugs.

Use manufacturer recommended oil and Husqvarna branded plugs for optimal results.

Avoid Gummed Carburetors

Gum deposits from old gas can restrict fuel flow for hard starting. Only use fresh, ethanol-free gas and add stabilizers if storing the mower.

Periodically clean the carburetor jets and filters too. Quality fuel means easier starts.


If your lawn mower pull cord hard to pull, it can quickly put an end to your plans for mowing. However, by performing regular maintenance and inspecting important parts, the starting problems can be resolved. You can replace worn parts and make adjustments to get the pull cord pulling smoothly once more. By taking care of your lawn mower properly, you may prevent the irritation of a tough-to-pull cord, saving you time and energy as you enjoy your newly cut lawn more.


Why is my lawn mower pull cord suddenly so hard to pull?

A cord that has become difficult to pull can indicate an issue with worn starter components like the rope, recoil spring, or pulleys. Lack of lubrication, engine compression problems, and spark plug faults can also cause resistance.

How do I know if my lawn mower pull cord needs to be replaced?

Check the pull cord for any frays, knots, kinks, or damage along its length. If the rope is frayed or broken, it will need replacement for smooth starting.

What causes the recoil spring on my mower to become weak?

Normal wear over time can weaken the recoil spring. Remove the starter assembly and inspect the spring. Replace with an OEM spring if cracked, damaged, or unable to retract the pull cord.

Why does my lawn mower pull cord retract slowly or partially?

Dirty pulleys, lack of lubrication, and a weakened recoil spring can all cause the pull cord to retract slowly or incompletely. Clean/lube the pulleys and replace the spring if needed.

How do I know if my mower’s spark plug is causing hard starting?

Check for cracked, fouled, or widened spark plug gaps annually. Replace plugs that are worn. Use manufacturer gap spec – usually between 0.020-0.030 inches for proper ignition.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top