Lawn Mower Won’t Start: Can't Pull the Recoil Starter Rope

This video from Sears PartsDirect shows what to do when you can't pull the recoil starter rope on your lawn mower. There are a few things that might be causing the problem. You could have branches or debris obstructing the blade’s movement or your recoil starter might be locked up. You might have oil in the cylinder causing a hydraulic lock. We’ll walk you through each of these problems and let you know how you can get your mower back to good working order.

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Recoil starter

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Hi, this is Wayne, with Sears PartsDirect. Today we’re going to show you what to do when you can't pull the recoil starter rope on your lawn mower. First, let’s check for a blade obstruction. Put on some work gloves, disconnect the spark plug wire and tip the mower on its side with the air filter up. If you see a branch or other item under the mower deck that’s preventing the blade from spinning, remove it. Reconnect the spark plug and you should be able to start the mower now. If you didn't find anything blocking the blade, you might have a problem with the recoil starter or the engine might be locked up. We'll remove the blower housing to check the recoil starter. On this type of engine, the blower housing is easy to remove and the recoil starter comes off with the housing. Disconnect the spark plug again and release the starter rope from the lawn mower handle. Remove the screws from the blower housing and pull the housing off the engine. Pull the starter rope to see if the recoil starter works. If the recoil starter is locked up or cracked, replace it. The recoil starter is easy to replace on this lawn mower. Pull off the guard and then release the recoil starter from the tabs on the blower housing. Remove the old starter and snap the new one into the tabs. Reinstall the recoil starter guard and you're ready to reattach the blower housing to the engine. If the recoil starter works, then you could have oil in the cylinder causing a hydraulic lock. Tipping the mower forward or on its side with the air filter down can fill the cylinder with oil. The piston can't compress the liquid oil so the engine seizes up. To check for this problem, remove the spark plug. Clamp the bail control bar down to release the blade brake. Manually rotate the starter cup to see if the engine rotates with the spark plug removed. If the engine spins with the spark plug removed, reinstall the blower housing and pull the starter rope several times to clear the oil out of the cylinder. Remove the clamp from the bail control bar. Reinstall the spark plug and reconnect the spark plug wire. You may find that the engine starts after clearing the cylinder. The engine may sputter and smoke until the cylinder burns off the oil. If you can't rotate the starter cup with the spark plug removed, then the engine likely has had an internal failure such as a bent crankshaft or locked-up piston. Have a service technician examine and repair the engine. I hope this helped you out. Click that subscribe button and I’ll let you know when we post new repair videos here on the Sears PartDirect YouTube channel.
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