lawn mower cord hard to pull

My Lawn Mower Cord Is Hard To Pull (Solved)

Gas lawn mowers are notorious for being difficult to start but they shouldn’t feel like an impossible task. If you’ve been tugging on that mower cord for longer than necessary, this could mean that there is a problem.

When you find that your lawn mower cord is hard to pull, the issue could be one of many. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most common problems and what you can do to solve them. Let’s get started.

Some people find it difficult to pull the lawn mower cord as it can be something of a challenge. This is especially true if you have lower physical strength. However, for most people, pulling the lawn mower cord shouldn’t be a challenge. If it is, this could be related to a problem with the machine.

Petrol lawn mowers are complex tools with a lot of internal moving parts within their engines. This means that, when there is a problem, the issue could be one of many. For a lawn mower with a pull cord hard to pull, any of the following issues might be the reason for this.

lawn mower cord being pulled

1. Adjust The Valves

One of the most important things about having a gas powered lawn mower is good maintenance. If you don’t take care of the tool then there is a very real chance that it may not work correctly.

One such problem is that some mower owners do not take proper care of the mower valves. This is one of the most common problems with a mower that is hard to pull.

Moreover, if the valves are not correctly set up to begin with, you may find it almost impossible to get the mower started by using the pull cord. It is usually the overhead valve that is the issue so you will need to adjust this and try the cord again.

2. Make Sure There’s Not Enough Oil And Gas

It probably goes without saying that you need to make sure that your gas lawn mower is topped up with fuel. But you’d be surprised at how many people forget to top up the tank (some even put too much oil) and when they come to use the mower again, things go wrong. This is why it’s a good idea to make sure you fill up the gas every time you use the mower…unless it’ll be out of action for a long period of time, in which case, leaving fuel inside the tank is a bad idea.

If you want your mower to start, it must have fuel for the engine to run. If you keep trying to start the mower using the pull cord when there isn’t enough gas this can cause damage to the engine. Moreover, if there isn’t enough oil to lubricate things, continually pulling on the cord isn’t going to do your tool any favours.

So, if you’re having problems with a lawn mower cord that’s hard to pull, try checking the oil and gas levels. You may find that adjusting these solves the problem.

lawn mower oil levels

3. Drive Belt Wedged Against Pulley

Pretty much all petrol lawn mowers are self propelled and if you do have this type of tool then there could be an issue with this system that’s preventing the mower from starting when you pull the cord.

This is to do with the drive belt connecting the engine and the blade via the front drive. Usually, you’ll find that problems occur when the starter cord becomes tightly wedged against a pulley, wrapping around it. In this case, you will need to pull the cord free and things should work as normal.

4. Check The Spark Plug

If you don’t have a fully functioning spark plug then your lawn mower just isn’t going to start. A lot of people neglect to change their spark plugs regularly and this could be the root of the problem. If the spark plug is old or worn out then this will make it more challenging to use the pull cord.

You might find that the mower eventually gets going but it might take a bit more determination and physical strength to achieve this. To make life much easier on your and your lawn mower, it’s better just to replace the spark plugs.

dirty lawn mower spark plug

It’s really important to choose spark plugs that are good quality and will stand the test of time. So don’t buy something just because it’s cheap.

Also, be mindful when you install the new spark plug. If you put it in too tightly, it’s not going to perform as it should, which will make the mower pretty much impossible to use. After installing, also make sure that you regularly clean the spark plugs to make them last longer.

5. Check If The Recoil Starter Is Tangled Or Broken

Sometimes you just have to get back to basics. While the issue may be with another part of the mower, one of the first things you should check is the actual pull cord. There could be a problem with this such as the rope being tangled or something like a broken spring.

What’s good about this is that it’s a relatively easy fix and the recoil starter can usually be replaced as a single component. It is important that you never try to take the starter apart as this can cause more harm than good. Just remove the whole thing and replace it.

6. Sheared Flywheel Key

You may notice that, when you pull your lawn mower cord, you can pull it part of the way but then it jerks back. If this happens then the problem is likely a sheared flywheel key. We’ve seen this happen with engines made by Tecumsah and Briggs and Stratton so it’s worth checking which manufacturer’s engine you have.

This is because they use an aluminium key which is actually designed to shear in the event that the mower blades hit an obstruction. The good news is that this won’t take a lot of repairing but it isn’t something that we would recommend doing yourself. In this case, it’s better to take it to a professional or send it to the manufacturer if the mower is still under warranty.

7. Bent or Damaged Mower Deck

If the lawn mower deck is damaged in any way then this could cause problems with the starter cord being difficult to pull. This is because a bent or damaged mower deck could stop the blade from spinning. When this happens, the starter cord may stick so you’ll need to repair the damage if you want things to work as normal again.

8. Bent Or Stuck Mower Blade

In the same way that a bent or damaged mower deck can cause problems, a bent or damaged blade is going to cause similar issues. The blade usually becomes damaged if it hits something while mowing which can cause it to bend, crack or chip. Again, this will stop the blade from being able to spin which then results in issues with the starter cord.

In other cases, it might not be a damaged blade but a blocked one. It’s important to make sure that you regularly clean the underside of your lawn mower otherwise grass will build up and stop the blade from spinning as freely.

Aligning the blade or cleaning it as needed should solve the problem. It’s worth checking the blade before you use the mower if it has been in storage for a while as the blade may simply have seized up and become stuck.

stuck lawn mower blade

When To See A Professional

If you’ve been asking how to make a lawn mower easier to pull-start but none of the above seem to make much difference then it could be that you have a more serious problem. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of lawn mower shops with professionals that can tackle the problem for you.

It could be that one of the internal components has broken or malfunctioned and needs replacing. We would always recommend getting professional help with this as not doing so could lead to you causing even more damage.

Not only will this mean more costly repairs but, if your lawn mower is still under warranty, attempting to fix problems yourself could void this. In many cases, manufacturers expect you to send the lawn mower back to them for repairs so check how to do this.

Watch this video on common causes of a stuck lawn mower cord


There’s nothing more frustrating than a mower that won’t start. While gas powered mowers do have something of a bad rep when it comes to starting, it shouldn’t be a task that requires the force of a God.

If your lawn mower cord is hard to pull, there are several issues that could be responsible. It might be a problem with a lack of gas, a dodgy spark plug, a broken blade and several other things. If you’ve checked all of the issues we have discussed in this guide and are still having problems, it’s probably time to seek professional help.

Further Reading

Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher

Andrew is a dedicated father of three who really takes pride in his lawn and garden. You'll find Andrew behind the scenes of almost everything Edge Your Lawn produces. When he's not helping readers find all the information they need, he's in his backyard working on his lawn and garden landscaping. This year he hopes to build an outdoor deck and sort out his veg patches.

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