If your snow blower pull cord won’t recoil, don’t worry. Here I cover the ‘why and how’ to get you on the move with my easy to follow, step-by-step guides.
In reality, fixing a snowblower starter cord that is broken/frayed, or a rewind spring that has sprung is a simple job.
Moreover, whether it is a single-stage or two-stage snow blower, it is a job that can easily be done at home or in the workshop. With this in mind, put all thoughts of shoveling snow behind you and let’s get on with it.
What Is A Starter Recoil & How Do They Work?
A starter recoil is a pull-rope or string that manually turns over a 2 or 4 stroke engine to begin the combustion process. Typically a starter recoil can be found on top of the motor in its own housing.
When you pull the rope, the start recoil engages with the flywheel and forces the pistons to move, sucking in gas, air and creating a spark from the spark plugs. Essentially everything you need for the engine to start turning over.
How Much Does It Typically Cost To Replace A Recoil Spring?
If you’re planning on taking your machine to a professional workshop to have the starter recoil fixed or replaced, you can expect a bill in the range of $50 to $100 in parts and labor, depending on whether they have to replace the whole unit or not.
If you plan on undertaking the repair yourself, the parts will cost around $25-$40 and it should take you around 30 minutes to an hour depending on how handy you are with tools. As it’s such a simple repair, must people opt to repair a start recoil themselves as it saves considerable time transporting the machine, as well as labor costs in a professional workshop.
This guide is going to assume you’ll be undertaking the repair yourself, so let’s take a look at what the issues might be, and how to repair them yourself.
Reasons A Snow Blower Pull Cord Won’t Recoil
Most gas small engine snowblowers rely on a recoil starter pulley and pull rope for starting the engine. Sadly over time, weather conditions along with wear and tear take their toll, leaving you with a snowblower starter rope that is stuck or broken. A pull cord that won’t recoil is extremely common and a reason people’s snow blowers won’t start.
There are 3 common issues that may cause the snow blower pull cord to stick or to not recoil. These are:
- The starter recoil spring is broken or loose
- Snowblower pull cord is stuck or tangled
- Rope frayed or broken
Don’t worry there is a simple fix for all of them. Safety first, is always advisable to wear safety glasses and gloves. The spring is under tension and should it uncoil itself it may cause you injury.
How to Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract
Firstly, you will need to identify your issue from the list above. Don’t worry they are all straightforward repairs and can be done quickly and easily.
Pulley System Jammed Or Starter Cord Broken
First, remove the spark plug wire to avoid any unwanted shocks. That being said, doing this will also allow you to remove the starter.
Next, you will need to remove the starter from the blower housing. Usually, this is just a matter of undoing some screws or bolts, please refer to your manual for instructions if in doubt.
Once you have done this place the starter onto a workbench upside down. While holding the housing turn the pulley anti-clockwise until tight, usually 5-6 turns. Place a screwdriver between the pulley and the housing to stop the recoil starter spring from unwinding again.
If the cord is tangled, you should be able to unwind it fully and rewind around the pulley system. If it is broken or frayed then you will need to get some replacement cord. Please check your manual for the thickness and length of the cord required.
Firstly, remove the old cord from both the handle and the pulley by undoing the knot at each end. Now you are ready to thread your new starter cord through the hole in the casing and onto the pulley.
Align the hole on the starter case with the pull cord hole on the pulley. (You may find that the pulley is marked where the pull rope hole is, but you may just have to look for it). Once you successfully have it through both holes tie a secure knot.
If required, singe the ends of the cord to stop it unraveling and also to make it easier to thread through the holes.
While holding onto the cord, remove the screwdriver and gently allow the rewind spring to take up the slack. Re-attach the starter unit to the machine and secure.
Attach the pull cord to the handle and secure it with a double knot. Don’t forget to pass it through any holes on the machine housing, if required before doing so.
Don’t forget to replace the spark plug wire on the spark plug.
How To Rewind A Starter Recoil Spring
First, find out whether the recoil spring is broken, has become unattached from its housing, or just needs recoiling.
The spring should have a small bend at either end, one will attach to the pulley the other to the spring casing. If your spring does not have one or either of these bends then it is broken and you will need to replace it.
Rewinding The Spring
Whether you are replacing or just rewinding the process is the same.
Always remove the spark plug wire when working on engines. This will ensure that you do not receive any unwanted shocks, along with allowing you to remove the engine housing.
Remove the starter from the engine, refer to your manual if you are in doubt. Now remove the bolt, cap, and pulley from the starter housing.
Remove the starter rope. You can either untie or cut the knots.
Attach one end of the spring into the slot on the pulley and carefully wind it up inside the casing. Be careful not to allow it to pop out while you are doing this process.
Now you can attach the pulley back onto the starter housing and slowly rotate it to allow the spring to grab and lock onto the starter housing. Now you can replace the center bolt and cap.
Determine the correct direction, usually anti-clockwise, and wind the spring about 5-6 times to create tension on the spring. Place a small screwdriver (or similar) into the pulley and housing. This will hold the tension while you replace the rope through the starter housing and pulley and secure. As per the instructions above.
Hold the pulley and remove the screwdriver and carefully let it retract winding up the rope as it goes.
Attach the starter back to the engine and secure, spring recoil assembly is finished.
Related Snow Blower Troubleshooting Guides
Truth be told, most snow blowers, regardless of brand suffer from the same types of problems. Bit by bit, I’m covering how to resolve all the major issues with individual guides. ]
So, if you are suffering with any other problems look through the list below and I might just be able to help.
- How To Start A Snow Blower
- Snow Blower Only Runs On Full Choke
- How To Change Oil In A Snow Blower
- How To Clean A Carburetor A Snow Blower
- How To Drain Gas From A Snow Blower
Other Commonly Asked Questions
We hope this step-by-step guide on how to replace the pull cord on a snowblower has left you feeling confident enough to fix yours. At the same time, remember, it is the maintenance of equipment that will extend its life.
Consequently, the more you get to know your snow thrower the better you can maintain it, meaning fewer problems to repair in the future. Below I will answer a few of the questions that I get asked frequently, I hope they help you further.
How do you replace the pull cord on a Troy Bilt snow blower?
If your Troy Bilt pull cord is stuck or broken there is just a few simple steps to fixing or replacing it. Follow the step-by-step guide shown above and you will be clearing snow in no time.
How does a recoil starter work?
A recoil starter works by allowing the operator to crank the engine via a pull cord. When the starter rope is pulled it engages the starting mechanism, turning the engine fast enough to generate a spark that ignites the fuel in the cylinder.
How do I replace a pull cord on a Craftsman snow blower?
Craftsman snow blower pull cord replacement is a quick and simple job that can be done at home or in the workshop.
Step 1: Remove starter unit.
Step 2: Remove the old cord by undoing or cutting the knots.
Step 3: Attach the cord to the handle.
Step 4: Attach the cord to the pulley and recoil.
Step 5: Slowly let the pulley take up the rope.
For a more detailed guide please check out the step-by-step instructions above.
Can a snow blower pull cord freeze?
In the right circumstances, it is possible for a snowblower pull cord to completely freeze up. This will generally only happen when there’s excessive moisture in the area it’s being stored, or the housing got wet during operation and the snowblower was left in freezing temperatures.
If you do think your pull-cord and recoil starter has frozen solid, don’t attempt to defrost it with a blow torch, you’ll burn the spring. Instead, move the unit to a warmer place and consider pouring warm (not boiling hot) water over the housing, then covering it with a towel to allow the steam to work its magic.
Should you replace the pull rope when replacing a starter recoil spring?
It’s worth taking a look at the rope whilst you have the unit apart and seeing if there’s any damage or fraying. If the rope looks to be in poor condition, it may be worth the time to replace it there and then rather than waiting for it to break on a cold freezing morning.