How to Fix a Chainsaw Pull Cord (Stuck or Broken)

Chainsaws endure a lot of heat and vibrations during normal use, properly maintaining and lubricating them is very important. As a result of normal wear and tear, parts eventually wear out and pull cord issues are actually quite common.

Fortunately, a stuck or broken chainsaw pull cord is fairly easy to repair using only common household tools, here’s how.

1. Disconnect the spark plug wire

It is important to remove the spark plug wire before working on a chainsaw for safety reasons. The spark plug generates a spark that ignites the fuel in the chainsaw’s engine, causing it to run.

If the spark plug wire is still connected while you are working on the chainsaw, there is a risk that the chainsaw could start accidentally, which could result in injury.

By removing the spark plug wire, you prevent the chainsaw from starting accidentally while you are working on it. This is a simple but important step that should never be skipped when working on a chainsaw.

2. Locate the starter cover on the chainsaw

The starter cover on a chainsaw is typically located near the front of the chainsaw, and it covers the starter mechanism. It is usually a small plastic or metal cover that is held in place by screws or clips.

To locate the starter cover on your chainsaw, start by looking near the front of the chainsaw. You may need to consult the owner’s manual or refer to a diagram of the chainsaw to determine the exact location of the starter cover.

Once you have located the starter cover, you will need to remove it in order to access the starter mechanism. To do this, you may need to remove any screws or clips that hold the cover in place. Be sure to keep track of any small parts or fasteners that you remove, as you will need to replace them when you reassemble the chainsaw.

This is what a chainsaw cover generally looks like when removed.

Chainsaw Pull Cord Cover

3. Inspect the starter cord for signs of wear or damage

To inspect the starter cord for signs of wear or damage, you will need to remove the starter cover and expose the starter cord. Once the starter cover is removed, you should be able to see the starter cord clearly.

To inspect the cord, look for any fraying or other damage. Frayed cords can break easily and will need to be replaced. You should also look for any knots or tangles in the cord, as these can prevent the cord from retracting properly.

If the cord appears to be in good condition, try gently pulling on it to see if it will retract smoothly. If the cord does not retract smoothly, it may be caught on something or there may be a problem with the starter mechanism. In this case, you may need to disassemble the starter mechanism to locate the problem and repair it.

If the cord appears to be damaged or otherwise problematic, you will need to replace it. This will typically require disassembling the starter mechanism and removing the old cord.

You will then need to install a new cord and reassemble the starter mechanism. Be sure to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual or a repair manual to ensure that the starter cord is installed correctly.

4. Gently pull on The starter cord, does it retract properly?

If the cord is in good condition, try gently pulling on it to see if it will retract properly. If it does not retract smoothly, it may be caught on something or there may be a problem with the starter mechanism.

If the cord is caught on something, try gently wiggling it to see if it will come loose. You may need to disassemble the starter mechanism to free the cord if it doesn’t come loose.

If the cord is not caught on anything and the starter mechanism appears to be functioning properly, the problem may be with the rewind spring. This spring is responsible for pulling the cord back into the starter housing after it has been pulled.

If the rewind spring is damaged or not functioning properly, it will need to be replaced. This may require disassembling the starter mechanism and removing the spring. This is what a spring repair kit looks like.
Pull Cord Repair Kit

5. Once you have located and repaired the problem

Reassemble the starter mechanism and replace the starter cover. Reconnect the spark plug wire and test the chainsaw to ensure that the starter cord is functioning properly.

Note: If you’d rather just replace your pull cord mechanism, cord, and case but find them expensive, you can often find a good, inexpensive, used chainsaw pull cord mechanism on a broken saw.

F.A.Q.: How long should a chainsaw pull cord be?

Between 36 and 40 Inches of cord is needed, as recommended by most chainsaw manufacturers. That amounts to almost 1 meter of rope (40 inches).

F.A.Q.: Can I re-use the same cord on a chainsaw?

It’s a good idea to use new rope when fixing a chainsaw pull cord. You can re-use the old rope if necessary, however, it’s good to replace it while the chainsaw is being repaired.

F.A.Q.: Why is the pull cord stuck on my chainsaw?

Improper rope diameter is the main reason a chainsaw pull cord gets stuck. Skinny cords cross over themselves and become tangled, while thick cords tend to bind inside the pulley. Other common causes include a broken tension spring and being clogged with sawdust.