Honda Recoil Starter (28400-Z9V-014) – HRN216 HRX217 K6
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Honda Starter, Recoil
Please Note: Installs easily using three existing flange nuts. Replacement nuts are available in You May Also Like…
Fits Honda Models
HRN216 PKA LAWN MOWER VIN# MANA-1000001-9999999
HRN216 VKA LAWN MOWER VIN# MANA-1000001-9999999
HRN216 VLA LAWN MOWER VIN# MANA-1000001-9999999
HRN216 VYA LAWN MOWER VIN# MANA-1000001-9999999
HRX217K6 HYA LAWN MOWER VIN# MAMA-1000001-9999999
HRX217K6 HZA LAWN MOWER VIN# MAMA-1000001-9999999
HRX217K6 VKA LAWN MOWER VIN# MAMA-1000001-9999999
HRX217K6 VLA LAWN MOWER VIN# MAMA-1000001-9999999
HRX217K6 VYA LAWN MOWER VIN# MAMA-1000001-9999999
Weight and Dimensions
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How to Repair a Lawn Mower Pull Cord
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Replace a broken starter rope on your lawn mower quickly and easily by following this simple step-by-step procedure.
You tug one last time to get the lawn mower started, and suddenly the pull cord breaks and the end goes spinning into the hole. Don’t blow a gasket. If you have even a tinge of mechanical aptitude, replacing a starter rope is pretty easy. If the spring breaks—a rare event, according to our repair expert—the fix is a lot harder, and we recommend you take the mower to a repair center.
Stuck Cord or Broken Cord?
First, check to confirm that the cord is actually broken and not just stuck. If it’s stuck, it may be an easier fix than full pull cord replacement and you likely won’t have to buy any new parts. Here are a few tips for fixing an electrical cord.
Run through your troubleshooting checklist if your cord isn’t working. Check to ensure the brake is off, make sure there isn’t any lawn debris clogging the blade, and finally, if all else fails, use our steps below to open the rewind unit. There, you’ll be able to see if the cord is stuck or fully broken.
What to Know About Replacement Cords
Different lawn mowers need different types of pull cords. If you don’t have time to spend looking for the right match, you can opt to get the thinnest kind, which will fit no matter what. But the thinner the cord, the more likely it is to break again soon. If you don’t already have replacement cord on hand, go to your local hardware store with the broken cord. The associates there should be able to help you get the exact kind you need.
Lawn Mower Pull Cord Not Catching (How to Fix)
Nothing happens if your lawn mower pull cord isn’t catching. If your mower has a pull cord, there’s usually no way to get your mower to start, which ruins your mowing mission. It’s incredibly frustrating to do other troubleshooting to find out why your mower won’t start and realize that it’s not just that your mower needs some extra gas, but that the pull cord is faulty. In this article I’ll explain how the lawn mower pull cord mechanism works, possible causes for your lawn mower pull cord not catching, and how to fix the issue.
Why Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord Isn’t Catching
The pull cord mechanism on a lawn mower isn’t complicated, and the reason your cord isn’t catching is that one of the components of the flywheel starter assembly has failed under the stress of regular use. Typically it’s either worn or broken pawls, or a damaged pulley system. Either way, a complete OEM replacement starter assembly will typically cost less than 30 and it’s an easy DIY fix that takes a couple of minutes.
About the Starter Assembly
The starter rope is the only part of the starting system that can be seen. But inside your mower, the rope activates a series of parts that start the engine.
Learning how the mechanism functions will allow you to know how to fix a lawn mower pull cord that isn’t catching.
Sometimes the repair is simple, where the pull cord or handle itself breaks. If this is the case, simply replacing the rope or handle will be enough, and that’s a job that anyone can do.
Other issues can be the cause as well, but the good news is that these also have relatively simple fixes.
Let’s start by explaining how the pull cord on a lawn mower works, and then I’ll explain the usual reasons your cord isn’t working and tell you how to fix each one individually, and how to search for and find a brand new OEM starter assembly for your mower (what I recommend since the cost is still pretty low).
How Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord Works
When you pull the rope to start your mower, it engages the starting mechanism, which turns the engine fast enough to spark the ignition module.
The starter rope is wrapped around a pulley system. That allows it to be pulled out before it recoils into the engine. The pulley sits below the cover at the top of your walk-behind mower, and a spring is in the center of the pulley. As it’s turned, the recoil spring stretches, then snaps back when let go. This immediate snap-back retracts the pull cord and allows you to pull the rope quickly one time after another.
The recoil operates the mower’s flywheel. The flywheel sits below the starter, closer to the mower, and near the crankshaft. Magnets sit on the outside of the flywheel and generate magnetic energy as it spins. The magnets will eventually build up enough energy to fire off high-voltage sparks.
The pawls are also attached to the pulley. These are plastic wings that spin out due to the centrifugal force, helping to catch the flywheels and create a faster spinning movement.
The crankshaft is in the center of the flywheel and turns with the flywheel. As the crankshaft turns, it helps the piston move up and down, pushing more gas and air into the mower’s system. If it can’t spin fast enough, the engine won’t start.
The pawls are the most likely component to fail and it’s probably why your mower isn’t starting. That said, if the pulley or receiver is damaged, that will also cause issues.
Lawn Mower Pull Cord Not Catching: Possible Causes
There are two very common causes for a lawn mower pull cord not catching. These include:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these, and other possible causes for this mower issue.
Broken or Worn Pawls
On most modern mowers, the pawls are usually made of plastic, though some brands use metal pawls.
Metal pawls are far more durable. This component is exposed to tension from spinning out, as well as catching the flywheel.
Since this part is designed to spin out and catch the flywheel, if they’re worn out or broken, they won’t be able to do that. That prevents the engine from turning over, and it’s usually the reason you pull your mower starting cord and it doesn’t catch.
In other words, it will feel like the pull cord is pulling too freely.
To check if the pawls on your mower are broken, remove the starter and pull the rope to make them pull out. If they don’t pull out, either they’re broken or something else is broken.
To repair worn or broken pawls.
- Unplug the spark plug wire before starting the repair. This prevents the motor from starting, and is an important safety step whenever doing any work on your mower.
- Disassemble the housing (the top cover) to expose the pull cord assembly.
- Remove the center bolt and cap in order to pull the pawls out.
- Inspect the pawls and determine whether they’re damaged or worn.
- Insert the new pawls, then re-install the center bolt and cap, as well as the starter, into the engine.
The pull cord should catch again and allow the engine to start. If the pull cord continues to not work, the issue may be something else interfering with the pawls.
The mower’s pull cord rope is stored in the pulley, as well as the recoil spring. The pulley will guide and feed the pull cord, in addition to storing it. Pulleys are usually made from plastic and this is a part that can crack.
A broken or cracked pulley will interfere with the rope pulling around the pulley. If it malfunctions or jams, the starter system will not work.
To replace the pulley, you’ll need to remove the starter system.
- Again, start by disconnecting the spark plug wire.
- Next, pull the rope out, then insert a screwdriver to secure the recoil spring and pulley.
- Remove the rope, then release the screwdriver to allow tension to return to the spring.
- Remove the center bolt and friction plate, which will release the pulley.
- Now you can place the new pulley, first aligning it with the housing post.
- Rotate the pulley, since that will tighten the spring, then insert the screwdriver to hold it in place so you can reattach the rope.
- Release the screwdriver and let the rope slowly wind up. You can then place the starter back onto the engine, reassemble, and try to start your mower.
Replacement pulleys can be bought either as just the cover or with the recoil spring combined.
It’s usually easiest to replace both simultaneously. It’s a little more expensive, but for most homeowners tackling this project it makes sense to replace the entire unit as it’s simpler.
The spring can be difficult to work with, and purchasing the entire assembly won’t add too much additional cost to the repair. In my view, it’s worth it.
Other Issues Which Can Make Your Pull Cord Not Catch
While these are the most common issues with the pull cord system, they are not the only ones that can occur.
Different lawn mower brands make their components differently. Some will use plastic instead of metal for certain components. Plastic parts will wear out faster, and are less capable of withstanding the stresses of consistent use.
The reality is that if you’re buying a new mower, you’ll find that more brands are using plastic for the flywheel receiver to cut costs and remain competitive with their price.
The flywheel receiver is a metal cup that fixes to the flywheel. This is the component the pawls will connect to. If they’re worn in addition to (or instead of) the pawls, the engine will also not catch.
Receivers are less likely to cause issues unless they’re made of plastic, but since more modern mower manufacturers are using plastic for this part, it will probably become a more common cause of failure and a reason why your lawn mower pull cord may not be catching.
Older mowers which have metal components are likely to have fewer issues, even if they’ve been used for more hours. This is one reason why it might make sense to buy a used mower instead of buying new.
Can You (and should you) DIY the Fix?
If you’re handy and like working with mechanical parts, it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to replace part or all of this component on your mower.
You’ll want to know your brand and mower model. Then you can search online for your mower brand, model number, and starter/recoil/flywheel assembly OEM.
If you’re unsure of your lawn mower model number, you can find it on a small plate on your mower. It will be alongside the mower’s serial number.
For example if I had a Honda HRN216VKA self-propelled mower I bought from Home Depot, I could search Honda HRN216VKA starter assembly OEM on Amazon and quickly find the part I need for under 30.
About Tackling This Project
Like most small engines, disassembly and reassembly is pretty straight-forward. But I always recommend taking pictures of each step so you can remember where everything went as you put the mower back together.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of doing this work yourself, you have a few options. You can:
- Check to see if your mower is under warranty. If it is, you can probably get this repaired at no cost.
- Contact a local small engine repair shop. It should be an inexpensive job that can be completed quickly. They can also do a tune-up of your machine, change the oil, and sharpen your mower’s blades for you while it’s in for servicing.
The bottom line is that this is not a major issue with your mower (even if it feels like one). You shouldn’t send your mower to the scrap heap and rush out to buy a new mower.
It’s worth fixing, and most homeowners (even those who are not mechanically inclined at all) can replace the starter assembly on a walk-behind mower.
Maintaining Your Mower
If you’re looking to keep your mower in top shape, read my articles on winterizing your mower, and my spring mower tune-up checklist.
These quick (and easy) maintenance projects at the start and end of each season will keep your mower running great for years.
Lawn Mower Pull Cord Not Catching (This Is Why)
Without a pull cord, we’re going nowhere. Unlike a car, we can’t boost it. Hey, I know the feeling when your day doesn’t go to plan. Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place.
What are Pawls?
Pawls are spring-loaded arms that catch the flywheel and turn over the engine. In this post, we’ll look in more detail at what a Pawl is, what it does, and, more importantly, how you can take action today and get it fixed. Strap yourself in!
This post covers pull cord issues pretty well. However, if you need video help, check out “Pull cord faults video.” It covers diagnosing pull cord problems and their step-by-step repair processes.
Pull assembly pawls
Pull Assembly Components and What They Do
Pull cords work hard and do give their fair share of problems. Having an understanding of how a pull start works will help when repairing. Let’s just take a minute to understand the basic components involved.
The main components of your lawnmower pull start system include:
- Pull cord
- Pulley recoil spring
- Pulley cover
- Flywheel pawl receiver
- Pull assembly housing
The most common pull cord problems listed in order of commonality include:
- Pull cord snapped
- Broken pull cord handle
- Pull cord recoil spring failure
- Damaged pull cord pulley
- Damaged pulley pawls
The Pull Cord
The pull cord is the most likely component to fail. The pull cord wraps around the pulley, and the pulley lives inside the pull assembly housing. Replacing the pull cord will require removing the pull assembly housing. I wrote a post about it here, “Replacing a pull cord.”
The pull cord is the most likely component to fail. The cord wraps around the pulley, and the pulley lives inside the pull assembly housing.
Replacing the pull cord will require removing the pull assembly housing. I wrote a post about it here, “Replacing a pull cord.”
The Pull Cord Handle
Pull cord handle often breaks as the handle can sometimes fly loose during the starting procedure.
The problem is, the cord may retract back inside the mower. This will require removing the pull start housing to re-tension the spring and fit the new handle.
When fitting a new pulley, best to opt for the spring and pulley combined. Springs can be difficult to handle, and the combo, for a few extra dollars, saves a lot of frustration. The pulley is central to the whole mechanism.
Its functions include guiding, feeding, and storing the pull cord, retaining the recoil spring, and housing the pawls. Pulleys are made from plastic and will often crack, causing the cord to bind. Replacing the pulley will require removing the pull assembly, and it’s better to replace the pulley and recoil spring together.
Pulley Recoil Spring
The pulley recoil spring is responsible for retracting the cord after pulling. The spring lives in the center of the pulley and is anchored against a spud on the pull assembly housing.
To replace the spring (usually replaced with the pulley), the pull assembly housing will need to be removed and also the pulley. If you fit a pulley spring, check out “Replacing a pull cord”
The Pulley Cover
The pulley cover is also made from plastic. Its functions include fixing the pulley axle in place and guiding the pawls in and out.
Pulley covers are made from plastic usually and can simply crack due to wear and tear. Replacing will require removing the pull assembly housing but not the pulley.
The pawls are also made from plastic, but some models use metal. Their function is to fly outwards under centrifugal force caused by the pulling of the pull cord.
When the pawls are flung out, they catch on the flywheel receiver, which causes them to couple. The engine now turns over, and when the engine starts, the pawls retract.
The flywheel receiver (fixed to the engine flywheel) seen here has four recesses. The pulley pawls will catch two of these (whichever is closest) and turn the engine over.
The flywheel pawl receiver is a metal cup fixed to the flywheel. When the pulley pawls connect with the receiver, they couple and crank over the engine. Receivers don’t generally cause much trouble.
Pull Start Assembly Housing
The pull assembly housing (also known as the blower housing) is, as its name suggests, the outer cover that retains the various pull-start components.
The housing is commonly made from plastic and usually doesn’t cause problems. Most repairs will require removing the pull assembly housing. Removing them isn’t difficult.
Some housings will be large and cover the whole engine, while others will be far more user-friendly and just be large enough to house the pulley.
Pull assembly – Housings will vary in size. Yours may be smaller and less work to remove.
A mower that won’t catch and turn the engine most likely has a faulty pawl issue. The pawls are made from plastic, as you know, simply wear out. There are other possible reasons that the engine won’t catch and turn, and we’ll look at them below. Check out the pull start troubleshooting video here, which covers all the main faults and the repairs, and if you need parts, check out the great pull starter deals on the Amazon link below.
Remove plug wire – It’s always best to remove the plug wire before working on your mower; it prevents any possibility of it starting.
Remove Honda housing – The housing on a Honda mower is held with three fasteners and is typical Honda – very user-friendly.
Remove housing – The housing on other mower engines may require a little more work to remove.
Test pull assembly – Test the assemblies by pulling the pull cord – the pawls should shoot outwards from under the pulley cover.
Remove cap – Honda fixed their cap using a Torx head screw. It’s important to know that it is a left-hand thread. Meaning to remove the screw, turn the Torx head clockwise. (right)
Other types may use a clip; the clip just slides off, but I place a rag over the clip when removing as this guy can fly, and you could spend a whole afternoon searching and still never find it.
Remove pawls – Your pulley pawls may be worn, damaged, or just dry. Remove them to examine. The pawls should fit snugly in the pulley; if they’re loose, they’re worn. On the top side of the pawls, you should see a spud; it sits on the track of the cap.
If the spud is missing or worn, go ahead and replace the pawls. If, however, the pawls are just dry, put some silicone grease on them, reassemble and test.
The pulley cap must also be checked for wear and damage. A damaged cap will prevent the pawls from working.
Fitting pawls – Add a small amount of lube on the new pawls and cap, it will help them work smoothly, and they’ll last longer.
Reassemble, test, and refit your plug wire, and you’re all set; nice work you!
Other Possible Pull Starter Issues
So what if my pawls and cap look good? What else could cause the problem? Other possibilities include:
The pulleys are made from plastic; they don’t outlive the engine. A cracked or worn pulley will cause the pawls to bind and stick. Replacing a pulley is a little more work, but it is a job you can take care of yourself. I’ve written a post about it here “Pull cord repair”.
A damaged receiver isn’t very common, but it can happen. Most are made from metal and are durable, but others are made from plastic, and you know what happens to plastic. So if your pawls looked fine, FOCUS your attention on the pulley and receiver.
Flywheel receiver may be plastic or metal – check for damage, wear, or misalignment.
Why can’t I pull the string on my lawnmower? The most common cause of a lawnmower string not pulling is worn pull assembly pawls. However, other possible causes include:
Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.
I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.
And the best part. it’s free!