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Why Read This Article?

  • Learn to repair a broken starter on your chainsaw.
  • Diagnose common problems with the starter. 
  • Save time and money compared to a repair shop. 

Article Breakdown

Repair Information:
15-20 minutes
As needed

Removing the Starter Assembly:
1. Remove the side cover.
2. Remove the starter assembly screw.
3. Remove the starter dogs.
4. Remove the rope and pulley.

Diagnosing the Problem:
1. Inspect the pulley.
2. Inspect the spring.

Reassembling the Starter Assembly:
1. Replace the pulley.
2. Wind the pulley.
3. Attach the rope.
4. Install the starter dogs.
5. Coil the rope.
6. Reattach the cover.


Tools & Materials

  • Screwdriver with bits for your saw's screws
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • An extra set of hands can be helpful for this repair

Safety Guidelines

Be careful not to release the starter pulley when it is under tension. It can spin and cut you, or pop off the spring which will result in the spring exploding out of its housing.

How to Repair the Starter on a Chainsaw

January 27, 2012
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This article outlines the steps needed to fix a broken starter on a chainsaw. Whether the rope won't recoil, won't pull, or has snapped off, this repair should help you get to the root of the problem. 

A broken starter assembly is frustrating. There you were, cutting up those branches in your yard, and now you're stuck with a broken saw. Sometimes the rope snaps. Other times it won't recoil. This article will help you break down the starter, diagnose the problem, then put it all back together again. If your starter is broken, you may need a new pulley or starter spring--these are the parts commonly to blame for starter assembly problems. 


For this repair we used an Echo chainsaw. This repair will be similar for most chainsaw models. You can use our Echo parts finder to find parts for your Echo saw.

Removing the Starter Assembly

1. Remove the side cover

Remove the screws and clip that secure the side cover. The starter assembly is attached to the cover.


2. Remove the starter assembly screw

The starter assembly is held together on most saws with one screw. Remove it and set it aside.


3. Remove the starter dogs

Remove the starter dogs from the assembly.


If your saw has a soft-start spring, remove it as well.


4. Remove the rope and pulley

Untie the knot in the rope and remove it from the pulley. 

Then you can remove the pulley from the assembly.

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Diagnosing the Problem

1. Inspect the pulley

Check the pulley for cracks and breaks. The back side of the pulley can break off, causing the starter assembly to fail.


2. Inspect the spring

The spring can break in the housing, which will cause the assembly to fail. The most common place the spring breaks is at the end, where you can see it through the housing assembly.


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Reassembling the Starter Assembly

Caution: Once you put tension on the pulley, do not let it go. It can spin and cut you or pop out of the assembly, which will result in the spring flying out of the starter.

1. Replace the pulley

Set the pulley on top of the starter spring, and make sure it meshes.


2. Wind the pulley

Now you can begin winding the pulley. The trick here is to think about how the rope will recoil into the starter assembly. Then just wind the pulley so that it will pull the rope into the starter. Four or five complete rotations will set the right amount of tension.


3. Attach the rope

You may find this step is easier with another person to help thread the rope or hold the pulley, but it can be done alone with a bit of maneuvering.  

Line up the hole on the pulley with the hole on the starter housing.
Thread the rope through both holes and tie a knot in the end of it.


Then tuck it out of the way.


4. Install the starter dogs

Replace the soft-start spring if your saw has one.


Set the starter dogs back into place and tighten the assembly screw.


5. Coil the rope

Slowly let the rope back into the starter assembly.


6. Reattach the cover

Now just reattach the cover and tighten the screws or clips to finalize the repair. 

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Repairing the starter on your chainsaw is a simple repair that will save you a lot of money compared to a repair shop. With the right parts and about 15 minutes, you can get your saw running again. 

Remember to use our lawn equipment parts finder to find the OEM parts for your chainsaw and other yard tools.

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