How to Repair a Pull Start for an ATV

An ATV, or all-terrain vehicle, is a recreational vehicle used primarily for sport and leisure. Most ATVs are three-wheel and four-wheel models, resembling a motorcycle. Some ATVs are used for commercial purposes, such as farming or as security or law enforcement vehicles. Generally, ATVs run on an internal combustion gas engine, started much like a residential lawn mower, using a pull-start mechanism. Over time, the pull start can become frayed or tangled, making it difficult to function properly.


1) Turn off the engine and remove the key from the ignition. If the ATV has been running and will not restart, allow the engine to cool completely to avoid burns. Place the ATV in neutral. Make sure the ATV is on stable, level ground to avoid inadvertent rolling.

2) Pull the cord to its fullest extent and don’t allow it to retract. Inspect the cord for knots or tangled foreign objects. Remove the cord cover with a screwgun and inspect the cord further to make certain there are no tangles or knots. If you find any, untangle or unknot the cord.

3) Inspect the ATV’s cord disk inside the pull-start housing for lodged objects or for wear that would cause the cord disk to become warped. Sometimes, foreign objects become trapped between the cord disk and its mount. Use needle-nose pliers to remove any lodged objects.

4) Remove the cord disk mount. Note how the mount came apart, as you will need to reassemble it in the same way. Unfasten the cord from the mount and discard it. Install a new cord.

5) Check the gears. If the cord replacement does not work, remove the cord again and unfasten the cord mount from the machine. Inspect the gears to see if they are aligning properly. You may have to replace the gear cogs to get the ATV to start.

Extra Tips:

*If you attempt to remove the cord disk mount to inspect the internal part of the pull start, you should be aware that doing so may void your warranty. These internal parts must be reassembled precisely to work properly; take the ATV to a professional repair shop.

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