How to Fix a Pull Cord on an Outboard Motor for a 4HP Yamaha

How to Fix a Pull Cord on an Outboard Motor for a 4HP Yamaha

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The hand recoil starter on a 4-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor is a self-contained spring that powers a pulley. When you pull the starter rope, it turns the pulley. As the pulley turns, it tightens the spring. When the pulley turns past a set point, the spring is released, turning the flywheel and crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, fuel is drawn into the single cylinder and the magneto provides the electricity to fire the spark plug, starting the motor. You can replace the starter rope on your Yamaha outboard motor without taking the motor to a mechanic.

Items you will need

  • Thin-walled 1/4-inch socket

  • Replacement starter rope

  • Torque wrench

  • Sailing knife with a marlinspike

Step 1

Remove the three starter retaining bolts, using a thin-walled 1/4-inch socket. Lift the hand rewind starter from the powerhead.

Step 2

Unwind the rope from the starter. Untie the knot that holds the handle in place and the knot the holds the rope to the starter rope pulley. Slip the rope out of the handle. Lift the pulley out of the starter housing. Slide the handle onto the new starter rope and knot the end of the rope to hold the handle in place.

Step 3

Turn the flywheel side of the pulley face-up. Knot the end of the new rope opposite the end with the handle. Place the knotted end of the new rope in the notch in the pulley. Wrap the new rope twice, clockwise, around the pulley. Set the pulley back into the starter housing so the placement tab fits into the placement slot of the starter housing.

Step 4

Grasp the pulley to hold it in place. Wind the pulley counterclockwise against the starter spring's tension. Grasp the handle and pull the slack from the rope. Hold on to the handle on the rope, tightly. Slowly relax your grip on the pulley, so that the rope rewinds into the housing.

Step 5

Replace the starter on top of the powerhead. Thread the retaining bolts through the starter and into the powerhead. Tighten the bolts to 70 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench.


  • The point of a marlinspike -- the straight, pointy tool on many sailing knives -- can help unravel a knot. Insert the point of the spike into one of the outer loops of the knot and pull the loop loose. Then, insert the point into one of the inner loops and loosen the loop. Repeat, until the knot comes loose. If the knot does not, use the knife's blade to cut the knot and pull the rope free.
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