Does A Pull Start Engine Need A Battery? Everything You Need To Know!

Does A Pull Start Engine Need A Battery

Pull-start engines feature a starter element comprising a rope or pull cord with a handle or grip at one end. The rope makes it possible to turn over the engine whenever you want to use your appliance. But does a pull-start engine need a battery?

Your pull-start engine does not require a battery to operate. This engine has a rope you can pull, causing the crankshaft to spin. Consequently, this helps engage the flywheel and crank the engine.

But wait, there is more! Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about pull-start engines.

What Is A Pull Start Engine?

Also referred to as rewind start, recoil start, or rope start, pull start is a type of engine with a starter pull system. The pull system comprises a rope with a handle or grip at one end. This rope is built to wrap around a reel connected to the engine’s crankshaft.

Typically, a pull-start engine replaces the electric starter motor found in more extensive and sophisticated appliances. This not only helps save on weight but also the overall cost. Some of the machines that utilize this engine type include:

  • Portable engine generators
  • Older and small lawnmowers
  • Ultralight aircrafts
  • Chainsaws
  • Small outboard motors
  • Go-karts, small ATVs, minibikes, etc.

However, larger outboards with electric start engines feature a groove cut under the top cover where you can use a pull start rope. This is in case the electric starter fails, and the battery is flat.

Does A Pull Start Engine Need A Battery?

No, basically a pull-start engine doesn’t need a battery to start the engine. But where does a pull-start engine get the energy to start it if it does not need a battery?

The power for starting a pull-start engine is generated by pulling the cord or rope it comes with. So, to start the engine, you simply pull the cord by the handle.

As a result, the rope will uncoil around the end of the crankshaft, causing it to spin. This spinning motion engages the flywheel and turns the pistons, allowing the pull-start engine to crank.

Once the engine starts, the spring holding the rope in place uncoils, and the cord is pulled back into the housing. If the engine does not start on the first pull, you must rewind the rope by hand. Then, pull it again to generate enough energy to start the engine.

But here is the thing. When you can only start a pull-start engine via a pull-start mechanism, there could be both electric and pull-start pre installed together.

Does A Pull Start Engine Need A Battery

Can You Convert A Pull-Start Engine To an Electric-Start?

Yes, you can convert a pull-start engine to an electric start, but only in some cases. In this case, your appliance will have both the pull-start and electric start mechanisms.

However, you must consider several factors to determine if your pull-start engine can be converted to an electric start. These include if-

  • The machine has a removable motor where you insert the starter motor.
  • The engine has teeth on the side of the flywheel that accepts a starter, although you could replace the flywheel.
  • The engine block has mounting brackets for an electric starter.

That said, below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the conversion:

Step 1: Get a Starter Kit

Before anything, buy an electric starter kit. If possible, the kit should be from the same manufacturer as your engine for easy installation. The kit should have the following:

  • Key-operated ignition or push-button
  • Starter motor
  • The plug
  • Mounting bolts
  • Installation instructions

Step 2: Replace the Flywheel (If Required)

Remove the access plate or shroud cover to access the flywheel. If the flywheel does not have teeth or ring gear, replace it with one that has.

Step 3: Install the Starter

Get the starter motor from the kit and install it onto the flywheel’s ring gear. Then, secure the starter to your appliance with the mounting bolts included.

Step 4: Plug the Starter

Some starter kits may come with an internal rechargeable battery. However, plug the starter into a power outlet if your kit does not come with this feature. You could use an extension cord.

Final Step

Press the starter button to confirm if the electric starter is working. Lastly, unplug the starter if you are not using your appliance.

Why Should You Convert a Pull-Start Engine to an Electric Start?

If your pull start appliance allows it, there are several benefits you may enjoy from converting it to an electric start. These include:


As your appliance ages, your pull start engine may not crank with just one pull which can be frustrating. In this case, converting it to an electric start offers a convenient way to start your engine at the push of a button.

Low Maintenance Cost

Electric starters are more efficient than their pull-start engine counterparts. As such, they require minimal maintenance, which helps save on costs.

User Friendly

An electric starter does not need a lot of strength to start the engine. It requires only a little push of the start button. This makes it user-friendly for everyone, including the elderly, who cannot pull the cord on the pull-start engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some commonly asked queries regarding pull start engines needing a battery.

1. What makes the pull cord of a pull start engine hard to pull?

Sometimes, it could be due to the engine rusting or getting worn from many years of use. This problem may also occur due to a broken spring or tangled rope. In this case, you replace the recoil starter.

2. Can you start a pull-start engine without the pull cord?

Yes, but once you have converted the engine to an electric start. Another way to crank a pull-start engine without the pull cord is to wrap a rope around the flywheel and pull it.

3. Why don’t cars have a pull-start engine?

Because the pull-start engine type is best suited for starting small appliances like a lawnmower. A car is a big machine and requires so much energy to turn over the engine. This amount of energy is beyond what a human arm can supply.


While most engines need a battery to turn over, this is not true with a pull-start engine. You only need to pull the rope or pull cord, and your pull-start engine will crank. However, this engine type is only available in small appliances or machines like chainsaws and outboard motors.

The best thing about a pull start engine is that you can convert it to an electric start for added convenience. This helps ensure user-friendliness while also lowering maintenance costs. Even better, converting the engine to an electric start is easy if you are mechanically inclined.

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