How to Repair a Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure

Updated July 20, 2017

The durability of Stanley Hand Tools is well known to the average handyman, although the tools may occasionally require maintenance. Stanley manufactures one of the most popular tape measures on the market--the PowerLock. The PowerLock, known for its locking feature and rigid measuring tape, can measure objects from 10 to 30 feet in length. Stanley offers a return policy for deficient products but for those products, like the PowerLock, which simply require a "tuneup" after being used and abused, a quick repair can save you money and save an otherwise useful tool from the trash.

Examine the PowerLock tape measure for deficiencies in manufacturing or workmanship to determine if it meets Stanley's warranty against these problems. According to Stanley, the company isn't responsible for damage resulting from excessive wear, misuse, abuse, damage from accidents or alteration of the project.

Inspect the PowerLock tape measure for valid replacement conditions. According to Stanley these conditions are missing rivets, faulty retraction (blade binds up), broken spring (blade will not retract), defective component (ruler shows no signs of abuse but one of its components still doesn't function correctly).

Inspect the PowerLock tape measure for the following invalid replacement conditions. According to Stanley, these conditions are torn or damaged blade (torn by retracing at high speeds, being stepped on or accidentally cut), bent hook (bent from being dropped or hit), rusty blade or hook, foreign material in blade or in case, worn out beyond expected life.

Remove the screws from the shell/case which holds the tape, typically starting with the four corner screws first and removing the centre screw last. Pull the case apart and into two pieces to examine the guts.

Check the retraction spring - if unhinged, simply snap back in place and reassembled the case. Remove the actual yellow measuring tape if there's a problem with the retraction system, slowly removing the tape before disconnection from the spring.

Remove broken tape by slowly pulling it loose from the spring. Hold the spring down with your thumb or secure it in place with masking/duct/electrical tape - anything to keep it from springing out of place.

Replace a broken spring by placing the new one into a slot cut into the centre of the inside case. Attach the typically male connector on the tape to the typically female connector of the retraction spring. Replace masking tape used to line these pieces up with one another - this is common though not found in all tape measures. Roll the tape slowly into the case.

Replace a broken measuring tape by first uncoiling (completely) the new tape. Follow instructions in the previous step when connecting the spring to the new measuring tape. Roll the new tape slowly into the case, giving resistance to the retraction spring which is ready to snap the tape back quickly.

Clean the case of any dust or debris - compressed air cleaners help speed this process along. Place the two halves of the case together again, securing the screws in place.


Prevent a slowly retracting tape by extending the tape fully and letting it retract through folded sheets of waxed paper - repeat this process until the tape picks up some speed from the bits of wax. Customers with further questions can call Stanley's customer service line at 1-800-262-2161.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Masking tape
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About the Author

Beth Sergent began writing professionally in 2004. She is a reporter for the "The Daily Sentinel" in Pomeroy, Ohio and has had two short stories published in her collegiate literary magazine, "Et Cetera." Sergent has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English from Marshall University.