Chainsaw Won’t Start – Easy Ways To Fix It

chainsaw won't start

Posted On May 8, 2020

You’ll never realize how disappointing it is until your chainsaw won’t start. And when it occurs, you could be in the middle of cutting a tree or sawing logs, then you’re in the middle, and your chainsaw fails to start. Besides, chainsaw, like other tools, can break down or fail to start up. The problem with chainsaws failing to start is not a new one, and many users have experienced it before. Before you throw away the chainsaw or get an expensive repair, try these fixes to see if they can work on your tool.

Safety First

Before you start working on the chainsaw, it’s important to consider all the safe operational procedures when fixing the various parts of the machine. The best way of operating on a chainsaw is to get the user’s manual. Alternatively, you can look for someone who is an expert in chainsaws. Do the following:

chainsaw won't start
  1. Read the operator manual so that you are familiar with the safety tips on opening and fixing different parts of the chainsaw
  2. Ensure that you are in an excellent mental and physical health condition before starting to fix a chainsaw
  3. Wear the appropriate safety clothing before you begin operating on the chainsaw. These include safety goggles, gloves, steel-toed shoes, hard-hat and chainsaw-resistant chaps to protect the left side of your leg.
  4. Read the user manual on how to sharpen the teeth and ensure there is a right chain tension

Check out the out our review on the Best battery chainsaw.

Common Starting Problems

Check it has fuel. Well, the most common issue with chainsaws failing to star is no fuel or bad fuel altogether. If there is no fuel, then the chainsaw won’t start. But if the fuel has been there for longer, then it’s probably bad. The solution would be replacing it with a proper fuel mixture. Also, if the fuel is not bad, then monitor the fuel line for visible leaks or cracks. Finally, check whether the fuel filter is blocked and, if so, then clean it with a fuel cleaner. But if the filter is damaged, then replace it.

Is the carburetor clogged?

If you leave the fuel in the tank without using it for long, then the carburetor will become clogged. The light components of the fuel will evaporate, while the thicker ones will remain to cause clogging of the carburetor. Therefore, the chainsaw won’t start, and you should, therefore, clean the carburetor with a carburetor cleaner and replace the fuel after cleaning it. Also, you should clean the chainsaw as there might be some sticky residues. And while you’re cleaning the chainsaw, cover the carburetor throttle with tape. If cleaning does not work, then place to replace the carburetor.

Check the spark plug.

The spark is a vital component that helps to start your chainsaw is burns the fuel, which makes the engine operate. Two main spark plug issues could cause the failure of the chainsaw to start: One if it’s corroded after everyday use or if it contains an improper gap. Use a steel brush to clean the spark plug to remove any corrosion. Also, use an online guide or user manual to ensure there it has a proper gap. If the two options don’t work, then it’s time to get a replacement.

Recoil starter

The recoil starter is an integral part of the chainsaw starting mechanism since you pull it to turn over the engine and hence start it. If the above doesn’t seem to be the problem, then check the recoil starter system. If you pull the cords, then the tabs should spread out from the pulley and hence cam, which results in a grabbing of the engine’s hub. This turns over the engine, and the tabs will retract, and the cord pulls backs after releasing the cord. If this process is not going on like this, then there is an issue with the recoil starter assembly, and it’s defective, necessitating its replacement.

Check the engine isn’t flooded

In case you press the primed bulb so much, then the engine might become flooded, and its notable sign is gasoline smells. If you think the problem is the engine, then drain the fuel and push the choke inside. Now, pull the starter cord for about seven times as you hold the throttle. Dry the spark plugs then start the chainsaw again.

Check the air filters.

When the chainsaw doesn’t start, then there might be a problem with the air filters. When the engine fails to fire up, check the air filters and then clean them with an ideal cleaner. You should also check and maintain the air filters periodically as part of the general device maintenance.

Is it too cold?

When the temperature is too low, then starting a chainsaw could be a challenge. If you reside in a place where the temperature is too low, then you might experience problems when starting your chainsaw. Try choking the chainsaw a bit and see if it helps to start it. It’s the best solution in most cases.

Rewind Spring

The rewind spring rewinds the starter cord after each subsequent pull, but if it’s broken, then it will not wind up repeatedly, making it impossible to start the chainsaw. If the starter cord fails to rewind inside after pulling it, then you might have to replace the rewind spring. Check the one for your chainsaw’s model, but most models, you have to replace the entire recoil starter assembly.

Compression Rings

The compression rings can also be worn out, which causes the engine not to fire up. The typical sign is this part giving out bluish gases. Also, check the spark plug and how fast it accumulates the soot deposits. It’s a common indication of piston rings leakage, and if either of the issues occurs, then it’s time to replace the compression rings. Otherwise, they’ll be unable to generate enough heat for producing sparks.

Dirty Air Filters

If the chainsaw doesn’t start, then the air filters may be dirty or clogged, which affects the ration of the air-to-gas. This can cause the failure of the engine to fire up. Clean the dirty air filters, but if they’re too dirty or clogged, then replace them.

Clutch Pads

If the chainsaw clutch pads don’t perform well, then the chainsaw may continue spinning non-stop, or it could turn intermittently or stop turning. This prevents it from starting up.

Chainsaw Maintenance

  • Always ensure your chainsaw remains clean
  • Sharpen the chainsaw blades regularly
  • Always remember to lubricate the chainsaw
  • Never leave fuel in the chainsaw for long without using it
  • Check the throttle trigger before each subsequent use to ensure its operating well

Chainsaw Kickbacks and how to avoid them

Chainsaw kickbacks are the leading cause of accidents involving chainsaws. Kickback is a term that refers to a sudden upward movement of the chainsaw guide bar and causes serious accidents. Kickbacks occur as a result of improper cutting of the tree and is therefore suggested that beginners undergo training for cutting trees by a professional before starting to use a chainsaw.

Top Two Causes of Chainsaw Kickbacks

  1. It occurs when the moving chain comes into contact with an object on the guide bar’s tip
  2. If the wood closes in and pinch the chain at the centre of the cut

If one of these situations arises, it will cause the chainsaw to get a kickback. When that occurs, the operator may lose control of the machine leading to severe injuries to the user and other people nearby. Different factors may contribute to a chainsaw kickback, and we have mentioned them below.

Factors that can cause Chainsaw Kickbacks

  • Poor maintenance of the saw
  • Dull Chain
  • When some chain parts are not installed correctly
  • Loose rivets
  • When some chain components bend, crack, or break.
  • Improper sharpening of the chain angles
  • Incorrect chain depth gauge shapes
  • A more extended guide bar’s nose

How to reduce the risks of chainsaw kickbacks?

Kickbacks are the leading cause of injuries resulting from chainsaw use. But the good thing is it can be prevented by following the tips below:

  1. Reading and understanding the operating manual before using a chainsaw
  2. Avoiding the use of a chainsaw when you are less alert
  3. Practising caution when you are cutting trees branches
  4. Use the underside of the bar only when you want to prepare a tee for felling.
  5. Position the nose of the guide bar properly while you’re using a chainsaw
  6. Wear the appropriate protective clothing to lower the intensity of injuries when accidents occur, i.e., protective gloves and eyewear

Chainsaw Chain Direction: Easy Steps to Always Get it Right

DIY Safety Tip

  • Always use the owner’s manual while fixing the chainsaw
  • If you’re in doubt of any procedure, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help


A chainsaw is one of the crucial tools for both homeowners and professionals. It has many purposes, including pruning branches and cutting trees, but if a chainsaw doesn’t start, then it can delay your project and even cost you more for repairs. But with our guide, you can solve some of the common problems you encounter while firing up a chainsaw.

Written by James S. Avila

Millions of injuries are caused by chainsaws on a yearly basis. Lack of proper research and guidance on how to buy the most suitable chainsaws for projects are among the factors responsible for these accidents. These unfortunate accidents are pathetic and this is the reason why this website is created. James Avila is a professional who understands chainsaws and various machinery, and willing to share in-depth information about chainsaws and enable our readers to make informed decisions when they want to purchase the right chainsaws for their projects. His expertise in the industry has brought well-researched reviews that have saved our readers thousands of dollars

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