Everything you need to know about chainsaw maintenance

Your chainsaw has been designed and built with withstand the toughest conditions, however, regular maintenance will preserve its exceptional performance.

Close-up of the chain sprocket cover being removed from a STIHL MS 261 C-M petrol chainsaw

Chainsaw maintenance intervals

We recommend performing maintenance or cleaning your tool before and after every use. Doing this will help to ensure that your chainsaw always provides the very best cutting performance and will last for many years to come. There are various additional maintenance measures that you also need to carry out at different intervals. You can find detailed information about all of these maintenance measures and intervals in the owner's manual for your tool. If you are unsure of anything, contact your STIHL dealer.

A STIHL MS 461 petrol chainsaw on a tree trunk as a person in protective clothing unscrews the chain sprocket cover

Maintenance measures each time you use your chainsaw

  • Before using your chainsaw, check it is safe. Start with a visual check: can you see any damage on the chainsaw or its controls? Are the guide bar, saw chain, chain catcher and other accessories correctly fitted? If a repair is needed, take the chainsaw to a dealer to look at.
  • Test the throttle trigger, throttle trigger lockout, choke knob, stop switch, master control lever (subject to model).
  • Test whether the chain brake is working.
  • Check the condition of the saw chain (does it need further maintenance in terms of sharpness and chain tension?) and the chainsaw guide bar.
  • Is the chain properly lubricated?
  • Check whether the fuel tank cap and the oil tank cap are sealed.
  • There must not be any fuel leaking from the chainsaw.
  • After use, clean the chainsaw and remove any shavings and dust.
Chainsaw maintenance products: STIHL Varioclean, Multispray and Superclean

Periodic maintenance measures for long-term chainsaw care

  • Clean the guide bar (the sprocket nose, the oil inlet hole, the oil outlet channel and the bar groove), the chain sprocket cover, the cylinder fins and the inside of the shroud and the filter cover.
  • We recommend turning over and, if necessary, deburring the guide bar each time you change or sharpen the chain.
  • After breaking in a new saw chain, check the chain tension and make sure the chain is always lubricated.
A STIHL chainsaw on a bench with STIHL Varioclean in front

Ongoing chainsaw maintenance is key

Cleaning after every use is the most important maintenance measure to keep your chainsaw in great condition. That’s because it picks up resin, sawdust and other substances which, in combination with the chain lubricant, can soon cause real problems: resin accumulates and hardens, and can eventually make its way into the housing and guide bar, or onto the pulley. Our advice is that you all traces of resin from the bar and housing at the earliest possible opportunity. We recommend you make STIHL Varioclean part of your maintenance routine when cleaning your chainsaw.

Electric, battery or petrol: chainsaw maintenance overview

Electric chainsaw maintenance

Electric chainsaws have a simpler construction than petrol tools, so they require fewer cleaning and maintenance steps:

  • Remove shavings and dust from the whole chainsaw (use a soft brush, paintbrush or STIHL resin solvent)
  • Clean the sprocket area with a damp cloth or STIHL resin solvent
  • Clean the bar groove
  • Remove any burrs forming on the bar groove
  • Clean the chainsaw ventilation slits with a paintbrush

Use a STIHL guide bar leveller to remove burrs from the guide bar.

Battery chainsaw maintenance

As well as the measures listed above, if you have a battery chainsaw we recommend some additional measures:

  • Remove foreign bodies from the battery slot and clean the battery slot with a damp cloth.
  • Clean the electrical contacts in the battery slot with a paintbrush or soft brush.

Petrol chainsaw maintenance

If you have a petrol chainsaw, there are a few other maintenance considerations to keep in mind:

  • Check that the fuel and chain lubricant tanks are sealed and that no fuel or lubricant is leaking from them.
  • Regularly clean the air filter and the air filter housing.
  • Check the spark plug for wear and remove any soot on a regular basis.

Top tip: Good cleaning and maintenance will keep your chainsaw in great working order – which helps you to work safely. Dirty air filters and spark plugs can impair performance and accelerate wear. If maintenance of these components is neglected for long, you may find it difficult to start your chainsaw and notice a significant drop in performance. Talk to your dealer if you spot any problems or are overdue a chainsaw service.

Operating instructions for STIHL chainsaws

Download the operating instructions for your STIHL chainsaw here at your convenience.

Summary: chainsaw maintenance

  • Your chainsaw needs regular maintenance. You should clean and check it after every use, and take care of longer term maintenance at the recommended intervals.
  • You will find a detailed overview of all necessary maintenance measures and intervals in the operating instructions.
  • We recommend you ask your STIHL dealer to perform certain maintenance and servicing tasks. You can find more information about these in the operating instructions.
  • Your dealer can answer any questions about chainsaw maintenance for your model, and will be happy to carry it out for you if you wish.
  • Did you know that the advantageous 2+1 warranty applies to all STIHL tools for private use that have been inspected by a dealer before the end of the second year after purchase? Ask your dealer about this service..
  • Another aspect of chainsaw maintenance to remember is proper storage.