Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar: Causes, Solutions and Tips

Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar: Causes, Solutions and Tips

As an avid chainsaw user, I know how frustrating it can be when your Stihl chainsaw suddenly stops oiling the bar. Without proper lubrication, the bar and chain quickly overheat and wear out. In this post, I’ll share the common reasons why a Stihl chainsaw may stop oiling the bar and provide solutions to diagnose and fix the issue. Proper maintenance is key to prevent oil flow problems, so I’ll also give tips to keep your Stihl chainsaw’s oiling system in top shape.

When my Stihl chainsaw stopped oiling the bar mid-cut the other day, I knew something was wrong. After some tinkering and research, I got it working again. But the incident emphasized the importance of understanding what causes oil flow issues in chainsaws and how to address them. I hope this post will help fellow Stihl users troubleshoot and maintain their saws to avoid frustration next time they need to fell a tree or cut firewood. Let’s dive in!

Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar: Why Does This Happen?

Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar: Causes, Solutions and Tips

There are a few common culprits for a Stihl chainsaw not oiling the bar properly:

Clogged Oil Hole

Sawdust and debris can clog the small oil hole that allows bar oil to flow onto the bar and chain. As I use my Stihl saw for heavy-duty cutting, sawdust tends to accumulate in the oiler hole. If not cleaned regularly, it can obstruct oil flow.

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Using a wire or needle to poke the oiler hole clear is an easy first step to try. I also recommend using compressed air to blow out any stubborn gunk clogging the oil hole. Preventive cleaning of the oiler hole is essential for smooth oil flow.

Empty Oil Tank

It may sound obvious, but a surprising number of chainsaw oil flow issues simply stem from an empty oil tank. I’m guilty of forgetting to top up the bar oil a few times, only to scratch my head later at the dry chain and bar.

Always check the oil tank level before operation. I’ve started keeping a bottle of bar oil handy to refill whenever needed. Look out for the minimum fill lines inside the tank to ensure sufficient lubrication. A quick inspection can avoid headaches down the track.

Faulty Oil Pump

The small oil pump responsible for delivering bar oil can malfunction over time. Internal gears may strip or the pump mechanism can seize up from sawdust buildup. This will disable oil flow even if the tank is full.

Disassembling the oil pump is required to diagnose issues. Replacement pumps are available for most Stihl models if needed. Installing a new high-quality pump is much cheaper than a new chainsaw.

Damaged or Dirty Guide Bar

The guide bar has an internal channel that distributes oil along its length. If this channel gets obstructed by debris, bent from impact, or worn from friction, oil cannot properly reach the chain.

Thoroughly cleaning the guide bar and replacing if bent or worn is important for oil flow. I also recommend flipping the bar periodically to evenly distribute wear. Lubricating the bar tip sprocket maintains smooth oil transfer to the chain.

How to Diagnose a Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar

If your Stihl chainsaw stops oiling mid-cut, don’t despair. Here are two ways to test and pinpoint the cause:

Running the Saw Without the Bar and Chain

An easy first test is removing the bar and chain altogether and running the saw briefly. Be sure to follow safety precautions – the exposed clutch is dangerous.

Activate the throttle and watch closely for oil discharge. If a steady stream of oil comes out, the issue is likely a blocked bar channel or malfunctioning chain. No oil indicates a problem with the oiling system itself.

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This quick test helped me isolate the issue to the pump. I then inspected the oil lines and pump components to locate the underlying problem. Starting the diagnosis here saved heaps of time.

Inspecting the Oil Line and Filter

The oil line that runs from the tank to the bar can get cracked or disconnect at joints. Grime and particles in the oil can also get caught in the tiny filter, restricting flow.

Cleaning and replacing oil lines and filters requires disassembly but is straightforward on most Stihl models. Keep spare parts on hand for quick oil line repairs. Pay close attention when reassembling to avoid leaks.

Fixing a Stihl Chainsaw Not Oiling Bar

Once the root cause is identified, get your Stihl chainsaw oiling like new again with these fixes:

Cleaning the Oil Hole and Outlet Port

As discussed earlier, a simple clog in the oiler hole or outlet port is often the culprit. Poking the holes clear with wire and blasting with compressed air usually does the trick.

Deep cleaning with carburetor cleaner and pipe cleaners removes stubborn gunk buildup. Be sure to flush all dissolved debris fully before reassembling. A clean oil delivery path is key for optimal lubrication.

Replacing the Oil Pump

If the oil pump is faulty, swapping in a replacement restores smooth oil flow. Installation is straightforward – just transfer over the intake and output oil lines. Most pumps are identical between Stihl models.

Choose a quality aftermarket pump over cheap knockoffs for reliability. Priming the new pump helps start oil flowing immediately after install. Make sure to seal all housing surfaces to prevent air leaks.

Maintaining the Guide Bar and Chain

A damaged guide bar or tight chain can impede oil distribution. Dress any burrs on the guide bar rails with a file. Replace the bar if excessively worn or bent.

Clean the bar groove and sprocket nose thoroughly to remove packed sawdust. Lubricate with quality bar and chain oil. Finally, ensure the chain tension is not excessive – you should be able to pull the chain around by hand.

Preventive Maintenance for Stihl Chainsaws

Like any power tool, preventive maintenance keeps your Stihl chainsaw running smoothly for years. Make these tasks part of your regular chainsaw upkeep regimen:

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Regular Cleaning

Getting into the habit of cleaning my chainsaw thoroughly after each use has significantly reduced oil flow problems.

I pay special attention to the oil tank cap, bar groove, sprocket nose, chain tensioner holes, and the exterior housing around the oiler hole. A soft brush and compressed air dislodge debris so it doesn’t compact and clog components.

Checking and Replacing Parts

While cleaning, I inspect parts that commonly wear over time. Oil lines, filters, bar rails, drive sprockets, and clutch drums are replaced proactively to avoid any failure during cutting.

The oil pump is a key component I periodically service by cleaning and replacing the gear. This prevents the gradual pump degradation that eventually causes oil flow problems. A few minutes of preventive maintenance saves hours of breakdown repairs down the road.


It can be incredibly frustrating when your Stihl chainsaw suddenly stops oiling the bar and chain in the middle of a job. By understanding what causes oil flow problems and learning diagnostic steps, you can quickly get back up and running.

More importantly, taking preventive maintenance measures like regular cleaning, inspection, and part replacement will minimize oil system issues in the first place. Give your Stihl chainsaw some TLC, and it will deliver reliable, lubricated performance cut after cut.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my Stihl chainsaw?

Clean the exterior and inspect key components after each use. Perform a thorough deep clean including disassembly about every 5-10 operating hours.

What type of oil should I use for my Stihl chainsaw?

Use a quality bar and chain oil designed for chainsaw lubrication. Stihl branded oil comes recommended, but you can use another reputable brand.

How can I tell if my Stihl chainsaw’s oil pump is working properly?

Remove the bar and chain and run the saw. The pump should dispense a steady stream of oil. No flow indicates pump issues.

How often should I replace the oil filter in my Stihl chainsaw?

Inspect the filter each time you clean the saw. Replace yearly or sooner if fouled with debris or showing signs of cracking.

Can I use a different brand of oil in my Stihl chainsaw?

Yes, you can use any high-quality bar and chain oil meeting ISO viscosity and anti-fling additive standards. Follow mix ratios recommended by the oil manufacturer.

What are the signs of a damaged guide bar?

Look for bent rails, excessive wear of the bar groove, chips/cracks near the sprocket nose, and damage around the oil inlet hole. Replace the bar if any issues are found.

How often should I replace the chain on my Stihl chainsaw?

Inspect the chain for stretching, damaged drive links, and excessively worn cutting teeth periodically. Replace chains once reaching 0.5mm of stretch or sooner if damaged.

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