Where is the Serial Number on a Stihl Chainsaw? A Guide

Where is the Serial Number on a Stihl Chainsaw? A Guide

Knowing the serial number of your Stihl chainsaw is important for several reasons. It allows you to register the saw for warranty purposes, order replacement parts, and determine the saw’s production year. In this guide, I’ll walk through everything you need to know about locating and understanding the serial number on a Stihl chainsaw.

First, I’ll cover where to find the serial number stamped on the saw body. Next, I’ll explain how to decode the serial number to glean key information about the saw. After that, we’ll look at how Stihl model numbers work and what the letters in the model number signify.

I’ll also provide an overview of the evolution of Stihl chainsaws over the years, with a list of models by year of production. Then I’ll discuss the benefits of registering your saw and how to do it using the serial number. When it comes time to order replacement parts, you’ll learn why accurate serial and model data is crucial.

Finally, I’ll offer maintenance tips to keep your saw running smoothly, along with troubleshooting advice for common issues. Let’s get started uncovering the essential details about the serial number on your Stihl chainsaw.

Where is the Serial Number on a Stihl Chainsaw?

where is the serial number on a stihl chainsaw

Finding the serial number on a Stihl chainsaw is pretty straightforward. It will be stamped or engraved on the body of the saw, specifically:

  • On the top side of the saw body, to the right of the muffler
  • Stamped on a flat metal surface on the motor housing or crankcase
  • Located along the top edge of the crankcase, just to the right of the muffler

In most cases, you shouldn’t have to look hard to spot the serial number on a Stihl chainsaw. It will be clearly imprinted on the body, often with the letters “SN” preceding the number.

Decoding the Serial Number

Once you locate the serial number, you can glean helpful details by decoding what each part of it signifies. Here is how to understand the information encoded in the serial number:

  • The first digit or digits indicate the country of manufacture. For example, “1” means it was made in Germany.
  • The next set of digits represent the production year. This two or four digit number identifies when the saw was manufactured.
  • The remaining digits make up the saw’s unique serial number. No two saws will have the same serial number.

So a serial number starting with “1123” would indicate the saw was produced in Germany in 2012. The remaining digits would be the unique serial number for that particular chainsaw.

Stihl Chainsaw Model Numbers

In addition to the serial number, Stihl chainsaws are identified by a model number stamped on the body. This allows you to determine the specific chainsaw model.

How to Identify Stihl Chainsaw Model Numbers

To find the model number on a Stihl chainsaw, look for numbers stamped on the crankcase or motor housing. Model numbers will start with “MS”, “MSA”, or “MSE” followed by additional numbers and letters.

For example, “MS 290” or “MSE 170”. This clearly identifies the saw model. The model number is located right next to the serial number on the body of the saw.

Understanding Stihl Chainsaw Model Number Letters

The letters at the end of a Stihl chainsaw model number also convey information about the saw. Here is what the various letters indicate:

  • C = Comfort model with low vibration
  • CD = C model with decompression valve
  • D = Decompression valve model
  • E = Electric chainsaw
  • F = High power output model
  • G = Grass cutting saw
  • I = Intensely powerful model
  • Q = Quickstop chain brake
  • W = Designed for water use

So an “MS 290 C” would be a comfort model chainsaw with reduced vibration. Referring to the model number letters helps identify the saw capabilities and features.

Stihl Chainsaw Production History

Stihl has been producing chainsaws since the 1920s, constantly evolving their design and introducing new models. Let’s take a quick look at the development of their iconic chainsaws over the decades.

Evolution of Stihl Chainsaws

Stihl produced their first chainsaw in 1926. It was a large two-person saw powered by an external engine. In 1929, they introduced their first single-operator saw, the Tree Felling Machine. Chainsaws continued improving in portability and power throughout the 1930s.

The first one-man chainsaw with an integrated motor was developed in 1937. Stihl revolutionized chainsaw design in 1950 with the release of the Contra model. It featured an automatic chain oiler and was lighter and more powerful than earlier models.

Electric chainsaws were introduced in 1954. Then in 1959 Stihl released their first one-handed chainsaw, a major milestone in portability and ease of operation. The Stihl 041 Farm Boss released in 1984 is one of their most popular saws ever. Stihl continues to innovate new chainsaw models today.

Stihl Chainsaw Models by Year

Here is a partial list of Stihl chainsaw models over the years, ordered by date of production:

  • 1926 – Two-man gasoline chainsaw
  • 1929 – Tree Felling Machine
  • 1930 – Types A and B one-man chainsaws
  • 1937 – First chainsaw with integrated engine
  • 1950 – Contra AV model revolutionizes chainsaw design
  • 1954 – Electra AV first electric model
  • 1959 – Lightning model first one-handed saw
  • 1961 – 08-S model debuts
  • 1971 – 041 Farm Boss model released
  • 1984 – Improved 041AV Farm Boss
  • 1997 – MS 200T top handle model
  • 2009 – MSA 120 C-B compact battery saw
  • 2012 – MSA 300 C-Q powerful battery chainsaw

Registering Your Stihl Chainsaw

Registering your Stihl chainsaw when you first get it is highly recommended. Here’s why it’s important and how to do it.

Importance of Registering Your Chainsaw

Registering activates the manufacturer’s warranty on your Stihl chainsaw. It also makes it easier to obtain replacement parts and customer support down the road. Your registration is tied to the saw’s unique serial number.

How to Register Your Stihl Chainsaw

You can easily register your new Stihl chainsaw online on the Stihl website. Simply enter the serial number and model number along with your contact information. This takes just a few minutes to complete.

You can also register by mailing in the warranty card or taking it to your local authorized Stihl dealer. The serial number allows Stihl to link that specific saw to your customer profile. Then you’ll be all set for warranty coverage and parts ordering.

Ordering Replacement Parts

When it comes time to order replacement parts for your Stihl chainsaw, having accurate serial and model numbers is extremely important. Here’s how they help with parts ordering:

Using Serial and Model Numbers for Ordering Parts

The serial number contains key details about your saw’s year of production and country of origin. This ensures you get parts that are correctly matched to your particular model.

The model number identifies the specific chainsaw design. With this information, you can be certain any replacement parts you order will be compatible with your saw.

Tips for Ordering Genuine Stihl Replacement Parts

Only use genuine OEM parts from Stihl to keep your chainsaw operating safely and effectively. Aftermarket parts may not fit right or perform properly. Check the Stihl website or visit a local authorized dealer to order the exact parts made for your saw.

Providing the serial and model numbers will guarantee you get the right Stihl replacement parts every time. Investing in quality parts helps maximize the working life of your saw.

Maintaining Your Stihl Chainsaw

Proper maintenance is essential to keep your Stihl chainsaw operating smoothly for years to come. Here are some key maintenance tips:

Regular Maintenance Tips

  • Keep the chain sharp and properly tensioned
  • Check/replace the spark plug and air filter periodically
  • Inspect clutch drum for wear
  • Clean the saw body, chain brake, and guide bar
  • Check the sprocket for damage
  • Apply lubricating oil to the bar and chain
  • Drain old gas and use fuel stabilizer at end of season

Following the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual will help identify issues early and prevent costly repairs down the road. Pay special attention to the points above for peak performance.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you notice problems with your Stihl chainsaw, there are ways to troubleshoot the likely culprits:

  • Lack of power – Test spark plug, air filter, fuel mix
  • Hard to start – Check for fouled spark plug, old fuel
  • Bar oil leakage – Examine oil lines for damage, clogs
  • Saw stalls out – Fuel line/filter may be blocked
  • Excessive vibration – Chain may need sharpening
  • Overheating – Clean exterior, test for exhaust blockages

Using the serial number to find correct replacement parts can get your saw functioning properly again. Diagnosing issues quickly leads to easier repairs.


As you can see, being aware of the serial number location and meaning on your Stihl chainsaw provides many benefits. It enables quick product registration, streamlines ordering replacement parts, and allows you to reference key details about your saw.

I hope this guide has helped demystify the crucial role of serial numbers for Stihl chainsaws. Keep your saw’s serial number and model number handy for maintenance and part replacements down the road. With proper care, your Stihl chainsaw will deliver outstanding performance and last for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine the production year of my Stihl chainsaw?

The production year is encoded in your chainsaw’s serial number. The first two or four digits of the serial number indicate the year it was manufactured. For example, “1123xxxxxx” would signify your saw was made in 2012.

What do the letters at the end of the model numbers on Stihl chainsaws mean?

The letters indicate special features or capabilities of that model. For example, “C” means it’s a comfort model that produces less vibration. “Q” indicates a quickstop chain brake. So “MS 290 CQ” would be a comfort model with a chain brake.

How do I register my Stihl chainsaw for warranty purposes?

You can easily register your Stihl chainsaw online at the Stihl website. Just enter your contact details along with the saw’s serial number and model number. This activates the warranty tied to your specific saw.

Can I order replacement parts for my Stihl chainsaw using the serial number?

Yes, the serial number contains key data about your saw’s manufacturing origin, production year, and design attributes. This allows you to order parts that are guaranteed to fit your particular Stihl chainsaw model.

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