What Kind Of Oil For Chainsaw Should I Be Using?

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Are you a beginner chainsaw user looking to find exactly what kind of oil should be used in chainsaws? If so, then you are certainly in the right place.

The oil for chainsaw that you should be using is either 2-stroke oil or vegetable oil. You can also use motor oil as a substitute in your chainsaw, but only for lubrication and only for a short span of time. When you are choosing the chainsaw engine oil, you will have to know if your chainsaw has got a two-cycle or four-cycle engine. Moreover, remember to add the oil in the right oil-gas mixture ratio.

In this guide, you will get to know all about chainsaw oil, why is chainsaw oil important, what kind oil for chainsaw should you be using, common issues if chainsaw oil goes bad, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Why is chainsaw oil important for your chainsaw?

Maintaining and operating your chainsaw isn’t as handy as it may seem to be. There are numerous aspects that you need to keep checking, and they’ll require special care and attention. Using a high-quality oil that is most suited for your chainsaw is yet another task that you need to be careful about. For that, you have to know what type of oil is most suitable for your chainsaw. Choosing the right type of oil for your chainsaw is almost the same as knowing if your children prefer eating meat or veggies.

In some cases, someone could be allergic to meat or veggies, then of course you need to know what should be given to whom. The same applies to your chainsaw, some types of oils will be superb, others should only be used in case of emergency, while others should never be used in a chainsaw.

The right kind of oil in a gas-powered chainsaw keeps the engine’s parts moving smoothly. In case your chainsaw doesn’t have the oil, you can end up destroying the engine. If there is no oil in the cylinder and piston, it’ll heat up so badly that it could score the cylinder and piston and you will ruin the chainsaw. The damage may not be immediate, and some customers have seen the damage occurring as much as 6 months after they forgot to put oil in their chainsaws.

What kind of oil for chainsaw?

When you are shopping for chainsaw engine oil, you might notice that some chainsaw oil brands cost more than others. While most oil options are basically the same, you must go for a name that you can trust. If you see a tempting deal on engine oil that is less expensive compared to a famous branded oil, it could easily be a lower-quality product.

If it’s an off-brand product, you won’t know where it is made and the manufacturer may not back their product. When choosing the chainsaw engine oil, you will want to know if you’re using a four-cycle or two-cycle engine.

Oil for a four-cycle engine

When you’ve got a four-cycle engine, you will have to put oil and gas into separate reservoirs. Four-stroke oil will go into four-cycle engines. This type of oil contains special additives and base oils that support the stages of the four-stroke engine. 

Oil for a two-cycle engine

For a two-cycle engine, you need to mix gas and oil together in a pre-determined ratio. Old chainsaws that were manufactured before 2003 require a 32:1 ratio. Meanwhile, chainsaws that were manufactured after 2002 require a 40:1 or 50:1 ratio. You must check the two-cycle engine housing if you want to see if it has specified the appropriate ratio. 

Here is what can go wrong in case you haven’t got the right gas-to-oil ratio –

  • Not adding enough oil to the gas mixture could result in not enough lubrication in the engine. The chainsaw won’t run properly, and you’ll end up damaging the engine.
  • Having too much oil in the gas mixture could result in a smoky exhaust, oil leaking out from the muffler, or loss of power. This causes the chainsaw to shut down.
  • If it is an emergency, and you don’t know the proper gas-to-oil ratio, you will be better off mixing too much oil than not mixing enough oil.

What kind of oil is perfect for beginner chainsaw users?

2-stroke oil is good for beginners and can be used for chainsaw oil as a viable option. However, not all 2-stroke oil products can be used for chainsaws, as some of these options aren’t suitable for the engine of the chainsaw. Hence, it could end up damaging the engine, and you might need to pay large for even a small mistake.

A ladder, chainsaw gas and oils laid on grass

You will want to know what 2-stroke oils can be used in chainsaws. It depends on the type of engine your chainsaw has got. You must also check if your chainsaw engine is air-cooled or water-cooled. As most chainsaw engines are air-cooled, you will be able to use the 2-stroke oil that is suited for air-cooled engines.

For that, you need to read all the specifications of the chainsaw so that you’re able to decide what best suits your chainsaw. The other thing that you must keep in mind is that a high-quality oil option would be much better than a cheap option with low-quality. Oil is important for a chainsaw as it will be like food to the chainsaw. If it isn’t of good quality, then it can easily damage your chainsaw, especially the chainsaw’s engine.

What to use for chainsaw bar oil?

Like other mechanical machines, the chainsaw bar will also require oil for lubrication purposes. A chainsaw is used mainly for splitting wood and for other cutting purposes too. In all these processes, the chainsaw will be dealing with huge friction.

For minimizing friction and saving the chainsaw from damage, you need to lubricate all the parts of the chainsaw that have to be lubricated. The chainsaw chain and chainsaw bar will be the main areas that have to be lubricated properly.

Now, you will be wondering what oil option can you use for the chainsaw bar. The best option for lubrication purposes in the chainsaw bar would be vegetable or canola oil. Vegetable-based oils are made using Triglycerides and are much more suited for lubrication purposes compared to petroleum-based oils. However, you should not use used oils for lubrication. Fresh oil should always be the preferred option.

Can you use motor oil for your chainsaw?

Yes, you can use motor oil as a viable substitute for lubrication purposes, but it is not a suitable option. Moreover, you can only use it as an alternative for a short time. Remember that you should never use motor oil for the engine of a chainsaw.

Testing the Cheapest Bar and Chain Oil for Chainsaws

For a chainsaw engine, you will need to use the oil options recommended by the manufacturer. Remember to read the user manual for exploring your chainsaw and its composition. Based on the properties of your chainsaw, you need to find the best oil option for it.

Remember to use the perfect combination mixture of oil and gas. Knowing the right ratio of oil-gas mixture for the engine will be equally important as knowing what type of oil you should be using. Therefore, you must consider both things and make the oil choices accordingly.

Vegetable oil for chainsaw

Using vegetable oil for the chainsaw bar would be a smart option, as vegetable oils will be thinner and lighter in viscosity. For the engine of your chainsaw, you must only use the oil recommended by the manufacturer with the perfect mix ratio of oil and gas.

What oil to use for electric chainsaws?

You should only use the type of oil recommended by the chainsaw manufacturer in your electric chainsaws. Even for a chainsaw bar, there isn’t a better alternative, as the vegetable and motor oil will be harmful to an electric chainsaw. These oils can end up damaging the chainsaw and its engine. Remember that you shouldn’t try to look for alternatives to your electric chainsaw.

Common issues if the chainsaw issues go bad

Chainsaw engine oil can sometimes go bad. Two-cycle oil would be good for up to 5 years when sealed. Most manufacturers list the oil’s shelf life on the container. Once it is opened, the oil will likely have a shelf life of two years. When you are opening a container, you should record the date on the container so that you’re able to throw out the oil if it isn’t used within 2 years. Exposing the oil to drastic temperature changes and moisture could make it go bad. Here is what can potentially happen if you are using bad oil in a chainsaw –

  • Deterioration of engine parts, including the gasket, carburetor, and fuel line 
  • Operation and performance issues including power loss
  • Overheating, stalling, and shutting down 
  • Vapor lock and issues with restarting 


Can you use 10W30 oil for your chainsaw?

Yes, 10W30 oil can be used for the chainsaw bar oil, but it isn’t an ideal option. When this type of oil heats up, it becomes thicker and when it is cold, it becomes thinner. You might face issues as the chainsaw might drop, and it’ll be difficult to tackle it. This disturbance happens as the oil isn’t ideal for the bar.

What happens if you don’t put oil in the chainsaw?

Without proper lubrication, the speed at which the chainsaw chain moves over the chainsaw bar could cause serious friction. A slowed-down chain and excessive fuel burning will mean that there is a lot of friction between the bar and chain. This will result in a lot of heat being produced, which can do major damage to the chainsaw.

How often should you be putting the oil in the chainsaw?

Gas-powered chainsaws use around one tank of bar and chain oil for each tank of fuel, so you must fill the reservoir each time you fill the tank.

Would it be possible to over-lubricate the chain?

Over-lubricating the chainsaw chain is possible, and it is bad for the machine’s chain. Excess lube will attract dirt and dust while creating gross buildup inside the chainsaw.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.