Chainsaw Not Oiling the Chain and Bar? Here’re 5 EASY Fixes!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your chainsaw isn’t oiling the chain & bar?

I guess you have! (otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this article 🤓)

chainsaw not oiling - featured image

So, what causes a chainsaw not to oil the chain and bar?

If your chainsaw isn’t oiling the chain and bar, then it might be due to an empty oil tank, a faulty oil pump, or clogged-up oiler holes. However, a dirty or damaged guide bar could also prevent your chainsaw from oiling.

Btw, I’m Sam and I’ve been using chainsaws for more than two decades. In this article, I’m going to share – 👇

  • how chainsaw lubrication work & why it’s so important,
  • how can you identify the root cause of your saw’s oiling issues, and
  • how can you check if your chainsaw is lubricating or not (at the end!)

Are you READY? Let’s get started…

⚠️CAUTION: Don’t run your chainsaw if you think it’s NOT oiling! It could cause serious damage to your saw (especially the bar & chain).

How Does a Chainsaw Oiler Work?

Before heading to the main section, I think you should have a BASIC understanding of what the chainsaw oiler does.

Tbh, there’s nothing FANCY or technical about the chainsaw oiler. It’s just a simple pump that keeps the bar & chain lubricated and running smoothly!

The oil pump furiously pumps oil from the tank and drives it through the oiler holes of your bar. 

Then, the oiler holes direct this oil onto the moving chain. As the chain moves around, it distributes the oil and prevents overheating.

Simple isn’t it?

✍️ Note: There are some chainsaw models with manual oilers (like mini chainsaws). This means that you have to stop and give the oil a few pumps from time to time manually.

Why is it So Important to Keep the Chain and Bar Lubricated?

Here’s the thing: 👇

The chain and bar on a chainsaw are made from steel. That’s why they tend to get really HOT (due to friction) when used for a long period of time.

The oiling system ensures that the chain and bar are lubricated at all times and don’t get overheated.


They’d have got FRIED! 🔥

Signs that Your Chainsaw isn't Oiling

  1. Your chain gets loose quickly: Yup! When the chain doesn’t get enough oil, it heats up and tends to get stretched & “loose” faster. 
  2. Your saw keeps smoking: Lack of lubrication causes your chain and bar to overheat, and that’s why you may see smoke coming out of your chainsaw.
chainsaw smoking
  1. Your chain keeps getting stuck: If your saw isn’t oiling, it can cause your saw to get pinched or stuck in the bar quite often.
  2. Your bar has “burned” marks: If you see bluish burned marks (also referred to as “heat marks”) along the edge of your bar, it’s an indication that your saw isn’t oiling.
bar turned blue due to overheating

You may also notice sings like – 

  • excessive vibration,
  • unusual noises, etc.

Chainsaw Oiler Not Working - Troubleshooting and How to Fix it

1. Check Your Chainsaw's Oil Reservoir

It may sound OBVIOUS, but the first thing you should do when your chainsaw isn’t oiling is to check the oil reservoir or oil tank (whatever you like to call it).

If the oil tank is empty, the chain and bar won’t get lubricated at all!

So, check if your chainsaw’s oil tank is EMPTY or not.

  1. Remove the cap of your chainsaw oil tank & inspect the quantity of oil.
  2. You should be able to see how much oil is there (or how little).
  3. Use a flashlight or put a stick down in the tank to check if there’s enough oil.
chainsaw oil tank

👉 ATTENTION: Don’t get confused between the “oil tank” and the “fuel tank”. The oil tank is one that’s located near the bar, front handle, and chain brake.

identifying chainsaw oil tank and fuel tank

If your oil tank is empty – refill it with the correct type and quantity of oil. (refer to your chainsaw’s manual to find out what type of oil is best for your specific model)

filling chainsaw oil reservoir

However, If the oil tank is full or has enough JUICE to work with, you’re all GOOD! 👍 (move to the next section)

2. Check the Oiler Holes on Your Guide Bar

Another possible reason why your chainsaw isn’t oiling could be due to blocked or clogged-up oiler holes on your guide bar.

Let me explain.

The oiler holes are small openings located at the bottom part of your guide bar. (Here’s an example: 👇)

chainsaw bar oiler hole

These openings are responsible for maintaining a consistent oil flow to the chain and bar, guaranteeing constant lubrication.

But when these holes get clogged up or blocked (with leftovers of sawdust, dirt, grass, or other debris), the oil can’t flow out at all!

So, if your chainsaw oiler isn’t working (even when the oil tank is full to the brim), check the condition of the oiler holes on your guide bar.

clogged up oiler hole

Don’t FREAK OUT if they’re clogged!

Use a wire brush or compressed air to remove any debris and dirt blocking the holes. (You could even use a pick to remove the smaller chunks of dirt)

3. Check if Your Chainsaw's Oiler is Working

If any of the above didn’t do the job, it’s likely that something is wrong with your chainsaw’s oiler.

Here’s what you need to know: 👇

Your chainsaw’s oiler pump drives oil from the reservoir and pushes it through the oiler holes located on the guide bar. This lubricates the chain as it rotates during operation.

But when something goes BAD with the oiler pump, it can’t push out any oil to the chain and bar.

How can You Check if Your Chainsaw's oiler is Working?

To check if your pump is working or not: 👇

  1. Loosen the clutch cover nuts & remove the clutch cover.
  2. Take off the bar and chain from the saw (ensuring that your saw is switched off, of course!)
  3. Now, throttle your saw up and check if oil is coming out of the oiler holes. (The oil should flow out in a continuous and steady stream!)
checking if chainsaw oil pump working

If no oil is coming out, it’s likely that something is WRONG with your chainsaw’s oiler pump.

In this case, your best bet would be to contact a certified chainsaw technician and get your oiler pump fixed.

⚠️CAUTION: Don’t throttle the saw too high or for too long without the bar & chain on. Because the clutch could come off the saw and fly into PIECES!

4. Check if Your Bar Groove is Filled with Dirt

Cleaning bar groove.

Lastly, check if your bar groove is filled with dirt, sawdust, or any other debris.

But how does dirt in the bar groove impact the saw’s oiling performance?

Well, here’s the thing: 👇

When the chain rotates around the bar, it drives the oil and distributes it evenly along the entire length of the bar.

But when the bar groove becomes congested with dirt or sawdust, it SUCKS up a significant portion of oil, leaving insufficient lubrication for your chain.


How to Clean the Bar Groove?

  1. Remove the clutch cover and take the bar OFF!
  2. Take a scraper, a pocket knife, or a tiny screwdriver (anything that can get into the groove). I mostly use a depth gauge or a tool like this 👇 (don’t know what it’s called).
chainsaw bar groove cleaner
  1. Now, scrape out any dirt or debris that may be stuck in the groove. 
how to clean chainsaw bar
  1. Finally, wipe away any excess oil, and you’re GOOD to go!

👑PRO-TIP: Scrape your bar groove from top to bottom. This will ensure that you don’t hit the bar-tip sprocket accidentally while scraping. 

Now, your chainsaw should oil just FINE! ✌️

However, if your bar is severely damaged, consider replacing it. Check out my guide bar replacing guide!

How to Check if Your Chainsaw is Oiling?

Hopefully, the methods mentioned above helped you identify the root cause of why your chainsaw is not oiling & FIX it!

Now what??

Well, now you need to make sure that your saw’s lubrication system is again back on TRACK and is oiling the chain and bar.

But how do you check that? 🤔

  1. Point the tip of your bar toward a light-colored surface, like dry wood, grey concrete, metal siding, etc. (for this example, I’m using a cardboard). Keep it about 2-3 inches away from the surface.
how to check if chainsaw is oiling
  1. Now, turn your saw ON & let it run for 15-20 seconds. Then, throttle it up as much as you can.
  2. If you see oil droplets on the surface (like the image below), CONGRATS! 🎉 This means your saw is now oiling its bar and chain.
Checking if the Lubrication System is Working

But, if you don’t see any oil droplets, it means there’s still something WRONG with your saw’s oiling system. You need to give it a thorough checkup again!

This one’s my favorite technique for checking whether or not my saw is oiling.

The BEST part?

Even if you don’t get the desired results, this method gives you a good indication of the overall health of your saw’s lubrication system. 💦

GoodBye Words!

Hopefully, now you know why your chainsaw isn’t oiling & how you can FIX it!

If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be more than HAPPY to help you!

Happy sawing 🙂

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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