Getting your chainsaw ready for a new season

Ongoing chainsaw maintenance is key to preserve its exceptional performance. Here’s everything you need to know about proper storage and maintenance of your chainsaw courtesy the experts at STIHL Australia.

Chainsaw maintenance

Cleaning and storing your power tools doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow these simple steps for proper storage and maintenance of your chainsaw so that it’s in top shape and ready for action every time you need it.


There are maintenance measures you need to perform every time you use your chainsaw; primarily, cleaning to remove resin and other residues that can impair performance. Make STIHL’s Varioclean a part of your maintenance routine when cleaning your chainsaw. Other maintenance measures need to be performed at different intervals. For more details, check your operating manual. 

To service your chainsaw, clean it and check it all over for leaks, damage or other problems. If you find any, take it to your local STIHL dealer. Sharpen your saw chain, top-up chain lubricant and tension it correctly. On a petrol chainsaw, change the spark plug and clean or replace the air filter.

To service your chainsaw you need:

  • A cloth or brush for basic cleaning
  • A screwdriver and possibly a socket wrench to disassemble your chainsaw. The right chain file and file gauge to sharpen your chain
  • Any parts you will be replacing, such as spark plugs, filters, guide bar etc.

Maintenance measures each time you use your chainsaw

Before using your chainsaw, check that 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? 

  • 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.

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.

Good cleaning and maintenance will keep your chainsaw in great working order. It will also help 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.

TOP TIP: 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. Remove all traces of resin from the bar and housing at the earliest possible opportunity. Your chainsaw is subjected to a great deal of stress during use, so you need to perform the right maintenance to preserve its exceptional performance.

Electric chainsaw maintenance

Electric chainsaws, such as the MSE 141 C or MSE 170 C-B, 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 Superclean Resin Solvent).
  • Clean the sprocket area with a damp cloth or STIHL Superclean 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.


When you have finished using your petrol-powered chainsaw, there are some steps you can take to make sure it will still be in the best possible condition.

Regular petrol contains many additives that can evaporate, react, and attract water. Storing regular petrol inside a machine can cause blockages and gumming to the intricate fuel delivery parts. So, the most important thing to remember is whether you’re storing your STIHL chainsaw.

Nobody likes wasting fuel so be mindful of when you are planning to store the tools. Don’t fill the tank right up if you only have a couple of small jobs, as you might not need to use it again for a couple of months. Try to make the most of the fuel you have left so the machine can be put away with an empty fuel tank.

Drain the fuel system: To avoid oil leaking from your STIHL chainsaw while it’s in storage, it’s a good idea to drain the fuel from the tank into a suitable fuel container. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area. Then, clean the tank and run the carburettor at idle until the chainsaw stops by itself, so the carburettor diaphragms don’t stick together while in storage.

Disassemble and clean the chainsaw: Remove the saw chain and guide bar. Clean them and spray them with protective oil. Thoroughly clean the whole chainsaw, especially the cylinder ribs and air filter.

Top up the chain lubricant: If you use a vegetable-based chain oil, you should fill the chain lubricant tank to the top to prevent the oil from gumming while in storage; semi-synthetic oils such as STIHL SynthPlus chain oil do not gum, and can remain in the tank without having to be topped up.

Store the chainsaw somewhere dry: Your chainsaw should be stored in a dry place that is well-ventilated and protected against the harsh Australian elements. As long as the fuel tank is empty, you can store your chainsaw vertically, or even hanging up, otherwise there is a risk of your chainsaw leaking while in storage.

Keep the stored chainsaw out of direct sunlight and dust: The Australian sun can be stronger than other continents around the world because during summer the Earth’s orbit brings Australia closer to the sun, resulting in an additional 7 per cent solar UV intensity. Coupled with our clearer atmospheric conditions, this means that the Australian landscape is exposed to up to 15 per cent more UV than across the world. Store your tools in such a way that it is not directly exposed to sunlight, otherwise there may be UV degradation of the body.

Make sure that you pack your chainsaw away so that it cannot accumulate dust: STIHL offers special carry bags and cases to protect your tool while it is in storage, such as the Chainsaw Carry Case.

Store the chainsaw safely: Always store your chainsaw safely out of reach of people who shouldn’t be using it, including children. It should ideally be in a lockable room or cupboard, or high out of reach.

Disposing of fuels and lubricants: Appropriate facilities must be used when disposing of chainsaw fuels and lubricants. You will often find these at recycling centres. Check your local council to see where these are near you.

TOP TIP: Run the carburettor at idle so the diaphragms in the carburettor do not stick together while in storage.

If there is ever something you are unsure of, all STIHL Dealers are trained and qualified to provide the best possible advice and guidance on how to use all tools in the STIHL range. So, if you’re ever in doubt or have any questions, be sure to contact them first.