Why Does The Chain Keep Coming Off My Chainsaw

why does my chain keep coming off my chainsaw

Do you ever get frustrated when your chainsaw chain keeps coming off while you’re on the job? This is a frustrating and common problem for many people who use chainsaws. So have you found yourself wondering why this keeps happening? Well, I am going to walk you through the process of how the chain gets on and off of the saw, what can cause it to come loose or fall off, and what you can do about it.

Chainsaws are important for many homeowners because they can cut through any type of wood with ease and safety. So when a chainsaw is not working properly, it can be frustrating to use and dangerous to operate. The following information will help you fix many issues that may arise with your chainsaw blade so that you can continue cutting wood without interruption or worry.

There are a few reasons why the chainsaw chain keeps coming off. Let’s talk about them and how you can prevent chainsaw chain from falling in the future:

chainsaw chain keeps coming off

Your chainsaw chain could be too loose.

You need to tighten up your chainsaw chain accordingly and this is very simple. You only have to open the cover that protects the gear and there you can find the screw for adjusting the tension of the chain. In some models, this screw can be found on the left side of the chain bar or in between the chain bar and the engine. Turn clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen the chain. Also, we have a dedicated blog “How to Tighten Chainsaw Chain” so you’ll learn the tricks for achieving the right chain tension. 

chainsaw chain keeps coming off

Lack of chainsaw bar oil.

The bar oil could have evaporated or you’re not supplying your machine with enough oil regularly. And because you are always running a chainsaw without bar oil, this has caused the bar to shrink or wear out. Make a habit to check your chainsaw bar oil because the lack of oil can easily dull the teeth of the chain and can result in damages to the chain bar.

chainsaw chain keeps coming off

 Worn out chainsaw chain.

You may need a new chainsaw chain when it shows signs of poor cutting performance, smoke comes out from the wood when cutting, and when the chain produces uneven cuts. In these scenarios, the chain may jump off from the chain bar which can be risky for the operator. 

The chain bar has worn out.

Eventually, all chainsaw chains will wear out as you use them. Also, the lack of bar oil which supplies oil to the chain will lead to quick wearing out of the bar guide. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how much bar oil a chainsaw should use so the best way to keep your chainsaw bar always well-oiled is to regularly check the oil level and add if needed. Once the chain bar has worn out, there’s no way to go but to replace it or the chainsaw chain will keep coming off. 

Worn-out sprockets.

The teeth of the sprocket are what drive the chainsaw chain to rotate. However, because of friction and long-time use, sprockets can also lose their hold on the chain and can make the chain jump especially during rapid rotation. Once the sprockets’ teeth get thinner, better replace this with a new one.

What Happens If You Run Chainsaw Without Bar Oil?

All machines need oil to lubricate their metal parts and make them work smoothly without getting damaged. But even though the chainsaw bar is not part of the engine, it still needs to be sustained with oil because the chain needs to be lubricated to prevent burning out the sprocket, the chainsaw bar and the chain itself. So here are the other things that can happen if you will be running a chainsaw without bar oil.

chainsaw chain keeps coming off


Kickbacks happen during cutting when the tip of your saw touches a tough timber or metal or any hard object that the chain cannot cut. As the chain spins, the energy produced at the tip of the chain bar is lower than the energy that is along the bar. So when the tip of the bar gets in contact with a hard object, the chain tends to push back and the chain bar throws itself backward or upward or unfortunately towards the direction of the operator. 

So if you are not an expert in chainsawing avoid using the tip of your chainsaw bar when cutting because using this part requires expertise and strength to allow the chain to cut through. But  how does the lack or the absence of oil produce kickbacks?Tighten Chain On Chainsaw

When there is a lack of lubrication on the chain, the chain becomes dry and can become hot because of friction. And when there is friction, there will be the potential for more kickbacks.  Fortunately, all chainsaws are equipped with chain breaks. This feature is located right at the top of the engine so that if kickbacks happen and the blade goes towards you, your holding arm will automatically engage the chain brake and stop the blade from running. If you don’t know how much bar oil should a chainsaw use to avoid running a chainsaw without bar oil, read further below.

Breaking of the Chain

Chainsaw Not Cutting Straight

Running a chainsaw without bar oil can also cause chain beaks because, without lubrication, the links of the chain can quickly wear out which can lead to the thinning and breaking of the links. At this point, the chain can become a hazard to the chainsaw operator. The use of bar oil is to help the chain spin freely while it protects the metal from friction.

chainsaw chain keeps coming off

Most of our chainsaws today are also equipped with the “chain catch”. But this is just a piece of metal that is mounted in front of the clutch and is supposed to absorb the energy of a broken chain. On the other hand, most chainsaw accidents happen due to chain breakage even with the presence of chain catch so it’s still necessary that the chain and the bar are always well supplied with oil. 

Another great concern when the chain breaks is teeth breakage which can lead to the flying of the blades or teeth in different directions.

Tighten Chain On Chainsaw

Dulling of the Chain

The bar oil helps the chainsaw blade to stay sharp while protecting the blade by reducing friction. So needless to say, the less the bar oil, the more opportunity for the blade to get dull due to friction. Bar Oil can reduce the potential for heat while it can improve efficiency by reducing the chance of wear-and-tear to the blades. So if the chainsaw chain keeps coming off and the blades are becoming dull too quickly, always check the oil if it’s being distributed evenly onto the bar.   

chainsaw chain keeps coming off

Quick Wearing of the Bar and Chain

A worn and stretched chain can also be caused by running a chainsaw without bar oil. Not only does it increase the friction between your chain and the bar, but also causes more wear and tear on both of them. So without proper lubrication to keep the chain from running smoothly, you are not only damaging the chain and the bar but also the sprocket that drives the chain.

Put Strain on the Engine

As the chain gets strained because  you are running a chainsaw without bar oil, this also puts a strain on the engine. What happens is some kind of a chain reaction that begins with the lack of lubrication on one part and affecting the other parts. So how does this happen? When the engine works hard because the chain has already worn out or got dull, this makes the engine overheat. And because chainsaws are two-strokes and air-cooled but can’t handle too much heat, they may bog down with damaged crankshafts or motor.   

Can Develop Heat Transfer

Some people call it the “heat soak” which means when there is so much heat that comes from the bar and the chain, this heat also transfers to the body of the chainsaw and can overheat the sprocket that drives the chain while it can also melt the plastic cover where the sprocket is housed. The engine can also become vulnerable to overheating because as we have said, chainsaws are two-strokes and are prone to overheating even though they are air-cooled.chainsaw file sizes

What is the Best Chainsaw Bar Oil Substitute

Now that you know that running a chainsaw without bar oil is very risky both for you and your machine, what if you run out of oil for your chainsaw? Do  you know of the cheapest but easily available chainsaw bar oil substitute that could be safe for your chainsaw to use? You have to remember that oils for chainsaw bars should be sticky because once the chain spins at high speed, it can evaporate oil that is not sticky or viscous.  

To give you tips, here is a list of possible oil alternatives:

Motor Oil

Lawn Mower Oil Type

If you have a vehicle, you most probably have motor oil. Motor oils are heat resistant and sticky. The only problem with them is they are not environment-friendly. So as the chain spins fast, most of the oil droplets may fly off from the chain and land on other trees. So motor oil can still be a good chainsaw bar oil substitute but should be the last on the list if you have other better alternatives. 

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is something that most homes have and can also be a good chainsaw bar oil substitute as well as safe for the environment. Very cheap and if some of it gets into your working clothes, you can easily get rid of it through washing. People prefer this oil when cutting live trees as it can prevent injury to other trees. It is also high in viscosity which means it’s very sticky it won’t evaporate easily. The only precautions you must be wary about using vegetable oil is during winter because it can become too sticky when exposed to very low temperatures.

Canola Oil

This is another edible oil that comes from rapeseed and can provide the same good protection as vegetable oil. Environmentally friendly, safe for pruning trees, inexpensive and easily available, it also performs better than vegetable oil during cold weather. The only issue with this oil is it tends to fly off from the blade easily because it is quite low in viscosity.

Hydraulic Fluid

When it comes to petroleum-based oil that is akin to motor oil, hydraulic fluid can also be used as an alternative. So if you have machinery that uses this fluid and you’re in the middle of a logging field, this fluid would do. Yet, this is also not friendly to the environment and can quickly dry up so you have to use a lot of it during logging.

How Much Bar Oil Should a Chainsaw Use?

Just another word of precaution when using alternatives to bar oil – chainsaws can consume oil almost as fast as the fuel. So if you’re resupplying fuel, make sure you also add up to the oil even if you’re using chainsaw bar oil. So to answer the question of how much bar oil should a chainsaw use, the answer is the same amount as the fuel. So now that you are forewarned make sure you don’t damage your cutting tool because you only get concerned with resupplying fuel while not with bar oil. 

Best 20 Inch Chainsaw

Chain Brake is Engaged or Is Stuck

The chain brake is designed as a safety mechanism to stop the chain from rotating once triggered. So if the chain brake was left engaged because you forgot to disengage it, this will cause the chainsaw chain not moving at all.

Problem with the Clutch

The clutch job is to engage the chain through the crankshaft so the chain can rotate. Even when the blade is not rotating, the clutch can also engage the engine and the blade can only move once you engage the clutch to the sprocket. This will force the chain to rotate. However, when the springs of the clutch or the clutch itself get damaged, the clutch may not engage the sprocket and the chain won’t rotate. In this case, replace the clutch once and for all.  

Too Much Tension with Chain

If the unit’s blade is too tightly tensioned, this will prevent the sprocket from rotating as the chain will be pulling the sprocket towards the chainsaw bar. So forcing the blade to spin with too much tension can either damage the clutch or other parts of the chainsaw.

Tighten Chain On Chainsaw

Damaged Guide rails on the Guide Bar

The rails on the guide bar help the blade to rotate smoothly along the edge of the bar. However, when the rails get damaged or pinched due to the dropping of a chainsaw or running a chainsaw without bar oil, the rotation of the chain may get abrupt or will stop and rotate.

Tighten Chain On Chainsaw


Now that you have learned why the chainsaw chain keeps coming off and when this happens, you should check again the causes right on this article to have an idea on what to do. Don’t forget that chainsaw bar oil is as essential as fuel because without it, you’ll be like burning your chain which can later damage some parts of your chainsaw. 

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