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Someone told me that you can use motor oil in your chainsaw instead of bar oil. Is this a good idea? Will it cause problems over time?

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    I had a friend that convinced me to use used motor oil in my Husky saw. it worked great for 2 seasons then I had to replace the oil pump. Now I always buy bar oil. The guy at the saw shop told me gear oil or bar oil was the way to go it extends the bar and chain life (and it wont damage the oiler. – Ed Beal May 5 '16 at 16:00
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    You can buy a gallon of Poulan bar oil at Walmart for $7.97. Why take chances with stuff that isn't made for bar use. Doesn't make sense to me. – user66759 Feb 24 '17 at 12:29

11 Answers 11

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It might be OK for a bit but I probably wouldn't do it. You could look up your owner's manual to see if they say anything. If you must use the chainsaw and have nothing else on hand, surely motor oil is better than nothing. I think bar oil is stickier than regular motor oil to prevent splattering as much.

FWIW I like to buy the "biodegradable" chain oil, since it invariably ends up all over the place.

3

You will spray motor oil everywhere, and you will run out of oil quickly, and then burn up the bar and chain.

That being said, I sometimes use a mix of bar and gear oil or motor oil in winter, when it's so cold outside that the bar oil won't flow quickly enough. On such days, I would only mix about 1 part motor oil with 10 parts bar oil (or 1 part gear oil with 5 parts bar oil). The saw will warm up eventually and the oil will flow faster, so I only do that for the first tank of oil.

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    ...or you can simply buy winter bar oil and summer bar oil. If you can't find both you need a better supplier, or you live so far south there is no winter. – Ecnerwal Apr 26 '17 at 2:55
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you shouldn't run anything but bar oil on a chainsaw bar, but not because of the saw (even though it sticks better to the bar and lubricates the chain better). its the environment and your lungs. engine oils usually have one or two zinc thiophosphate compounds added into them. its not good for you to breathe this in in aerosol form (like grinding galvanized metal), but then again, its not good to breathe it in in after combusting in an older engine that burns oil. the two stroke oil your saw uses in the fuel mix doesn't have this additive

2

I have a Ryobi 40v electric, which isn't a "real" chainsaw (it has a much slower chain speed), but 30w works just fine. I haven't had any splatter or mess, and it's cheap. My chain doesn't seem to be stretching more than expected. I mention it because more and more homeowner types will be moving to the new breed of electrics as they continue to improve.

I figure if it's suitable for engine parts moving at many times the speed and force of a saw chain, it's good enough for a saw chain. Those working in biologically sensitive situations actually use vegetable oil with decent results. The issue is fling. Actual bar oil is in the neighborhood of 140w.

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My concern with used motor oil would be that used motor oil has all kinds of contaminants from the crankcase that would be just terrible for your lungs (oil mist) and the environment. Nasty things like lead from the bearings, chromium, etc. No one in their right mind would want to dissolve that toxic soup into a mist they're going to toss into the air around them.

  • It would also contain fine bits of ground metal. I think the cost of replacing the chainsaw would overwhelm any savings you might get by not just buying some oil. – SDsolar Apr 23 '17 at 1:14
  • Oh good. I love breathing fine bits of ground metal! – Kristofer Apr 25 '17 at 3:10
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I suppose it depends on your definition of OK. Will the saw explode the second you run it? No, but if your unit is under warranty then the manufacture sure will deny any warranty claim if they can determine that the wrong oil was used.

All motor oil is not equal either as it comes in varying viscosities and types. Sticking with "bar oil" will ensure you are using a product designed specifically for this purpose. Likewise you should ensure you mix the appropriate type of oil with your gasoline or just buy the pre-mixed stuff and not worry about it.

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I have never had a problem with running used oil in my saws. I have Stihls and Huskies. Just make sure you filter the used oil to get out any kind of foreign debris.

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I used the 50 w motor oil mixed with bar oil and it has been working better than plain bar oil I mixed it 30percent motor oil and 70 percent bar oil and I haven't had any problems with the pump and it seems to lube the chain better

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I use 5w 30 motor oil in both my Stihl ms 291 and husky 460. Works like a gem. I haven't had to do anything to either saw maintenance wise. Both saws are 2+ years old and used multiple times a week.

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I have a high-end Sears electric chain saw that is about ten years old. The quality of the saw seems unattainable today, and was recommended by a Stihl dealer when I bought it. I have used drain oil from my antique cars, exclusively in the saw, with no ill affects. Tends to be 30wt. or 20W50 and have about 1000 miles on it when drained.

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30wt motor oil is fine thats what bar oil is and i been using it for years on my husky

  • depending on the chain saw motor oil may damage the pump. This did happen to me on a high end saw that took a week to get back from the shop. – Ed Beal Feb 3 '17 at 14:08

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