Can You Use Motor Oil in a Chainsaw? 3 Best Alternatives

If you own a chainsaw—or are considering purchasing one—you may have heard conflicting opinions about what type of lubricants you can use to keep your tool running smoothly. Read on for the definitive answers to your questions about chainsaw oil, such as “Can you use motor oil in a chainsaw?” and more.

Why do I need to oil my chainsaw?

Chainsaw oil performs a number of critical functions in the operation of your saw:

  • It reduces friction between the bar and chain to keep the blade moving cleanly through the material you’re cutting.
  • It keeps your saw from getting clogged with tree sap and other debris and makes the blade easier to clean.
  • It extends the life of the saw’s components, saving you maintenance and replacement costs over time.

Are you looking for a medium-duty chainsaw to use around the house and property? If so, we highly recommend looking at an electric chainsaw. Check out our guide to the best electric chainsaw for insight into the following suggested models:

What kind of oil can I use in my chainsaw? Can you use motor oil in a chainsaw?

Buying a separate kind of oil to use in your chainsaw—especially when you already have basic motor oil on hand—may feel like an inconvenient and unnecessary expense. But in the long run, oil made specifically for lubricating chainsaws is far superior to motor or other types of oil.

Unlike automobile engine oil, chainsaw oil is formulated specifically for the demands of a high-speed power tool. Chainsaw oil contains high-tack components to help the oil stick to the bar and chain while the saw is in operation. If you use motor oil, you’re likely to end up with it on your face, clothes and everywhere except the blade of the saw. Additionally, chainsaw oil contains refined mineral oils that prevent oxidation and corrosion, keeping the saw in tip-top shape through years of use.

So, can you use motor oil in a chainsaw? While it’s true that you can use standard 30-weight motor oil in a pinch, manufacturers don’t recommend using it regularly, and you should never use recycled motor oil on your chainsaw, since it contains tiny bits of metal that can degrade the function of your bar and chain. Because it has already been broken down by the high heat of your car’s engine, it will have an even harder time sticking to the saw than fresh motor oil.

If you run out of chainsaw oil, you can also use vegetable oil as an occasional alternative. Canola and other vegetable-based oils also have the benefit of being more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based chainsaw and motor oils.

What are the best brands of chainsaw oil?

Many chainsaw manufacturers have developed their own brands of oil, which are specifically formulated for optimal performance of the company’s machinery. If you opt to use a different brand, check your user’s manual first to ensure that use of an alternative oil won’t void your warranty.

The following brands are known for their high performance and popularity among users.

  • Oregon 54-026 Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil: This oil is specially compounded to provide maximum tackiness and prevent throw-off, even in severe weather. Its high film-strength minimizes the stress on chain links and bars while protecting metal components from corrosion and rust.
  • Poulan Pro Bar and Chain Oil: Formulated for use in the logging industry, the oil prevents rust and flows freely at low temperatures while resisting throw-off at high temperatures.
  • Husqvarna Premium Bar and Chain Oil: This high-quality blend of base oils and additives enhances the saw’s performance while extending the life of the bar and chain.

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