Starting Your STIHL Chainsaw

If you're new to using a chainsaw, it's understandable to feel a little nervous about starting it. Don't worry, we have you covered! This article will guide you through the process of starting your STIHL chainsaw.


First things first, SAFETY! Always make sure you do the basic chainaw checks before starting your STIHL Chainsaw. Check out the chainsaw checklist below:

  • Wear proper safety equipment, including eye and ear protection, gloves, and protective legwear (chaps or trousers).
  • Make sure the chain is correctly fitted and tensioned.
  • Check the condition of the saw chain and ensure that it is correctly sharpened.
  • Ensure the chain brake is operating correctly.
  • Check the bar and chain oil level and refill if needed.
  • Check the 2-Stroke fuel level and refill if needed.

After completing the necessary safety checks, you can be confident that your chainsaw is in proper working condition and safe to use.




If the chainsaw's engine is cold, starting it will require the use of the choke. However, if the engine is already warm, you can skip this step.

When cold, the correct starting technique is as follows:

  • Depress the throttle lock and throttle, and move the control lever to full choke (i.e. moved to the limit of its travel).
  • Firmly press the primer (if fitted) 2–3 times. It is impossible to over-prime as excess fuel is simply returned to the fuel tank.
  • Place the saw on the ground. With a firm grip (i.e. left hand on top handle and foot through rear handle) pull the starter cord 3–4 times, or until you hear the engine 'fire'. NOTE: Do not pull starter cord more the 3–4 times while on full choke to avoid engine flooding.
  • Once the saw has 'fired', move the choke up to the “half-choke” position and pull over. The saw should now start within 3 or 4 pulls
  • The first touch of the throttle will allow the choke to automatically move to the fully open position and the motor will idle. NOTE: If the engine is warm, it is not necessary to commence the starting procedure on the full choke position. Instead, simply move the choke to the half-choke position.


  • Put on appropriate safety gear, such as eye and ear protection, gloves, and chaps or pants.
  • Place the chainsaw on a flat surface and ensure that the chain is not in contact with anything.
  • Turn on the ignition switch and move the master control lever to the "I" position.
  • Put your left hand on the front handle and your right foot in the rear handle to secure the chainsaw.
  • Pull the starter rope quickly and smoothly until you hear the engine fire.
  • Disengage the choke (if engaged) and pull the starter rope again to start the engine.
  • Once the engine is running, release the chainsaw from its secured position and let it idle for a few moments.
  • Give the throttle a few gentle squeezes to get the engine revving, and you're ready to start cutting!

The exact steps for starting a chainsaw may vary depending on the specific model. It's always recommended to refer to the instruction manual for your chainsaw for the proper starting procedure.



If you're having trouble starting your chainsaw, there could be several reasons why. To ensure that your STIHL chainsaw runs smoothly and efficiently for an extended period, it's crucial to prioritize core maintenance components like the air filter, spark plug, and fuel filter, which can be found in our STIHL Service Kits. While it's possible to replace these parts at home, it's highly recommended that you take your chainsaw to a trained and qualified STIHL technician at your nearest STIHL SHOP.

The experts at STIHL SHOP have the knowledge and experience to properly inspect and service your chainsaw, ensuring that all components are functioning correctly and any underlying issues are addressed before they become more significant problems. This will not only help maximize the benefits of using your chainsaw, but it will also help keep you safe while using it.


STIHL M-TRONIC (M) is an internal feature on selected STIHL Chainsaws that regulates ignition timing and metering while taking into account external factors such as temperature and fuel quality. This allows for optimal performance, constant maximum speed, and excellent acceleration. 

The simplified starting procedure on STIHL M-tronic models allows the machine to automatically cater for hot or cold starts - removing the risk of flooding. A cold start on a Chainsaw with STIHL M-Tronic requires just one start position on the combi-lever. Once started, you can power up to full speed right away.


Internal combustion engines such as STIHL Chainsaws have compression pressure and as a consequence result in 'jerky' stresses. This is what you can feel during the starting process. STIHL Ergostart (E) relieves this jerking movement to make the experience far easier and smoother. 

Ergostart works by tensioning an internal spring against the compression pressure when the starter cord is pulled. The energy stored in the tensioned spring is released onto the Chainsaw's crankshaft automatically to start it moving and thus avoids the jerky movement during starting. As a result, the starter cord is able to be pulled two-thirds slower than conventional Chainsaws.


For more information on your chainsaw model, you can refer to your instruction manual or access it online. STIHL offers electronic versions of product safety and instruction manuals for convenient reference.