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4 signs it’s time to replace chainsaw bar

A chainsaw bar has to handle a lot of heat and friction due to the chain spinning around it. Eventually, there comes the point when the bar of your chainsaw gets worn out, and it stops working properly. But the bars are made with tough materials, and it can be difficult to know when it is time to replace a chainsaw bar. It can be hard to distinguish a worn-out bar from a good one at a glance. So what telltale signs indicate that it is time to replace your chainsaw bar?

Common signs that indicate it is time to replace the chainsaw bar are:

  1. Damaged or Bent bar
  2. Chain wiggles side to side on the bar
  3. The edges of blades are tilted at an angle
  4. A jammed or damaged bar nose sprocket

A chainsaw bar showing the above-mentioned issues means that your chainsaw will need a new bar. But to be certain whether these signs indicate a worn-out bar or not, you will have to take a closer look at your chainsaw bar. That is why in this article, we will explain how you check for the signs of a worn-out chainsaw bar.

Sign 1: Damaged or Bent bar

This is the most obvious sign of a worn-out bar and is also the first step in finding out whether you need a new one. Now to do a proper visual inspection of your chainsaw bar, you will have to take the bar out and remove the chain swell.

A damaged bar cannot only reduce the efficiency and cutting power of your chainsaw, but it can also be dangerous to use. A bar can get damaged for various reasons, including a loose chain or lack of lubrication. If the bar is missing a chunk or there is a broken rail edge, then it is an obvious sign that you will have to replace the bar immediately. You can find Chainsaw bars here.

But other than this obvious sign, here are some types of damages you need to look for in a chainsaw bar after removing the bar from the chainsaw:

Cracks in the rails of the bar:

Look along the rails of your chainsaw bar for any cuts or cracks. Pay close attention to the middle of the bar when looking for cracks. If you notice any cracks in the chainsaw bar, it is time to get a new bar, period. You can find Chainsaw bars here.

Apart from cracks, if the bar has some pointy edges, file them down so that they don’t cause the chain to get caught in them while the chainsaw is running.  

Bent bar:

A bent bar is something even experienced chainsaw users can face occasionally. Although chainsaw bars are solid and don’t bend easily, there is always a chance that a bar might get bent under certain circumstances or heavy load. To be certain whether your chainsaw bar is bent or not, you can perform this simple test:

  • Check the chain: With the bar removed from the chainsaw and the chain took off, hold the chainsaw at your eye level and look straight along the groves of the bar.
  • Bends: Look for any bends on both sides of the bar.

Any minor bends in the chainsaw bar can be easily fixed by hitting the bent area with a rubber mallet. But if the bar has been bent too much, the only solution is to replace the bar altogether. You can find Chainsaw bars here.

Pinched grooves/Rails:

A pinched area on the chainsaw bar means that the rails in this area will be narrower than the rest of the bar. A pinch in the rails will cause excess friction with the chain because there is simply insufficient room to move freely between the rails at this pinched spot.

A pinch in the rails can cause the bar to heat up excessively, or the chain may get stuck. Luckily a pinch is easily repairable, and you can use a screwdriver with a flat head to open it up so that it matches the normal thickness of the bar rails. 

Sign 2: Chain wiggles from side to side on the bar

We are not talking about a loose chain here because a chain is loose when the chain hangs at the bottom and doesn’t sit tightly against the bar. We are looking for the left-to-right movement of the chain even when the chain is properly tightened.

If your chain is wiggling between the grooves of the bar, you will find it difficult to get a clean cut because the chain cannot stay in the same place to provide a straight cut. There is a simple test you can do to confirm if the chain is wiggling on the bar or not, and here is how to perform the test:

  • Check the chain: Before starting the test, ensure the chain is not worn or loose because a worn-out chain can also cause itself to move left and right between the grooves.
  • Apply tension to the chain so it sits snuggly between the bar grooves.
  • Try to move the chain from left to right to see if the wiggle of the chain is noticeable or not.

If the chain is moving left and right a lot, then it is a clear sign that the bar grooves have widened significantly compared to their normal gap. If you try to use a bar with widened grooves, you cannot cut properly, no matter how sharp or new the chain is.

Some shops offer the service to fix the gap between the grooves of the chainsaw, but it is always best to replace the bar if the chain is wiggling excessively on the bar. You can find Chainsaw bars here.

Sign 3: Edges of blades are tilted at an angle

Another telltale sign of worn-out grooves on a chainsaw bar is when the blades of the chain are not pointing straight up but are tilted at an angle. This is also a sign that the grooves on the bars are either worn on one or both sides, and the chain tilts, causing the blades to tilt.

If you want to confirm whether the chain is tilting or not, you can find that out with this simple method:

  • Ruler: Grab a ruler or any straight item.
  • Flat surface: Place the chainsaw on a flat surface before you begin the test.
  • Side of the bar: Take the ruler or any straight item you have picked and place it on the bar’s side.
  • Check the bar: Press the ruler against the bar and the side of the chain and notice whether there is a gap between the ruler and the surface of the bar or not.

If you notice a gap between the ruler and the bar when it is pressed against the side of the chain, then it is an indicator that the groves on the bar are not worn, the chain isn’t tilting to the side, and so isn’t the blade.

But if the ruler lays flat against the side of the bar when pressed against the side of the chain, it indicates too much space between the bar rails and the chain, and the blades are tilting to one side. You can perform this test at multiple locations on the bar and on both sides.

If the chain is tilting at an angle, the blades will be cutting at an angle, which means irregular cuts or no cutting power if the blades are tilting too much. If that is the case, your best bet is to replace the bar and buy a new one. You can find Chainsaw bars here.

Sign 4: A jammed or damaged bar nose sprocket

A nose sprocket is a gear located at the front of the chainsaw bar, allowing the chain to move in a fixed place between its teeth. The nose sprocket of the bar gets oil from the bar oil reservoir located near the motor of your chainsaw.

If there isn’t proper lubrication being provided to the nose sprocket, it can get seized due to increased friction and cause the chain to break. Or another scenario might be that a person is cutting a tree, and the tree’s weight caused the bar to pinch at the edge jamming the sprocket.

And finally, the nose sprocket might break a tooth or two, which means the chainsaw will not be able to run at all. If your chainsaw bar has a replaceable nose sprocket, you can easily swap it for a new one and get on with cutting, but if you own a chainsaw without a replaceable nose sprocket, you will have to get a new bar.

The best way to avoid a jammed sprocket is to keep the oil reservoir filled and periodically grease the nose sprocket to prolong its life and prevent it from jamming.     

How to replace a chainsaw bar?

Once you have identified that you need to replace the bar on your chainsaw, the next step is the replace the bar itself. Luckily, the bar replacement process is similar to most chainsaws and can be done easily.

If you are looking for a general idea of how often you should replace a chainsaw bar, a rule of thumb is to replace the bar of your chainsaw once you have gone through three chains on the same bar.

But before you can start the bar replacement process, make sure that your replacement bar is the same length as the one, you are replacing it with.

And if the chain is worn out, you should also replace the chain as well. You can find Chainsaw chains here. Once you are sure that you have the correct size replacement bar for your chainsaw, you can follow these steps to replace the bar (you can find Chainsaw bars here):

Step 1:

Safety first, before starting, wear a pair of heavy-duty working gloves and ensure that the bar is facing you before you start the bar replacement process. Also, make sure that the kill switch is turned off, and if you have a gas-powered chainsaw, the spark plug wire is disconnected.

Step 2:

If you have the chain cover on the bar of your chainsaw remove it, and then you will have to undo the 2 nuts to remove the sprocket/clutch cover. Most clutch cover nuts can be removed with a 13mm socket, but the size of the socket required can differ depending on the size or type of chainsaw.

Step 3:

With the nuts removed, you can remove the clutch cover and put it aside. Now you are ready to start removing the bar.

Step 4:

Before removing the bar, you have to push the bar backward to reduce the tension on the chain and remove the now loose chain and bar completely by sliding the bar off the adjustment posts.

Step 5:

With the bar removed, you can clean the area around the sprocket and inside of the sprocket cover as well.

Step 6:

Slide the new bar onto the adjustment posts and then reinstall the chain on the bar. Ensure the chain is properly adjusted on the bar nose sprocket and the main driving sprocket. When installing the chain, the sharp end of the blades of the chain should be pointing forward towards the front of the bar.

Finally, ensure the chain is properly adjusted into the rails or grooves of the bar.

Step 7:

Pull the bar forward to create tension in the chain, and after that, you will have to tighten the chain to proper tightness; there are two ways you can do it. But before tightening the chain, install the cover and put the nuts on the adjustment posts without tightening the nuts.

Some chainsaws will have a chain adjustment screw located between the adjustment posts, and to tighten the chain, you will have to tighten the screw until it is not hanging too low at the bottom of the bar.

While for some chainsaws, you will have to adjust the chain’s tightness with the help of an adjustment screw at the front of the sprocket cover. Once you have adjusted the chain tightness, make sure to tighten the nuts of the sprocket cover properly to secure the sprocket cover in place.


When adjusting the chain’s tightness, ensure you don’t overtighten it, as it will cause the bar to wear out quickly. A good rule of thumb is to tighten a chain until the chain drivers are not coming out of the rails when you pull them down at the bottom of the bar.

And make sure that the nuts of the sprocket cover are loose when you are tightening the chain.

After installing a new bar on your chainsaw, ensure the bar oil reservoir is full of lubricating the new bar properly. But since it takes some time for the lubricant from the reservoir to circulate to the bar’s front sprocket, it is a good idea to lubricate the front sprocket after installing a brand new bar chain.

There is a small oil hole near the nose sprocket of the bar, and you can pour some bar oil into this hole to lubricate it. And for good measures, get some bar oil on a piece of cloth and apply the oil to the chain.

After ensuring everything is nice and snug, reconnect the sparkplug wire if you had taken it off before starting the bar replacement process, and your chainsaw is ready to be used again. You can find Chainsaw oil here.


If your chainsaw is not performing as it should despite its sharp and tight chain, it is a good idea to look for these 4 signs of a worn-out bar. While physical damage to the bar can be visible, the signs of wear are not easy to detect, so chainsaw operators can’t spot a worn-out bar in time.

But with the help of the techniques we have explained in this article, you can easily identify and confirm the symptoms of a worn bar and save yourself the worry. Also, keep the bar clean and periodically remove any debris stuck between the groves to make the bar last a long time.

Identifying the Right Time to Replace a Chainsaw Bar

Chainsaw bars are essential to your chainsaw and play a critical role in ensuring its effectiveness and efficiency. However, even the most durable and well-maintained bars will eventually wear out and necessitate replacement.

Knowing when to replace chainsaw bars can prevent unnecessary wear on other components, enhance performance, and boost safety.

• Signs of Wear and Damage

– Uneven Cutting Patterns

Keep a close eye on the quality of your cuts. If your chainsaw consistently leaves uneven or wavy cuts, it might be time to replace the bar. Uneven cutting patterns could indicate that the bar has become warped or bent, impairing its ability to guide the chain efficiently.

– Excessive Chain Vibrations

Chainsaw chains are engineered to fit snugly around the bar, eliminating excessive vibration. When a bar becomes worn, this tight fit may no longer be present, causing excessive chain vibrations while cutting. These vibrations can make it difficult to control the chainsaw, posing a potential safety hazard.

They can also cause your chain to move off the bar or become damaged, requiring more frequent replacement.

– Visible Flat Spots or Uneven Wear

Inspect your chainsaw bar regularly for any signs of flat spots or uneven wear. These might manifest as visibly worn-down areas on either side of the bar or noticeably thinner sections. Uneven wear is typically a result of extreme heat stemming from a lack of lubrication or excessive chain tension.

Replacing the bar before it becomes too severely worn can prevent chain damage, improve cutting performance, and enhance safety.

– Increased Difficulty When Cutting

Difficulty cutting through even small branches or logs could indicate a worn or damaged chainsaw bar. When a bar is functioning properly, cutting should be a breeze. Increased cutting resistance may require significantly more force and time, leading to user fatigue, frustration, and potential safety issues.

• Factors to Consider When Replacing Chainsaw Bar

– Type of Use

Chainsaw bar life expectancy will vary depending on the type and frequency of use. Heavy commercial use will naturally produce more wear and tear on the bar, necessitating more frequent replacement.

Conversely, occasional or light residential use may allow the bar to last several years.

– Maintenance and Care

Good maintenance practices will help prolong the life of your chainsaw bar. Ensuring that the chain is properly tensioned and lubricated will minimize excessive heat and friction, which can lead to uneven wear, warping, or bending.

Checking and adjusting the bar alignment, cleaning the bar groove regularly, and regularly inspecting for signs of wear or damage can also extend the life of your chainsaw bar.

– Performance Requirements

Your specific chainsaw performance requirements will influence the lifespan of your chainsaw bar. If you require optimal cutting efficiency and smooth operation, you may need to replace the chainsaw bar more frequently than if you only use the chainsaw for occasional, less labor-intensive tasks.

• Recommendations for Chainsaw Bar Replacement

Based on my experience, I would recommend replacing a chainsaw bar if you observe any of the following conditions:

  • The bar is visibly warped, bent, or has flat spots or uneven wear.
  • Excessive chain vibrations or chains frequently slip off the bar.
  • Uneven or wavy cutting patterns or increased difficulty when cutting.

Taking care of your chainsaw bar and replacing it when necessary will significantly improve your chainsaw’s performance, efficiency, and safety. By closely monitoring for signs of wear, damage, or decreased performance, you can ensure that your chainsaw remains in optimal working condition, ready for any cutting task.

For further information on chainsaw maintenance and care, consult reputable sources such as research institutes, educational websites, and government agencies. The USDA Forest Service provides valuable chainsaw use and maintenance resources as part of its comprehensive guidance on tools and equipment use in forestry operations.