Most people that own a RYOBI chainsaw aren’t using them every day. So when you do need to use your saw, it’s disappointing when it just won’t start. This may be the result of it sitting around with old fuel, but it could be the result of something else.

A RYOBI chainsaw won’t start due to an incorrect choke setting, old fuel, plugged fuel filter, dirty carburetor, clogged fuel line, plugged air filter, bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, bad primer bulb, or the engine is flooded.

Keep reading for more items that can cause your RYOBI starting problems. Take safety precautions when performing repairs including removing the spark plug wire.


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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing, or operating.Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Reasons a Ryobi Chainsaw Won’t Start

Wrong Choke Setting or Incorrect Starting Procedure on a Ryobi Chainsaw

You will find a choke lever on a Ryobi chainsaw. This lever must be placed in the full choke position in order to start a cold engine. So, if you are attempting to start a cold engine without the choke, this may be your problem.

A cold engine requires a higher concentration of gas to air than a warm engine does to form a combustion to start. When starting an engine that is already warm, the choke must be in the run position with the choke off.

Start a Ryobi Chainsaw with a cold engine:

  • Press the primer bulb about 10 times to introduce gas to the carburetor.
  • Place the choke lever in the full choke position.
  • Pull the starter rope until you hear the engine is about to turn over. Don’t continue to pull more than this or you may flood the engine.
  • After you hear the engine about to start, place the choke in the run position.
  • Pull the starter rope again until the engine starts.
  • Allow the saw to run for 15-30 seconds so the engine continues to warm.
  • To return the saw to idle by depressing the throttle trigger release while squeezing the throttle trigger and releasing it.

Old or Bad Fuel in a RYOBI Chainsaw

Old gas is often a culprit to a chainsaw not starting especially when the saw has been sitting for a long period of time. Gas begins to break down as soon as 30 days after purchase.

Ethanol, found in most gas today, attracts moisture. This water and ethanol mixture will leave behind varnish and sticky deposits over time that restricts fuel flow so the chainsaw won’t start.

It’s important to use gas within 30 days. If you are unable to consume it this quickly, add a fuel additive to stabilize the gas so it lasts a little longer.

Avoid gas with high levels of ethanol content like those sold as E15 and E85 as these have up to 15% and 85% ethanol content respectively. Read more about the gas to use in your type of chainsaw here.

When you are having starting problems and you find the fuel is old, empty the tank and fill it with fresh

Wrong Fuel in a 2-Cycle RYOBI Chainsaw

You don’t want to get the type of fuel you use in your RYOBI chainsaw wrong.

NEVER run straight gas through a RYOBI chainsaw. It runs very dry and can cause the engine to seize due to the lack of lubrication. A mistake like this could result in having to replace your chainsaw with a new one.

Current gas-powered RYOBI chainsaws require a gas and oil mixture at a ratio of 50:1. It requires 50 parts unleaded gas to be mixed with 1 part premium 2-cycle engine oil.

A Ryobi chainsaw has a single fill port for a gas and oil mix. Mix unleaded gasoline that has an octane rating of 87 or higher with premium 2-cycle engine oil that is ISO-L-EGD and JASO M345 FD certified.

Note: 2-cycle engine oil is different from automotive engine oil. DO NOT USE standard automotive engine oil.

Ethanol-free fuel

Because ethanol in fuel negatively affects your RYOBI chainsaw’s performance, using an ethanol-free fuel is best, but more costly.

While it is more costly, it is a convenient option to have sitting on the shelf so you don’t have to run out to the fuel station. You don’t have to spend time measuring and mixing fuel as well.

A product like Tru-Fuel 50:1 premixed fuel is a good option you can find at your local hardware store or online.

Plugged Air Filter on a RYOBI Chainsaw

The air filter is essential on a RYOBI chainsaw. This is because it keeps sawdust and dirt from entering the carburetor choke causing potential engine wear and damage.

It’s important to ensure the air filter is in good condition. When it isn’t cleaned or replaced regularly, it can become so plugged that sufficient air isn’t able to pass through it causing the chainsaw to run sluggishly or fail to start.

It’s good practice for the average homeowner to replace the air filter each year and clean it several times throughout the season. If you use your chainsaw a lot, you’ll have to clean and replace the filter more often.

Take time to inspect your air filter to prevent overheating the engine and causing damage. I know, this is one more step but takes less than a minute to check the condition of the filter.

If the filter is extremely dirty or damaged, it must be replaced. NEVER run a chainsaw without an air filter.

I have listed the cleaning procedures for most RYOBI chainsaw air filters below. If you are unsure of the type of filter you are using and its cleaning instructions, refer to the operator’s manual.

Clean a RYOBI chainsaw FLEECE air filter:

  • Close the choke to keep dirt from falling into the carburetor choke when cleaning the air filter housing and removing the filter.
  • Remove the air filter cover.
  • Clean around the air filter to remove any dirt and sawdust.
  • Remove the air filter.
  • Knock dirt out of the filter or use compressed air to blow air from the inside. DO NOT use a brush.
  • If the filter is very dirty, wash it in a mild dish detergent and water solution, and rinse from the inside outward until the water runs clear.
  • Allow the filter to completely air dry. DO NOT use heat on the filter as this can damage it. DO NOT apply oil to the filter.
  • Reinstall the clean filter.
  • Purchase and install a new air filter if the old filter is extremely dirty or damaged
  • Reattach the cover.

Bad Spark Plug in a RYOBI Chainsaw

The spark plug provides the spark required to start and keep a RYOBI chainsaw running. The spark plug is a wear item that should be changed annually for the casual user.

Regularly check the spark plug and clean it with a wire brush in between replacements. A dirty spark plug can cause the spark plug to misfire causing running issues.

Replace a spark plug if it is very dark in color, has a burnt electrode, or broke porcelain.

Make sure the spark plug is gapped to the manufacturer’s specification and the spark plug wire is securely attached. These things can also cause starting problems.

Faulty Ignition Coil on a RYOBI Chainsaw

If the spark plug is in good condition, but you still aren’t getting spark, check the ignition coil. The winding on the ignition coil can separate and short out.

When this happens, the spark plug won’t get the voltage required to create a spark. This will cause your chainsaw problems.

Identify a bad ignition coil using an ohmmeter to check for a break in continuity. Replace the RYOBI ignition coil if you find a break.

Plugged Fuel Filter in a RYOBI Chainsaw

You will find the fuel filter on a RYOBI chainsaw located inside the fuel tank. The filter is a little cylinder-shaped part attached to the fuel line.

The filter’s function is to strain the fuel before it enters the fuel line keeping out any dirt or debris. The filter can become plugged when it isn’t changed out regularly.

A plugged fuel filter will not allow enough fuel to flow through it. Your RYOBI may not start when sufficient fuel isn’t able to get to the carburetor.

I recommend replacing the fuel filter if you are a homeowner that uses the saw for emergency situations or occasionally. If you’re using the saw regularly to cut wood, you will have to replace it more frequently.

Replace a chainsaw fuel filter:

  • Wipe around the fuel cap to keep any dirt from falling into the fuel tank when removing the fuel cap.
  • Remove the fuel cap (allow the chainsaw to cool down first if you have been using it).
  • Use a clean bent wire to hook the fuel line and pull the fuel filter out of the tank.
  • Hold the fuel line securely while pulling the filter out of the fuel line. Don’t let go of the fuel line.
  • Install a new RYOBI fuel filter by inserting the male end into the fuel line making sure it is secured to the fuel line.
  • Place the filter in the fuel tank and reinstall the fuel cap.

Bad Primer Bulb on a RYOBI Chainsaw

A cracked primer bulb that won’t fill up with fuel won’t function correctly to get fuel to the carburetor. Replace with a new primer bulb.

Clogged or Punctured Fuel Line on a RYOBI Chainsaw

A fuel restriction can be created when the fuel line becomes clogged. This can prevent the RYOBI from starting. Remove the clogged fuel line and use carburetor cleaner to help loosen the clog.

Spray compressed air through the line to remove it. If you are unable to remove the clog or you find the fuel line is dry, cracked, or punctured, it’s time to replace it with a new fuel line.

Dirty Carburetor on a RYOBI Chainsaw

The carburetor regulates the amount of fuel that is mixed with air to create a combustion in the cylinder. Old fuel will gum up and clog the carburetor so it no longer functions as designed. This can keep your chainsaw from starting.

If you are a little mechanical you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor. Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carburetor cleaner to clean it.

If the carburetor does not function after being cleaned, you may need to rebuild it or replace it with a new carburetor.

Bad Recoil Starter on a RYOBI Chainsaw

A RYOBI chainsaw uses a recoil to start the engine. A bad pulley; loose or missing spring; or broken clips can keep your recoil from working.

You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged, such as the clips or the pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.

Plugged Spark Arrestor on a RYOBI Chainsaw

The spark arrestor is a small screen in the muffler that can get plugged with soot. A plugged spark arrestor will prevent airflow causing a chainsaw not to start.

Remove the spark arrestor and clean it with a wire brush. Replace the mesh spark arrestor screen when you are not able to clean it sufficient or if it is damaged.

Never run a RYOBI chainsaw without this screen or with a screen that has a hole in it. Without a screen, hot material can come out of the saw potentially starting a fire or causing burns.

Flooded Engine on a RYOBI Chainsaw

The engine can become flooded when the choke is in the closed position and the starter rope was pulled many times.

It can also happen with the switch off and the starter rope pulled multiple times or when the primer bulb is pushed too many times.

How to Fix a Flooded Engine on a RYOBI Chainsaw

Here are a couple of options to try when starting a flooded chainsaw:

Start a Flooded RYOBI Chainsaw Option 1:

  • Place the switch in the stop/off position.
  • Remove the spark plug and clean it
  • Pull the starter rope 6 to 8 times.
  • Reinstall the clean dry spark plug.
  • Turn the switch to the start/on position.
  • Start the chainsaw with the choke off and in the open/run position.

Start a Flooded RYOBI Chainsaw Option 2:

  • Turn the switch on and make sure the choke is off and in the open/run position.
  • Press the throttle trigger while pulling the starter rope over and over. This can take anywhere between 5 and 15 pulls before it starts. Your chainsaw engine will sputter first. Continue to pull 2 to 3 more times and it should start.

Ryobi Chainsaw Starting Problems & Solutions (Quick Reference Chart)

Bad Switch or Wrong Choke SettingEnsure the choke is on to restrict airflow when starting a cold engine. Remove the choke once the engine has warmed so it continues to run.
Replace a bad switch or bad ground wire.
Old FuelReplace fuel that is older than 30 days with fresh fuel. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel.
Incorrect FuelDrain the fuel. Use a 50:1 gas and oil mixture in chainsaws with 2-cycle engines.
Plugged Air FilterRemove a plugged air filter and clean it. Replace the filter with a new one if it is very dirty, wet, or damaged.
Bad Spark PlugReplace a bad spark plug. Make sure the electrode gap is correct and the spark plug wire is securely in place.
Faulty Ignition CoilReplace a bad ignition coil.
Plugged Fuel FilterRemove the old filter from the fuel tank and install a new fuel filter.
Weak Primer BulbReplace a cracked primer bulb.
Clogged, Dry, or Cracked Fuel LineRemove a clogged fuel line and remove the restriction. Replace a fuel line if the clog can’t be removed or the line is dry or cracked.
Dirty CarburetorRemove and clean the carburetor. Rebuild any damaged parts or install a new carburetor assembly.
Bad Recoil StarterReplace the spring and restring the recoil starter. Replace the recoil starter when it is damaged.
Plugged Spark ArrestorRemove the spark arrestor from the muffler. Clean it using a wire brush and reinstall it. Replace a damaged spark arrestor.
Flooded ChainsawFix this by using one of the methods above to remove excess fuel and start the chainsaw.
Chainsaw Starting Problems & Solutions

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