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Poulan Chainsaw Chain Won’t Move, Turn or Spin: SOLVED!

You press the throttle and notice the chain is moving slowly or not turning at all on the bar. I’ll share how worn parts, wrong adjustments, or insufficient lubrication can affect chain movement.

A Poulan chainsaw chain won’t move, turn, or spin when the chain brake is activated, the chain tension is too tight, the clutch pads are worn, or the bar and chain are not sufficiently lubricated.

Before checking your bar and chain, turn the chainsaw off, remove the spark plug wire and wait for all parts to stop moving. Wear safety gloves and follow all safety precautions listed in the operator’s manual.

Poulan chainsaw

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before 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 Poulan Chainsaw Chain Won’t Move, Turn or Spin

1. Chain Brake Activated

The chain brake is a safety device on a Poulan chainsaw designed to reduce injury in the event of a kickback when the saw kicks up and back at the user.

It is also used as a safety device when transporting the saw.

The chain brake is a plastic hand guard at the front of the handle that stops the chain from moving when it is pushed forward. It also engages in the event of a kickback.

Check the hand guard to make sure it isn’t pushed forward activating the chain brake.

You may have accidentally pushed the guard forward causing the chain to stop. Pull the guard to the rear to disengage the brake.

2. Lack of Bar and Chain Oil

It’s important to keep the bar and chain lubricated. Without proper lubrication, there will be a buildup of friction and heat. The chain will begin to move slowly or not at all.

To check for sufficient oil on the bar, run your chainsaw at about 1/2 – 3/4 throttle while holding it about a foot off the ground.

Look for a line of oil coming off the bar and appearing on the ground after about 30 seconds. This will indicate proper lubrication.

If you aren’t getting good lubrication, make sure the bar is in good condition and the oil channel isn’t blocked. Replace a worn or damaged guide bar and clean out the oil channel if needed.

Make sure the bar and chain are well lubricated with oil like Poulan Bar & Chain Oil. Refill the bar and chain oil every time you fill up with fuel so you don’t run out.

Note: If you are running too thin of oil, you may run out of chain oil before it’s time to refill the fuel tank.

Change Poulan Bar and Chain Oil with the Ambient Temperature

  • Thinner oil for cold temperatures: Oil will thicken and become tackier in cold temperatures.
  • Standard weight for warmer temperatures

3. Chain Tension is Too Tight

The chain should be adjusted regularly as it will become a little longer the more you use it. When the chain is too tight, it will not rotate around the bar.

Adjust the Poulan chain tension so it easily moves around the chainsaw bar:

  • Remove the spark plug wire.
  • Unlock the chain brake.
  • Loosen the bar retaining nuts that hold on the cover over the clutch and chain brake.
  • Hold the nose of the bar up.
  • Turn the tensioning screw counter-clockwise to loosen the chain and clockwise to tighten the chain.
  • Once you achieve the correct tension, tighten the bar retaining nuts while continuing to hold the bar nose up.

You want the chain to sit securely around the bar, but still able to move easily. Don’t let the chain hang from the guide bar.

4. Worn Clutch Pads

The clutch pads can wear with time. When this happens, they won’t engage the clutch drum to turn the chain. The clutch assembly on a Poulan chainsaw will need to be replaced.

Reasons a Chain Moves at Idle Speed on a Poulan Chainsaw

Carburetor Needs Adjustment

An Poulan chain should not move when the chainsaw is idling. If yours does, you need to adjust the saw to stop the chain from moving.

There are adjustment screws on the carburetor that adjust the mixture of fuel to air. One of the adjustments screws, the “T Screw” adjusts the idle speed affecting chain movement.

Adjust idle speed so the chain doesn’t move while idling begins by turning the screw counter-clockwise until the chain stops moving.

Worn Clutch Springs

On a Poulan chainsaw centrifugal clutch, there are springs that retract the clutch weights.

When the engine speeds up, the centrifugal force pushes the weights outward making contact with the drum. The drum spins making the chain move on the bar.

When the engine slows down, the clutch springs retract the weights and the chain is supposed to stop moving. If your chain continues to move, you may have a worn spring that needs to be replaced.