Skip to Content

A RYOBI Chainsaw Chain Won’t Move, Rotate or Spin: FIXED

You press the throttle lever and find the chain won’t move smoothly around the bar. First, never touch the bar and chain while the engine is still running. Next, troubleshoot the items below to find and fix your problem.

A RYOBI chainsaw chain won’t move, rotate 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 heavy work gloves for safety and follow all safety precautions listed in the operator’s manual.

ECHO chainsaw chain won't move

This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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 RYOBI Chain Won’t Turn, Move or Rotate

Chain Brake Activated

The chain brake is a safety feature installed on your RYOBI chainsaw to protect the operator in the event the saw kicks up and back at him or her.

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.

Lack of Bar and Chain Oil

You have a tank on the saw for bar and chain oil. This is to keep the bar and chain lubricated so the chain continues to move around the bar without restriction.

When there isn’t proper lubrication, there will be a buildup of friction and heat. The chain will begin to move slowly or maybe not move 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.

Make sure the bar and chain are well lubricated with a good oil designed for this application like this oil from Oregon or this oil from Husqvarna. 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 RYOBI 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

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 adjusted too tight, it will not rotate around the bar.

Adjust the RYOBI 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. You don’t want it to be so loose that it hangs from the guide bar.

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 RYOBI chainsaw will need to be replaced.

Reasons a Chain Moves at Idle Speed on a RYOBI Chainsaw

Carburetor Needs Adjustment

A RYOBI 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. Then continue 1/4 turn further.

Worn Clutch Springs

On a RYOBI 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 spring retracts the clutch 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.