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13 Reasons a Troy-Bilt Chainsaw Starts, Stalls & Dies

When your chainsaw begins to act up and won’t stay running, it gets pretty frustrating especially when you have a job you need to get done. I’ve put together a list of things to help you identify the cause of the problem.

A Troy-Bilt chainsaw starts and then dies when it isn’t getting air, fuel, and spark.

This may be due to a wrong choke setting, plugged air or fuel filter, clogged fuel line, bad fuel tank vent, plugged spark arrestor, dirty carburetor, faulty ignition coil, or plugged cooling system.

Keep reading for additional things that can cause a Troy-Bilt chainsaw to quit. Never perform repairs on a chainsaw without removing the spark plug wire, waiting for the engine and muffler to cool, and waiting for all parts to stop moving.

Troy-Bilt Chainsaw Starts, Stalls and Dies

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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.

Your Troy-Bilt Chainsaw Starts Then Dies & Stops Running

1. Incorrect Choke Setting

In order to start a cold engine on a Troy-Bilt, the choke needs to be on to restrict airflow to the engine. This is so the engine runs rich with more fuel and less air in the cylinder required for a cold engine.

Once the engine warms, the choke lever or choke knob (depending on your model) must be adjusted to the off position so the engine receives sufficient air to keep running. When the choke isn’t properly adjusted, the engine will die.

SOLUTION: Ensure the choke lever is placed in the correct position: FULL CHOKE to start a cold engine and RUN for a warm engine.

2. Plugged Air Filter

The air filter is a maintenance part on your Troy-Bilt chainsaw that must be kept clean and in good condition. Its purpose is to keep dirt and sawdust from entering the carburetor throat and wearing on the engine.

It’s best to replace the air filter annually for the average homeowner and inspect it frequently throughout the year to clean or replace it if necessary.

When filter maintenance is skipped, the filter can become plugged with dirt, sawdust, and debris. The buildup can be significant enough to reduce airflow through the filter. When this happens, the chainsaw will stall and die.

SOLUTION: Inspect the air filter and clean it if it is in good condition and just a little dirty. Replace the filter with a new one when the filter is very dirty or damaged.

How to clean a Troy-Bilt chainsaw air filter:

  • Remove the engine cover.
  • Remove the air filter.
  • Wipe out any dirt from the air filter housing.
  • Brush dirt from the filter or shake it to remove the dirt.
  • If needed, wash it in warm mild detergent and warm water solution. Rinse in cool water until the water runs clear. Allow the filter to completely dry.
  • Reinstall the clean filter. Purchase and install a new air filter if the old filter is extremely dirty, damaged, or unable to seal properly.

3. Plugged Cooling System

Air is used to keep the engine from getting too hot, overheating, and shutting down. To keep the engine cool, clean the cooling system by removing dirt and debris that block the air intake and cooling fins.

SOLUTION: To do this, first, remove the spark plug and wait for the engine to cool. Remove the engine cover and remove debris from the cover and around the outside of the cylinder.

Clean the cylinder cooling fins, the pawls on the flywheel, and other areas air moves through the chainsaw. Reinstall the engine cover. Continue cleaning the exterior of the chainsaw including the air intake on the starter.

4. Plugged Spark Arrestor

As a safety feature to prevent hot exhaust material from shooting out of the chainsaw, you will find a spark arrestor off the muffler on Troy-Bilt chainsaws.

The spark arrestor helps to prevent burns or potential fires from starting from the hot material igniting debris on the ground.

The small spark arrestor screen is subject to carbon buildup that can reduce airflow and cause a Troy-Bilt chainsaw to overheat and die.

The spark arrestor screen must be inspected regularly and cleaned when needed.

SOLUTION: Begin by removing the spark plug wire and allow the muffler to cool. Then remove the spark arrestor screen on the muffler

Clean the screen with a metal brush. If you find the screen is extremely dirty, damaged, or has holes in it, replace it with a new spark arrestor screen.

To minimize carbon building up on the spark arrestor quickly, make sure you periodically run your chainsaw at full throttle. Letting your chainsaw idle or run at low speeds for a long time will contribute to a buildup of carbon.

5. Old Fuel

Fuel can be the biggest culprit when it comes to a chainsaw not running well and dying. Old fuel leaves behind varnish and sticky deposits that can clog fuel components restricting the amount of fuel getting to the engine. This can cause the saw to shut off.

To reduce the negative effects of fuel on your Troy-Bilt, always use fresh fuel with low ethanol content. Make sure the fuel is made up of gasoline and oil mixed at a ratio of 40:1.

Here are a few tips for selecting and caring for fuel:

  • Only use fresh fuel. Fuel can begin to degrade as quickly as 30 days after purchase.
  • Use a 40:1 gas-to-oil mixture in your 2-cycle Troy-Bilt chainsaw.
  • Select gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 and a maximum ethanol content of 10%.
  • Mix in a premium 2-cycle oil that is ISO-L-EGD and JASO M345 FD certified.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer. To prevent gas from breaking down so it lasts a little longer, add a fuel stabilizer like Sea Foam or STA-BIL. These products will reduce moisture and clean the fuel system as well. Some 2-cycle oils include a stabilizer, but you’ll have to determine how long the stabilizer is effective as it can vary from 30 days to 2 years.

Read more about fuel selection and care for Troy-Bilt chainsaws here.

SOLUTION: Empty the fuel tank. Prepare a 40:1 fuel mix using fresh gas and 2-cycle engine oil in a gas can. Add a fuel stabilizer to help clean the fuel system. Sea Foam or STA-BIL offers a good product that works well.

Add this mixture to the fuel tank. Start and run the chainsaw to allow this mixture to run through the fuel system. If you still aren’t getting sufficient fuel to the engine, continue checking the fuel filter, fuel line, carburetor, and fuel tank vent.

6. Plugged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter’s function is to keep dirt from entering the fuel system and damaging the engine. The fuel filter is a small cylinder-shaped part located inside the fuel tank.

You will find it attached to the fuel line. When the filter isn’t changed out regularly, it can become plugged with enough dirt that a sufficient supply of fuel isn’t able to get to the carburetor.

SOLUTION: Inspect the filter and replace it if needed. I like to replace it annually and more often if I begin using it regularly.

Change a Troy-Bilt chainsaw fuel filter:

  • First, wipe around the fuel tank cap so dirt doesn’t fall into the tank.
  • Pay attention to where the filter is located inside the tank so you can place the new filter in the correct place.
  • Pull the filter out of the tank using a clean bent wire or needle nose pliers.
  • Once the filter is out of the tank, grab the fuel line with one hand and pull the filter out of the line with the other hand.
  • Insert a new fuel filter into the line.
  • Place the fuel filter inside the tank.
  • Reinstall the fuel cap.

7. Clogged or Punctured Fuel Line

Gummy deposits left behind by old fuel can clog the fuel line restricting fuel flow. When you find a clogged fuel line, remove it from the chainsaw and clean it to open the line.

SOLUTION: Spray carburetor cleaner into the line to loosen the clog. Follow this with compressed air to dislodge and remove the clog. Repeat as necessary to remove the clog.

If you can’t remove the clog or you find the fuel line is dry and cracked, you need to replace the fuel line with a new line of the same diameter and length.

Also, replace any line that has a puncture. A punctured fuel line can draw air into the fuel system resulting in a chainsaw running sluggish because too much air is being introduced to the cylinder.

8. Plugged Fuel Tank Vent

The fuel tank on a Troy-Bilt chainsaw must be able to vent to allow air to pass in and out of the tank.

Air must be able to pass through the vent and out of the tank when fuel is added. Air also needs to be able to pass into the tank when the fuel level decreases.

When the tank isn’t able to vent, pressure builds, and vacuum forms that will prevent fuel from leaving the fuel tank to flow to the carburetor.

SOLUTION: Locate the fuel vent on your Troy-Bilt chainsaw and replace a clogged vent. It is a small circular part that is installed on the top side of the tank in front of the handle.

9. Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor mixes the correct proportion of air and fuel required for your Troy-Bilt chainsaw to start and continue to run.

The passageways can become clogged and the small components can fail to function correctly which can be the reason the chainsaw stops running. Old fuel is a big reason why a Troy-Bilt carburetor will stop working.

SOLUTION: You may be able to clean or rebuild your carburetor to get it working again. You will have to replace the carburetor if this doesn’t work.

10. Carburetor Needs Adjustment

The carburetor may need to be adjusted to change the RPMs at idle speed and at full throttle. There are adjustment screws on the carburetor to make these adjustments.

The screws are labeled “L” for low speed and “H” for high speed. Let the chainsaw idle and adjust the “L” low-speed screw clockwise and counter-clockwise until you find the “sweet spot” where it runs smoothly and not sluggish.

Next, adjust the “H” high-speed to get a good smooth RPM at full throttle. Don’t over-adjust and allow the RPMs to increase too much or you will damage the engine.

Troy-Bilt does have some limits to the adjustments you can perform to the carburetor. If you are continuing to have problems with the carburetor or your model Troy-Bilt doesn’t allow you to make the carburetor adjustments, bring your chainsaw to your local Troy-Bilt servicing dealer.

A special tool may be required so only your dealer can make the necessary adjustments.

11. Bad Spark Plug

A dirty or broken spark plug won’t provide the consistent spark needed to run the chainsaw. It may provide intermittent spark causing the saw to lose power and possibly die.

Inspect the condition of the spark plug tip. If it is very dark in color and has a broken porcelain or burnt electrode, the spark plug must be replaced.

You can try to clean the spark plug with a wire brush and reuse it if it’s just a little dirty. I prefer to just replace it. It’s an important part required for your Troy-Bilt to run well and it’s an inexpensive maintenance part.

Make sure the spark plug is gapped correctly and the spark plug wire is securely attached. (Don’t leave the spark plug attached if you need to continue to make additional repairs).

12. Faulty Ignition Coil

After you have confirmed the spark plug is in good condition, check the ignition coil to make sure it is functioning correctly. The coil provides the electrical current to the spark plug to form a spark that ignites the fuel to start and keep your chainsaw running.

When the coil gets hot, the winding on the coil can separate and short out. This will cause your Troy-Bilt chainsaw to lose power, run sluggishly, or stop running when there is an intermittent spark.

A bad ignition coil will not be able to provide sufficient voltage to the spark plug.

13. Compression Problem

While pulling the starter recoil rope, you may notice a loss of compression. When the compression is low on a Troy-Bilt chainsaw, it will fail to have enough pressure to keep it running.

This can be the result of worn crankshaft seals, worn piston rings, or damage to the piston.

I advise bringing your chainsaw to a small engine mechanic or your Troy-Bilt service center for testing and making necessary repairs.

Still Having Problems with Your Troy-Bilt Chainsaw?

Check out my handy guide Common Troy-Bilt Chainsaw Problems for handy charts listing problems and solutions to many common problems chainsaw owners encounter.

This is a great guide to keep bookmarked. It covers problems with a chainsaw not starting, bogging down, or dying. You can also find information on a chain not turning, the engine only running with the choke on, and more.

In addition, you will find links to more detailed information on each issue.