Can you use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil?

Can you use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil

You’re out in the yard, working hard, and your chainsaw’s sputtering. The bar oil’s running low. Are you tired of constantly buying specialized bar oil for your chainsaw? Well, what if I told you there might be a more convenient and cost-effective alternative lurking in your garage?

In short, you can use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil. Chainsaw bar oil is made to lubricate and cool the chain and bar. It’s a thin, lightweight oil designed to be used with a chainsaw chain. Professional arborists use motor oil in their chainsaws, and many chainsaw owners believe it provides a better cutting edge.

So, in this article, we will discuss how can you use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil, the pros and cons of doing so, its types, and some tips on how to go about it.

can you use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil

Lubricating the chainsaw bar and chain is necessary, and using the right oil is essential. The purpose of bar oil is to reduce friction and heat buildup while providing proper lubrication to prevent wear and tear on the chain.

Purpose of Using Motor Oil for Chainsaw Bar Oil

As motor oil is a widely available material, chainsaw bar oil can be made using this type of oil. One of the benefits of using motor oil is that it is a cheaper option than specialist chain oil and is widely available. Also, motor oil is thinner and lighter than specialist chain oil, so it can flow more easily through the chain and bar. So, can you use motor oil as a substitute for chainsaw bar oil? Yes, you can use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil. 

Things to Consider

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to use motor oil as a chainsaw bar oil replacement. The most important consideration is the type of chainsaw chain you use. Motor oil will not work with some chainsaws.

Usage of Motor Oils

Yes, you can use motor oil in a pinch if you don’t have any bar oil readily available. Motor oils are designed to lubricate engines with high RPMs and intense heat levels.
Motor oils tend to be thicker than traditional bar oils. This means they may not flow through the saw’s system as effectively as specialized bar oils would. Thicker consistency could clog up the channels or fail to reach crucial areas requiring lubrication.

Moreover, since motor oils aren’t specifically formulated for chainsaws’ needs like bar oils are, they might not provide adequate protection against wear and corrosion over time. Chainsaw bars require specific additives for optimal performance under heavy usage conditions.

Types of Motor Oil for Chainsaw Bar Oil

A few types of motor oil can be used for chainsaw bar oil. These include mineral, synthetic, and semi-synthetic oils.

Mineral oils

Mineral oils are the most traditional type of chainsaw bar oil. They are made from natural oils and are the most affordable option. Mineral oil is a thick oil ideal for chainsaw chains with a low-speed rating. 

Synthetic oil

Synthetic oil is a more modern option and is typically less expensive than mineral oil. It is made from synthetic chemicals and is lighter than mineral oil. Synthetic oil is ideal for chainsaw chains with a higher speed rating. It provides good protection against wear and corrosion.

Semi-synthetic oil

Semi-synthetic oil is a blend of both synthetic and mineral oils. It is ideal for chainsaw chains with a medium speed rating. Semi-synthetic oil is a good choice for chainsaw owners who want to use cheap oil without losing performance.

Pros and Cons of Using Motor Oil

Is using motor oil as chainsaw bar oil a good idea? Let’s we will look forward to their Pros and cons.

Pros of Using Motor Oil:

Some important advantages of this oil are:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Motor oil is generally less expensive than specialized chainsaw bar oil, making it an appealing choice for budget-conscious users.
  2. Availability: Motor oil is widely available in various grades and formulations, making it easily accessible, especially in emergencies.
  3. Versatility: If you’re in a pinch and run out of chainsaw bar oil, using motor oil can temporarily get the job done without damaging your chainsaw.

Cons of Using Motor Oil:

Some disadvantages of motor oil are as follows:

  1. Lack of Adhesive Properties: Motor oil is not specifically designed for chainsaw use and lacks the necessary tackiness to adhere effectively to the bar. As a result, it tends to fling off the bar, leading to reduced lubrication and potentially damaging your chainsaw over time.
  2. Increased Wear and Tear: Prolonged use of motor oil can accelerate wear and tear on your chainsaw’s bar and chain. Without proper lubrication and protection, the chain may experience greater friction and heat, shortening its lifespan.
  3. Residue Buildup and Clogging: Some types of motor oil may leave undesirable residues in the chainsaw’s oiling system, causing clogging and hindering proper lubrication. This can lead to performance issues and potentially costly repairs.
  4. Potential Environmental Impact: Certain motor oils contain additives that may not be environmentally friendly. Using them as a substitute for chainsaw bar oil might have negative environmental implications.

Best substitutes for chainsaw bar oil

When you run low on chainsaw bar oil, motor oil is a rapid and temporary solution for bar oil substitutes. However, these oils are not recommended for regular use as they may cause accelerated wear on your chainsaw components. The best alternatives are as follows:

Vegetable Oil: 

Environmentally friendly and readily available, vegetable oil can be used in a pinch. However, its lubrication might not match specialized chainsaw bar oils.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF): 

In emergencies, ATF can provide lubrication. Yet, it may not offer the same protective qualities as dedicated bar oils.

Used Cooking Oil: 

Recycling used cooking oil as chainsaw bar oil is a cost-effective option. However, it may leave residues and lacks specific protective additives.

Bar and Chain Oil Alternatives: 

Some manufacturers offer eco-friendly bar and chain oil alternatives specifically formulated for top-notch performance.

Best Chainsaw Bar Oil: Expert Recommendations

Choosing the right bar oil is crucial to ensure optimal performance and longevity for your chainsaw. High-quality chainsaw bar oil lubricates the chain and bar, offering essential protection against wear and heat. Here are a few expert-recommended chainsaw bar oils:

1. Husqvarna Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil

2. Oregon Bar and Chain Oil

3. STIHL Platinum Bar and Chain Oil

4. Echo Power Blend Bar and Chain Oil

5. Pennzoil Platinum Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil

6. Makita Bar and Chain Oil

7. Poulan Pro Bar and Chain Oil

From experts one of them recommended best chainsaw bar oil is to use Bio Plus bar and oil from STIHL, as it offers an eco-friendly product that experts know works in all weather conditions.


While using motor oil as a substitute for chainsaw bar oil may seem like a quick fix, it’s not without its challenges. Summing up, it is not recommended to use motor oil for chainsaw bar oil for fear of damaging the chainsaw, and it is not too environment-friendly as well. Proper lubrication is crucial for a smooth cutting experience and a long-lasting chainsaw. Many chainsaw bar oil options are on the market, so choosing the right one for your needs is important.


Can I use 10w40 for chainsaw bar oil?

10w40 is a common motor oil for use in vehicles. It is not recommended for use in chainsaw applications as it does not have the necessary properties to provide adequate lubrication and protection.

Can I use wd40 for chainsaw bar oil?

WD40 works for rust-prevention and lubricating processes. It is a popular choice for chainsaw bar oil substitutes because it is a petroleum-based product with some lubricating properties. However, WD40 is not recommended for long-term use as it may not offer optimal protection for your chainsaw.

Can I use vegetable oil for a chainsaw bar?

While vegetable oil can have some lubricating properties, it is not recommended as a chainsaw bar oil substitute due to its lack of protection and ability to provide long-term lubrication. 

How Often Should You Add Bar Oil To A Chainsaw?

It is recommended to add bar oil to a chainsaw before each use. You should also check the oil level regularly while using the chainsaw and add more oil as needed. It is also important to use the correct type of oil for your chainsaw, as specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can I use 2-cycle oil in my chainsaw?

While 2-cycle oil is formulated for small engines, replacing bar and chain oil in your chainsaw is not recommended. This is because bar and chain oil is designed to be thicker and more dense than 2-cycle oil, which allows it to lubricate the chainsaw better.

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