Should I Buy A Used Chainsaw? [What to Look for]

Are you thinking, should I buy a used chainsaw? A chainsaw that’s been refurbished or second hand?

Well, that’s exactly what I’ll be going over in this post, so let’s get straight into it!

Should I buy a used chainsaw?

When it comes to buying a second-hand or used chainsaw, there are a lot of things to consider. Ideally, you would be better off avoiding a used chainsaw because you do not really have any guarantee on the life expectancy of the engine or other components on the saw. 

Buying a used chainsaw is not a good idea if you are a new or inexperienced chainsaw operator, even professionals may have trouble when it comes to buying a used saw.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between used and second-hand. If a chainsaw is being advertised as ‘used’, this could mean that it has been owned by multiple people.

A chainsaw that is advertised as ‘second-hand’ means that it only had one previous owner. These chainsaws are a better choice because there is a better chance of a second-hand chainsaw being in a better condition than a used chainsaw.

Chainsaws that have been owned by multiple owners have likely been repaired many times. This does not automatically mean that the chainsaw is not usable, it just means that the uncertainty will always be there.

When you buy a brand new chainsaw you have the peace of mind that it is brand new, and more often than not comes with a warranty. A used saw will not give you the same peace of mind.

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Is it worth it? 

If you are a new or inexperienced chainsaw operator then no, it is not worth it. I would definitely not advise it, because you need to have a very keen eye when inspecting the chainsaw you want to buy.

Once again, when buying a new chainsaw you do not have to worry so much about it breaking, and if your new chainsaw breaks within warranty, you just take it back.

For experienced users, it may be worth the chance. If you are experienced then you will know what to look out for. However, even if you have been using chainsaws for years you have to be careful. For example, buying a used chainsaw online is probably a bad idea in any scenario.

A chainsaw that is advertised online is dangerous because you can’t actually properly inspect it and make sure that it works. Sure, you can ask the seller to take pictures and videos to make sure it runs, but the risk is very high. Overall, not a great way to buy a used chainsaw.

So, avoid buying used chainsaws online. Let’s say you are at a flee market and you see a chainsaw, or you respond to a classified advert for a used chainsaw and you go and have a look. How are you going to know if it’s a good buy?

What should I look out for?

When you are standing in front of the saw, you have the opportunity to inspect it properly. This section is more for experienced users.

A few basic things you need to look out for are the basics like compression, over feeling, chain brake, chain lubrication, etc. All of these will be covered in more detail later on, step by step.

What you want to look out for are, first of all, the basics. 

Ask the seller how many previous owners the chainsaw has, and if the chainsaw has a service history with a reputable agent. If the seller says no then this should be your first warning sign.

Remember that this doesn’t mean the seller is trying to scam you, you need to ask these questions in order to decide if the chainsaw is the best choice for you.

The next thing you should ask the seller is for permission to pick the chainsaw up and inspect it closely. Once again if he says no, then walk away. The only way you are going to be certain of your decision is to pick the saw up and have a closer look at it. 

So, the two important questions are:

  1. How many previous owners have this chainsaw had?
  2. Does this chainsaw have a service history? With what outlet?
  3. May I inspect the chainsaw more closely?

Find out why they are selling their chainsaw

Sure you might think that this is rude or unnecessary, but this gives you an opportunity to gauge the seller. If you are strongly considering a used or second-hand chainsaw then you need to cover every aspect of the decision-making process.

Maybe the seller is selling his chainsaw because of financial difficulties, maybe they do not have space for it anymore, or maybe it is broken and they do not have time or money to fix it. By asking them this question you are giving them the chance, to be honest with you.

Keep in mind, if they state their reason for selling the chainsaw, and you ask to closely inspect it and they refuse then rather walk away from the purchase. If you buy a chainsaw without inspecting it then it is your fault if it does not work, never make a purchase by word of mouth, it could go wrong.

If the seller agrees and lets you inspect it without any hesitation then this is a very good sign, that means that the seller is honest about the condition or whatever reason he is selling it for. Now we are going to go over what exactly you should look out for and check properly before handing over the cash.

Inspect the saw properly…(How to)

When you have the chance to inspect the chainsaw, here are a few useful and important tips to follow.

Visual Inspection – This can be done very quickly, all you need is a good eye for detail. Look at the chainsaw and take note of the condition, any missing parts, etc.

If the chainsaw looks like it has been run over by a pick-up, then it is probably a good idea to walk away.

Physical Inspection – This is your chance to really get hands-on with the chainsaw, and allows you to make up your mind more thoroughly.

Chain brake: Make sure the chain brake is off, then grip the chain and slide it back and forth. Now activate the chain brake and see if the chain moves, if it moves then you know that the chain brake is broken or faulty. This is repairable and is not a major issue.

Bar and chain: Look down the length of the chainsaw and make sure the bar and chain are not bent. This is also not a major issue and can be replaced, the reason you are checking this is that you should not start the chainsaw if the bar and chain are bent.

Additionally, you should make sure that the chain is getting oil, you can just feel the chain or visually inspect it. If the chain is dry, it does not mean the chainsaw is scrap, the oil might just be finished

Spark plug & engine: If you get the opportunity to take the spark plug out, check the plug to see if it is over-fueling. (Usually very dark and crusty build up on the plug itself.) You can also then check the condition of the engine by shining a torch into the sleeve through the spark plug hole.

By pulling the starter cord you can also then check the compression of the engine. If it is rather difficult to pull then you have good compression. If it is loose when pulling it then you have bad compression. And, if it is completely immovable, then the engine may be seized, in that case, walk away.

Lastly, ask the seller if you can start the chainsaw, if he refuses without a valid reason, then walk away. If the seller will not let you properly inspect the chainsaw as mentioned in the steps above, walk away.