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How To Tell If a Chainsaw Clutch Is Bad?  How to Fix Chainsaw Clutch?

    A chainsaw is perhaps the toughest tool you have. It is powerful and robust, but you need to maintain it properly from time to time to keep it in perfect working condition.

    The chainsaw parts can seem quite complicated and even mysterious in the first instance. But here’s the good news: a chainsaw is a straightforward machine to care for and does not require heavy maintenance.

    This article aims to make you understand one of the main components of a chainsaw- the Clutch, the connector that controls the driving part of the chainsaw.

    It is the link between the engine and the chain. Its purpose is to disengage when the engine is idling, so the chain does not move. As soon as the engine speeds up, it engages so that the chain can cut.

    What Causes Chainsaw Clutch Failure?

    What Causes Chainsaw Clutch Failure?

    A chainsaw clutch is a device that transfers power from the engine to the cutting chain. It is located between the engine and the drive sprocket and contains several metal plates held together with the help of springs.

    With an increase in the engine’s RPM, the centrifugal force causes the plates to open and engage with the drive sprocket, moving the cutting chain.

    If the clutch is not functioning properly, it can cause various problems. Therefore, it is important to know what causes chainsaw clutch failure to take preventive measures in time. 

    The surface of the clutch shoes is coated with a high-friction lining that is somewhat similar to the brake shoes in an automobile. This lining wears down to some extent each time the clutch engages.

    As the chainsaw is used repeatedly, the lining eventually becomes too thin to do its job, and the clutch begins to slip.

    This happens for two reasons: firstly, the lining becomes so thin that the clutch cannot make contact with the drum, and secondly, the surface of the shoes becomes slippery.

    As far as the saw operator is concerned, the chain stops turning whenever it cuts. Oil contamination can also cause damage to the clutch. 

    How To Tell If a Chainsaw Clutch Is Bad?

    How do you know that there is a problem with the chainsaw clutch? Well! Certain signs you can look for tell you if the clutch needs fixing or replacement.

    If the clutch is not engaging at the correct RPM, it can result in the chainsaw bogging down when under load.

    Also, if the clutch plates are damaged or worn out, they can slip and cause the chainsaw to kick back, which can be very dangerous for the operator. Therefore, it is important to know when your chainsaw clutch is bad.

    Here are a few signs that your chainsaw might be going bad:

    1. Engine stalling

    If you notice that your chainsaw engine is frequently stalling, it’s probably time to take it to the mechanic so the problem can be fixed.

    2. Chainsaw not cutting properly

    If you observe that your chainsaw is not cutting properly as earlier, you need to get the clutch checked. If the clutch is not working properly, the chainsaw starts cutting unevenly or not at all.

    3. Clutch slipping

    This is probably the most common sign that your clutch needs repair. It means that the blade is no longer tightly connected to the engine, so the chainsaw does not function properly.

    4. Chainsaw vibrates while running

    The most common sign of a problem with the chainsaw clutch is excessive vibration while the chainsaw is running. A damaged clutch causes the saw to vibrate more than normal.

    5. Chainsaw stops while cutting

    If your chainsaw suddenly stops while cutting, it could be due to many reasons, a bad clutch being one of them.

    6. The chainsaw seems to be running too fast or too slow

    If your chainsaw is running abnormally- too fast, or too slow, it’s probably time to change the clutch.

    7. Loud grinding noise

    You sometimes notice that the chainsaw produces a loud noise when you try to start it. This is a warning of a worn-out clutch that you should never ignore. The starter cord might feel harder to pull too.

    How do you fix a clutch on a chainsaw?

    Although most of the time, if your clutch is slipping or producing a grinding noise whenever you start your chainsaw, you might have to replace the clutch, there might be slight chances that the problem can be fixed for the time being.

    If the problem lies with just a part of the clutch assembly, you can remove the clutch using one of these tool kits and try to fix the issue:

    You can try doing one of these:

    • Replace the throw-out bearing: You will have to replace the throw-out bearing whenever you are fixing the clutch, as any new component brought to your clutch will need a new bearing.
    • Resurfacing or replacing the flywheel: The flywheel can be resurfaced, but if there are grooves from warping, heat discoloration, or oil contamination, you might have to replace it.
    • Check the Pilot Bushing: If the clutch is slipping, you might try replacing the bushing located near the crankshaft.

    Please remember: A bad clutch can cause the saw to stall or even break down completely, so it is important to keep an eye out for signs of damage and replace the clutch assembly if the problem persists.

    When should you replace a clutch in a chainsaw?

    Maintaining a proper maintenance schedule is essential to keep your chainsaw clutch in good condition. This gives you a fair idea of when a part of the chainsaw needs fixing or replacement.

    If the clutch is not working properly, it is better to replace the complete assembly rather than fix one of the parts.

    For example, when the clutch shoes wear off, it is better to replace the complete clutch assembly because the inside of the drum is probably worn out too.

    If you hear grinding noise when you start your chainsaw or observe that it is vibrating, it is time to check the clutch for any issues.

    Your chainsaw may stop working suddenly, or you may experience kickback, which can be quite dangerous. All these are sure signs that you need to replace the clutch in your chainsaw.

    How to Replace a Clutch on a Chainsaw?

    Replacing the clutch is not very difficult. Follow these steps to replace the clutch in your chainsaw:

    how to replace a clutch on a chainsaw?
    • Remove the clutch cover, bar, and chain from the saw.
    • Expose the spark plug by removing the top cover.
    • Remove the spark plug from the assembly.
    • Take a clean nylon cord, about 12″ long, and stuff about 4″ of it into the cylinder through the spark plug hole.
    • Use one of the specialty clutch removal tools to fit on the center of the clutch mechanism.
    • Unscrew the clutch by turning to the right.
    • Replace the old clutch with the new one by reversing the steps used for removal.

    Final Words:

    As is evident, the clutch is an absolute necessity in the chainsaw. A broken or damaged clutch can cause various problems that can be very serious too.

    Therefore, it is important to resolve the issue at the earliest by fixing the part or replacing the complete clutch assembly.

    Remember, you cannot avoid wear and tear on your clutch. It is an inevitable part of functioning.

    Having said that, you can surely minimize the damage by taking care of the chainsaw and ensuring regular maintenance so that the problem is detected immediately and the same is fixed before it can do any further damage.