Can a Chainsaw Run Backwards? (Things Explained)

Chainsaws are quite powerful tools that are used to bring down large trees in seconds. You may have noticed the chain of the chainsaw always run in forward direction. However a question comes to mind i.e. can a chainsaw run backwards?

Chainsaws can run backwards, but with diminished power. The reason for this is that the chain on a chainsaw is designed to cut in only one direction. When the chainsaw is run in reverse, the teeth on the chain are not able to grip the wood as effectively, which results in a loss of power.

But is it good to have your chainsaw running backward? What would happen to the saw if you did this regularly? You must be having similar questions on your mind now. Don’t worry because I have got you completely covered with my extensive guide.

In this article, I will explain if a chainsaw can run backward and under what circumstances it runs backward. Apart from that, I will also tell you why you should always avoid running it backward and how to fix it if it is already in such a condition.

Sounds interesting? Let’s not waste any more time and jump straight to answer the question.

Can a Chainsaw Run Backwards?

Can a Chainsaw Run Backwards?

As mentioned earlier a chainsaw can run backwards and users have reported such incidents on several forums. But the main question is why does a chainsaw runs backward sometimes?

The most common reason for a chainsaw to run in reverse direction is when the chain gets jammed. When the chain is jammed, it puts extra pressure on the saw’s motor. This results in the reversal of the blade’s rotation and causes the chainsaw to run backwards.

Another reason that can cause your chainsaw to run backward is if you pull the starter cord too hard. Some models have a mechanism that prevents the engine from starting if you pull too hard. However, this mechanism is not foolproof and sometimes the engine starts but in reverse direction.

Apart from that, many people have reported that the old Detroit diesel is usually responsible for such behavior (1).

Can a Chainsaw With a 2-Stroke Motor Run Backwards?

Yes, a chainsaw with a 2 stroke motor can run backward. For example, the old Detroit diesel engines are known for such behavior sometimes. This behavior is not only common in chainsaws but in other machines as well that use a 2 stroke motor.

For example, the snowmobile engine can also run backward sometimes. There is a button on these vehicles that goes by the name “RER” which stands for reverse engine rotation (2). It helps electronically reverse the direction of the engine’s motor.

Moreover, golf carts are another example where users have reported that the engine can run in both directions.

Will a 4-Stroke Engine Run Backwards?

Not only 2-stroke engines but users have also experienced their 4-stroke engines running in the backward direction. According to a user on the forestry forum, he stalled his chainsaw while cutting down a big log.

As soon as the stall happened, the weight of the log pulled the cable just as if someone is starting the saw. After that, a lot of smoke started coming out of the air filters which sounds horrible especially when you just invest in a new chainsaw and that was all you had.

This means that you need to be very careful while using chainsaws. These might look like extremely powerful tools yet if they aren’t handled with care then they can cause serious damage (3).

What Happens If You Run a Chainsaw Backwards?

As I have already mentioned above that running a chainsaw backward is not at all recommended because it can damage the saw. When you run the chainsaw in the reverse direction, the chain will also rotate in the reverse direction.

This will put extra strain on the sprocket and other parts of the saw and can cause them to break. In some cases, it can also cause the saw to kick back which can be really dangerous for the user. So it is always advised to avoid running the chainsaw in the reverse direction.

Last but not least, the chainsaw engine, bar guide, and chain are designed to run in forward direction. When it moves in the backward direction, it causes extra strain on the engine and can damage it in the long run.

How to Fix a Chainsaw That Runs Backwards?

As I have already mentioned above that running a chainsaw backward is not good for the saw and you should always avoid doing it. However, if your chainsaw is already in such a condition then there are some things that you can do to fix it.

First of all, you need to check if the chain is jammed or not. If the chain is jammed then you need to unjam it first. To do that, you can use a pair of pliers or any other tools that you think can help.

Once the chain is unjammed, you need to check if the sprocket is damaged or not. The sprocket is the part that rotates the chain. If it is damaged then it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Another thing that you can do is to check if the engine is running in the correct direction or not. For that, you need to take a look at the flywheel. The fins on the flywheel must be moving in a clockwise direction when seen from above.

If they are not then you need to take the help of a professional to fix it. Apart from that, you can also check the user manual of your chainsaw to see if there is any mention of running the saw in a reverse direction.

Final Words

So can a chainsaw run backwards? The answer is yes whether it be a 2-stroke engine chainsaw or a 4-stroke engine, it can run backward on different occasions. According to my research, the most common reason for a chainsaw to run backward is when the chain gets jammed.

Apart from that, it can also happen if the sprocket is damaged or if the engine is not running in the correct direction. If you ever come across such a situation then it is always better to take the help of a professional rather than trying to fix it on your own.

I hope this article was helpful and informative for you. Please don’t forget to leave feedback as it helps me improve my content and don’t forget to let me you have any suggestions to improve my content.

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