6 Common Stihl MS 291 Problems and Troubleshooting Techniques

The Stihl MS 291 chainsaw is a workhorse in the world of outdoor power equipment. Known for its robust build and reliable performance, this chainsaw is a favorite among both homeowners and professionals. Whether you’re using it for routine yard work or more demanding forestry tasks, the MS 291 is a dependable tool. However, like any piece of machinery, it’s not immune to issues.

Why Knowing Common Problems Matters

Understanding the common problems that can occur with the Stihl MS 291 is essential for any chainsaw owner. It not only ensures that your equipment remains in peak condition but also extends its lifespan. Moreover, addressing issues promptly can enhance safety, prevent costly repairs, and reduce downtime.

Preview of the Six Common Issues

In this blog post, we will delve into six common problems that owners of the Stihl MS 291 chainsaw might encounter. For each issue, we’ll provide troubleshooting techniques to help you get your chainsaw back in action as quickly as possible. Let’s get started with these essential insights.

Problem 1: Starting Issues

Starting your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw should be a breeze, but sometimes you might encounter hiccups in the process. Let’s dive into the common starting problems and effective troubleshooting techniques to get your chainsaw up and running.

Common Starting Problems

Engine Not Starting: You pull the cord, but the engine refuses to roar to life. This issue can be quite frustrating, especially when you’re eager to get to work.

Difficulty Pulling the Cord: Sometimes, even if the engine eventually starts, you might find it unusually hard to pull the cord. This can be physically taxing and may point to underlying issues.

Troubleshooting Techniques

To get past these starting problems, you can perform the following troubleshooting techniques:

  1. Check the Fuel: Often, starting issues can be attributed to fuel problems. Ensure that you have the right fuel mixture for your Stihl MS 291. Using stale or incorrect fuel can lead to difficulties. Make sure you’re using a quality fuel mix, typically with a 50:1 gasoline-to-oil ratio.
  2. Inspect the Air Filter: A clogged or dirty air filter can hinder the chainsaw’s ability to intake air. This affects the air-fuel mixture and makes starting difficult. Remove the air filter and clean it thoroughly. If it’s too worn or damaged, consider replacing it with a new one.
  3. Examine the Spark Plug: A faulty spark plug is a common culprit for starting problems. Remove the spark plug and check for signs of fouling, such as carbon buildup or damage. Clean or replace the spark plug if necessary. It’s a good practice to replace the spark plug annually for optimal performance.

By following these troubleshooting steps, you can significantly improve your Stihl MS 291’s starting reliability. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety precautions when working on your chainsaw.

These techniques should help you overcome the common starting problems associated with your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw. By addressing these issues promptly and properly, you can ensure your chainsaw is ready to tackle any cutting task with ease.

Continue reading to explore troubleshooting techniques for more common Stihl MS 291 problems.

Problem 2: Chain Not Moving Properly

Having your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw’s chain misbehave during a cutting job can be frustrating and potentially dangerous. Let’s explore some of the common issues associated with the chain not moving properly and discover effective troubleshooting steps to ensure smooth operation.

Issues with Chain Movement

The chain not moving properly or getting stuck is a common problem that chainsaw users encounter. This issue can arise from several factors, disrupting your cutting tasks and posing safety risks.

Troubleshooting Steps

To address issues related to chain movement, follow these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Check Chain Tension: The tension of the chain plays a vital role in its movement. Inspect the chain tension, and make sure it falls within the manufacturer’s recommended range. If it’s too loose, it can come off the guide bar. If it’s too tight, it can lead to overheating and excessive wear. Adjust the tension as needed.
  2. Lubrication: Proper chain lubrication is essential for smooth chain movement. Ensure that the chain oil reservoir is filled, and the automatic oiler is functioning correctly. A dry chain can lead to sticking. Regularly monitor the oil level and refill it when necessary.
  3. Inspect the Sprocket: The sprocket is another critical component for chain movement. Examine it for any damage or wear. If the sprocket shows signs of wear or damage, it may need replacement. A damaged sprocket can cause the chain to malfunction.

By following these troubleshooting steps, you can maintain the proper movement of your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw chain, ensuring efficient and safe operation.

Problem 3: Overheating

Overheating is a common issue that chainsaws, including the Stihl MS 291, can face. It’s essential to understand the reasons behind overheating and the troubleshooting methods to prevent damage and maintain optimal performance.

Reasons Behind Overheating

Chainsaw overheating can be attributed to several factors:

  • Clogged Air Filter: A clogged or dirty air filter restricts airflow to the engine, leading to overheating. It’s crucial to regularly clean or replace the air filter to avoid this issue.
  • Carburetor Settings: Incorrect carburetor settings can lead to a lean fuel mixture, causing the engine to run hotter than it should. Properly adjusting the carburetor settings can resolve this problem.

Troubleshooting Methods

To prevent and address overheating issues, consider these troubleshooting methods:

  1. Cleaning the Air Filter: Ensure the air filter is clean and free from debris. If it’s dirty, clean it or replace it if it’s too worn. A clean air filter promotes better airflow and prevents overheating.
  2. Adjust Carburetor Settings: If you suspect carburetor-related overheating, consider adjusting the carburetor settings following the manufacturer’s guidelines. This ensures the right air-fuel mixture for efficient combustion and temperature control.

Properly addressing overheating problems will not only extend the lifespan of your Stihl MS 291 but also enhance its safety and cutting performance.

Continue reading to explore troubleshooting techniques for more common Stihl MS 291 problems. In the next section, we’ll discuss problems related to poor cutting performance and loss of power.

Problem 4: Poor Cutting Performance

If your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw isn’t cutting as efficiently as it should, it’s essential to diagnose and address the issues promptly. In this section, we’ll address common cutting problems and provide troubleshooting tips to help you restore your chainsaw’s cutting performance.

Common Cutting Issues

Several issues can lead to poor cutting performance:

Dull Chain: A dull chain is one of the most common culprits behind poor cutting performance. When the chain is no longer sharp, it takes longer to make cuts and may produce sawdust instead of clean chips.

Incorrect Chain Tension: Chainsaw chains need to be properly tensioned. An overly tight or too loose chain can affect the cutting ability and overall performance.

Troubleshooting Tips

To improve cutting performance, consider these troubleshooting tips:

  1. Sharpen the Chain: Regularly sharpening the chain is essential to maintain optimal cutting performance. You can use a round file or a specialized chain sharpening tool. Ensure the chain teeth are sharp and uniformly sized for efficient cutting.
  2. Adjust Chain Tension: Check the tension of the chain. It should be snug against the guide bar, allowing it to move freely without excessive sag. Adjust the tension if needed to ensure it’s correctly tensioned.
  3. Chain Pitch: Make sure you’re using the correct chain pitch for your Stihl MS 291. Using the wrong chain pitch can significantly affect cutting performance. Refer to the user manual for the correct chain specifications.

By addressing these common cutting issues and applying these troubleshooting tips, you can restore your Stihl MS 291’s cutting performance and ensure a smoother, more efficient cutting experience.

Problem 5: Loss of Power

Experiencing a loss of power with your chainsaw can be frustrating, as it affects its overall performance and efficiency. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this problem and explore effective troubleshooting techniques to regain your Stihl MS 291’s power.

Reasons for the Chainsaw Losing Power

Loss of power can be attributed to several factors:

  • Clogged Air Filter: A clogged or dirty air filter restricts the flow of air to the engine, resulting in reduced power output.
  • Fuel System Issues: Problems with the fuel system, such as a clogged fuel filter or carburetor issues, can lead to power loss.

Troubleshooting Techniques

To address power loss, consider these troubleshooting techniques:

  1. Inspect the Fuel System: Examine the fuel filter and fuel lines for clogs or blockages. Ensure the fuel is flowing freely from the tank to the engine. If you find any issues, clean or replace the affected components.
  2. Check the Air Filter: A dirty air filter can significantly impact the chainsaw’s power output. Remove the air filter, clean it, and replace it if it’s excessively dirty or damaged. A clean air filter ensures proper airflow and helps maintain power.
  3. Clean the Muffler: Carbon buildup in the muffler can affect exhaust flow and power. Remove the muffler and clean it to ensure that the exhaust gases can exit freely, allowing the engine to operate at its full potential.

By following these troubleshooting techniques, you can regain the lost power in your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw, ensuring it performs at its best during cutting tasks. Regular maintenance and timely troubleshooting are key to a powerful and efficient chainsaw.

Continue reading to explore the final section, where we discuss a common problem related to the oil pump and share troubleshooting techniques.

Preventative Maintenance Tips

Prevention is often the best solution to common problems, and this holds true for the Stihl MS 291 chainsaw. By adhering to a regular maintenance routine, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering issues and ensure your chainsaw operates at its best. In this section, we’ll stress the importance of regular maintenance and provide you with a handy checklist for maintaining your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the cornerstone of keeping your chainsaw in top condition. Here’s why it’s so crucial:

  • Extends Lifespan: Routine maintenance prolongs the life of your Stihl MS 291, saving you money on replacement and repairs.
  • Enhances Safety: A well-maintained chainsaw is a safer chainsaw. Preventing problems before they occur reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Optimizes Performance: A properly maintained chainsaw performs at its best, providing efficient cutting and reliable operation.

Checklist for Maintaining Your Stihl MS 291 Chainsaw

To help you get started with a maintenance routine, here’s a checklist of essential tasks to perform on your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw:

  1. Check the Air Filter: Regularly inspect and clean the air filter. A clean filter ensures proper airflow for the engine.
  2. Inspect the Spark Plug: Examine the spark plug for signs of fouling or damage. Clean or replace it as needed.
  3. Maintain Chain and Bar: Keep the chain sharp and properly tensioned. Lubricate the chain regularly, and inspect the guide bar for wear.
  4. Monitor Chain Brake: Ensure the chain brake functions correctly, engaging and disengaging smoothly.
  5. Check the Fuel System: Inspect the fuel filter and fuel lines for clogs or damage. Keep the fuel mixture fresh and within the recommended ratio.
  6. Oil Pump Maintenance: Clean the oil passages and ensure the oil pump delivers the right amount of lubrication to the chain.
  7. Inspect the Muffler: Periodically remove and clean the muffler to prevent carbon buildup.
  8. Carburetor Adjustment: If you have experience or are comfortable doing so, check and adjust the carburetor settings as needed for optimal performance.
  9. Regular Cleaning: Keep the exterior of the chainsaw clean and free from sawdust, dirt, and debris.
  10. Chain Pitch and Type: Use the correct chain pitch and type as specified in the user manual.

By adhering to this checklist and performing regular maintenance tasks, you’ll ensure that your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw remains in excellent working condition. Don’t forget to consult the user manual for specific maintenance guidelines and intervals.

In conclusion, regular maintenance is your best defense against common problems and ensures the safe and efficient operation of your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw. With proper care, your chainsaw will be a reliable companion for all your cutting tasks.


As we conclude our journey through common Stihl MS 291 chainsaw problems and effective troubleshooting techniques, let’s recap the key takeaways from this blog post.

Summarize the Key Takeaways

  1. Regular Maintenance Matters: Preventing problems is often more straightforward and cost-effective than solving them. Regular maintenance is the foundation of a well-functioning chainsaw.
  2. Troubleshooting Can Save the Day: When issues do arise, timely and accurate troubleshooting can be your best friend. By understanding and addressing common problems, you can keep your chainsaw running smoothly.
  3. Safety First: Chainsaw maintenance and troubleshooting require attention to safety precautions. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and take the necessary safety measures to protect yourself and others.

Encourage Prompt Problem-solving

We encourage you to be proactive when you encounter issues with your Stihl MS 291 chainsaw. Addressing problems promptly not only ensures your chainsaw’s performance but also extends its lifespan and keeps your cutting tasks safe and efficient.

Remember, some problems, like a dull chain, can be easily solved with sharpening. Others, like oil pump malfunctions or fuel system issues, may require a bit more technical know-how. The key is to stay vigilant and take action when you notice a problem. Your chainsaw will thank you with reliable performance.

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