Stihl Chainsaw Carburetor Adjustment Guide

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As an expert on chainsaws, I can attest that Stihl Chainsaws are among the top brands in the industry. One issue I’m always wary of when a chainsaw bogs down is a faulty carburetor. Tinkering with this without the right know-how can lead to bigger problems.

Allow me to guide you through a comprehensive process of adjusting a Stihl chainsaw carburetor.

Three Adjustment Screws Explained

Idle Speed Screw (LA)

The Idle Speed Screw on your carburetor is responsible for controlling the idle RPMs (revolutions per minute) of your chainsaw. 

To control the consumption of the air-fuel mixture that enters the engine in an idle state, loggers use the idle screw to adjust the butterfly valve. Set the screw to an optimum point with a screwdriver and ensure the chainsaw doesn’t die when idling.

Stihl Idle Speed Screw (LA)

When the valve is set too low, it prevents the air and fuel flow, causing the engine to stall. However, when set too high, it can be prone to accidents. A high RPM will force the clutch to engage, even when you do not press the throttle. 

Low-speed Adjustment Screw (L)

When the carburetor is set at low speed, the low-speed adjustment screw controls the amount of fuel that the carburetor allows. It’s easily recognizable with the Letter L mark on your chainsaw. 

Avoid tightening this screw to allow fuel to flow freely to the carburetor. When the L screw is tightened, the air-fuel mixture becomes too lean, causing a spike in the engine RPM. Hence, too loose can cause a rich mixture, causing the engine to stall and the RPM to drop. 

High-speed Adjustment Screw (H)

To know the High-Speed Adjustment Screw, look for the screw with the letter H. The H screw on your chainsaw regulates the fuel on your carburetor when the throttle is set. 

Stihl High-speed Adjustment Screw (H)

Over tightening the H screw can hamper the fuel from passing through the card, resulting in lean running engines. Similarly, a loose H screw will reduce the RPM, causing a rich fuel mixture. 

How to Adjust a Stihl Chainsaw's Carburetor

Step #1: Turn the knob counterclockwise to remove the air filter cover. Wash the air filter with soap and water or thoroughly clean it with compressed air. Dry your air filter before reinstalling it to the carburetor. 

Step # 2: Remove the cover of the muffler with a Phillips screwdriver. Use an old toothbrush to clean the spark arrestor screen.

Step #3: Locate the carburetor adjustment screws marked H, L, and I. These are the high-speed, low-speed, and idle adjustment screws.

adjusting chainsaw carburetor

Step #4: Adjust the high and low-speed screws to determine the carburetor type. Turn the L screw clockwise, and see how far you can turn it. If this reaches one complete revolution, then it’s a Type A carburetor, but if it doesn’t complete one revolution, it automatically becomes a Type B. 

Step #5: Turn the H screw counterclockwise and the L screw until both are seated to reset the type A carburetor to its original setting. To adjust a Type B carburetor, follow the same procedure, except you only have to back off the L screw by 1/4 turn. 

Step #6: After starting the chainsaw, adjust the idle screw and allow it to warm up for about five minutes. Turn all screws clockwise with a flathead screwdriver until the chainsaw starts turning again before backing it off 1/4.

How to Adjust Based on Issues

Chainsaw Idling + Not Accelerating

One issue to check in a Stihl chainsaw carburetor is air leak when the chain doesn’t accelerate. Perform a vacuum test before adjusting anything to rule out air leak issues. 

Stihl chainsaw motor

There are also a lot of possible factors why your chainsaw is idling. One of which is damaged clutches. To address such a problem, detach the chain and inspect the assembly. Adjusting the idle screw is also a solution to prevent the chain from spinning when in an idle position. 

Produces Smoke

A faulty fuel delivery system and clogged carburetor can cause your chainsaws to produce smoke when used for operation. The poor idle adjustment will also cause overheating, triggering smoke on your chainsaw

Adjust the low-speed adjustment screw until the idle runs smoothly again. Checking with your chainsaw manual is also recommended to avoid errors while adjusting. 

Checking the Stihl Chainsaw Unit Manual

I always stress the importance of reviewing your chainsaw’s manual before operating. This ensures you’re aware of the standard precautions and helps prevent working with a faulty saw during your projects [1].

Stihl chainsaw manual

This manual outlines procedures for adjusting your carburetors properly since chainsaws are created differently, and the parts may vary. 

Stihl Carburetor Adjustment Tools

Different carburetor adjustment tools and sizes are available for tuning your Stihl chainsaw carburetor. The most commonly used driver is the genuine Stihl 4mm Hex Carb. Other alternatives are available if you do not have these tools yet. 

Alternative options include universal carburetor adjustment tools with interchangeable bits, multi-tool sets that include carburetor adjustment tools, hex key sets, and modified screwdrivers or Dremel tools.

It’s important to ensure a proper fit and engage securely with the carburetor adjustment screws. If unsure, seek professional assistance.


Stihl is one of the high-end chainsaw brands, and procuring proper care is necessary to extend the longevity of their chainsaws. A woodworker needs to know the proper Stihl chainsaw carburetor adjustment, as well as it’s a primary part of the machine. Neglecting this can cause faulty projects and, in worst-case scenarios, even accidents. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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