How to Test a Chainsaw Ignition Coil with a Multimeter? (Explained)

Did you know that it is almost impossible to repair a defective ignition coil?

An ignition coil gets used to transfer voltage signals to the spark plug to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the chainsaw. It will naturally become defective throughout its use, resulting in the need for a replacement part.

In this article, we will dive into the procedures of testing a chainsaw ignition coil using a digital multimeter. We will also talk about all the required steps and other reasons why your chainsaw can’t start.

How to Test a Chainsaw Ignition Coil (Easy Steps)

Like any other machine, diagnosing and fixing your chainsaw requires several preparation stages to ensure safety and efficiency.

Preparation – Safety must come first

You will need the equipment in the list below to diagnose and fix this issue. It is advisable to take the machine to a technician or experienced professional if you are not handy. A chainsaw is a dangerous machine; if not properly handled and maintained, a tiny mistake can result in disastrous consequences.

how to test chainsaw ignition coil with a multimeter
If you have a multimeter, follow these 9 steps, and you can test a chainsaw ignition coil by yourself!

Step 1: Take Some Safety Measures First

Equip yourself with the above list of safety tools that is gloves and safety goggles. A defective element may be expelled into the air in unpredictable patterns that may injure you. The safety measures are for your protection and help you be careful and gentle in your handling.

You will also have to wait till the engine has cooled down before you begin your diagnosis. Additionally, the chainsaw engine needs to get turned off to avoid any electrical issues and mechanical complications.

Step 2: Locate the Ignition Coil

The location of the ignition coil is near the carburetor, depending on the chainsaw model and manufacturer. The best way to find it without a treasure hunt is to look at the user manual that came with the chainsaw.

Pay attention to the diagrams and schematics in the user manual to locate the ignition coil. If you do not have the user manual, you can go to the manufacturer’s website to find a downloadable manual. In addition, most companies provide online PDF manuals for free, and if they aren’t available on their websites, you can typically contact them to send them to you.

Step 3: Disconnect and Test the Spark Plug

Some wires connect the distributor to the spark plug. Disconnect the spark plug from these wires using a few spark plug sockets and other wrenches. Then, proceed to test the spark plug with the spark plug tester. This gets done with the help of alligator clips that attach to the wires instead of the spark plug.

Turn On the engine and notice if there are any sparks between the tester’s gap. If any, the spark plug is defective and will need a new replacement part.

Step 4: Remove the Spark Plug

Altogether remove the spark plug from the chainsaw assembly using a spark plug socket. Proceed to use a cover on the open hole to prevent dirt and debris from entering the engine.

Step 5: Check the primary & secondary Ignition Circuits of the Coil

There is a primary and secondary ignition circuit that makes up the ignition coil of the chainsaw. You are going to use the multimeter to test both of the circuits. First, the primary circuit is tested by attaching the negative and positive ends of the multimeter terminals with the coil’s respective negative and positive terminals.

Typical readings range from 0.4 ohms – 2 ohms. Any other reading, a zero, less than the acceptable range, or above the excellent range, will mean that the device has a short or open circuit. Regardless of the reason, any reading apart from the normal ranges will require you to replace the part.

For the secondary circuit, the normal ranges are 6000 ohms to 10000 ohms. You can test the circuit by attaching the positive end of the coil to the multimeter and attaching it to the high output terminal traveling to the spark plug. Any reading that deviates from the standard range will require a replacement part.

Step 6: Disable Fuel Pump Fuse

The purpose of disabling the fuel pump fuse is to make sure the engine does not start so that you can analyze the spark plug. Failure to do so will cause the cylinders not to fire since the spark plug is missing. The engine will also flood as a result of this. Therefore, disable the fuel pump fuse before going to step 7.

Step 7: Crank the Engine

Turn On the engine at this step if the ignition coil is working correctly. The purpose is to provide power to the system to check for blue sparks and perform further testing.

Step 8: Check for Blue Sparks

Blue sparks are an indication of an efficient and adequately functioning chainsaw. You may notice orange sparks or no sparks at all in case the issue wasn’t resolved. Orange sparks signify an insufficient supply of current to spark plugs, whereas zero sparks showcase a problem in the coil system; a dead circuit, or faulty connections.

You will need to restart the steps if you do not see blue sparks since there still is an underlying issue that isn’t yet addressed.

Step 9: Reinstall the Coil

You are done. If you followed the instructions to the 8, you have probably solved the ignition coil issue already. Proceed to place the coil back into the system and reattach all the wires and components to their respective orientations.

Reasons why your Chainsaw won’t start and how to Fix

Diagnosing a chainsaw that won’t start, especially when the underlying issue isn’t located in the ignition coil. If you have gone through all the steps, but the problem persists, your answer may lie in the following list of reasons:

reasons why chainsaw won't start
If your chainsaw cannot start, check out if there are any of these signs!

1. A Spark plug might be Defective

A defective spark plug will not be able to create an electrical current that ignites the engine system. With that said, you can diagnose the spark plug by inspecting it for any dirt, damage, and cracks. Moreover, the spark plug can become defective if it has a faulty electrode or a massive carbon buildup. So make sure to replace the bad spark plug to fix the issue.

2. A Clogged Carburetor

A clogged carburetor is considered a bad one. A bad carburetor is mainly a result of fuel that has been left in the tank for too long. Over time, the fuel will get sticky and clog the carburetor. To fix this issue, clean the carburetor, remove the fuel, and use a cleaning agent to wipe the entire element clean.

3. The Ignition Coil might become Defective

To fix a defective ignition coil, you will need to get a new one since it is near impossible to fix it.

4. The Recoil Starter might be Defective

The issue may be the recoil starter itself, which means it went wrong or malfunctioned in some mechanical way. An excellent example of this is when the pulley system gets stuck, requiring you to put it back into its standard orientation. Replace the recoil starter if the pulley position isn’t the problem.

5. The Chainsaw may have a Broken Rewind Spring

A broken rewind spring will often cause the cord not to rewind after each pull. To fix this, all you will need to do is get a new rewind spring, which will sometimes require you to replace the entire recoil starter assembly. However, this will depend on your chainsaw model and manufacturer.

6. The chainsaw’s engine is flooded with Fuel

The engine can get flooded for various reasons, the first one being an incorrect ratio of petrol to oil. An improperly calibrated carburetor is also another reason since it affects the revolution speeds. Moreover, a wet or faulty spark plug can flood the chainsaw’s engine since it won’t create sparks.

7. The Choke is Activated in warm Weather

Activating the choke in warm weather will cause the engine to get flooded with gasoline. A flooded engine will cause the chainsaw not to start in mild or warm weather. The choke position helps increase the fuel and air mixture in the carburetor to pump up the fuel flow.

8. The fuel has Deteriorated

When in storage, the fuel will start to break down in almost a month, forming a residue that clogs the carburetor. To prevent this, make sure to empty and clean the gas tank monthly. You can also use a fuel additive like STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer to maintain the freshness of the gasoline for months.


All the steps mentioned above will help you test the chainsaw ignition with a multimeter and maintain your chainsaw over time. In addition, you can take a few maintenance measures to keep it efficient and prolong its lifespan by:

  1. Clean the chainsaw regularly to get rid of debris and dust.
  2. Sharpen dull chainsaw blades to prevent the discharge of sawdust instead of saw chips.
  3. Do not forget to lubricate the chainsaw regularly.
  4. Use new gas approximately every month since the gas in the engine will usually break down in as little as a month when in storage.

Multimeter Brands for Testing Chainsaw Ignition Coil

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