The Poulan PP4218A 42cc Chainsaw is a powerful saw designed for light and medium cutting duties. If you have firewood to cut or some storm damage to clear, the Poulan is more than capable of getting the job done.
It may not be in the same league as a top branded saw like Stihl of Husqvarna (although Poulan are owned by Husqvarna), nevertheless it is packed with great features and comes at half the price.
Carry on reading this review to discover more.
Poulan Pro PP4218a
Performance and Handling
Let’s get right into the review and look at the Poulan’s handling and performance. The 4218A is designed for light and medium cutting duties and is a saw which the manufacturer suggests would make an excellent choice for homeowners, general landowners and property managers. It can be used for cross cutting (bucking a log into smaller lengths), limbing, felling, storm clean up and cutting firewood.
With its 18 inch blade, it is capable of cutting through a 16 inch diameter log in a single pass. Users confirm that the saw is capable of handling all the above mentioned tasks and deals with limbs up to 10 inches in diameter very easily. Other users confirm that they have successfully used the saw to cut through 16 inch locusts and 18 inch oaks, both hardwoods, so it has good cutting ability. Indeed a few users mentioned that it had been able to tackle 20” plus logs. People who are used to using larger saws may find it a little underpowered when tackling the larger tasks but it will nevertheless get the job done.
In terms of handling, this isn’t a particularly heavy saw for a gas model. At around 13lbs it compares for example with the Husqvarna 445. The Poulan has a reduced vibration handle and ComforTouch rear handle, which is designed to reduce operator fatigue and therefore increase productivity.
When it comes to starting, all gas saws have their own procedures which need to be carefully followed. In the case of the 4218A there is an easy pull system which the manufacturer claims means 30% less pulling effort is required to kick the machine into life. The procedure is quite straightforward and involves moving the ON/OFF switch to ON, pressing the primer bulb six times to get fuel to the carburetor, pulling the choke out fully and then pulling the starter cord five times. Then push in the choke to the half position and pull the
cord again until the saw fires into life. User feedback suggests that the Poulan cold starts reasonably well but can be a bit temperamental restarting when hot.
‘Hot starting’ procedures are included in the operator’s manual and need to be followed closely. Consumers mentioned that the saw does have a tendency to switch off after it has been operating for a while and gets hot. In such circumstances, leaving it to cool down for thirty minutes or so usually helps and the saw will start up again and run without problem. This is an issue which can affect a number of ‘cheaper’ gas saws and is therefore not exclusive to the Poulan.
It should be mentioned at this point that there are quite a lot of negative comments about the saw cutting out and not working, even when cold. Delving deeper into the reasons for this, it is clear that a lot of it is down to either user inexperience or not following the correct instructions when mixing fuel, for example. Many of the comments were left by people where the purchase was not verified so have to be treated with caution. There were, however, some complaints made by experienced gas users and the possibility of carburetor problems affecting some machines can’t be ruled out entirely.
The Poulan is equipped with an 18 inch steel bar and pro style chain which has 40% more cutters to help get the job done quickly.
The reversible guide bar has a nose sprocket and small radius tip, which provides reduced kickback qualities. The nose sprocket helps to reduce friction around the bar but will need greasing occasionally to prevent it seizing up. This can be done easily by injecting grease into the sprocket hole with a grease syringe.
The chain has a 3/8” pitch and 0.05” gauge which is the most popular type. It has 62 drive links, is made from hard chrome and is designed to provide a smooth and fast cut with the minimum of kickback. The chain speed is 22.6 m/s, which is typical for a saw of this size.
There is a chain brake on the 4218A which will activate in the event of serious kickback. The brake can also be employed manually by pushing the front hand guard into the forward position.
As experienced users will know, the chainsaw’s chain needs to be kept properly tensioned at all times. It is normal for a new chain to stretch during the first 15 minutes of operation so tension should be checked regularly as a loose chain will easily slip the bar. On an ongoing basis, tension should be checked each time the saw is refueled.
On the 4218A, tension is adjusted by loosening the bar nuts on the side of the saw and then turning a screw which is located on the front of the powerhead unit. (A scrench tool is provided to carry out these tasks). Whilst this system isn’t as convenient as some of the tool-less tensioning systems or indeed where the screw is located on the side of the powerhead unit, the task isn’t difficult and should take only a matter of minutes.
As well as being properly tensioned, the chain also needs to be kept sharp. If you are able to sharpen your own chains, you will need a 5/32” round file, file holder, depth gauge and a flat file. If you are interested in learning more about sharpening, you can check out our article. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can get the chains sharpened professionally for $10-$20 dollars.
One bonus here is that an extra chain is included with this purchase.
Design and Construction
Whilst this is a pretty well-built saw, you shouldn’t expect to get the premium quality construction of an expensive Stihl or Husqvarna. That said, provided you treat it with reasonable care you should expect to get a number of years of excellent service.
It is a well-designed saw. As indicated in the picture below, there is a rubberized handle with a flat bottomed hand guard. The throttle lockout on the top of the handle prevents accidental start-up. Just above the handle on the main powerhead unit is the ON/OFF switch as well as the choke. Access to the spark plug and air-filter is through the cylinder cover.
Below you can see a view of the left side of the saw. The fuel mix and bar oil tank caps are positioned on the bottom of the power head unit so the saw will need to be on its side when oil and fuel are added. Just above the fuel mix cap is located the primer bulb, used for getting fuel to the carburetor when starting the saw. There is a full wrap front handle which enables cutting at different angles. Just in front of the handle is a large hand guard which also doubles as the chain brake. The pull cord starter rope is positioned exactly where you would expect.
The right side of the saw is shown below. The plastic cover is held in place by two locking nuts and the chain adjusting screw sits at the front of the powerhead unit. On the underside of the powerhead, below the adjusting screw, there is a chain catcher (out of view).
Poulan point out that there is a heavy duty forged crankshaft and connecting rod which provides up to 50% more engine life.
Engine/Motor/Battery (Depends on type of saw)
With its 42cc 2-cycle DuraLife engine, this saw has enough power to cope with some pretty demanding jobs.
The engine incorporates Poulan’s Super Clean Air-Filter System which helps to prolong engine life, reduce fuel consumption and provide increased power.
When it comes to fueling you should use a gas/oil mix in the ratio of 50:1. So for each gallon of gas you should pour 2.6 ounces of 2-cycle synthetic oil into the mix. You may read a number of reviews suggesting that the ratio is 40:1. This is incorrect and relates to the old model. If you use this on this newer version you may notice more smoke than normal as there is a greater proportion of oil in the mix. The gas should be unleaded with a minimum octane of 87, with ethanol blended up to 10% maximum by volume (E-10). Under no circumstances should the ethanol content blends above 10%, such as E15 and E85. Ethanol has been known to damage engines and the less ethanol in your fuel mix, the better. If you want to ensure that you are using the correct mix with safe levels of ethanol, then you can buy pre-mixed fuels. Although these are more expensive than mixing your own, you may find that it eradicates some of the problems some users have experienced with the engine stalling and failing to run.
The fuel tank capacity on this Poulan is 11.3 ounces so a gallon of fuel will fill the tank around 11 times.
POULAN PRO PP4218A
Chain Oil System
Ensuring that the cutting equipment is kept lubricated is of paramount importance and the Poulan achieves this thanks to its automatic, fixed flow oiling system. You can therefore concentrate on the job in hand without having to worry about releasing bar oil manually.
You can’t adjust the flow of the oil and some users did mention that in common with many Poulan machines, it seems as though an excessive amount of oil is released to the bar. This isn’t an issue and in fact it is far better to have too much lubrication than not enough.
The manufacturer recommends Genuine Poulan or Poulan Pro bar oil for optimum performance. In freezing conditions the oil will get a little thicker but this can be resolved by adding around 5%-10% of #1 Diesel fuel or kerosene. If Poulan Pro oil is not available you can use a good grade SAE 30 oil or another good quality bar and chain oil.
The oil is added to the reservoir through the cap as shown above in the ‘Design and Construction’ section. This is easily accessible but the saw will need to be laid on its side to add the oil.
There are a variety of safety features on the 4218A, including:
- Reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain. These can reduce the likelihood and severity of kickback but not eliminate it entirely.
- Chain brake. This is another effective measure against kickback. In the event of kickback occurring, the brake will automatically engage bring the chain to an immediate stop. This can also be activated by the user at any time by pushing the front hand guard forward.
- Chain catcher. This is a small device on the underside of the saw which is designed to stop a slipped or whipping chain from coming into contact with the user’s hands.
- Throttle lockout switch. This prevents the unintentional pressing of the throttle trigger.
- Front and rear hand guards. These protect the user’s hands from coming into contact with the chain or harmful debris. Wearing an appropriate set of gloves will provide further protection.
The best way to remain safe when using a chainsaw is to follow the correct operating instructions, which can vary depending on the type of cutting you are doing. Furthermore, appropriate head, eye and hearing protection should be worn, as should suitable clothing.
The weight is 13.2 lbs. Although heavier than most cordless electric saws, it is reasonably light for a gas saw and shouldn't present any problems to experienced gas users.
This product comes with a whole range of accessories, including a carry case, operators' manual, scrench tool and gloves.
• Excellent cutting performance
• Reasonably priced
• Light for a gas saw
• Starts well
• Excellent accessories
• Some reliability issues reported
• Uses a fair amount of bar oil
At first glance the consumer ratings seem very disappointing for the Poulan. There are several hundred online ratings for this model on various websites and if a weighted score is calculated it would score around 3.1 out of 5.0. However, looking at these more closely they may not tell the real story. A large proportion of these reviews related to unverified purchases made by individuals who were keen to recommend other products. If these unverified reviews are removed, the score is around 4.0 out of 5.0, which probably represents a fairer assessment.
Customers like the saw’s cutting performance and the fact that it is relatively easy to handle. Perceptive consumers recognize that the product isn’t in the same league as say a top of the range Stihl or Husqvarna, but comes at half the price.
In terms of negatives, some users mentioned that it uses a lot of bar and chain oil. The main complaint, however, centered on the fact that the saw cuts out quite often. As mentioned earlier, this is by no means an issue which affects everyone and some of this may be as a result of the type of fuel mix being used.
You should buy this saw if:
• You are looking for a small gas saw which is relatively easy to handle.
• You need a saw for light and medium cutting duties.
• You want a reasonably inexpensive gas saw
You should not buy this saw if:
• You want a regular use, heavy duty cutting saw
• You want premium quality and are prepared to pay for it
Price of Poulan PP4218A Chainsaw
The Poulan is currently priced well under $200. We believe this represents excellent value, especially given the range of accessories included in the purchase.