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Stihl FS 38

Stihl FS 38

2.8 from 86 reviews

See the Best Petrol Whipper Snippers in 2019 as rated by Australians on ProductReview.com.au.


Definite Issue/s with some of the FS-38 units

Purchased unit new and started having starting issues within 2 tanks of gas. I use premium gas/seafoam. I am very experienced repairing/rebuilding small engines. My 30-yr old McCulloch Eager Beaver is still going fine. I did not expect to start having issues so soon with the FS-38 and I know some of you have had no issues which is great! I have eliminated issues including compression, exhaust spark-arrestor, spark, etc. My last resort is to replace carb diaphragms, etc. There may be some truth behind issues with Zama carbs. I even tried adjusting jet settings- no change. Sad to think my MF-14 (year 1973) is still going strong and the only carb issue I have ever had since 1973 was sticking fuel inlet needle. And I don't use premium (ethanol free supposedly) in this hydra-static riding unit. Anyway, for those of you having issues with your FS-38, yes indeed it may be carb issues NOT as a result of your actions. I do recommend premium gas with a touch of seafoam (use sparingly) as a stabilizer. Good luck everyone!

Purchased in May 2015 for $165.00.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Product is used: Occasionally
Grass Type Short grass

A great trimmer if you care for it properly and have reasonable expectations

( I would have given 4.5 stars if that was an option)
The FS38, bought in May of 2014, has exceeded my expectations.
As long as one follows the proper fuel, fuel storage, and machine storage recommendations, this should be a VERY reliable machine. It has NEVER failed to start.
#1. FUEL:
I ALWAYS use fuel stabilizer after I fill a new, 5 gallon container of gasoline, as I sometimes don't run the machine dry-(as is recommended), and it may sit for a few months over Winter. One time it sat for 6 months with fuel inside and it still started right up after being primed.
I mix 1 gallon of fuel at a time, as needed, adding ONLY synthetic oil and a little bit more of fuel stabilizer.
I have ALWAYS run 89 octane fuel-as the manual specifies-and have troubled myself to find where non-ethanol-laced fuel can be obtained, using only that. I've run an average of 4 gallons of fuel through it per year, (between 50-100 hours per year).
If one chooses to run ethanol-laced fuel, the carburetor is much more likely to give problems-even if the fuel is completely drained from it when it is not in use, as ethanol attracts moisture and this WILL speed up oxidation of the metal parts.
(At the very least, use fuel stabilizer as it helps reduce this).
In the USA, STIHL encourages the use of high quality oil, and puts something valuable behind such as evidenced by their 2 year residential use warranty-extension policy when purchasing a 6-pack of STIHL brand oil with a new trimmer purchase.)

#2. MAINTENANCE:
Aside from cleaning and regapping the spark plug and cleaning/replacing the air filter from time to time, trying different trimmer lines, (I settled on .095 round), and cleaning the spark arrestor (burning the carbon off with a propane torch and also drilling slightly larger holes in the wire screening,) and lubricating the drive shaft's lower end from time to time with a few drops of oil, plus the occasional hose blasting of water to get most of the crud off the grass guard/lower boom and trimmer head, (and hand-cleaning only when necessary).
The only non-standard maintenance parts I've replaced are the trimmer head (twice) and the boom/tube/driveshaft/bearing assembly (once) . I may replace the spark plug this year as the side electrode is getting thin from being filed and regapped. I have previously replaced the spark plug once.
As others have mentioned, the spark arrestor will clog over time, and its fairly easy to tell when it needs doing-the power goes down, (the engine doesn't run as many RPM) and it begins to get harder to start. I BELIEVE that using synthetic oil lengthens the interval between spark arrestor cleanings.,
#3. Parts:
The drivshaft assembly was replaced THIS YEAR (year 5) and I was amazed that it only cost $40. US- including installation, at a Stihl authorized service center.

4. The worst on-going issue that I've had with this machine is that the ORIGINAL STIHL head had a short protective "collar" that did not go up far enough to prevent very long grass and weeds from too-easily fouling the head, wrapping around in the space between where the head's collar ends and the grass guard starts. The replacement STIHL part (same #) has a taller protective collar. (That grass-fouling is why I would have subtracted 1/2 star. )

5. PRICE:
I paid $129.99US+ tax for the FS38-in May of 2014, whch is more than I'd even spent on a trimmer before. After 20 years of fighting with cheap ones, I figured it was time.
I bought the curved shaft model partly for its price, partly for its WEIGHT and partly because I do a lot of tight quarters trimming where a straight shaft would be too unwieldy. The weight can be an issue with heavier trimmers-especially if you need to do higher-than-shoulder trimming of road embankments or up creek banks as I do.
6. GRIPES:
a. On my wish list is an optional larger fuel tank than the original 11oz one, as I now need to carry a refill bottle of fuel around with me any time I intend to trim for over about 45 minutes-which is nearly every time.
b. A larger capacity line spool as standard would be welcome as well.
I can only get about 6.5 feet/2 meters of .095" line in each of teh original head's 2 recesses, so I carry extra lne with me as well as fuel.
c. A curved boom/tube length between that of the EXTRA long FS40? and the FS38 would be appreciated.

Purchased in May 2014 at ACE Hardware .

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Grass Type Tall grass and Thick, heavy grass or weeds

Don't buy the Stihl FS 38

After using only 3 times the FS 38 refuses to start. Stihl is of little help. I would like to get my money back, Stihl refuses, not backing their product.

Purchased in July 2019 at Home Hardware for $180.00.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Product is used: Weekly
Grass Type Short grass

It won't die, Tougher then nails

All of my trimmers I am really abusive to them, I use .105 string and I run it wide open all the time, these trimmers have rev limiters and It sees the rev limiter all the time. Cons, the carburetors are trash and they have a limited adjustment so you have to buy a new carburetor once your carburetor adjustment is maxed out, also the spark arrestor gets clogged very easy, the fix is to just remove it, but it makes the trimmer way louder but it will sound really mean, it also is kinda hard to start, but this trimmer is unstoppable and its the cheapest gas trimmer stihl makes, I'm totally amazed!

Purchased in April 2015 for $99.00.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Product is used: Weekly
Grass Type Thick, heavy grass or weeds

10 years on and going strong.

Don’t understand all these negative reviews. Use the proper starting procedure and you’ll have no problems. Mine has been flogged and never failed, not even a service! I’m confused, I run this thing on 2.4 line aswell. No problems. A carb rebuild kit is $15 , I just did a rebuild on a mates machine after 5 years of daily use. Runs perfect. Just a note that OLD FUEL will kill any two stroke, remember that. But these carbies are easy to clean or replace, $30 for a genuine carb. A small amount of maintenance and these things will keep on going....

Purchased in April 2006.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Product is used: Weekly
Grass Type Thick, heavy grass or weeds

Not convinced

Had a cheap ryobi for 13 years. I thought I would go stihl this time. So far I seem to want to through it against my rock wall each time I use it! I'm hoping it will at least be reliable as my ryobi was. Two reasons why my neighbours can hear me swearing. 1. Takes more pulls to start then it should. 2. God help you if you have to take the spool off to refit the chord...almost impossible dispite the instructions! Designers must not be the brightest. I remember 15 years ago makers banged on about the touch auto line feeders. They never worked then and they are "stihl" trying to sell it as a great feature, surely someone can design a better way??? Replace the chord straight away if you buy one. The chord has little slices every 5mm.. breaks every 10secs. What the??? Not up to the hype.

Purchased in January 2019 at Nerang for $179.00.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Noise Level
Safety
Product is used: Occasionally
Grass Type Short grass

Chinese Zama carburetor

I have a total of three Fs38 machines - two trimmers and one blower.
The biggest drawback is hard starting due to the Zama carburetor which cost a fortune to replace the inner gaskets etc yearly.
The Stihl engines self performed solidly over the years and I’ve never had a mechanical breakdown. And I have a big yard and works it hard.
As a result of the hard starting I bought a Husqvarna which is a faultless performer - but much more expensive as well.
I intend to replace all the Zama carburetors with another brand.
The stihl is light and handles easily (but I am big so size is not relevant).
I find the string changes easily by turning the top a turn by hand and pulling the strings out.
I saw yesterday that Stihl has a very fancy head out now with another easy type of string, but it is too expensive for its purpose.

Purchased in September 2013.

Build Quality
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Cleaning & Maintenance
Product is used: Weekly
Grass Type Thick, heavy grass or weeds

Easy to use

This brushcutter is very easy to use, not to heavy so easy to hold and very easy to start. The cutter glides through the blades and does not get clogged with clippings.

Great Weed Eater and Great Local Service

Very cheap Brushcutter, came with free fuel, extra line, cap, glass's and sales staff show you how to use it and restring the line, a lot easier than cheapie ones and better quality than even what bunnings sells for a similar price, engine is bigger too!, can't fault it, then ontop of that a 2 year warranty. Have had plenty of Stihl products in the past, can't go wrong.

Date PurchasedOct 2018

Not user friendly

The line doesnt auto feed as stated, i dont recommend this for anyone who is 5'8 or taller it gives you a sore back in no time at all and i found it difficult to start and it seems very touchy in the throttle department. I usually use half throttle when i use a whipper snipper but it doesnt like sitting on half throttle, very aggressive.

Date PurchasedJan 2019

Great product starts easy cuts better with the thicker orange STHL line.

Only reason I give 4 starts is hanging it upright it leaks gas (aka only 1 drop or 2 over 4 months still) and needs time horizontal before being started immediately. The plastic case is cheaper, more rattles than the american versions but much lighter big trade off..... but with ETHANOL FREE FUEL!!! runs after a choke pull then on idle easily starts.. never more than 2 pulls total EVER!. These reviews are from people who do not use correct fuel stabilizer to keep gas* (because how long will it take to use a gallon if residential?) which helps prime your carb plus 90% of the public uses ethanol fuel*; carbs aren't designed for that.

Also bought mine used still no issues the problem is correct maintenance most people agree is is too expensive that is the cost of a gasoline engine if you can not maintain a carb that is the other edge of the knife. Not the product it is lazy users. Cars need oil and oil changes come on people otherwise go electric.

Date PurchasedSep 2018

Great unit for the price

Have had mine for 18 months now - unlike other reviews on here i found it fairly easy to start - following the direction of the stihl shop where i purchased it - cold start - 3 pulls on choke, take it off choke, 2-3 pulls and it runs. Warm start no choke 2-3 pulls and its fine. I did have a issue of stale fuel when i left it sit over winter but a quick visit to my local and was sorted.

Date PurchasedAug 2017

Regift this piece of junk pity the poor person that receives it!

Bought my fs38 stihl used it about 20 times, stopped running smoothly so i took it to my local stihl dealer and was told after 2 weeks that the carby was no good, new one was $90 plus labour $175, told better of to buy a new one, it certainly wont be a stihl, last stihl product i ever buy, wouldnt take one even if they were free, if it was xmas present I'd regift it !!

Date PurchasedFeb 2017

Don’t buy it

I have had this FS38 for two 1/2 years for an average urban block. I’ve spent twice what I paid for it on servicing because of the following problems. Won’t start easily and eventually stopped starting. Cuts out during use if it’s on an angle (apparently a carburettor problem) which is very frustrating. Have replaced carbon, we’ll see how long this one lasts. It doesn’t bump feed easily and the chassis burns my forearm where it rests against it during use. Also gives me little static electricity shocks. Hate using it. Just find it painful and time consuming and frustrating to use. Regret buying it. Will NEVER buy again.

Date PurchasedMay 2015

Worst STIHL product ever do not buy

Bought this FS 38 to replace the previous model that I had been using without any problems for about ten years, this one is hard to start, is cheaply made and poorly designed.
The unit is very hot to touch in the handle area or where you place your arm to control the unit.
Contacted STILH customer service on line, six months later still no reply. Crap on you STILH.
DO NOT BUY THIS ITEM.

Date PurchasedApr 2018

Chinese Junk!!

Worked okay first 6 months. Always lost fuel whenever I turned it to trim the driveway and died constantly. Wouldn't start this spring. Stored properly through winter. Installed new carburetor and kinda worked one time and now continues to not start or stay running when it does run. Adjusted new carb many of times. Stihl is now Chinese trash!! Will never buy their products again!!

Date PurchasedMar 2017

Once you get it to run, Stihl wont feed string

Replaced a John Deere weedeater that gave me ten years of reliable service for my yard (Twenty minutes of trimming or less). This machine ran and fed string poorly from the start. Bought extra heads to have them prewound. Quit running altogether the first year. After an injury, paid someone to mow two seasons. This summer, I decided to tackle it so I didn’t feel i threw my money away. Youtube and web searches revealed the spark arrester clogs easily, causing the machine to run poorly. Clean it, or against manufacturers recommendations, remove it, and it runs fine.
The string feed, is another issue.
The stock 5-2 Autocuts (three different heads)would not feed and string weld was constant.
Went to Stihl dealer and was sold the 6-2 Autocut, which was described as a speedhead. Pros online said they automatically junk their stihl stock heads for aftermarket speedheads, but that only works on straight shafts. This machine is a curved head. The 6-2 Autocut gave me the same problem. Decided to try hexagon string. Same problem. Basically, I’ve spent over $200 on an unusable piece of lawn equipment.

Date PurchasedMay 2016

Not bad but expected better from Stihl

I recently purchased an FS36. It goes alright but I expected a bit better from a brand such as Stihl. Many people said to go with Stihl as they have tough equipment. Anyhow, it does the job for now but i probably would look at a different brand if i wanted to buy in future

Date PurchasedApr 2018

Very Disappointed. Big Let Down Stihl

I am a hard and fast Stihl user and have always sung their praises, even though the gear is expensive to buy compared to other brands. I have many Stihl chainsaws, blowers, and post hole borers etc. This machine is CRAP. NEVER STARTS.. .Big let down stihl...very disappointed. I will never buy another Stihl weedeater. ...though am a believer in most of their other products.

Date PurchasedJun 2017

CAUTION Doesn't start. Don't frustrate yourself, buy something else.

Within two months this unit began to act up. It would starve for fuel and be very touchy about flooding. I found the in tank gas filter was sticking up into the tank so it would basically run out of gas with half a tank. I fixed that with some patience and a pair of forceps. But starting it is still a crap shoot. It got so bad that I removed the recoil and force started it with a drill gun, just for personal satisfaction and to rev it as high as it would go until I calmed down. I have a stihl chainsaw and a backpack leaf blower that are both ancient and start great. What happened STIHL?

Date PurchasedMay 2014

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Questions & Answers

Does a fs 86 carbie fit a fs 38
No answers

Throttle trigger wouldn't go all the way in like it should, so I took it apart and there is a spring laying in the bottom. Where does it go? And could that be the reason the throttle trigger wouldn't go all the way in?
No answers

Line doesn't feed as well as it used to. Is it due to using line that got wet?
1 answer
no

Details

Stihl FS 38
CategoryPetrol Whipper Snippers
Price (RRP)179
Power SourcePetrol
Handle TypeLoop Handle
Weight4.1
Release dateMar 2008

Visit official website - Download manual

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