3 photos
Stihl FS 38

Stihl FS 38

2.8 from 80 reviews

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.

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

Terrible product

Green line is useless if cutting near foundation or rocks.
Should come with 0.95 line.
Hard to get the line out of head. Need to turn the trimmer off and then you can get more line.
Dealer did not show me how to put line on the trimmer head.
Should not have to do this.
Last purchase of a STIHL.

Date PurchasedJul 2017

Major disappointment

Stihl FS 38 trimmer review

It starts and runs dependably. Unfortunately that's the best I can say for it. The bump string head is the most useless of any I owned over the years. Essentially does not work. To advance the string you need to stop the machine and pull string out by hand. Complaining about this to the dealer that sold it to me, Crop Productions Services, Inc in Fallbrook CA, was useless. They said well I couldn't expect much from a light duty unit. They talked me into buying more of the special green string it originally came with but it still did not feed out. That's bad enough but the string end of this machine gets so hot it smokes if it's run at full power any length of time more than about a minute. It gets so hot it melted the scatter shield onto the shaft housing. Used in brief bursts it still gets hot but is usable. Unfortunately because it was rarely used at first, these defects were not obvious until too late to return it or get service under warranty.
I bought this machine because of the Stihl name. Similar machines of other brands are available for less money. Other machines I own are unreliable but at least when they do run they are usable. Because of this I no longer respect the Stihl name and I regard Stihl as having deteriorated into cheap Chinese products. Buying from Crop Production Services has unfortunately been no safer or better in any way than dealing with a big box store. Just more expensive. I can only guess the purchase date. Over a year ago, or I would try to return it for sure..

Date PurchasedJun 2016


I am very disappointed with your fs38. Runs horribly.
Took to dealer for a tune up and to check it.
Surprised to be told straight away I should buy a new one.
Ever since having it serviced, it runs even worse.
I honestly hope your employees are not trained this way on purpose.
Poor customer care.
A disappointed customer.

Date PurchasedSep 2009

Absolute rubbish

Ran terribly from the start. Line head attachment is very frustrating to use. Very difficult to start even using spray ether and now wont even start. It was a lottery as to whether it would start or not.This product made a simple job very time consuming and frustrating. Would never buy Stihl again despite their reputation.

Date PurchasedJun 2015

A good grass trimmer

I bought this trimmer in July 2015 and it has been a good machine. Has plenty of power and cuts well with a cutting head that is easy to change line in. Can on occasion take quite a few pulls to get it to start but once running works well. One issue I had was about 2 months after I bought it part of the bump feed head kept falling off due to a small clip that held it in place coming loose. The first couple of times I managed to fix it but eventually it did it in long grass and the clip went missing. Took it to the stihl store I bought it from and they basically said bad luck not covered by warranty so had to purchase a whole new bump feed part. Also parts of the engine have developed some rust despite it being stored under cover in a shed. I bought this brand as stihl has a good reputation for good products so it's a bit of a shame that it's developed rust and that the bump feed head fell apart so easily but despite this it is a good trimmer that does it's job well.

Date PurchasedJul 2015

Never again will I buy another stihl!

I am lucky to get 15 minutes CONTINUOUS MAX use from the FS58. either the motor, which is VERY difficult to start, stops or the plastic slashers refuse to extend no matter how hard I tap the head. And IF the 2mm green slashers do extend... the whole length comes out and jams the motor by rapping round the head. As for refitting the plastic slashers easily... FORGET IT! As fast as you wind it on it springs out of the two slots even after locking them into their 2mm pocket slots. I expect machinery to fail OCCASIONALLY but EVERY time its used? NEVER AGAIN. I will never buy another stihl again.

Date PurchasedNov 2013

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Questions & 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

Can I replace my curved shaft on my fs38 with a straight shaft?
No answers


FS 38
Price (RRP)179
Power SourcePetrol
Handle TypeLoop Handle
Release dateMar 2008

Visit official website - Download manual

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