The similarities between the 2 cycle engine's name and operation are self evident. Unlike the more commonly known automobile engine, the 2 cycle engine has only 2 strokes in it's process instead of 4. This means that the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust processes happen in 2 strokes of the engine's piston rather than 4. They also tend to be smaller and less complex engines and are used across many different applications. These vary from useful tools like lawnmovers and chainsaws to what many may call "adult toys" such as outboard boat motors and snowmobiles. One can imagine then the wide variety of conditions these products must endure when being used by consumers. Because of these differences in conditions, synthetic 2 cycle oil is more often the most important factor in the longevity and performance of these engines.
The most significant difference between the automobile engine and a 2 stroke engine concerning oil is in how it is used. In an automobile engine, or 4 stroke engine, oil is used only as a lubricant for internal, moving parts. Although also used similarly as a lubricant, in the 2 cycle engine, the oil is mixed with the fuel and consumed slowly over time in the combustion process. This difference introduces the most vital reasoning in using synthetic 2 cycle oil instead of traditional petroleom based oils. Over time, regular oils create a larger amount byproducts when being burnt. These byproducts then attach themselves to internal engine parts. When these deposits build up over time, engine performance is detrimentally affected. The internal parts then fail at a faster rate, decreasing and limiting the life of the engine. Synthetic 2 cycle engine oils leave behind far less byproducts, and therefore, protect internal components, lengthening the life of the engine.
As discussed before, 2 cycle engines are used in a number of different applications. Across this wide variety, there tends to be extreme conditions. For example, external temperatures can be extremely low for snowmobile users or very hot in outboard engine use in boats. The snowmobile's synthetic 2 cycle oil needs to withstand the coldest of temperatures in which they are commonly used. Also, 2 cycle engines are used in many applications as tools such as lawnmowers, weed-eaters, and chainsaws. These applications are usually performing at their peak under difficult conditions and for longer periods of time. This creates greater stress on internal parts much like the comparison between a work truck and a passenger car. Synthetic 2 cycle oil withstand these adverse conditions better than the traditional oils due to their greater strenths and viscosities. Simply put, it takes longer for the synthetic oils to break down, and they coat and protect better against friction in these adverse conditions.
For over 25 years Vince Peter Platania has been marketing, consulting and formulating high performance lubricants.
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