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Why Engine Oil Matters

Motor oil and engines is a subject that the average male is expected to know about. However, because of embarrassment, or other reasons you might never learn about the various types of oil and the differences between two common engines-4 Cycle Engine, and the 2-Cycle Engine. Not knowing these basics can result in ruined equipment, that can cost you hundreds or thousands to fix. Or, in the case of a disaster, you might irreparably damage lifesaving disaster equipment.

This article will get you on the right track on learning about the 2 stroke engine, 2 cycle engine oil, (AKA-2 Stroke Oil, 2T oil), and the modern 4 stroke engine.

It will cover the following:

  • Why Oil is Necessary
  • Types of oil
  • Differences between 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines
  • How 2 stroke engine oil differs from regular engine oil
  • Potential 2 stroke oil substitutes.

Review-What Is the Function of Regular Engine Oil?

Everyone hopefully already knows that without motor oil your vehicle or any other type of combustion engine will seize up and die on you. You might not know the two major reasons why you need to make sure that an engine has oil.

The two major reasons are:

  •      Lubricant- for the engine parts
  •      Cleans the engine-The oil keeps junk and various debris from gumming up the engine.

What Happens If You Drive a Car Without Engine Oil?

Using any combustion engine, without oil, for even a short time is essentially a death sentence for that engine. The main reason is that without oil you will be without lubrication. And without lubrication the various engine parts will violently rub up against one another and, in turn, the friction will cause major engine damage.

Below is a scared-straight, YouTube video of what happens if you have a two cycle engine without oil. One item that you should especially pay attention to is the friction damage that can happen because of a lack of oil lubricant.

Types of Motor Oil

There are quite a few varieties of motor oil. I.E., 5W-30, 10W-30, and 0W-20. I won’t go into each of these. I will though go into, what I call oil categories. These categories are able to easily purchased on Amazon or your local auto part store:

Synthetic Blend Oil or Synthetic Oil

 Synthetic High Mileage SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil

Synthetic Motor Oil

Synthetic oil can either be a straight synthetic oil or a synthetic blend. Synthetic blend mixes regular oil with synthetic ingredients that are designed to increase performance and increase engine protection. On the other side, full synthetic oil is composed of a synthetic base, substance, and various additives. These additives and the synthetic base combine for better performance than conventional motor oil.

Mineral Oil-(Regular Oil or Conventional 2 Stroke Oil)


Mineral oil “SAE 40” is oil that does not contain any synthetic properties, and it is the type of oil that was commonly used in older 2 stroke engines. SAE 40, mineral oil though is dirtier, and it gives off more smoke than semi-synthetic or synthetic motor oil. Older engines do not work as well under the newer synthetic blend motor oils and the newer 2 stroke engines should not ideally use older SAE 40, straight mineral oil.

Castor Oil

 Castor 927 2-Stroke Premix Racing Oil

Castor 2 stroke Engine OIl

Castor Oil, specially designed for small engines (that do not have power valves), in the 1970s, was commonly used on two stroke engines. (Castor oil was valued for dirt bikes and dirt bike races). The main strong point of castor oil is that when compared to conventional petroleum oil, castor lubricated the engine better. However, castor oil also did not mix well with gas, which in turn resulted in excessive deposits in the engine. Now, with synthetic oils being commonplace and power valve technology, castor oil is used rarely.

Jaso FD Two Stroke Oil

Genuine 2T Motor Oil JASO FD)

JASO FD, 2T, Motor Oil

Jaso Oil is a type of specialized synthetic oil that isn’t, at least for this article an oil category. It is though important that you know about this oil.

Jaso Oil is valued for having lower smoke, and lower ash output than regular synthetic or mineral 2-stroke fuel. Jaso FD fuel is often used on two-stroke dirt bikes and other small engines where high performance is valued.

2 Stroke Engine Vs 4 Stroke Engine

Understanding the basic differences between the 2 stroke engine and the four stroke engine helps you understand why different oil types are needed for the two and four-stroke engines.

What is a 2 Stroke Engine?

The 2 stroke engine AKA ( Two Cycle) is an older, and simpler, technology that is primarily used in smaller engines. Therefore, 2 cycle engines are simpler to build and cost less. The major difference between 2 stroke and a four stroke engine is the number of times it takes for an engine to complete an energy cycle. A two cycle engine takes two piston strokes to complete an energy cycle. On the other hand, the 4 stroke engine requires four piston strokes to finish an energy cycle.

Two get a bit more technical the 2 stroke engine uses a crankcase as the induction, which means that oil mixes directly with the gasoline. Also, this process means that there isn’t a separate area on the engine to fill up the oil. This excellent video below will best explain the difference.

Motors That Might Use a Two Stroke Engine

Nowadays, many UTV/ATVs are using the 4 stroke engine. But the two stroke engine is still being sued. Generally, the smaller the engine is the more likely it will be a 2 cycle engine instead of a 4 cycle engine. Below is a list of vehicles and equipment that you are likely to see the two-stroke engine being used.

25cc Chainsaws 2-Stroke Chain Saw 12"

2-Stroke Chain Saw


2-Stroke Dirt Bike

2-Stroke Kids Dirt Bike


 2 Stroke Outboard Motor

2 Stroke Outboard Boat Motor

Other common items that use the 2 cycle engine are weed eaters, some ATV/UTV’s, and a lawn mower.

How 2 Stroke Oil is Different

As I stated earlier, the two-stroke engine is quite different from the four stroke engine. One of the main differences is that, with a 2 stroke engine, the oil mixes directly with the gasoline.

Because of this difference, 2 cycle oil is also made differently with the main difference between regular motor oil and 2T oil is that the two stroke has less ash content than four stroke engine oil. Less ash equals minimal dirt deposits in the engine and overall better engine performance for a two cycle engine.

Substitutes For Two Stroke Oil

First, if you have two stroke oil or you can buy it, use it. Two-stroke oil, with its lower ash content, is specifically formulated to perform better and extend the life of the two cycle engine. However, during an emergency or SHTF scenario, you might not have the option to use the preferred 2T oil. So, below are a few, less than optimal, substitutes for 2t oil.

Cooking Oil/Vegetable Oil

Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil

Cooking AKA Vegetable Oil

Cooking oil, in pinch, can substitute for 2t oil. It is not ideal though because cooking oil attracts more dirt, which will result, in your engine eventually soon becoming clogged up with deposits. Additionally, cooking oil tends to gum up during the cold, winter months, which can leave your engine clogged up with vegetable oil deposits.

Four Stroke Engine Oil

 10W-40 (5-Quart, Single Pack)

10W-40, Regular Motor Oil

Four stroke engine oil is a temporary substitute that should only be used in emergencies or short-term use. The below video shows the effects of 4 stroke engine oil in a 2 stroke engine both for a snowblower and a motorized bike. Both the snowblower and the mortised bike engine were run for an hour with 4 stroke oil.

As you will see on the video, in that one-hour running time, the only noticeable issues were that the spark plug, on the motorized bike was quite dirty, and more smoke occurred with 4 stroke oils. However, the video shows that there weren’t any performance issues.

It was mentioned though that 2 stroke oil is designed for the two cycle engine. Therefore, unless absolutely necessary, you should use only 2 cycle engine oil in your 2 cycle engine.

Final Thoughts

Based upon this video and my personal observations, 4 cycle engine oil, in the short term, will not damage a 2 stroke engine. Additionally, under proper weather conditions cooking oil is a two stroke oil substitute. However, the above should only be used in emergency situations.