Two-stroke engines have three important advantages over four-stroke engines:
• Two-stroke engines do not have valves, which simplifies their construction and lowers their weight.
• Two-stroke engines fire once every revolution, while four-stroke engines fire once every other revolution. This gives two-stroke engines a significant power boost.
• Two-stroke engines can work in any orientation, which can be important in something like a chainsaw. A standard four-stroke engine may have problems with oil flow unless it is upright, and solving this problem can add complexity to the engine.


These advantages make two-stroke engines lighter, simpler and less expensive to manufacture. Two-stroke engines also have the potential to pack about twice the power into the same space because there are twice as many power strokes per revolution. The combination of light weight and twice the power gives two-stroke engines a great power-to-weight ratio compared to many four-stroke engine designs.

Two-stroke engines have a couple of significant disadvantages


• Two-stroke engines don't last nearly as long as four-stroke engines. The lack of a dedicated lubrication system means that the parts of a two-stroke engine wear a lot faster.

• Two-stroke oil is expensive, and you need about 4 ounces of it per gallon of gas. You would burn about a gallon of oil every 1,000 miles if you used a two-stroke engine in a car.

• Two-stroke engines do not use fuel efficiently, so you would get fewer miles per gallon.

• Two-stroke engines produce a lot of pollution -- so much, in fact, that it is likely that you won't see them around too much longer.

The pollution comes from two sources. The first is the combustion of the oil. The oil makes all two-stroke engines smoky to some extent, and a badly worn two-stroke engine can emit huge clouds of oily smoke. The second reason is less obvious but can be seen in the animation (above). Each time a new charge of air/fuel is loaded into the combustion chamber, part of it leaks out through the exhaust port. That's why you see a sheen of oil around any two-stroke boat motor. The leaking hydrocarbons from the fresh fuel combined with the leaking oil is a real mess for the environment.