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Most outboard motors have a 4-stroke combustion engine, especially when they are new. However, there are also outboard motors that have a 2-stroke combustion engine. What is the difference between a 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

What are the main differences between a 2-stroke and a 4-stroke outboard motor?

Both the 2-stroke and the 4-stroke engine are combustion engines. The difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke is in the technology. In the 2-stroke engine the piston goes up and down once and in the 4-stroke engine this is twice. In addition, a 4-stroke engine already contains oil, while in a 2-stroke engine you still have to add the oil to the fuel.

There are also general differences between 2-stroke and 4-stroke. 4-stroke outboard engines are more expensive, heavier and require more maintenance than 2-stroke engines. On the other hand, 2-stroke outboard motors are less environmentally friendly, less economical and make more noise.

This has ensured that 4-stroke engines are increasingly becoming the standard. This is due to the strict emission regulations that engines in general must comply with. In some cities, such as Amsterdam and Utrecht, 2-stroke engines are no longer allowed on the water at all.

How does a 2-stroke outboard motor work?

There is also a difference in the operation between 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. A 2-stroke outboard motor produces its power through the downward movement of the cylinder. The piston moves up and down once with each combustion; this is two strokes.

In addition, with a 2-stroke engine you must take into account the fact that you use mixed lubrication instead of pure gasoline. So you need to mix oil with gasoline. The ratio is approximately equal to 1:50.

A 2-stroke outboard motor is known for its power and speed. That is why 2-stroke is mainly used for sailing boats or boats that have to sail fast or far.

How does a 4-stroke outboard motor work?

A 4-stroke outboard motor also produces its power through combustion that pushes down a piston in a cylinder. The only difference is that in a 4-stroke engine the piston goes up and down twice with each combustion; this is four strokes.

In a 4-stroke engine you do not need to add oil to the fuel. The engine block already contains oil that lubricates the rotating parts. A 4-stroke engine has two valves: one for gasoline (intake) and one for combustion gases (exhaust). You can simply refuel the 4-stroke engine at the designated locations.

Advantages and disadvantages of a 2-stroke outboard motor

A 2-stroke outboard motor has advantages and disadvantages. We would like to mention them below.

Advantages of 2-stroke

For example, a major advantage of a 2-stroke engine is the power. But there are even more advantages (and therefore differences) compared to 4-stroke engines:

  • The speed is higher;
  • They accelerate faster;
  • They are brighter;
  • 2-stroke engines can stand still better;
  • 2-stroke engines are cheaper;
  • They are lighter;
  • They require less maintenance.

Disadvantages of 2-stroke

A major disadvantage has already been mentioned: due to emission requirements, 2-stroke engines are banned in more and more cities. A few more disadvantages:

  • A 2-stroke engine is less environmentally friendly;
  • Fuel consumption is higher;
  • They make more noise;
  • Mixed lubrication is required instead of pure gasoline.

Advantages and disadvantages of a 4-stroke outboard motor

A 4-stroke outboard motor also has a number of advantages and disadvantages. We would like to mention them below.

Advantages of 4-stroke

A major advantage of 4-stroke engines is that they are increasingly becoming the standard in cities where emission requirements predominate. Even more benefits:

  • 4-stroke outboard motors produce much less noise;
  • They have less vibrations while sailing;
  • They are more economical because fuel consumption is lower;
  • They are more environmentally friendly;
  • You can fill up with pure petrol instead of mixed lubrication.

Disadvantages of 4-stroke

4-stroke outboard engines also have a number of disadvantages compared to 2-stroke engines:

  • They are more expensive to purchase;
  • They are a bit more vulnerable than 2-stroke engines;
  • They are heavier to transport;
  • They require more maintenance.

Assortment of outboard motors

Outboard Occasions has a wide assortment of new and used outboard motors. Our engines are delivered ready to sail. In addition, we provide a standard 6-year warranty on all new outboard engines and 12 months on second-hand engines. Brands we have in our range include Suzuki, Yamaha, Tohatsu and Mercury.

More news & tips

Everything about the maintenance of your outboard motor


Frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to common questions. Is your question not listed? Please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help you.

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  • What is the difference between 2 stroke and 4 stroke?
    Technically, the difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke is in the piston: with the 2-stroke engine it goes up and down once and with the 4-stroke engine it goes up and down twice. In addition, with the 4-stroke engine you can fill up with pure gasoline and with the 2-stroke engine you need mixed lubrication.
  • Is a 4-stroke outboard motor more expensive than a 2-stroke outboard motor?
    A 4-stroke outboard motor is more expensive than a 2-stroke outboard motor. This is because the purchase price is higher. More maintenance is also required due to, among other things, the sensitive valves.
  • What are the disadvantages of a 2-stroke outboard motor?
    A 2-stroke outboard motor has a number of disadvantages. The engine is less environmentally friendly, fuel consumption is higher, it makes more noise and requires mixed lubrication instead of pure gasoline.