November 12, 2010
Two-stroke snowmobile engines have come a long way since the industrial powerplants of the 1960s that required lubricating oil to be pre-mixed with gas. With more power output and increasing environmental considerations, selecting the right two-stroke snowmobile oil becomes even more critical to the operation and longevity of engines.
The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting two-stroke snowmobile oil is that engines require different grades and owners must understand their engine’s needs and specifications to choose an oil accordingly.
You can’t go wrong using the manufacturer’s oil; it was developed to meet the requirements of your sled’s two-stroke engine. But what if you have an engine that has been modified to produce more power? Or what if you want a product that is cleaner burning, more environmentally friendly or less expensive than the manufacturer’s recommended oil? This is where it starts to get complicated.
First, rule out choosing two-stroke snowmobile oil on price alone. You have a lot of money invested in your snowmobile, so why would you choose one of the most important consumables required for the machine’s well-being based on price alone?
Many users now prefer full synthetic oil for racing and other high-performance applications. Synthetic blends are increasingly accepted as less costly alternatives for both competition and trail use.
An accepted technical definition of the term “synthetic” oil is often debated. For starters, synthetic oils can be built with a number of different base compounds. The introduction of synthetic blends, which combine significant quantities of natural and artificial base stocks, has added to the confusion.
The diester-based full synthetic oils are renown for great lubricity, wear protection and ability to mix with gasoline and alcohol. Ester-based synthetics aren’t new. They’ve been used in race sleds, race bikes, racing saws and other performance two-stroke applications more than 30 years. Though they tend to be expensive, these products also offer other benefits including virtually smokeless and odorless operation the ability to keep power valves clean and a low pour point.
The pour point is the lowest temperature at which a fluid will move due to the force of gravity. Although the pour point does not indicate a minimum temperature at which the engine will start, it does tell us something about the physical characteristics of the two-stroke snowmobile oil at a low temperature startup; the time at which most engine wear occurs.
Two-cycle oils developed primarily for outboard boat motors typically have pour points that are significantly above the deep-freeze requirements that sleds endure. Most oils that are formulated specifically for snowmobiling include ingredients that drop this statistical measure to at least minus 40 degrees.