What’s better, 4 cycle or 2 cycle line trimmers?

With the different variations of line trimmers available on the market, what type is best for you? Should you go with a cheaper model or a more expensive one? Did you know that the cheaper models tend to be much more difficult to service as they are designed to be used until they break down and then thrown away? In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we look into the benefits and downsides of using a 2 stroke line trimmer versus a 4 stroke line trimmer and consider which would be best for your needs.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve been wanting to pick up a cheap line trimmer to have as a backup. I’d like to get a split shaft model so I can pick up a few seldom-used, but sometimes needed attachments.

At this point, in order to keep costs down, I’m not looking at commercial grade,  just something cheap from one of the local big box stores.

I saw a 26cc straight shaft (split) trimmer on sale for $140, regularly $190. It’s a 4 cycle though and I don’t know if there are any pros or cons when it comes to 4 cycle trimmers.

It uses the same diameter trimmer line as I use currently (.095) so that’s a plus.
I don’t want a two cycle that uses 40:1 mix because I’m not messing around with lugging around another gas can for it, so I was thinking the 4 cycle may be the way to go since most of the homeowner grade stuff seems to be 40:1.

I want to make this purchase soon as I have some limb work I may be doing this coming week and the pole pruner attachment would be very helpful.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I own a 4 cycle model and wouldn’t trade it in for anything. It did cost some money but I am true believer that you get what you pay for. My line trimmer is eight or nine years old now and if I put a picture up of it you would think it was brand new.

As far as maintenance, I change the oil, spark plug, and air filter roughly two to three times a year. It runs a good four hours a day most days.

I like the 4 cycle trimmers better, no matter the brand. Two pulls when cold and your off and running, one pull after it warmed up. Also the power is down low in the RPM range so you can keep from throwing stuff every where and doing damage, like around cars in lots. I bought my last one for around $180 plus tax and really like it a lot.

I did change the head, I can’t stand bump heads as I have never used one that worked right. The only thing that I don’t like about it is it doesn’t have a hook for a strap, but I made a homemade one that works fine.”

A third shared “I’d suggest you stick with the 2cycle models as they will last longer. The 4 cycle will not do well when turning on it’s side either. It will also need more repairs as they get older. I have used both but have had much better luck with my 2cycle equipment as they are lighter, cheaper, and last longer.

Also I’d strongly suggest that you go with commercial models. They will be cheaper in the long run to operate and maintain. For instance, did you know it can take up to 45 minutes to change a pull rope in a cheap consumer trimmer from a big box store? They are designed to be throw away so they are not mechanic friendly. You don’t think about these things until after you purchase your trimmer and something goes wrong on it.

A two stroke engine is lubricated by mixing the oil and gas together or it has an oil pump that squirts oil on the wear parts. A two stroke engine can be run in any position since it is getting lubricated by the fuel mixture, the only issue it has is if it can get fuel in all positions.

A 4 stroke trimmer engine has an oil sump and a little metal spoon to agitate the oil towards the places that require lubrication. Since the oil is not burned in the fuel mix but is captive in the sump with an airspace at the top of the sump, the oil will always naturally flow to the bottom of it’s container. When you have the trimmer upside down or on a severe angle the spoon might possibly be completely out of the oil, effectively rendering the spoon useless. In such positions, your engine is getting no lubricating oil whatsoever. That will cause your engine’s inner workings to wear out quicker.”

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