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#869648 - 03/31/07 12:56 AM Shelf life of motor oil?
96 Cherokee Offline

Registered: 10/09/05
Posts: 311
Loc: Indiana
I just poured a quart of Valvoline 10W-40 into a car engine and when the bottle was almost empty I saw what looked like a slug go into the funnel and on into the engine. I stopped pouring and looked into the bottle and in the bottom the the bottle the oil looked like it had gelled. I have had this oil for an estimated 15-20 years out in my tractor shed. In the past I have seen 2 stroke oil gel in the bottom of the bottle after several years, but I did not know it would happen to motor oil. Anyone ever seen this?

#869649 - 03/31/07 03:21 AM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: 96 Cherokee]
Blue99 Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 2233
Loc: Wisconsin
It's highly likely that the viscosity index improvers and maybe even the wax from Grp I base oils (typical of late 80's motor oils) have separated from the base oils. After 15-20 years in your "shed", alot of exposure to temperature extremes and freezing & thawing has been going on.

We have a regular member here with professional experience blending lubricants, and he may provide a better answer.

I'd be concerned about this "gob" entering the filter. My suggestion would be to idle the engine to heat up the oil & then drain and start over with fresh oil and a new filter.

#869650 - 03/31/07 11:04 AM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Blue99]
Vilan Offline

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1577
Loc: Surrey, BC
I used a couple 15-20 year old quarts of 10W40 a couple years ago. No slugs, and the bottle interior looked OK. A bit stained at the bottom maybe. But I did shake it up a bit before pouring it in.

#869651 - 03/31/07 05:02 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Vilan]
Roy Gutfinski Offline

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 178
Loc: Maine
What you have is basically a separation caused by years of warm/cold cycles. Heat from the engine will mix everything up in short fashion. The only problem is that some of the necesssary additives are in the "goo" at the bottom of your bottle. When I am using a bottle or can of oil which has been stored for a long time, I keep the container upside down for at least a day before using it. Then the "goodies" which have separated over time come out of the bottle first.

#869652 - 03/31/07 05:05 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Roy Gutfinski]
Johnny Offline

Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 14013
Loc: Retired | Wausau, WI
To protect themselves, most oil companies will tell you the oil has a shelf life of two years.

#869653 - 03/31/07 05:24 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Johnny]
Roy Gutfinski Offline

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 178
Loc: Maine
True, most of them will tell you 2 to 5 years. Yet I have seen small amounts of separation in oils less than a year after manufacture. I think it is a time-temperature phenomenon. An oil stored at a steady 60 degrees is probably going to show less separation than one stored for the same amount of time at temperatures varying from 0 degrees to 120 degrees.

#869654 - 03/31/07 06:39 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Roy Gutfinski]
TallPaul Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 13069
Loc: By Detroit
Well, I guess we can safely say that 15+ years is beyond shelf life. I still think 5 to 10 years is acceptable, given proper storage (avoid freezing and extreme high temps).
The masses, thirsting for convenience, unwittingly dig the grave of the automobile as we knew it. The industry already has one foot in that grave.

#869655 - 03/31/07 10:27 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: TallPaul]
DINO_NO Offline

Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 534
Loc: British Columbia.
Even in an opened bottle?
91 Grand Prix, 3.1L 127,300 km and counting.
I plan to buy smart fortwo coupe though.

#869656 - 04/01/07 02:40 AM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: DINO_NO]
Cutehumor Offline

Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 9328
Loc: USA
I've come to the realization that hoarding only does you so good for a few years, I hoard to save money buy buying closeout or for sale oil. But I stop when I realize my oil shrine will last 4 years. But I don't want to waste oil by changing frequently just to use up my stash. Plus, newer specs come out every few years and I want those technological advances in future oils.
09 Chevy Cobalt 2.4L 80k miles
09 Pontiac Vibe 2.4L 92k miles

#869657 - 04/01/07 06:19 AM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Roy Gutfinski]
96 Cherokee Offline

Registered: 10/09/05
Posts: 311
Loc: Indiana
Gentlemen, I was in a pinch and that was the only bottle of dino multigrade I could find around here. The oil in the car(Havoline) had only 1200 miles on it so I did not want to change it yet, but the dipstick showed a quart low so I added the old Valvoline. I'll do an oil change on the car soon. Thanks much for all the replies. The experience and expertise on this forum is amazing, and quite valuable.

#869658 - 04/01/07 10:57 AM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: 96 Cherokee]
Bill in Utah Offline

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 12812
Loc: UT
I've used oil in my stash as old as 5-6 years with no problems.

Currently my oldest oil is SL with a date of 3/05 with about 150 quarts bought in 2005.

I'm not concerned with having the latest and greatest oil coming out. My UOAS show that under a buck a quart oil gets low single digits to zero in all the wear metals...

Take care, Bill

#869659 - 04/01/07 03:52 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: DINO_NO]
TallPaul Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 13069
Loc: By Detroit

Even in an opened bottle?

I'd say all bets are off in the open bottle. Use it up on top ups or for a special blend of various leftovers. If you really want to keep an open bottle for a long time, smash it to get most of the air out so the oil is near the neck like a new bottle. I prefer to store half quarts I am not planning to use for a long time in these pint oil additive bottles and label them with masking tape.

#1590284 - 09/05/09 02:15 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: Johnny]
cordeen Offline

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 77
Loc: Florida
I have an unopened quart of Amsoil Saber Professional two cycle oil that is about six years old. Just got a new Husqvarna chainsaw, 50:1 and a bit concerned. Should I be concerned or not.

#2268823 - 05/23/11 12:17 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: 96 Cherokee]
AlphaMale8 Offline

Registered: 05/12/11
Posts: 28
Loc: Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Found this thread on a search as I've had some Castrol GTX 10W30 sitting for about 2 years in the garage in an opened-bottle (some cold and warm cycles).

I didn't see gelling on the bottom, but I take it that the additives like the anti-foam and acid neutralisers are still competent? I'd rather not waste oil if not needed, but will dispose of it if it's no good (or unload it to my mechanic to use on his customers' cars for top-up :D).

I'm a bit of a hoarder too when they go on sale, esp. since Valvoline isn's sold anymore at my local retail stores, but I started storing oil in my basement to prevent them being exposed to temp extremes. I have like 25L of 5W20 (GTX SM, Valvoline SN formulation, QS and Pennzoil SN formulations), 7L of GC 0W30 and 12L of 5W30 synthetic SN, lol. :s
2002 Nissan Maxima SE - OEM 9E000 Filters w/ GC 0W30 & Amsoil ASL 5W30

Check out my blog:

#2268827 - 05/23/11 12:21 PM Re: Shelf life of motor oil? [Re: 96 Cherokee]
demarpaint Offline

Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 23591
Loc: NY
^^ 2 years is nothing, shake it and use it.
God Bless Our Troops

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