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#2162783 - 02/06/11 11:05 AM Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life?
Cristobal Offline


Registered: 01/02/11
Posts: 2016
Loc: Montebello, CA
I know that motor oil may become obsolete if stored for a long time, because of technological change. For instance, SE grade oil is not used on any new Western or Asian automobile engine models as far as I know, but if you have a stock 1978 Toyota Corolla, it will work fine.

But what if you have kept that oil container for 20 years in your garage? Is it still up to original specs, if it was never opened and much oxygen cannot get inside? What if you kept it stored under cold conditions?

Give me your take on this.
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1996 Toyota Avalon - "The Beast"

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#2162791 - 02/06/11 11:22 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Johnny Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 14013
Loc: Retired | Wausau, WI
Most oil companies will tell you the shelf life of an oil is 5-years. That is what I go by but I know others who have use older oil without any harm. Some on here have done it. Twenty year old oil is made with Group I base stocks and who knows the quality of the additives in it. Up to you.

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#2162799 - 02/06/11 11:29 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 12539
Loc: Chicago, IL
It's very long. But no container is 100% airtight.
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#2162827 - 02/06/11 12:10 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Eddie Offline


Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 6755
Loc: Florida, Cape Coral
I have never seen any data that suggest it can't go 10 years or more but, the additives separate and it is good to shake/mix throughly before using. That is why GM recommended that their dealers do not by larger bulk oil containers that would not need to be refilled within one year.
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#2162837 - 02/06/11 12:19 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
mrplavick Offline


Registered: 11/20/09
Posts: 101
Loc: Maryland
Unopened in factory sealed container stored indoors = 60 months
Unopened in factory sealed container stored subjected to freezing = 24 months
Once opened and air introduced = 12 months.

Source: http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1703349
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#2162849 - 02/06/11 12:37 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: mrplavick]
Cristobal Offline


Registered: 01/02/11
Posts: 2016
Loc: Montebello, CA
By "freezing" I assume that this is not less than the freezing point of water (32F or 0 Centigrade)?
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1996 Toyota Avalon - "The Beast"

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#2162874 - 02/06/11 01:04 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Cutehumor Offline


Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 8957
Loc: USA
I have synthetic oil from 2004 still stealed in my garage. I have no qualms about using it.
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#2162884 - 02/06/11 01:10 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Reddy45 Offline


Registered: 08/15/08
Posts: 610
Loc: USA
I have a CAN of Pennzoil that I bet is still usable. I posted a thread with pics a little over a year ago here. The can is in fine shape and still appears to have the factory seal.

Im just not sure I want to risk opening it up in the event that it could become very valuable.

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#2162928 - 02/06/11 01:49 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Craftsman Offline


Registered: 12/17/06
Posts: 110
Loc: Burnaby, BC
I still have a few CANs of Shell and Esso extra - 10w30. Like Reddy45, the cans are in great shape with no leaks. I've opened a few last year and used them in a oil change. Looking at the oil, there was no separation, no discolouration, no odd smells and it looked like oil. The car performed just fine with the oil.

IMO, most manufacturers (of anything) will put a Best Before date on the product because we, the consumer, ask for it whether it's needed or not. Also, a Best Before date encourages consumption... "better use it before it goes 'bad'", "better throw it out since it's close or after that date", or "why risk it, I'll just buy a new one".

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#3127374 - 09/17/13 09:41 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Craftsman]
Ducked Offline


Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 165
Loc: Taiwan
Came across this which is sort-of relevant.

http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/172/lubricant-storage-life

Its titled "Lubricant Storage Life Limits - Industry Needs a Standard " but if you read it you might reasonably conclude that "industry doesn't need a standard", since they don't appear to have one, nor any basis for one.

Like most "pitches", what it doesn't say is as significant as what it does. There is absolutely no evidence reported here for on-shelf deterioration of motor oils. Instead, its served up as a ready-cooked "given" with a side order of "The sky is falling" Chicken-Little panic salad.

Table 4 (recommended shelf life for indoor storage at 20C) is especially instructive
.
Major oil company C: 10-30W Motor Oil (mineral) 1 YEAR
Major oil company C: 10-30W Motor Oil (PAO) 1 YEAR:
Major oil company D: 10-30W Motor Oil (mineral) 1 YEAR
Major oil company D: 10-30W Motor Oil (PAO) 1 YEAR:

Independant oil company B: 10-30W Motor Oil (mineral) Virtually unlimited *
Independant oil company B: 10-30W Motor Oil (PAO) : Virtually unlimited
Independant oil company C: 10-30W Motor Oil (mineral) : Infinite
Independant oil company C: 10-30W Motor Oil (PAO) : Infinite

1 year (!) isn’t very long, and 1 year to infinity is a pretty wide range.

IF the 1 year has a basis in fact, it could mean that the major oil companies massive (but of course secret) testing of their latest oils, extending over several decades, has told them that their oil is particularly fragile.

OR it could be that their general knowledge of the chemistry of their product makes them think it might be particularly fragile, though its odd that the PAO, plausibly believed to be more stable in an engine, is just as fragile on the shelf.

OR it could be that they wanted to cover their big fat corporate [censored], and pulled the smallest number out of it that they thought they could get away with.

(One might also conclude that either the re-stocking (or re-labelling) costs associated with this short life are carried by the retailer, or the supplier thinks closout specials are good for bizniz.)

Yer pays yer money, and yer takes yer choice

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#3127458 - 09/17/13 11:07 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Ducked]
Solarent Offline


Registered: 10/24/11
Posts: 445
Loc: Calgary AB
Quote:
it could be that they wanted to cover their big fat corporate [censored], and pulled the smallest number out of it that they thought they could get away with


I'd bet on this.
I know a company which keeps samples of their batches on file for 7 years, before disposal, the samples have been tested and still meets the performance specs of the product as if it was made today. However the published shelf life for their products is 5 years max. Definitely a CYA situation.

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#3127497 - 09/17/13 11:50 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 21314
Loc: NY
Most companies I either emailed or spoke with said 5 years. IMO its a lot longer than that.
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#3127501 - 09/17/13 11:54 AM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Kestas Offline



Registered: 06/04/02
Posts: 10838
Loc: The Motor City
One oil company representative told me to throw out any oil over 2 years old. I have oil over 5 years old in my stash, and I have no hesitation in using this oil in my cars. I kept mum, but I thought it was embarrassing on the representative's part.

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#3127531 - 09/17/13 12:27 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Boss302fan Offline


Registered: 11/07/09
Posts: 1955
Loc: Oconomowoc Wi
I would bet 5 years or more and make sure you shake it good before using. I even shake up new bottles... Be careful on older bottles that they do not leak or fall apart when shaking. Ha ha ha.
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#3127533 - 09/17/13 12:31 PM Re: Does Motor Oil Have A Shelf Life? [Re: Cristobal]
Whimsey Online   content


Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 3068
Loc: The Garden State
I just took a bunch of old oil to the recycling center. As I was opening one of the quart containers I realized that I just broke the seal on it. I looked at the bottle. It was Castrol GTX 10W-30 that was rated API SH. This had to be from my 1980 F-100 or 1977 Rabbit. It looked fine pouring out of the bottle. The gentleman next to me thought I was crazy to be disposing of a "perfectly good unopened quart of oil". I explained that is over 30 years old and so far behind today's requirements for vehicles. I got the deer in the head lights stare. Then I though about it, this oil was probably still better than most oils sold in convenience stores today LOL

Whimsey

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