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Oil Shelf Life?

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This may be a really dumb question but here it goes. How long is motor oil good for sitting on the shelf? I recently cleaned out my garage and found 2 full cases of Valvoline 5-30. I think it's probably 5 or more years old. Do I use it, or recycle it?

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As a general rule, the simpler the oil formulation, the longer the shelf life. The following is a guideline under protected conditions:

Product Shelf Life

Base Oils, Process Oils Three(3) years

Hydraulic Oils, Compressor Oils, General Purpose Lubricating Oils Two(2) years

Engine Oils and Transmission Oils Three(3) years

Industrial and Automotive Gear Oils Two(2) years

Metal Working and Cutting Oils One(1) year

Greases Two(2) years

The following are signs of storage instability in a lubricant:

Settling out of the additives as a gel or sticky liquid

Floc or haze

Precipitates/solid material

Color change or haziness

Water contamination in a lubricant can be detected by a "milky" appearance of the product.


Thank you for contacting AMSOIL with your concerns.

In response to your inquiry, there really is no published shelf life on our motor oils. When stored properly (clean, dry environment), they should last for many years. Industry standard is anywhere between 2-3 years. Another item to consider is that performance specifications change throughout the years and you want to always ensure you are using a product that at least meets the minimum set of performance standards for the application.

Thank you again for the opportunity to respond to your concerns. As always, please feel free to contact us again if we can be of further assistance.


Aaron Scanlon

AMSOIL Technical Service


Castrol's response:

There is no shelf life for Castrol Motor Oil, however we would suggest that for maximum protection and performance, the product be used within 5 years of the date of manufacture. Regardless of the storage conditions, moisture can get into the product via osmosis through the plastic.

Valvoline's response:

The Valvoline Company does not have a documented shelf life exposure on finished motor oil. We would expect under optimal conditions that the product would be stable for an extended period of time.

Bottom line your fine w/ useing it.

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Oil lasts for eons in the ground. I can't imagine that 5 years sitting in a sterile environment could make it go bad.

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Where'd you get that info. so quick?

I'm gonna start callin' you Tom.

Anytime I can beat our resident mechanic :)

Thanks for your information, it is greatly appreciated. I think we may have a lube expert in the house!!

I wouldn't go that far.... Crazy.gif

Oil lasts for eons in the ground. I can't imagine that 5 years sitting in a sterile environment could make it go bad.

True but it's the additives and the change in temp that cause the problem. Under ground it keeps a constant temp.

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