Understanding the Shelf Life of Engine Oil

We recently spoke of how engine oil affects your fuel efficiency. Let’s have a look at the shelf life of engine oil.

It’s very tempting to purchase engine oil in bulk, especially when you find a great sale from your favourite distributor. However, how much engine oil should you buy? Is there a shelf life of engine oil? Will your motor oil go bad if you buy boxes of it and store it in your garage?

Understanding the Shelf Life of Engine Oil

The answers to these questions vary based on the type of oil you buy and where you store it.

Shelf Life of Engine Oil

On average, an oil manufacturer will give the oil it sells a shelf life of two to five years. This means you can buy your favourite oil in bulk and feel confident that it will work well a couple of years after purchase.

Each bottle should have a date on it that explains when the oil should be discarded, but there are people who ignore dates and use oil that they’ve had stored for over 10 years. Here are some tips to help you determine if the oil you have stored is still good for your engine.

Changes in Formulas for New Cars

If you buy a big box of engine oil and store it for a few years, it’s probably good to use. However, if you buy the oil and then purchase a new car, you need to check if the formula you purchased meets the current standards. Car manufacturers consistently update the way they manufacture engines and the science behind the way vehicles operate.

This means that oil also changes as newer engines require different formulas. If you have stored oil, always check that it meets the standards for newer engines. It could be an expensive mistake to use the wrong oil in your engine.

Condition of the Oil Out of the Bottle

The best way to tell if the stored oil is still good for your engine is to check the condition of the oil before you put it in your car. If you stored it in a cool dark place, where it wasn’t at risk for oxidizing, then it’s probably safe to use it. However, if the area you stored the oil had frequent temperature changes or exposure to excess moisture, it could affect the condition and efficacy of your oil.

Separation of the additives from the oil is one sign the oil may not work well. If you notice clumps, gel lumps, or the oil is thick and sticky, then it probably isn’t safe to use in your car. You should also check the colour for haziness or a milky look, which could signify overexposure to moisture. If you don’t notice colour changes or consistency changes, then consider your oil safe to use.

About Richard Neill

Richard Neill is the owner of Ultra Lubricants, an established Oil, Agricultural and Industrial supplier. Ultralube stocks a full range of Diesel and Petrol Engine Oils, Transmission, Differential and Hydraulic oils.

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