Motor oil shelf life

blupupher

Site Donor 2021
Joined
Aug 27, 2004
Messages
7,452
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
This question keeps getting brought up. so I figured I would post some links with info on it here. Several manufacturers give a shelf life for their motor oils. Some have no information available online that I have been able to find. Mobil gives a 5 year shelf life in their FAQ. [Linked Image] Pennzoil says a 4 year shelf life in their FAQ. [Linked Image] Amsoil gives a 5 year shelf life in this TSB. [Linked Image] Chevron (marine products, can't find anything for PCMO or HDEO) is 5 years. [Linked Image] Valvoline says no documented expiration date. Go by API rating. [Linked Image] For Shell/Rotella, Redline, Castrol, Royal Purple and Warren (Supertech/Amazon Basics) I can't find any information online. I did read somewhere that someone had called Castrol and was told 3 years, but nothing to back that up. I have heard some have called Redline and been told 3 years, 10 years, and no expiratiion. Again, no proof, just remember reading it here at some point in time. I did not see anything that differentiated conventional oil and synthetic oil shelf life. The ironic thing is that finding the date of manufacture of the oil can be daunting at times depending on the manufacturer. Pennzoil is the easiest, the date is a simple date (day, month, year). Castrol is fairly simple also, letter is plant code, then five numbers. First two are the year, last 3 are the day of the year. Mobil uses a code, the first three numbers are the plant, the next two number are a 2 digit year, then the month letter (A=Jan, B=Feb, etc, with letter "I" being skipped) then 2 digit date. Mobil also has an older date code format (2009 and earlier) that is similar. Valvoline uses a similar code to Mobil, but is month letter, day and year. Shell/Rotella has a long code, first comes the plant (usually letters), then a batch code, then the date (will be numbers, month,day,year, no spaces) then time made. Amsoil only has a batch code, not a date code, so you have to contact them to decipher the date from the batch code. This is not a complete list, and not everything is covered here, but I think this gives some basic information. Also this refers only to oil in original, unopened, sealed containers stored in "optimum" conditions (i.e. indoors, relatively stable environment, not just sitting outside or the trunk of a vehicle. Detached sheds could be OK depending on ambient temps and humidity). The argument that the oil is millions of years old and won't expire is not valid. Would you pour crude oil into your engine? Did not think so. Engine oil is a refined product, and synthetic oils are highly refined, and contain other additives. Some of these additives may fall out of suspension, hence the recommendation to shake the bottles before adding. I know Blackstone Labs did a test back in 2012 on new oils from the 70's and 80's and it was fine to use in vehicles from that era. The article no longer exists though that I can find. I don't want this to become my personal opinion post, and won't tell you to or not to use an older oil. Only you can decide that. But I will post a few of my opinions here, and these are just that, my opinion:
  • If the API/ILSAC/ACEA spec and viscosity of the oil meets or exceeds the engine requirements, no issues will arise using that oil regardless of age (again, sealed container, stored appropriately, etc).
  • Most of these are not truly the expiration of the oil, but more an expiration on the API rating. (guess what the average API life is since 1967... (hint: 5.7 years)
  • I also think it is a legal way out of any issues with using an older oil that may not have been stored under ideal conditions.
  • Valvoline must make some special oil, since they are the only one that says oil does not go bad.
 
Joined
Dec 15, 2017
Messages
3,275
Location
On another site
Man, this does go 'round and 'round doesn't it? beer So the manufacturers for the most part say 4-5 years and their lubricants are......what exactly? They don't say, as "shelf life" is a very open term. Yet there are folks on here (and at Blackstone) that have run oils 15 or 20 years old with good results. I think it's the lawyers for the manufacturers that are involved here...if they say their lubricants will last "indefinitely" on the shelf it opens up some liability. I'd think that they're going conservatively, and if there's any degradation over time then 5 years is maybe 1/2 of the time that the degradation will start to occur. (speculation) I haven't come across anything that says a motor oil is degraded after only 5 years. This should be interesting. popcorn
 
Joined
Dec 15, 2017
Messages
3,275
Location
On another site
Originally Posted by NormanBuntz
Very clever post by MrQuackers.
It was...nice retro video... I'm surprised that there hasn't been more posts; this could be a very interesting discussion.
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
Messages
4
Location
Ontario
I recently purchased a Jug of Mobil Super 1000 5W-30. I have never used Mobil Motor Oil before. I have heard very good things though. I purchased it on sale at my local Canadian Tire, but it wasn't actually on the shelf. I had to ask an employee to see if it was still in stock. They found me one in the back room. My printed code on the jug is OEV15G20A B.09:05 00581- #8309 5912 So I guess the Manufactuing date would be July 20th of 2015? So do you guy's think I can get away with using a 4 year old jug? I believe the Super 1000 is conventional oil not Synthetic. I read that Mobil states a 5 year expiration but that it for their Synthetics.
 
Joined
Jan 21, 2011
Messages
2,327
Location
California
The annual temperature range in my garage is 25F-120F. I wonder if that swing affects the shelf life of my gear oils, the only ones that I keep in stock over 5 years... I only keep around 2-3 years' worth of motor oil on hand.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Messages
1,619
Location
Indiana
Originally Posted by Evan93
So do you guy's think I can get away with using a 4 year old jug? I believe the Super 1000 is conventional oil not Synthetic. I read that Mobil states a 5 year expiration but that it for their Synthetics.
Depending on your religious beliefs, that crude may be a million or two years old and the portion of its life in a Mobil bottle is an incalculable fraction.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
115
Location
Levittown, PA
Apologies if this isn't a good thread to ask about this. I found this SM-spec bottle of Supertech in an old locker at work. Is this what happens when additives etcetera separate out or is this something else?

[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
10,563
Location
Virginia
Originally Posted by blupupher
This question keeps getting brought up. so I figured I would post some links with info on it here. Several manufacturers give a shelf life for their motor oils. Some have no information available online that I have been able to find. Mobil gives a 5 year shelf life in their FAQ. [Linked Image] Pennzoil says a 4 year shelf life in their FAQ. [Linked Image] Amsoil gives a 5 year shelf life in this TSB. [Linked Image] Chevron (marine products, can't find anything for PCMO or HDEO) is 5 years. [Linked Image] Valvoline says no documented expiration date. Go by API rating. [Linked Image] For Shell/Rotella, Redline, Castrol, Royal Purple and Warren (Supertech/Amazon Basics) I can't find any information online. I did read somewhere that someone had called Castrol and was told 3 years, but nothing to back that up. I have heard some have called Redline and been told 3 years, 10 years, and no expiratiion. Again, no proof, just remember reading it here at some point in time. I did not see anything that differentiated conventional oil and synthetic oil shelf life. The ironic thing is that finding the date of manufacture of the oil can be daunting at times depending on the manufacturer. Pennzoil is the easiest, the date is a simple date (day, month, year). Castrol is fairly simple also, letter is plant code, then five numbers. First two are the year, last 3 are the day of the year. Mobil uses a code, the first three numbers are the plant, the next two number are a 2 digit year, then the month letter (A=Jan, B=Feb, etc, with letter "I" being skipped) then 2 digit date. Mobil also has an older date code format (2009 and earlier) that is similar. Valvoline uses a similar code to Mobil, but is month letter, day and year. Shell/Rotella has a long code, first comes the plant (usually letters), then a batch code, then the date (will be numbers, month,day,year, no spaces) then time made. Amsoil only has a batch code, not a date code, so you have to contact them to decipher the date from the batch code. This is not a complete list, and not everything is covered here, but I think this gives some basic information. Also this refers only to oil in original, unopened, sealed containers stored in "optimum" conditions (i.e. indoors, relatively stable environment, not just sitting outside or the trunk of a vehicle. Detached sheds could be OK depending on ambient temps and humidity). The argument that the oil is millions of years old and won't expire is not valid. Would you pour crude oil into your engine? Did not think so. Engine oil is a refined product, and synthetic oils are highly refined, and contain other additives. Some of these additives may fall out of suspension, hence the recommendation to shake the bottles before adding. I know Blackstone Labs did a test back in 2012 on new oils from the 70's and 80's and it was fine to use in vehicles from that era. The article no longer exists though that I can find. I don't want this to become my personal opinion post, and won't tell you to or not to use an older oil. Only you can decide that. But I will post a few of my opinions here, and these are just that, my opinion:
  • If the API/ILSAC/ACEA spec and viscosity of the oil meets or exceeds the engine requirements, no issues will arise using that oil regardless of age (again, sealed container, stored appropriately, etc).
  • Most of these are not truly the expiration of the oil, but more an expiration on the API rating. (guess what the average API life is since 1967... (hint: 5.7 years)
  • I also think it is a legal way out of any issues with using an older oil that may not have been stored under ideal conditions.
  • Valvoline must make some special oil, since they are the only one that says oil does not go bad.
Really really good post here ^^^^^^^ And a bit humorous at the end LOL
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2007
Messages
8,344
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
I've used 10+ year old oil a few times and never had an issue. The oil still looked fine, nothing like that photo above. I have a few cases of old Q Torque Power with the clear bottles and they look good as new. No separation or other issues at all. The dates on the back of them are from 2006.
 
Joined
Jan 21, 2011
Messages
2,327
Location
California
Apologies if this isn't a good thread to ask about this. I found this SM-spec bottle of Supertech in an old locker at work. Is this what happens when additives etcetera separate out or is this something else?

[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
I haven't seen the GM 4718M standard printed on an oil bottle in decades. I don't know when SuperTech first marketed a synthetic oil, but that bottle must be VERY old. Amazing find.
 

dcd

Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Messages
148
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Apologies if this isn't a good thread to ask about this. I found this SM-spec bottle of Supertech in an old locker at work. Is this what happens when additives etcetera separate out or is this something else?

[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Recently I used an old bottle (5 - 15 yrs) of VWB oil in my lawn mower. A bunch of goop like this started coming out at the end of the pour. I stopped right away and made a note to self to always use fresh oil and not stockpile.
 
Top