A few days ago I picked up a few quarts of the Mopar lube for the NV3550 tranny, from the dealer. Last night I noticed that they have ‘12/99’ stamped on them. Is that the 'born on’ date or bottled date? Shouldn't that be past its sell-by date?
"We" didn't establish any such thing. A few self-proclaimed and vociferous "experts"
-grandly- pronounced that the shelf life of finished motor oil is five years with nothing but their own Kentucky windage, or advice from un-named sources, to back their opinion. As usual, the wanna-be expert sheep chimed in with unquestioned agreement, and, thus, a Standard was born... I've made it a point to look up the MSDSs of any brand oil I might be even remotely intrigued by (when available online per blender) and, without exception, they all list that the products are stable -indefinitely- when stored sealed at normal ambient temperatures, and furthermore do not undergo destructive auto-polymerization. I figure, rightly or wrongly, since the oil companies, themselves, are responsible for performing the federally mandated tests as to their petroleum products' chemical stability, their published data should be taken as definitive. MSDS reports are where the rubber meets the road, guys - everything else is either advertising or anecdotal. An MSDS report does not tell you everything about a finished motor oil, but what it does tell you, is gospel unless the company wants to have its A$$ hauled into federal district court. On that basis, I'll make my own grand pronouncement that, when stored sealed, motor oil will remain viably usable in new vehicles until at least the next released API service category, and remain usable indefinitely in vehicles that originally called for their particular, or earlier, API service category. ATFs are probably likewise stable.
[ December 19, 2003, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: Ray H ]
What's the shelf life of engine oil?
Technically, engine oils have shelf lives of four to five years. However, as years pass, unused engine oils can become obsolete and fail to meet the technical requirements of current engines. In recent years, engine oil specifications have changed every 12 to 24 months. An oil that is a number of years old is simply not formulated to meet the requirements set for newer engines.
If you discover unopened containers of engine oils that are more than three years old, read the labels to make sure they meet the latest industry standards. If they meet the current standards, you should take the extra precaution of obtaining oil analysis before using them. An oil analysis check for key properties will ensure that the oils meet the original manufacturing specs. If the oils do not meet the original manufacturing specs, they should be discarded. That means taking plastic jugs to your local recycling center for disposal. If you have unused drums, contact your oil distributor for disposal.