What is the shelf life?

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May 24, 2003
Baltimore area
Does anyone know what the shelf life is of the average oil sold in one quart containers?
I decided to switch to Castrol GTX after reading the UOAs for it here. It also happens to be on sale now at Advance for 50 cents off a quart. So I already bought two cases (savings - $12). If I buy more, I may not get to use some of it til next spring or summer because I will probably use Pennzoil during the winter.
If I keep buying it (savings go up), will it loose some of it's usefullness if it sits in the garage til spring?
This question came up, I think, in the question-and-answer section of the Mobil 1 website. The answer was somewhere around 10 years, as I recall. (Assuming that you keep the oil sealed in its original container.) I don't think you have much reason to worry about the timescales you're asking about.
Actually it's shorter than 10 years, according to Shell it's about 4-5 years.

This is from Shell's FAQ:


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.

There is one problem, wheels. If you stored motor oil for five years, even if the oil was still good, it would probably no longer meet new car requirements. Five years from now we will all be using SM or SN motor oil.
Thanks for the info, guys.
I should be OK to buy another case or two. I'm not talking five years. I've got three cars to take care of. The farthest out it would last would probably be next spring.
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