Shelf life for oil

My dad passed away two years ago. He was a shade tree mechanic and stockpiled cases of oil over the years. I’m in the position of deciding what to do with it.I’ve done a little research on how long unused oil will “keep.” Opinions vary from, saying it will never go bad to a couple of years. Many mention not using older oil than the car due to engine specs, for example, don’t use oil purchased in 2005 in a 2008 model car. I’d like to use some and give some away. I’m not worried about the car I will use the oil in - 98 Camry with 350k miles but I don’t want to give it to someone if there is a change it wouldn’t be good for their engine. Any thoughts?

I have oil in my shop in unopened containers that’s 5 years old if not older. As long as it meets the specs for the vehicle I"m going to use it in, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it.


Exactly. Specs for oil does change after so many years and I would make sure the oil matched that in the owner’s manual. Otherwise, good to go. If by, " over the years" you mean 15 to 25 plus years, I would relegate it to lawn mower and snowblower usage.

When the container fails and the oil leaks out, then you can’t use it anymore…

You may find solids in the bottom of the bottles/cans. Those are additives that have precipitated out of solution. If you pour them in to the engine, they should go back into solution once the oil gets warm and mixed. No problem.

Thank you, all, for your input.

If the oil was exposed to very cold temps, I’d worry about wax formation. As I’ve heard it, once oil starts to form wax, re-warming the oil won’t undo the wax crystals.

Otherwise, assuming a shop that never droppped much below freezing, I’d say almost indefinity.

I agree with the others that it is probably safe to use, but if you’re really worried about it, you could mix it with new oil when you use it.

Can I speak for anyone else when I say, " it probably is OK to use in your cars." But, with this big caveat. If someone offered me several cases of real old motr oil, regardless of it’s specs, would I start using it in my own cars ? Emphatically NO ! IMHO, that 's the difference between " opinions" dealing with someone else car and how some if us really feel about our own. Ten year old motor oil gets relegated to second teir use…probably lawn mowers, snow blowers and rust proofing. Heck, we have some here who prefer to use expensive synthetics in their lawn mower ! What are the chances they would ever use this old stuff in our own cars ? Slim and none, regardless of how we intellectualize it’s for use by someone else…;=)