Shelf life of car oil

what is the maximum shelf life of car oil

I would guess about 10,000 years. The additives tend to precipitate out after a few years, but they should go back into solution after the oil gets hot and circulates a while.

I wouldn’t use old (5+year) oil, not because of degradation, but because new oils meet better specs. Did you run across an old case of oil? It may not meet the requirements of your car.

As long as it meets your car’s specifications, it should be fine. Oils age rather gracefully.

Two-five years. But you must shake the bottle on occation so that the additive package remains mixed.


I still have some oil that I bought in the mid 1990s that I am still using in an older car in daily use in the summertime. There is no visible change in the oil color, no residue in the bottom of the containers and the car keeps on running fine; burns well under a quart per oil change. My old oil has more ZDDP than new oils which have a minimal amount to keep from poisoning cat converters if the engine burns oil. Newer engines have roller cam followers and can get by with little ZDDP.

After five years of you buy a new car, chances are it will not meet the new car’s requirements.

That’s true. But it would work fine in my 10 year old lawn tractor.


It’s 22 million years old already…Another 10 or 20 years isn’t going to hurt it… has a good primer on oils.

The API (American Petrolium Institute) website can also lead you to good info.

While oil itself does not degrade in storage, using an older formulation in a newer engine can lead the engine to an early grave. The various grades and when they were introduced can be found via either of the above sites.