Skip to main content

How Long Can You Store Motor Oil?

Whether you’re storing oil drums or quarts of oil for use in your shop, you may wonder how long the shelf life is. The standard rule of thumb is that properly stored oil in its original sealed containers should last five years, but many factors can affect this timeline.

You won’t always find an expiration date on oil drums or containers, so how do you know if the oil is still good? While oil doesn’t go “bad” as food does, it can degrade because of contaminants or additive dropouts. This degradation mainly depends on car oil storage.

So, whether you’re opening a new mechanic shop or you’ve had one for years, let’s talk about how to store your oil correctly so that you can get the most out of it!

Where Should You Store Your Motor Oil?

Whether you are storing synthetic or mineral engine oil, it needs to be in a sealed container in a cool and dry location. This location also needs to be away from direct sunlight and also well-ventilated.

If you are using drums, clean, dry, and temperature-controlled environments are best. A cooler temperature prevents moisture absorption, which can happen with warmer temperatures. In addition, storing them horizontally also prevents moisture from entering the drums.

Unfortunately, some shops have to store their drums outdoors because of space restrictions. Keeping them horizontal is critical if you store them outdoors, as upright oil drums can cause water to enter the drums. Once water enters the oil drum, the barrel becomes deformed because of the excess liquid, causing a potential oil leak.

If your shop is in an area with high summer temperatures and you need to store your drums outdoors, placing them on blocks a few inches off the ground is a good idea. This placement can prevent excess moisture from getting into the drums. At the very least, raise one edge of the drum to avoid liquid pooling on top. Finally, covering the drums with tarps is also a good idea for ultimate protection.

While storing your oil is essential to its longevity, it’s also necessary to organize it properly. Ensure that the labels and instructions are visible so your employees can find and use the correct product.

How Long Can You Store Motor Oil?

While the standard rule of thumb is that properly stored oil will last roughly five years, some factors can affect oil’s longevity. So, knowing what these factors are is essential so you can get the most out of your oil!

Most importantly, make sure you use the first-in, first-out philosophy. You should use your oldest oil first and put your newest at the back. This strategy will keep you from having to discard old oil.

However, even with that strategy, some oil “goes bad” due to excessive heat, water, light, or air exposure. For example, if stored in a sealed container in a temperature-controlled environment, it’s likely to last up to five years. But conversely, if you keep the oil in a place where it’s exposed to excessive heat or moisture, it may only last two years.

 Do some oils last longer in storage?

Are there some oils that last longer than others? Yes, in fact! Because of their ability to withstand high temperatures in car engines, synthetic oils last longer in their containers. Synthetics also have a better viscosity than mineral oil.

Conversely, if the oil has additives or rust inhibitors, its shelf life will be lower than synthetic oil. Therefore, it’s a good idea to prioritize using these oils or keep a limited amount in your inventory.

Does it matter if the containers are partially used?

Another factor that can reduce the longevity of your stored oil is partially used containers. For example, if you’ve used some of the oil in a container and reshelved it, the container will bring in air when it’s cold and then push it back out when it’s warm. This air transfer allows for water condensation in the container, which can cause problems once in the engine.

Once a container of oil has been opened, whether synthetic or mineral oil, Its effectiveness will wear down quickly. Therefore, it’s best to use half-opened bottles within a year of opening.

Is there a way to check if the oil is good?

If you need clarification on whether your motor oil is good, you can pour out a sample to examine. A pale brown color is what you’re looking for, whereas dark oil has likely oxidized. In addition, if it appears milky, it could have water in it. Lastly, it’s unsafe to use if you see anything like particulates or any settling or notice a hazy color.

Benefits of Storing Your Motor Oil Correctly

There are many benefits to correct motor oil storage. First, you will likely save money because you won’t have to dispose of contaminated or old oil because of improper storage practices.

In addition, you don’t have to worry about damaging your customers’ engines with contaminant-filled oil. Not only will this cost you money to fix, but you may lose business from your customers if this happens.

The benefits of proper oil storage are huge, but the possible results from poor storage practices can cause you to lose time, money, and customers.

It’s Time to Find a Trusted Partner

Whether you’ve been in business for six months or sixty years, partnering with a reputable automotive parts repair supplier is a must! SVI International has decades of experience and an extensive inventory of almost anything you’ll need to keep your shop running.

So, we’ve got you covered if your shop needs automotive lift repair parts, oil drainage parts, air compressor parts, hydraulic tubing, tire machine parts, or lubrication equipment. With our extensive inventory, our fast delivery, and excellent customer service, we’ll keep your shop running efficiently!

Contact us today for a free quote. We look forward to answering your questions and finding the correct parts for your shop. Let SVI be your automotive equipment repair parts supplier!

Related posts

mechanic showing how to use a tire machine

Complete Guide on Using a Tire Machine  

A tire machine is a must for any commercial garage or tire shop. The tire…

What is a Bead Seater and Do I Need One in my Auto Shop?  

A bead seater, also known as a bead blaster, is an important piece of equipment…

All names, numbers, symbols and descriptions are used for reference purposes only. It is not implied that any part or product listed is the actual product of these manufacturers. SVI does not represent and is not associated in any way with any other companies.

Have any questions?

We’ll get right back to you — Contact us now.
Contact us

Quick Reference

Easy Access to Products, Resources, and More