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Numpty oil question


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I have 5 litres of Halfords Synthetic engine oil unopened in my garage. It is dated 2004 so, will it still be OK to use?


'Have you any idea what it's like to have the wind rushing through your hair!' (Quote:Sq Cdr the Lord Flashheart)

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Found it...


"Engine Oil Shelf Life.


I couldn't decide whether to put this in the FAQ or the main page, so it's in both, because I get asked this question a lot. Typically, the question is along the lines of "GenericAutoSuperStore are having a sale on WickedlySlippy Brand synthetic oil. If I buy it now, how long can I keep if before I use it?"


In general, liquid lubricants (ie. oils, not greases) will remain intact for a number of years. The main factor affecting the life of the oil is the storage condition for the products. Exposure to extreme temperature changes, and moisture will reduce the shelf life of the lubricants. ie. don't leave in the sun with the lid off. Best to keep them sealed and unopened.


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. The specs get updated regularly based on new scientific testing procedures and engine requirements. But this is only really a concern if you've bought a brand new car but have engine oil you bought for the previous car. An oil that is a number of years old might not be formulated to meet the requirements set for your newer engine.


If your unopened containers of engine oil are more than three years old, read the labels to make sure they meet the latest industry standards. If they do meet the current standards, you might want to take the extra precaution of obtaining oil analysis before using them. An oil analysis will check for key properties of the oil and ensure that it still meets the original manufacturing specs. Of course the cost of getting an analysis done on old oil is probably going to outweigh going and buying fresh stuff. So it's a double-edged sword.


As a general rule, the simpler the oil formulation, the longer the shelf life. The following is a guideline under protected conditions:


Product / Shelf Life

Base Oils, Process Oils / 3 years

Hydraulic Oils, Compressor Oils, General Purpose Lubricating Oils / 2 years

Engine Oils and Transmission Oils / 3 years

Industrial and Automotive Gear Oils / 2 years

Metal Working and Cutting Oils / 1 year


The following are signs of storage instability in a lubricant:


Settling out of the additives as a gel or sticky liquid

Floc or haze

Precipitates/solid material

Colour change or haziness

Water contamination in a lubricant can be detected by a "milky" appearance of the product. "




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Think about it: some modern cars are now going 2 years without an oil change. Whether that's a good or bad thing I'll leave you to decide. So leaving it for 5 years on a shelf away from the harmful thrashy thing we call an engine & maybe it won't be in that bad a condition. If concerned mix it 50/50 with new.Or just use it for top-up?
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