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Kixx Smart Tips on how to properly store engine oil

Regularly performed maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Though engine oil changes and tune-ups are best performed by an experienced professional, it can be beneficial to keep some motor oil on hand for topping up your engine in between. But how long can you store engine oil? Where should it be stored? Read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding how to store engine oil safely and effectively.

A Q&A explaining that engine oil is best used within 3-5 years

In general, unopened engine oil, transmission oil, hydraulic oil and the like have a shelf life of 3-5 years. Since the shelf life can vary by product, it is important to check the use-by date or date of manufacture printed on the product’s container before using stored oil in your vehicle. Write this date on the label in permanent marker to make it easier to locate. Keep in mind that storage conditions such as location, temperature, exposure to direct sunlight, humidity and whether the product has previously been opened also greatly affect the usable period for engine oil.

A Q&A explaining that engine oil should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place

When exposed to direct sunlight, engine oil can experience thermal breakdown which reduces the oil’s viscosity or thickness. If used, heat damaged oil could potentially cause harm to the vehicle’s engine. To make sure this doesn’t happen, avoid storing oil in a place that experiences either extreme heat or cold as both can affect oil viscosity. Furthermore, enclosed spaces with little airflow should be avoided as moisture and humidity can cause oxidation. To prevent oxidation and other types of damage, store engine oil in a dry, temperate environment away from direct sunlight.

A Q&A explaining that any leftover engine oil should be used immediately

After engine oil is opened, its lifespan is shortened due to moisture in the air which, as we learned previously, can cause oxidation. Consequently, it is recommended to use engine oil in its entirety after opening. However, if it cannot be utilized immediately, here’s how to store used motor oil or leftover oil. Make sure that the oil is stowed in a tightly sealed vessel (preferably the original container) and placed in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight. When re-opening the product, carefully check for any problems such as discoloration, a change in viscosity or the presence of foreign substances before using the oil in your vehicle.

A Q&A explaining that mineral engine oils and synthetic engine oils can be stored in the same way

Ensuring the longevity of both mineral and synthetic engine oil requires that it is kept in a tightly sealed container and placed in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location away from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that while the storage for both products is the same, mineral oil does tend to have a shorter shelf life than synthetic oil.

While proper engine oil storage is essential for maintaining the product’s integrity, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply follow these key guidelines: 

Precautions to take when storing engine oil

Remember, engine oil is a toxic substance that cannot be tossed in the garbage or poured down the drain. When engine oil needs to be discarded, it is imperative to drop it off at your local waste management center or trusted auto shop.  

Now you know the ins and outs of how to store motor oil. Check back regularly for more Smart Tips content keeping you informed about engine oil, vehicle maintenance and more. To view the full range of Kixx products, visit