Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Properly Store Motor Oil

oil storage

By storing motor oil according to its manufacturer’s directions, you can prolong its shelf life for up to 5 years. Typically, manufacturers recommend that you store the motor oil at a temperature between 40 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although motor oils contain additives that keep them stable at temperatures below 0ºF or above 100ºF, extreme fluctuations can affect their viscosity or thickness and, therefore, their ability to protect your engine.

If the viscosity or thickness of the motor oil is too high, it will not be able to flow freely and reach all the components of the engine. On the other hand, if the motor oil viscosity is too thin, it will not be able to coat the parts of the engine effectively and prevent friction when the engine functions.

Precautions to take when storing motor oil

  • If the container or bottle of the motor oil remains sealed and unopened, it will last longer.

  • Store the motor oil in a dry environment. Moisture entering the container reacts with the oil and creates solid particles that contaminate the oil. Microbes can also form in the motor oil.

  • Protect the container from dust so the quality of the motor oil does not degenerate.

  • It is essential that you store containers away from sources of high heat and fire hazards. Motor oil belongs to the category of Class II flammable hazard. This indicates that it has a flash point of between 420 and 485ºF, making it susceptible to catching fire at high temperatures.

Keep in mind

  • If your motor oil contains rust inhibitors, it will have a shorter shelf life and you need to use it up within a short time.

  • Used containers have vacant space in them. At high storage temperatures, air exits out of the bottle of motor oil. At low temperatures, air is sucked into the container. Water condensing in the bottle as a result can transfer into the engine when you use the motor oil.

  • Undisturbed bottles of motor oil can develop some amount of sedimentation but that will not affect its usability or effectiveness.

Storing and disposing of used motor oil

Used motor oil contains several contaminants and impurities that can cause serious damage to the environment if not stored and disposed of properly. You can deposit the used motor oil at the appropriate facilities or service stations for recycling and refining. However, before you do, be sure to take the proper precautions when storing the containers.

  • Never allow motor oil to spill on the ground.

  • Store the used motor oil in clean, plastic containers or tanks after checking them carefully for leaks, or rust.

  • Make sure you label each container or tank carefully as “Used Motor Oil.”

  • If you’re storing used motor oil for a longer period, make sure you conduct regular checks on the containers for deterioration.

  • Never store used motor oil in containers that previously held food, beverages or any other chemicals.

  • Take care that the used motor oil does not mix with paint, solvents or antifreeze.

  • Make sure that the storage area is secure and does not present a safety hazard for people living or working around it.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

How Long Does a Throttle Return Spring Last?
Not all vehicles on the road feature an electronic throttle control (ETC), which is also called drive-by-wire. For vehicles that don't offer this system, they have a throttle cable instead that...
How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...

Related questions

Q: Is it safe to switch from 5/30 weight formula Shell oil to a synthetic oil to store for the winter?

Hi, thanks for writing in. You should not need to change the oil from the 5/30 you have in order to store the car for the winter. I would recommend filling the car up with fuel and having the tire...

Q: Oil leaking over two weeks

The engine may be leaking oil onto the undercarriage where you can't see it, but more likely, the engine is burning oil. This generally happens when either the valve guides or piston rings are worn. If there is too much...

Q: I had no oil in the differential and now there is a loud knocking sound from the transmission. Difficult to go into gears. What ne

If there was no or little oil, that means you had, and still have, a leak probably through a seal or gasket- although sometimes differential or transmission cases can crack and leak that way, too. Knocking sounds of course signify...