How Long Does Oil Last in a Car Not Driven? Explained Everything!

In order for your car to function properly, motor oil is essential. In addition to keeping your engine lubricated, it keeps it cool and prevents rust and corrosion.

The majority of people don’t drive their cars every day. The oil in your engine does not get used up if you do not drive your car every day. But how long does oil last in a car not driven? Let’s examine this in more detail.

How Long Does Un-opened Oil Last?

It may be a good idea to stock up on quarts of oil and wonder how long it will last unopened. The shelf life of conventional motor oil is typically five years if it has not been opened.

The shelf life of synthetic motor oil is slightly longer than that of conventional motor oil. It is possible to store synthetic motor oil for up to eight years in an unopened bottle.

The figures are just estimates, however. Several factors affect motor oil’s shelf life, including how it’s stored and what type it is.

A cool, dark place is better for storing motor oil than a hot, sunny one. To make sure the bottle hasn’t expired, always check the expiration date.

The oil should be used within two to five years of its manufacture date if it does not have an expiration date.

Does Motor Oil Degrade if not Used?

Sitting in the engine for a long period of time causes the oil to go bad. Lubrication between moving components becomes less efficient as it becomes less viscous over time.

Oil types and additives in lubricants can cause your motor oil to eventually break down. Furthermore, when you drive your car, hydrocarbons and water traces find their way into the oil.

How Long Does Oil Last in a Car Not Driven?

There is a limit to how long oil last in a car not driven. The expiration date serves as a reminder. Depending on the type of oil and car, most manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 7,500 miles.

There are several factors, however, that can affect the oil’s longevity. You will not be able to burn off moisture from your engine if you rarely drive more than ten miles. By forming sludge and acid from the oil and water mixture, corrosion will occur, affecting the engine’s lifespan and functionality.

In the event that you have forgotten to change your car’s oil, you may wonder if it really is that serious. Generally speaking, oil should last for several thousand miles before needing to be changed.

Unfortunately, there can be some harm involved. The oil becomes thick and sludgy over time as it breaks down. Your engine can become clogged, resulting in less efficiency and possibly serious damage.

Related Guide: How Long Does Conventional Oil Last? The Truth About Oil [Explained]

What are Signs you Need an Oil Change?

You might be able to determine whether your motor oil is expired by following these steps;

  1. Make sure the expiration date is accurate. Consider disposing of it if it has passed the indicated date. 
  2. Make sure your oil is the right color. It is still good to use if it is clear. The presence of haziness, however, may indicate that your oil is diluted.
  3. Check the consistency of the oil with a dipstick. Changing your oil may be necessary if you notice any separation. Furthermore, solidified or thick oil is also unfit for use.

The shelf-life of most modern engine oils is similar. In spite of the fact that they are not prone to mold, they may deteriorate, dilute, or oxidation and possibly harm as a result. Bringing your vehicle to our auto repair shop today if you need an oil change is the best thing you can do for your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does oil last once it’s been opened?

You will notice a degradation in motor oil as soon as you open the bottle. As a result of exposure to oxygen, the oil breaks down.

In comparison to conventional motor oil, synthetic motor oil will last longer after being opened.

It is usually not more than two to three months after an oil bottle has been opened before it begins to degrade. It’s still best to use premium motor oils as soon as possible, even though they last for a year.

It’s best to avoid using oil that has been open for longer than two to three months if you’re unsure how long it has been sitting.

2. Can I change my oil once a year if I don’t drive much?

In order to help with storage, a common tactic that is used is to look at the expiration date of the product on the owner’s manual or on the container of the liquid in order to figure out how long it will be good to store it.  Often, it is better to go with the age, rather than the time, of something when it says it can last for six years or 80,000 miles.

A one-year oil change is usually recommended by mechanics.  If the oil is bad, it will not lubricate the oil parts properly, and that will lead to problems down the road.

Aside from the oil, other car factors, such as tire rotations, tire air pressure, transmission fluid, engine coolant, and windshield cleaning fluid, must also be considered.  Also, you have to make sure that the brake fluid, hoses, filters, and belts are all in good condition. 

It may be worth waxing the car if you will be away for more than 90 days.  Make sure that car has an oil change before it is put into storage.  Parking brakes should not be left on for weeks at a time as they can get stuck if they are left on for an extended period of time.  Make sure the battery is stored in a dry place as well.

3. Can I add new oil instead of changing it?

Adding new oil is a better option than changing it if you have a low oil level. You should add sufficient oil to reach this level if that is the case.

New oil should never be added to old oil. The oil will be diluted and less effective as a result. You should never replace your oil with new oil if you are unable to change the old one. The oil should be changed regularly even if it has been added.

It’s cheaper to change your oil than to fix an engine problem.

4. What happens if I Drive a Car with Old Oil that needs to be Changed Often?

A car that is under certain stress needs the oil changed more regularly; this can affect how often to change the oil when it is not being driven.  

Engine damage is more likely to occur in older cars with aged oil.  Heavy-duty trucks, vehicles that travel in extreme temperatures, and vehicles that drive primarily short distances need extra attention at oil changes.

Oil changes should be more frequent if your car falls into one of these categories.

5. What should you do with old motor oil?

What to do with old motor oil or oil sitting on your shelf after its expiration date may leave you wondering what to do.

Firstly, motor oil shouldn’t be poured down the drain. In addition to contaminating water supplies, oil can harm the environment. Rather than throwing away old motor oil, you should recycle it. Motor oil can be dropped off at special centers in many cities.

In addition, you may want to ask your local automotive store if they accept old motor oil as part of their recycling program. A discount on a new bottle of motor oil might even be available when you trade in your old ones.

6. How long can oil sit in a parked car?

In an unused engine, motor oil lasts about six months, even though it has a shelf life of five to eight years. An engine can be damaged by dry oil, which cannot lubricate it safely. Your engine could overheat and seize as a result.

7. Does the oil need to be changed if the car isn’t driven?

Even if you don’t drive those thousands of miles that are normally recommended, you should get your oil changed at least twice a year. Your engine’s oil, like anything else, degrades over time, and you don’t want your engine’s oil degrading for months on end.


The question of how long does oil last in a car not driven is an ancient one, and mechanics often struggle with that question. The nightmares will no longer be a part of your life!  In my opinion, the facts cannot be denied.  

Drivers who drive low miles frequently ask this question. A vehicle’s oil should be changed after it has driven for 3000-5000 miles. You may wonder whether the oil needs to be changed even if the vehicle hasn’t reached the mileage threshold.

It is true that this pressing question has an answer. It is probably okay for six months for oil to sit in the engine of a car that has not been driven. In order to maintain the overall condition of your engine and vehicle, you should change the engine oil at recommended intervals as it degrades over time. 

Ultimately, oil, the routine oil change, and the storage of a car are all complex topics when it comes to oil.  To find out what the answer is, you should take a look at the owner’s manual of your car and be sure to follow all instructions given by the manufacturer.

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