Shop fluids - how old is too old?

Joined
Jun 8, 2003
Messages
185
My town has a household waste cleanup day. While going through my garage, I found some dusty boxes half full of unopened shop fluids of various types. This is an opportunity to safely dispose of things but I hate to throw out unopened things if they are still good.

Fluids:
ATF Fluid (lots of this)
Brake Fluid
Carb/Injector Cleaners
Octane Boost
Fuel Dryer
Radiator Coolant (mixed and unmixed)
Gear Oil - assuming this is forever, what about already opened?
Engine Oil - assuming this is forever, what about already opened?

What are thoughts on how long items such as listed above can be kept/used?
I would estimate the fluids are about 15-20 years old.

TIA
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2018
Messages
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Location
Lancaster, VA
Its all good.
I never throw anything away!
If an aerosol can (wd40) wont spray and there is liquid inside, I let the pressure out and open the can to drain the good stuff into a babyfood jar.
The only worrisome item would be opened brakefluid. That has a tendency to absorb moisture.
If your other open items have a lid on them, they are good.
And if your worried about them then just use them in a mower or small engine, and mix it 50/50 with fresh new stuff.
Bob
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2013
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Boise Idaho
I believe the general consensus for most oils is 5 years, some synthetics a bit longer.
I wouldn't have an issue using ATF that is older than 5 years to top off a system that is a quart low or using any of the other items on your list. With that said I would make an effort to get them used up before another decade past.
 

e9999

Gotta get outta here...
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ATF will make great penetrating fluid when mixed with acetone.
Brake fluid and carb cleaners, well you can see if they still work easily enough.
Oil: many uses, including waterproofing wood

edited: ooops, I was thinking brake cleaner. Brake fluid is indeed a different story. (thanks to 1911 below)
 
Last edited:

1911

chupacabra
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
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Parker County, Texas
Brake fluid is hygroscopic, i.e. it absorbs water even from the air. If the bottle is still sealed and unopened it's good for a long time, but once the bottle is open the shelf life decreases dramatically. I wouldn't use an open bottle that is more than a few months old; YMMV.
 

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