3 Reasons Good Oil Goes Bad

No matter how clean you keep your oil, it will eventually go bad

Keeping your hydraulic fluids clean is no doubt important, but even with the best filters and fluids, over time any kind of oil will degrade and need to be replaced. Here are the three reasons why any oil will go bad eventually in any hydraulic system.

Base Oil Degradation

reasons good oil goes badOver time, oil will degrade based on exposure to oxygen, excessive temperatures, or various contaminants. This causes the oil to release acids and other byproducts that can corrode hydraulic components or create surface deposits on vital parts. There are several things you can do to slow the process of base oil degradation. First of all, you can buy a high-quality base oil which contains fewer inherently unstable constituents to help reduce or slow oxidation. Secondly, you can select an oil that has specific antioxidant additives. Finally, you can keep your machinery in good repair to avoid contamination or temperature issues that will cause the oil to degrade faster. If water contamination has often been an issue, choose mineral base oils or PAO oils which are less prone to reacting with water than some types of synthetics.

Additive Depletion

If you are using a fluid that is packed with special features like anti-wear or antioxidant additives, your oil may stop performing like it should before the base oil itself begins to degrade. This is because additives can become depleted by reactions with water or contaminant particles, or simply get used up while doing their jobs. While it is possible to replace additives by “sweetening” the oil or mixing in concentrated additives, this process is quite delicate and requires significant expertise.


Ideally you would change the oil before contamination actually had a chance to degrade the base oil itself. This is because contaminants can damage components and prevent your equipment from functioning properly. However, if you were to leave contaminants in the oil, eventually the oil would also succumb to this bad influence and degrade, so we have to mention contamination as a cause of oil degradation.

Keeping Your Hydraulic Fluids Performing Their Best

If you’re not getting the performance you want out of your hydraulic fluids, Bernell Hydraulics can help. Our expert technicians have a thorough understanding of all kinds of hydraulic systems, so we can help attack your fluid performance issues from both ends—the fluid side and the equipment side. In other words, we’ll make sure you’re using a fluid that’s appropriate for your system requirements and also troubleshoot your hydraulic equipment for problems that may be causing it to run too hot or admit contaminants that can degrade your oil. We’re at your service 24 hours a day to help with all your hydraulic parts & equipment needs.

Posted on March 21, 2014
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