by Ivan K. Makoku, Director(AirNox Pty Ltd) | July 24, 2023

Does AdBlue® (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) Have a Shelf Life?

Back in 2010 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) imposed strict restrictions on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to reduce emissions, especially for NOx and particular matter (PM) by incorporating DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid). As a result, the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology was chosen by the majority of engine manufacturers. In the final exhaust chamber, AdBlue® is sprayed to break down NOx into innocuous pollutants such as nitrogen and water.

If you own a diesel engine vehicle since 2010 or after that, you are more likely to be aware of the usage of AdBlue®. For better performance of your vehicle only using the best quality AdBlue® exhaust fluid is not enough, you also must understand and know everything about diesel exhaust fluid and its shelf life.

Like many fuels, oils and other liquid additives of diesel engine, AdBlue® also known as diesel exhaust fluid has a limited period of shelf life which is approximately 12 months in South Africa subject to keeping the temperature exposure below 30 degrees Celsius and away from the direct sunlight. Hence, it is recommended that if AdBlue® has been stored in a stationery diesel vehicle exposed to the sun for more than a year, it must be replenished. If you see a colour change in AdBlue® (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), then it is advised not to use it anymore as the fluid is most likely compromised.


Temperature Scales

AdBlue® should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. An ideal temperature range for storage of AdBlue® is between -5 to 25 degrees Celsius. It freezes below 11 degrees Celsius and turns slushy but does not affect the performance. It is safe to use AdBlue® even after being frozen. But if stored below freezing temperature, expandable containers should be used as it expands by 7% when frozen.

AdBlue® should be kept at temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius, it can be used when the temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius however the shelf life is severely reduced. Also, direct sunlight is not suitable as it will degrade the urea level in AdBlue®, lowering its quality. Outdoor storage is not advisable for AdBlue® however If stored outside, it should always be kept in the shade in a cool environment.


What Happens if we use AdBlue® that has expired?

  • It causes a variety of equipment problems (engine de-rating, shut-down, etc.)
  • Continuous usage would lead to the loss of engine efficiency.
  • Components of the expired fluid may sustain damage.
  • SCR system would be highly prone to failure.


How Can You Extend the Validity of AdBlue®?

According to ISO 22241, the shelf life for AdBlue® can be extended up to 3 years if we maintain the proper temperature and storage environment of between -5 to +10 degrees Celsius. AdBlue® manufacturers and wholesalers often maximize the fluid’s shelf life by keeping it in a dry, cold, and well-ventilated location.

Nowadays, many storage containers are also designed to provide a temperature-controlled environment for stored AdBlue®. No matter how suitably or well-maintained, AdBlue® should never be utilized over 3 years based on the production date which should appear outside the packaging of the product and we recommend maximum shelf life of 12 months for South African/African continent customers due to the temperature variations.


Do’s & Don’ts

  • USE ONLY AdBlue® from VDA registered vendors.
  • DON’T USE a product claiming to be AdBlue® but labelled “Urea solution” or something similar.
  • Every package should have a registered AdBlue® symbol, if not then it is a lower-quality product.
  • Do not put AdBlue® in any fuel tank.
  • Don’t drive your car without AdBlue®.
  • Don’t distribute your AdBlue® using gasoline or lubricant equipment, or any other jugs, buckets, funnels, or non-dedicated equipment as this can contaminate the fluid.
  • Don’t refill used AdBlue® containers like IBCs and drums with AdBlue® as they may contain previously contaminated fluid.
  • Do not store AdBlue® in direct sunlight.



In this article, we have discussed various factors that might help you store the AdBlue® longer. AdBlue® should never be stored for longer than 12 in South Africa or the African continent because of the temperature variations which at times can exceed 35 degrees Celsius. If you are not sure, please do not hesitate to contact AirNox, we offer complete AdBlue® solutions and we are your local AdBlue® partner in South Africa, African continent and the rest of the global community.