At what age or mileage do cars start having problems?

By Julia Freeman

Modern cars are very reliable, in our experience six-figure mileages are perfectly achievable provided that a vehicle has been regularly maintained. Indeed, it’s often the case that a car which has done a low mileage comprised mostly of relatively short trips can be more problematic than one that’s done many thousands of motorway miles.

car with roof rack

Of course, regular car maintenance is absolutely key to ensuring that your vehicle delivers a long and useful life. Although modern cars and engines are built to much higher tolerances than in the past - thanks largely to automated manufacturing processes - it’s still important to look after them.


Most manufacturers now have service intervals of 10,000 miles or more and some don’t have fixed intervals at all but use data from onboard sensors to recommend a service based upon how the vehicle has been used. This is a far cry from 40 years ago when your car may have needed servicing every 5,000 miles or so. Modern lubricants play a part here as they are able to be effective for far longer before their performance begins to suffer.

 If you only cover a low mileage, it’s still important that you have the car serviced (or at the very least an oil change and inspection) at least once a year. Even if the computer says otherwise, insisting on an annual oil and filter change is one of the best ways of protecting your car’s engine and ensuring that it will deliver a long and trouble-free life.

Book Your Service Now

Age of the vehicle

Of course, as a car ages, some components will inevitably need to be renewed. Batteries, for example, need changing after four or five years as they become less able to hold a charge. Water pumps can be expected to need changing at around 60,000 miles and it’s worth changing the drive belt, tensioners and other ancillaries associated with the pump at the same time to ward off further problems.

 Timing belts will need changing too; precisely when this is necessary is down to the manufacturer's recommendation. This varies between makes and models so check your handbook to make sure. Once again, have the tensioners and any auxiliary drive belts changed at the same time. Timing chains will usually last much longer but here again, regular oil changes are vital to ensuring a long life.

 Exhausts usually need replacing in five or six years. How long tyres will last rather depends on the mileage you do and on how you drive; some makes and models last longer than others. Even if you cover a low mileage, however, tyres may start to deteriorate after around five years.

 Looked after properly, there’s no reason why your car shouldn’t deliver a reliable life for many years and many tens of thousands of miles. At Protyre, we can help you achieve this. Our qualified fitters can carry out routine servicing on all makes and models. We can also supply and fit new tyres from makes such as Sumitomo and Bridgestone and help you with new batteries and exhausts. Contact your local Protyre garage using the Find a Garage function on our website or book a free safety check using the button below.

Book Now

Book A Free Safety Check

Share with your friends...

About the author

Article Author Photo
By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
View authorArrow right
Vehicle Maintenance - Wiper Blades
Are your windscreen wipers working efficiently?  Do they squeak every time you turn them on? These are sure signs that the wiper blades are becoming worn out.
Find out moreChevron
How To Change A Bulb (Headlights, Rear Lights, Interior Lights)
Much like light bulbs in your home, the one in your car blow from time to time. They are cheap and usually quite simple to replace. Below are quick and simple sets of instructions for replacing your headlights, rear lights and interior lights.
Find out moreChevron
Vehicle Maintenance Head Gasket
The head gasket plays a very important role in the function of your car’s engine.
Find out moreChevron