While a meticulous maintenance program can help keep your car on the road for 200,000 or more miles, not all of its components will go the distance.

Many “wear and tear” items, like batteries and brake components, need replacing on a regular basis. Others, like the alternator and fuel pump, can fail nearly without notice.

How long can you expect key components to last? Though some cars prove to be more reliable in some areas than others over time, and given motorists will operate their vehicles more severely than others, some reasonable assumptions can still be made regarding the expected life span of a vehicle’s major elements.

The following predictions, expressed in miles driven or years of use, were compiled with input from multiple expert sources and tend to be on the conservative side. Though you should treat these as broad estimates, they can help you anticipate, budget and “shop” for required repairs before they necessitate expensive emergency service.

As always, follow your car’s recommended maintenance schedule as outlined in its owner’s manual (all measurements in miles unless otherwise notated).

Engine & transmission

Electronic-Control Unit: 80,000-100,000

Electronic-Ignition Module: 100,000

Engine Belts: 40,000-60,000

Oil Pump: Lifetime

Timing Belt: 60,000-100,000

Timing Chain: 100,000

Valve Lifters: Lifetime

Fuel & exhaust

Catalytic Converter: 100,000

Fuel Filter: 30,000-40,000

Fuel Injector: 100,000

Fuel Pump: 70,000-90,000

Fuel Tank: lifetime

Muffler & Pipes: 50,000-80,000

PCV Valve: 30,000-40,000


Alternator: 40,000-80,000

Battery: 3-5 Years

Battery Cables: 3-5 Years

Starter: 80,000-100,000

Voltage Regulator: 80,000-100,000


Radiator: 100,000

Radiator Hoses: 40,000-60,000

Thermostat: 60,000-75,000

Water Pump: 60,000-90,000

Brakes, steering & suspension

Automatic Transmission: lifetime

Control Arm, Lower (Ball Joint): 70,000-100,000

Clutch: 40,000-60,000

Disc-Brake Calipers: 80,000-100,000

Disc-Brake Pads: 30,000-60,000

Disc-Brake Rotors: 40,000-60,000

Drum-Brake Shoes: 30,000-40,000

Drum-Brake Cylinders: 70,000-90,000

Struts: 50,000-60,000

Power-Steering Pump: 80,000-100,000

Shock Absorbers: 35,000-50,000

Springs: 100,000

Tie Rod: 70,000-90,000

Universal/CV Joint: 80,000-100,000


Air Conditioning Compressor: 80,000-100,000

Heater Core: 80,000-100,000

Horn: 100,000

Power-Window Motor: 60,000-90,000

Wiper Blades: 20,000 or one year

Wiper Motor: 80,000-100,000

Washer Pump: 80,000-100,000