I need a word for an item in a game which is not actually damaged but needs maintenance or servicing (preemptively replacing worn parts ...), like they do on airliners after every so many hours of flight time.

My current best guess so far would be "a car needing maintenance".

I want to differentiate from a similar item not yet needing it. But this way too long. I was hoping for a two-word solution.


The proposed scheduled maintenance is not what I was looking for - Maybe the comparison to Airliners was misleading.

I want an expression for the circumstance that my hypothetical car is, lets say, not trustworthy anymore. It is not damaged, but certainly needs an inspection or such and maybe preemtive repairs. But it is still in working order, I could not call it a damaged or broken car.

I was hoping for an adjective which summarises the state of the car: working, not trustworthy, but not broken though.

Update 2

Seems not to be so easy. Im German, we can just concatenate maintenance and need to (roughly-translated) maintenanceneedy. I was hoping for a similar word; but I guess I settle for beaten down which I guess is short enough and fits the circumstance well.

Thank you all!

  • Abandoned would not be a good term. There is still someone who cares about having a functioning item.
    – user170684
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 23:07
  • teetering on destruction
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 0:59
  • Past due for maintenance
    – amdn
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 6:08

7 Answers 7


I want an expression for the circumstance that my hypothetical car is, lets say, not trustworthy anymore.

You might call your car a lemon. Definition:

informal: A person or thing, especially an automobile, regarded as unsatisfactory, disappointing, or feeble.


Our car turned out to be a lemon.


defective car, disappointment, letdown, clunker, junker, jalopy, hooptie, Tin Lizzie, bucket of bolts, rustbucket, beater

If you are interested in the etymology of this usage of lemon, see this question:

EL&U: Why “lemon” for a faulty or defective item?

(Oxford Dictionaries Online, Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)

  • While not actually suggested, this got me to the idea that beaten down might be an appropriate phrase I could use! Thank you sir!
    – user170684
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 23:00
  • I understand the term "lemon" to describe something that was unreliable or faulty due to poor design or manufacturing, rather than something that has become unreliable due to wear and lack of maintenance. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 14:20
  • @PaulJohnson Can you provide a reference? The two dictionaries I cited do not mention that the word signifies a particular reason for the unreliability.
    – Kyle
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 7:18
  • Nothing very authoritative, but this article in Wikipedia describes the problems with new cars, although it also includes a description of newly-purchased second hand cars that somewhat undermines my argument. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_%28automobile%29 Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 8:57

In the UK - and if I understand your requirement correctly - we would say that "it needs servicing" or "it needs a service".

But I note that you used "servicing" in your question, and I'm not clear why you rejected that word?

Altho' one is advised to have the car serviced at regular intervals, the expressions "needs servicing" and "it needs a service" do not imply only regular maintenance. It could need servicing (or even "need looking at" - which is more colloquial) because something seems wrong with the vehicle; or because it hasn't been used for a long time; or because a maintenance service (i.e. a regular service) is long overdue.


What about failure-prone? It's pithy and might meet your requirement.


Routine maintenance.

Preventative maintenance.

All items experience standard wear and tear. Some might be benefit from more routine maintenance, cleaning, or inspection. Like bikes, cars, power tools, etc. But i think we take extra care of them not because they're necessarily more fragile, but because it's critical that they operate correctly. So maybe you're looking for a term like "safety-critical item"


Some suggestions:

Worn out - too old or damaged.

Threadbare - in bad condition from too much use.

Shot - in very bad condition.


If you were supposed to have your mechanic perform certain tasks at, say, 100,000 km and your odometer reads 110,00 km, the maintenance is overdue.

The consequences of neglecting maintenance may be inconsequential for quite some time, perhaps increased engine wear due to a late oil change, but on the other hand the timing belt may snap leaving you with a possibly ruined engine and perhaps in the middle of a multi-lane freeway in the fog at night.

If it's hours on an aircraft engine rather than miles or km on an automobile, the plane is likely deemed to be no longer airworthy.

  • If there were a term "unairworthy" in my car-analogy (actually it is about robots, after performing a duty), it might be a choice. I would like to accept the two of you, but for now I will use a derivate of kyle's suggestions. Thank you still!
    – user170684
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 23:02
  • The equivalent is "roadworthy", but in most cases there is no legal obligation to perform most types of maintenance on a non-commercial vehicle, so it's not really the same in most cases. An example where it would be similar would be a car with insufficient tread depth on the tires. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 0:42

For the revised version of the question, I suggest run-down, which means still running, not broken down, but possibly close to breaking down.  MW defines it as “in very bad condition because of age or lack of care.”  Worn down is similar; “showing the effect of wear.”  Worn-out is more commonly used, but it is widely taken to mean “too old or damaged from use to be used any longer.”  However, it also can mean “depleted of energy, strength, or enthusiasm,” which suggests that it is repairable.

Tired and weary will be understood, and are only a little anthropomorphic.  Decrepit can mean “impaired by use or wear” and “fallen into ruin or disrepair,” but, like the primary definition of worn-out, has a connotation of the item being beyond repair.  (Oops; I just noticed that somebody else already suggested “decrepit”.)  Dilapidated is similar, and you can find a hundred more in a thesaurus.

My initial understanding of your question was that you were contrasting items that (magically?) never need maintenance with mundane items that do require occasional maintenance.  I would call the first type durable: “able to resist wear, decay, etc., well; lasting; enduring.”  The Free Dictionary lists delicate, fragile, brittle, perishable, breakable, and impermanent as antonyms; but, for something like a car, you might be better off with something like non-durable or less-durable.

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