There are two kinds of springs, leaf springs and coil springs. Springs have life spans that are determined by the number of cycles they can withstand over a certain period of time. If a spring breaks while a car is being driven, the car will suddenly lurch downward. The bottom of the car might be damaged, or you might lose your muffler! Leaf springs are made of individual springs, or plates. If you break one plate of your leaf spring, it won't be noticeable, but your car might begin to lean to one side or the other. Coil springs, if they break, will suddenly drop the front or rear end of your car and impair driving under the normal conditions of full suspension travel.
Contrary to popular belief, springs do not appreciably "creep" or get "tired" with age. Spring steel has a very high resistance to creep under normal loads. The sag observed in older automobiles is really due to the springs being occasionally compressed beyond their yield point, causing plastic deformation. This can happen when the vehicle hits a large bump or pothole, especially when heavily loaded. Most vehicles will accumulate a number of such impacts over their working life, leading to a lower ride height and eventual bottoming-out of the suspension.