Grandpoobah, no one can predict for sure how long a cartridge will last. It will be a function of the specific material used, the environmental climate, and so on. However, if your suspension system was going bad after eight years it would be the exception rather than the norm. In my experience (35 years of playing LPs and 6 years at an audio store) the breakdown process is not that insidious nor the effects that subtle. Youll not only lose some range at the top but your transient response will decrease as well leaving you with a flat dull sound. Musicians will sound like theyre playing with bad hangovers. Hey, can I borrow your hat sometime?