This article examines relationships between access to a car and the self- reported health and mental health of older people. The analysis is based on a sample of N 1⁄4 65,601 individuals aged 65 years and older from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study linked to 2001 and 2011 census returns. The findings from hierarchical linear and binary logistic multilevel path models indicate that having no access to a car is related to a considerable health and mental health disadvantage particularly for older people who live alone. Rural–urban health and mental health differences are mediated by access to a car. The findings support approaches that emphasize the importance of autonomy and independence for the well-being of older people and indicate that not having access to a car can be a problem for older people not only in rural but also in intermediate and urban areas, if no sufficient alternative forms of mobility are provided.