Probabilistic approaches are available for service life design of reinforced concrete structures subjected to reinforcement corrosion. The International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib) has proposed a model code where design equations and related parameters, involving materials properties, exposure conditions and construction details, are reported. This paper investigates the role of design parameters in the prediction of service life by applying the fib design procedure to existing structures suffering carbonation-induced corrosion. Results of the modelling were compared to results of the inspection and a significant difference was observed. In order to investigate the reasons for this difference, the roles of concrete cover thickness and carbonation depth were considered separately in the modelling of service life. The concrete cover thickness had a significant effect on the output of the service life modelling, which however was not sufficient to explain the discrepancy between in situ and modelling results. The modelled values of carbonation depth were also affected by errors; sensitivity analysis showed that, although some parameters had higher influence than others, no single parameter had a predominant role.