Your helmet is arguably the most important piece of riding gear you own. But if the helmet has expired, it may not be protecting you as much you’d think. You could be risking your safety every time you go out riding and not even know it.
Most ATV helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every five years from the date of purchase. Some recommend replacing the helmet five years from the manufactured date, and some even recommend replacement every three years.
But which recommendation should we listen too? Every three years sounds a bit extreme to me, but the manufacturers that recommend that use lower quality materials. There are some other reasons to replace your helmet too, beyond any recommendations.
When To Replace An ATV Helmet
- The helmet had an impact
- The padding or retention system has deteriorated
- The helmet has become loose due to wear
- There are indentations or gouges in the helmet
- The helmet was purchased over five years ago
These are the reasons to replace a helmet that I was able to gather from various helmet manufacturers and helmet safety organizations. All of which agreed, the frequency at which you replace your helmet really depends on how often it’s used.
For a helmet you’re using every weekend, you may need to replace more often than a helmet you use once a month. How your take care of your helmet plays a role too. Some manufacturers recommend that even if you simply drop your helmet, you need to replace it.
I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a good idea to take care of your helmet. Keep it stored in a secure place, and don’t be throwing it around too much. Accidental drops can add up over time, coupled with deterioration and shelf life, I would stick with the five year rule for helmet replacement.
If you can avoid impacts and excessive wear and tear. You should be fine replacing your helmet every five or six years after the date of purchase. Or you could even start the clock from when you first use the helmet.
Why The Five Year Recommendation?
The five year recommendation comes from a variety of manufacturers and helmet safety groups after doing studies on helmet use and degradation over time. The materials like glue resin and padding, wear down over time with normal use.
The average rider will need a replacement every five years based off these studies. Of course, wearing a six year old helmet will still be better than nothing. But after five years, a new helmet will give you noticeably more protection.
Of course, if the helmet has been in a crash it will need to be replaced before the 5 year mark. The inside core of the helmet is usually made with some kind of polystyrene or polypropylene material.
That material is designed to crush in on itself during an impact to lessen the blow to your head. Once the material has been crushed, it’s not good anymore, it will not protect your head in a crash a second time. That’s why dropping and tossing the helmet isn’t good for it, the material could be getting slightly compacted with every impact.
Find A New Helmet
If you’re done reading this and realize you do need a new helmet, then check out my ATV Helmet Buyers Guide article, where I go over everything to look for in a good helmet and list out the most popular helmets among riders.
You want to find a helmet that’s right for you, and one that will last you the full five years. A decent helmet is going to cost more than 100 bucks now a days, it’s important to take the time to pick the right one for you.
To see some of the other riding gear I’ve tired and tested for you, visit the Recommended Gear section of this site.