Motorcycle riders are required by law to wear helmets in most states. But is your helmet still good? Helmet expiration dates aren’t often advertised, so it’s important to know how to tell if a helmet is expired.
A motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of safety gear you can own, but it won’t do much good if it’s expired. Every helmet has a date on the sticker in the back that tells when it was manufactured. If your helmet is old enough to drive, then its time for an upgrade!
The average lifespan of a motorcycle helmet varies depending on how often you ride and what type of riding you do. Most helmets will last between three and five years with regular use.
Riders who track their mileage or only take short rides might get more life out of their helmets because they are less likely to experience wear-and-tear from long trips or bumpy roads.
If your favorite bike buddy says his/her helmet expired then you can help them by pointing out these points to check whether they should go for a new helmet or not.
How To Tell If A Helmet Is Expired?
One thing everyone who is participating in an activity that they wear a helmet for should know is whether or not their current helmet needs to be replaced.
It’s important to regularly inspect the condition of your safety equipment, including helmets. But how can you tell if a helmet is no longer up to standard? There are some visual cues that you can use to see if it’s time to replace your lid.
Here are some tips on how to tell if a helmet is expired:
- The best way is by looking at the sticker that should be inside the chin strap pocket
- If there isn’t a sticker, then check the manufacture date on the side of your helmet
- Manufacture dates have been required since 1999 so any helmets made before this time will be blank
- Other ways include checking for cracks and damage (both inside and out)
- Make sure the helmet fits the rider head snug, so it doesn’t move around while riding, and if it moves then go for a new one.
1. Check the Expiration date mentioned on the sticker
We all know that after a certain period of time our helmets are no longer effective. The manufacturer puts expiration dates on their products for this very reason. This information will be found on the tag that hangs from the chin strap or in an area where it can be easily seen when placed on a shelf.
It’s important to read and follow these guidelines because if you don’t then you can put yourself at risk while riding your motorcycle.
There are several reasons why the manufacturers put expiration dates on their helmets but one of the most common ones is due to degradation of materials and potential changes in performance which can lead to poor results.
You can help extend the life of your helmet by making sure it is stored in a cool dry place when not in use. This alone will help prolong its life because heat and humidity can cause deterioration faster than you might think.
If the manufacturer has put an expiration date on the tag then you should replace your helmet after that time period. It’s also important to be aware that even though there is no official law stating how long helmets should be replaced, manufacturers do know what they are talking about when it comes to their products which is why they give them expiration dates in the first place.
If you don’t want to replace your helmet every couple of years then at least try to check if it’s still up to standards because if you don’t then you can be putting yourself at risk while riding your motorcycle.
Exit pupil size Another thing to be aware of when it comes to expired helmets is the change in the exit pupil size which could lead to a decrease in peripheral vision and poor vision at night time.
The pupil of our eyes will get larger or smaller depending on how much surrounding light there is so if your helmet was designed for a fully functional pupil diameter of 52mm but now it’s only 45mm then that means you’re going to have impaired vision during both night and day time hours.
So what do you do? You need to replace your helmet with one that is up-to-date, most likely with an updated design that helps correct this issue.
So, how can you tell if your helmet is going to expire? The first thing you need to do is check the expiration date which should be included in the tag that hangs from the chin strap or an area where it can be easily seen when placed on a shelf.
If there isn’t one then that’s a pretty good indication that the manufacturer never put an official date on their helmets because they didn’t want to enforce a certain time period after which they have to be replaced. In these cases, it’s not recommended to use them at all but rather replace them as soon as possible.
The next thing you need to pay attention to is the change of pupil size which will decrease over time and therefore it will lead to poor vision during the night and daytime hours.
This change will be noticeable in the beginning since pupil size is small but over time this issue will become more apparent and you’ll notice that it gets harder to see clearly both during the night and daytime hours which means you should replace your helmet as soon as possible.
Do these simple checks before buying a new helmet because not doing so can lead to accidents when riding your motorcycle, especially if it’s dark or raining out. The last thing you want is for your negligence to cause an accident where someone gets hurt.
So make sure you check if your helmet is still effective before using it again by making sure it has not expired and/or the exit pupil size hasn’t changed much from what was already originally designed for.
2. It has been in a crash or had an impact with something hard
It’s important to replace your helmet after a crash because the damage could compromise its safety features. A high-quality helmet is expensive, but it’s unlikely you’ll find one that offers better protection than an approved model certified by the Department of Transport (DOT).
Most helmets come with their own padding and chin strap for optimum fitment, so if these are damaged then they may not offer you complete protection.
When buying a new helmet there are some extra things to consider aside from its price and appearance: whether its visor works well or how easy it is to remove the lining.
It’s also worth noting that helmets lose their effectiveness if they’re more than five years old, so regular checks should be part of your routine maintenance routine.
A helmet’s EPS foam liner offers better protection when it is in one piece, rather than in two. For this reason, you shouldn’t buy a second-hand helmet if it has already been damaged in an accident.
3. It was left out in the sun for too long and it’s faded.
When you leave your helmet in the sun or in a hot car for too long, it will fade. Lack of care and attention can make your helmet outshine its old self. Ultraviolet rays damage motorcycle helmets from the outside as well from the inside because gas permeation and material composition are not the same on all parts of a helmet.
This makes it incredibly important to store your helmet either under a seat or an overhead rack that blocks UVB and UVA radiation during transport. As a bonus, storing your helmet in the same place as other helmets keeps any and all dirt and debris away from the area that rests on the seat or rack.
When you’re using your motorcycle, make sure to use sunglasses with UV radiation protection to reduce sun damage by 90%. After each ride, wipe down your helmet with an absorbent cloth to prevent dirt from accumulating within cracks.
To further extend the life of your helmet, always carry eye protection along with it. If there are no goggles or glasses available when needed, then wear a ball cap or beanie because they provide some additional cover for eyes which is better than nothing at all.”
4. There are cracks, chips, or scratches on the helmet from hitting something
When your helmet gets too many scratches or chips is a sign of it is going to perish. These cracks can decrease the strength of the outer shell, which makes it less safe.
Even if you do not see any sign of damage, but there are accumulations of dirt, sweat, and oil that could cause problems to your safety in an accident.
If your helmet gets a crack from hitting something this means that there is a weakness in your protective layer and therefore has weakened over time and will soon expire.
The helmet will be able to help protect you for just so long as its sturdy material can withstand any hard impacts. When the impact reaches the layers after, it will transfer through with such force as though nothing were there at all (Scherer). The penetration through the outer shell and energy absorption to the inner lining will cause your helmet to expire.
Sharp objects can make tiny punctures in your helmet’s soft inner lining, which you do not feel when wearing it. If one of these small punctures or cracks in our helmet is next to your skin at the time of an accident, they could cut into your skin (Bertocci & Koulis). However, if you are wearing a backpack with sharp parts that might also be harmful.
There are many factors that contribute to how long a motorcycle helmet will last for example age, manufacturers’ standards, climate, and day-to-day wear and tear.
There are many reasons why you should replace your crash helmet every five years. The material of which crash helmets are made can deteriorate over time, especially in conditions where there is high humidity or other extreme weathers that will affect the interior comfort padding, visors, and other parts that can be damaged through wear and tear(Hollinger).
The protective properties of a helmet start to degrade immediately after being manufactured. It starts to lose its effectiveness when it comes into contact with elements such as sunlight, atmospheric chemicals, sweat, hair oils/products, etc.
These factors usually affect exterior surfaces while other integral mechanics within the helmet. If there is any damage by these external environmental factors, the helmet should be replaced (Mangano).
5. It doesn’t feel tight enough anymore – if you were able to get it over your head before but now you can’t, then that means it’s expired!
The interior padding and material within the helmets also have a limited life span. The protective properties of pads start to degrade immediately after they are manufactured.
It starts to lose its effectiveness when it comes in contact with chemicals in perspiration and atmospheric conditions (Bertocci & Koulis).
If there is any damage by external environmental factors, the helmet should be replaced (Mangano).
Some types of helmets that are available today can last longer than others for example; Hybrid or Full-Face Helmets which only cover the top half of your face allow more airflow into the helmet.
This helps keep you cooler during hot weather but still provides protection to your face. However, an open-face helmet is typically the best choice for summer riding because it provides a larger opening to allow more airflow.
This allows you to stay cooler and feel more comfortable, but still gives your head some protection from flying debris or insects (Hollinger).
The manufacturer’s standards of motorcycle helmets are five years from the date of sale in most cases this is when they recommend replacing it.
Most motorcyclists tend not to replace their helmets until they have been involved in an accident, making sure that replacing your helmet is part of the regular maintenance procedure before taking off on any rides (Scherer).
As motorcycle accidents can be unpredictable, taking extra precautions by following these rules will help reduce the risk factors.