I’m sure most of us have never given much thought to replacing our go-kart helmets that we have had for a while. I’ll share with you all of the information you need to know about helmet replacement. From there, you will be able to make sure your equipment is safe and in proper working order.
So, when should you replace a go-kart helmet? Most top manufacturers advise you to replace your go-kart helmet every 5-7 years, even if you haven’t been in an accident. They also recommend replacing the helmet immediately if it has any visible signs of damage or if you are in an accident.
Helmets are one of the most important pieces of equipment while driving a go-kart. After all, this is the equipment protecting your one and only head. There are various things to consider when determining if you should replace your helmet, so keep reading to learn them all!
How Long Go-Kart Helmets Last Before Expiring
Here is a look at some of the most popular brand helmets, their life expectancy and comments from the manufacturers:
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They advise to replace your helmet 7 years after the manufacture date / 5 years after the purchase date
- They state that you are the best judge of whether or not to replace the helmet after dropping it
- If you have any doubts about your helmet, purchase a new one
They advise to replace your helmet every 3 years, even if you have not crashed
- Replace immediately after one crash
- Replace immediately if there are visible signs of damage
Simpson Helmets (Includes Stilo brand)
They advise to replace your helmet every 5 years
- Have your helmet inspected by a professional after every impact
- If you have any doubts, purchase a new helmet
The Layers of a Helmet
All helmets are comprised of multiple layers. Each layer serves a purpose to provide safety as well as comfort. Over time, these layers can become worn and get damaged. The outer layers may become compromised over time and weaken. Internal parts of the helmets will also start to degrade. With this happening, they will not provide the proper amount of protection that they are rated for.
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This is the outermost layer, which protects against penetration of the EPS (see below)
- This layer is thin but strong, and spreads the energy of the impact around the helmet
- Most shells are made of fiberglass and polycarbonate
EPS stands for Expanded Polystyrene, and the lining is essentially made of packed polystyrene foam
- Absorbs the energy of an impact
- If the EPS liner is deformed from impact, the helmet should be replaced
This lining holds the helmet in place on your head, ensuring the right fit
- Must fit securely to provide proper protection
- Affects noise level inside helmet
- Absorbs sweat and skin oils, causing EPS liner to break down over time
This is comprised of the visor which protects your eyes, and the base of the helmet which protects the lower half of your face
- Not all helmets have this feature, but for karting, your helmet should have this (in other words, it should be a “full face helmet”)
This is just a fancy term for the chin strap
- It is riveted to the shell to prevent the helmet from being pulled off when the strap is fastened
Should You Replace Your Helmet After a Crash?
If you are in an accident that causes impact to your helmet, you should replace it immediately. All manufacturers recommend replacing the helmet after one impact. Most helmets are designed for one-time impact. The helmet shell and foam (EPS layer) are designed to take most of the impact shock.
They are meant to spread the shock evenly throughout the helmet (the shell) and absorb the impact (the EPS layer). This EPS foam layer inside of the helmet is meant to crush under impact. When this layer is compressed after impact, it does not return to its original shape. With the foam crushed, it will no longer provide proper protection for subsequent impacts.
If you are in another accident with that same helmet, you could very well be injured if your helmet takes the brunt of the impact. It is always suggested to replace your helmet right after an impact. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer guidelines and recommendations.
Inspection of a Helmet After a Crash
Follow these steps to check your helmet after a crash
- Remove the EPS lining from the helmet to check it for signs of damage.
- Check the outer shell of the helmet for obvious damage.
- Also check the exterior of the helmet for fading, as this may be a sign that the shell is worn and weaker.
- Check the manufacturer’s date sticker on the inside of the helmet, so you know how much runway you have left.
- Also consider your own use of the helmet.
- Call the manufacturer and ask if they do free inspections.
- A lot of them offer this and will tell you if you can continue using the helmet or if it needs to be replaced.
Do You Need to Replace a Helmet After Dropping it?
The chances of having to replace your helmet after dropping it a few times are slim. Minor impacts most likely won’t affect the overall protection the helmet will provide. These helmets are very durable and they are made to take larger impacts.
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However, you should consider how old your helmet is and how frequently you have been dropping it. Consider how you have been using it and the other minor impacts it has had during your ownership. All of these will factor into how the helmet will degrade over time.
You shouldn’t worry about a minor drop. But be sure that your helmet is good quality and will withstand these drops. Inspect your helmet regularly by following the tips provided. Also, always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and suggestions. Remembering to do these things will help you determine when and if it should be replaced.
When to Replace Your Helmet
Some people swear by and follow the 3 to 5-year rule, which, in my opinion, is a good idea. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. In conclusion, you should generally be aware of when your helmet was manufactured. This will help you determine how old it is and if it should be replaced based on life expectancy.
Remember that even if you have never been in an accident, or have never dropped it, the helmet may still need to be replaced.
The internal foam breaks down over time and with general use. Most manufacturers list general expiration information on their website. You should also be able to give them a call with any questions you have regarding your specific helmet. The majority of stores that carry these helmets will also be able to inspect the helmet for you if need be.
Just be sure to regularly inspect your helmet, inside and out. Check for any signs of visible damage or wear. Remember to consider how you have treated the helmet. If you have dropped it many times or have used it for many years, do regular inspections. If you are ever unsure or have any doubts, it is probably best that you replace your helmet.
Doing this will ensure you will be safe without any worries about the helmet not protecting you properly.