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When To Replace A Go-Kart Helmet

Some may not give much thought to replacing their used go-kart helmets, however it is extremely important to do so to keep your equipment in proper working order and to stay safe. With that said, it is necessary to know when to replace your go-kart helmet.

You should replace your go-kart helmet every 5-7 years regardless of apparent damage or whether you’ve been in an accident, as advised by top manufacturers. If you have been in an accident or if the helmet has any visible signs of damage, you should replace it immediately.

Helmets are one of the most important pieces of equipment when driving a go-kart as it provides necessary protection for your head. Therefore, it is essential to keep your helmet in top condition, replacing it when necessary. Below we cover everything you need to know for replacing your helmet.

How Long Go-Kart Helmets Last Before Expiring

Go-kart helmets can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years before they are considered expired and should no longer be used, depending on the manufacturer. Continuing to use an expired helmet poses a higher risk of injury in the event of an accident.

Arai Helmets

It is advised that Arai helmets should be replaced seven years after the manufacture date or five years after the purchase date. The manufacturer states that you are the best judge of whether to replace the helmet after dropping it. They also recommend that if you ever have any doubts about your helmet, to purchase a new one.

Bell Helmets

Bell Helmets should be replaced every three years, even if you have not been in an accident. The manufacturer advises you to replace the helmet immediately after just one crash. The helmet should also be replaced right away if there are visible signs of damage present.

Simpson Helmets (Includes Stilo brand)

For Simpson helmets, including the Stilo brand, you should replace the helmet every five years. Manufacturers recommend that you have your helmet inspected by a professional after every impact. They also advise you to purchase a new helmet if you have any doubts about your current one.

The Layers Of A Go-Kart 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 damaged, starting with the outer layers and degrading towards the internal parts. As the layers are compromised, they cannot provide the proper protection.

Shell

The shell is the outermost layerand protects against penetrations of the EPS liner. This layer is thin but strong and its purpose is to spread the energy of an impact around the entire helmet. Most shell layers are made of fiberglass and polycarbonate.

EPS Liner

EPS stands for expanded polystyrene. The EPS liner is essentially made of packed polystyrene foam, hence the name. This layer absorbs the energy of an impact. If the EPS liner becomes deformed from an impact, the helmet should be replaced immediately.

Comfort Liner

The comfort liner is the layer responsible for holding the helmet in place on your head, ensuring a proper, comfortable fit. This liner must fit securely to provide proper protection. The comfort liner is thicker and affects noise level inside the helmet. It absorbs sweat and skin oils from the wearer, causing the EPS liner to degrade over time.

Face Shield

The face shield 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 a face shield, but for karting, you should look for this feature. A helmet with a face shield is a “full face helmet” and offers protection of your entire face.

Retention System

The retention system is a fancy way of referring to the helmet’s chin strap. The strap helps keep the helmet secured to your head and ensures a proper fit. The chin strap is riveted to the shell layer for security and usually has an adjustable feature for a snug fit.

Should You Replace Your Go-Kart Helmet After A Crash?

You should immediately replace your go-kart helmet after a crash. All manufacturers strongly recommend replacing the helmet after one impact. In fact, most helmets are only designed for one-time impact. Continuing to use a helmet after an impact could cause injury in an accident.

The helmet shell and EPS layer are designed to take most of the impact shock. The shell spreads the shock evenly throughout the helmet, and the EPS layer absorbs the impact. The EPS layer is designed to crush under impact. When it is compressed afterwards, it does not return to its original shape. With this layer crushed, it no longer provides proper protection for subsequent impacts.

Therefore, 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 immediately after an impact. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer guidelines and recommendations.

Inspecting A Go-Kart Helmet After A Crash

Some manufacturers recommend that you inspect your go-kart helmet after a crash to determine whether it needs to be replaced. If the helmet passes inspection, it could save you from purchasing a new one. You can follow these detailed steps below to inspect your helmet after an accident with an impact.

  1. Remove the EPS lining from the helmet to check it for signs of damage
  2. Check the outer shell of the helmet for physical damage
  3. Check the exterior of the helmet for fading, as this may be a sign that the shell is worn and weak
  4. 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
  5. Call the manufacturer and ask if they do free inspections – Many 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 Go-Kart Helmet After Dropping It?

Most of the time you do not need to replace a go-kart helmet after dropping it. Minor impacts do not typically affect the overall protection that the helmet provides. Go-kart helmets are extremely durable and are designed to withstand large impacts.

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 been exposed to during your ownership. This will all factor into how the helmet degrades over time.

If your helmet is in good condition, you don’t have to worry about a minor drop. Inspect your helmet regularly by following the steps listed previously. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and suggestions on maintaining and replacing helmets.

When To Replace Your Go-Kart Helmet

A common rule to follow for replacing your go-kart helmet is the three-to-five-year rule. It recommends that you replace your helmet every three to five years, even if it hasn’t taken any impact. Even if you haven’t been in an accident, the helmet may still need to be replaced. You should also be aware of when the helmet was manufactured so you can monitor its life expectancy.

The internal foam breaks down over time and with general use. Most manufacturers list general expiration information on their website. You should be able to give them a call with any questions you have regarding your specific helmet. Most stores that carry these helmets will also be able to inspect the helmet for you when necessary.

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, in-depth inspections. If you are ever unsure or have any doubts, it is probably best that you replace your helmet.

Final Thoughts

You should replace your go-kart helmet every five to seven years. You should do this regardless of whether you have been in an accident or have otherwise damaged your helmet as the internal layers break down over time. Always replace your helmet immediately after a crash.