What To Do With Expired Helmets? (Must Read)

Most motorcycle riders know that wearing a helmet is very important. A helmet is safety gear that offers protection against an accident, crash, or traumatic brain injury.

But how do you know when you should get a brand new helmet?

The Department of Transportation mandates a five-year helmet replacement dating from the manufacturing date, not from when it was bought or used.

Knowing when to replace a motorcycle helmet can be confusing. Should you go by the first sign of wear and tear? The first scratch?

In this post, we are going to provide some guidelines for you whether your helmet is still safe for riding or not.

Do motorcycle helmets expire ?

You should replace your helmet at the five year mark from the date of its manufacturing, according to the Department of Transportation mandates.

The DOT code is often found in a difficult-to-see area, so you should check it whenever you buy a new motorcycle helmet. Just make sure that the DOT code is still legible before you buy the helmet.

What to do with an old motorcycle helmet

If you’re no longer using your motorcycle helmet, you can recycle it or even donate it to a charity that accepts helmets.

You should never sell old and sweaty motorcycle helmets to strangers or put them in your garage sale because it comes with a small sticker indicating the helmet’s age.

That tag is often very small, so you should remove it to prevent any confusion about its safety or use.

10 Signs You Should Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet

1. Visible Cracks

If cracks are visible on the outside, this means that the shell of your helmet is compromised, and it’s time to replace it.

Even if there are no cracks on the inside, which can be seen by removing a few screws from the helmet liner, you should not keep using it.

Cracks on the interior of the helmet can grow and cause more damage to your head in case of an accident. Get a new one!

2. Being Dropped

Dropping your helmet is not as dangerous as dropping other items such as plates, kitchen utensils, or glasses, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it if it happens.

Helmets absorb most of the impact when a collision happens, but they can crack in some cases.

Even if your helmet doesn’t have any cracks or marks after being dropped on the floor, always check for signs of damage such as forming of dents or the deformation of the outer shell.

If you see these signs, get yourself a new one!

3. Holes

Holes in your helmet are an obvious sign that it’s time to go helmet shopping.

Helmets have a life span of about five years, so even if you repaired it using glue or stitching, you should reconsider getting a new one.

Read: Difference Between Cheap vs Expensive Helmets

4. Visible Glue

Glued parts can come loose after some time, which means your helmet might not be as strong and safe for use.

If there is any glue visible on your helmet, unsnap the lining and remove it so you can see if there are any loose straps or other damage that needs to be fixed.

5. Exposed Foam

If you cannot repair a crack using glue or stitching, inspect the inside of your helmet for signs of foam coming loose.

If the foam is visible from the outside, it means that it might be causing damage to the shell, and you should get a new one.

6. Visible Dents

If there are no cracks on the outside but dents exist, this will cause a weaker structure and compromise its integrity.

The inner foam can move around if there is a dent, and it might be too weak to absorb any impact.

7. Rust Stains

Rust stains on the outside of your helmet are good signs that the outer shell has been compromised.

If you cannot remove these stains by scrubbing with water and soap when cleaning your helmet, you should get a new one.

8. No Visible Damage

Although this is not an official sign of when to replace your helmet, avoid taking any risks by getting a new one if there is no visible damage on it.

Things worthy of noticing are cracks on the shell or damage to the inner lining, but even slight damage to the outer shell can be a sign of an accident that was not severe.

There might have been a time when it saved your head, but you never know when things can go wrong next.

9. Outdated Helmet

The manufacturing date is printed on the inside of every helmet for your convenience, so pay attention to it if you are buying a new one.

Helmets are designed for five years of use, after which their structure can get compromised during an accident. If you want to be on the safe side, get a brand new helmet every five years.

10. Old Age

Over time wearing an old helmet can cause wear and tear, which leads to helmet degradation.

Consider replacing the entire helmet after a certain amount of time has passed because the outer shell might not be able to absorb impact effectively anymore.


Replacing a motorcycle helmet is not only about the safety and security of the rider but also about being sure that you are safe in your rides.

You should be careful enough to notice when the right time comes to change your helmet because it will protect you from any impact in case of an accident.

If you want to be on the safe side, replace the helmet as soon as you notice damage to the outer shell, the inner lining, or after five years from its manufacturing date.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if my helmet got some scratches?

You don’t have to replace your motorcycle helmet even if it has some scratches on it. A scratch on a motorcycle helmet is not going to affect its performance or safety.

What if the windscreen on my helmet has a crack?

There is no need to replace your motorcycle helmet even if there’s a crack in the windscreen. Replacing the screen will not make you any safer while riding. What you should do, however, is get it repaired as soon as possible. A crack could attract dirt and debris, making it dangerous to ride with the helmet on.

What if I can’t find the DOT code?

No motorcycle helmet should be sold without a visible DOT code. If you cannot find the code, it might have been scratched off or faded away from constant use. In that case, it’s time to get a new helmet instead of trying to patch up your old one.

Do I need to replace my motorcycle helmet if it has been in storage for a long time?

No, you don’t need to get rid of your motorcycle helmet just because it’s been in storage for a while. However, all helmets should be inspected before they are put back into use. The foam and interior should be checked to determine its current condition, as well as the chin strap and the shell.

Should I replace my motorcycle helmet if it’s too tight?

Yes, you should get rid of your motorcycle helmet if it’s too tight. A motorcycle helmet that doesn’t fit properly will be useless when you need it most. Instead, choose a comfortable size that allows you to move your head in any direction.

What if my motorcycle helmet smells bad?

There is no need to replace your motorcycle helmet just because it has a bad odor after some time. The smell could be the result of sweat, dirt, or smoke accumulated on the inside of the helmet. What you should do instead is clean it thoroughly with water and disinfectant soap.

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