When Should I Replace My ATV Helmet? 


You’ve had your ATV helmet for a while, and you’re starting to wonder if a replacement might be in order. After all, years later, the helmet is a little worse for wear even though your ATV still runs like a dream. How often should you buy a new ATV helmet?

You should replace your ATV helmet three to five years from either a.) when the helmet was manufactured or b.) the date you bought it. ATV helmets include UV inhibitors that lose their effectiveness over time, making your helmet more prone to cracking from UV exposure.

In this guide, we’ll talk in a lot more detail about when is the right time for a new ATV helmet. We’ll also delve into practical information that will make shopping for a helmet easier, such as a sizing guide. You won’t want to miss it! 

When to Replace an ATV Helmet? 

An ATV helmet isn’t like the packaged cheese in your refrigerator. It doesn’t have an expiration date, per se, yet it can still certainly “go bad” the longer you use it.

We’ll talk more about why that is a little later in the article, but for now, let’s discuss replacement timeframes.

This varies by manufacturer, admittedly. Some manufacturers recommend that you replace your ATV helmet after three years while others say the helmet is good for up to five years.

What is the precise date when replacement should occur? As we mentioned in the intro, you can use one of two criteria.

If your ATV helmet has manufacturing information on it such as when it was produced, then you should discontinue the use of the helmet three to five years after that date.

Alternately, you can replace the helmet three to five years after the date of purchase. 

Now, you might not have held onto your receipt, so you don’t remember the precise date you bought the helmet. That’s fine. You can still use the helmet five years and a day after you bought it, but not for too much longer than that. 

Why You Need to Replace Your ATV Helmet

Your ATV helmet still looks plenty usable to you. You don’t see why you need to replace it just because it’s been a couple of years. 

The main reason you should replace your helmet is that the components wear down over time. What if the lock that keeps the helmet strap on your head decides it wants to stop working in the middle of your ride? It can happen!

The bigger risk when it comes to using your helmet past its expiry date, so to speak, is the lack of UV inhibitors.

A UV inhibitor is an additive that’s included with many commercial products to prevent them from prematurely aging from sun exposure. Outside of ATV helmets, colored candles often include UV inhibitors to stop them from yellowing.

The thing about UV inhibitors though is that they’re not forever. The additive wears away. 

Unlike a candle, which the sun will miscolor, you have more significant risks to worry about when it comes to your ATV helmet. Sure, its color can change or fade, but UV exposure can threaten the structural integrity of your helmet.

With the shell weakened, if you took a tumble off your ATV, your helmet could crack when you need it most. The brain damage you could sustain could change your life permanently. 

Do You Need a New ATV Helmet? Look Out for These Signs 

In some cases, your ATV helmet can begin to wear away even before the three-year mark. This is especially likely if you’re very rough and tumble with your ATV equipment. 

Although the UV inhibitor might still be functional at this stage of your helmet’s lifespan, it’s still not safe to continue using your helmet.

Here are some signs you need a new helmet, pronto.

The Helmet Stops Locking

This goes back to the point we made earlier. The lock that keeps your helmet securely on your head can come loose at the most inopportune times. 

Without your helmet securely on your head, with the speed you’re traveling at when on your ATV, the helmet can go flying off. Then you’re in danger. 

The Straps Don’t Stay

Do you set the straps of your ATV helmet only for them to loosen five minutes later? That’s not very conducive to safe riding. 

Dirt and weather exposure can cause the strap buckles to weaken or stop working as time goes on.

Again, your helmet could go flying off your head as soon as you rev up your ATV! 

The Shell Feels Brittle

If time or weather exposure has left your ATV helmet brittle, it’s not safe to continue using the helmet. 

Should you have an accident where you’re thrown over the handlebars, the helmet will connect with the ground first. If the helmet is brittle, then it can crack or shatter. 

The helmet is no longer in good enough shape to support your head and sustain you from serious injuries. 

The Interior Foam or Liner is Breaking Down

Long before you have to worry about any exterior damage to your helmet, you’ll usually notice signs of interior damage. The foam that pads the helmet and/or the liner can depreciate.

This isn’t in huge chunks, mind you, but small foam flakes. You’ll notice the flakes when you take your helmet off and the flakes are in your hair or on your shoulders. 

If this flaking is accompanied by other signs of your helmet falling apart or it’s been close to three years, then bite the bullet and buy a new helmet. 

The Helmet Survived an ATV Accident

Let’s say you did have an ATV accident. Your helmet saved your life and you walked away mostly unscathed. 

You’ve since gotten your ATV fixed up and it’s in ridable condition again. Should you continue using that same helmet after it survived a crash? 

It’s not the best idea. Hairline cracks that look invisible to you could deepen if the helmet sustains further impact. 

How Should an ATV Helmet Fit?

If it’s been three to five years since you’ve bought an ATV helmet, then you might be a little fuzzy on how it should fit. We’re here to help.

The fit of your helmet is for more than comfort, but safety as well. If the helmet fits too loosely, then the situation we’ve described several times already can transpire. 

That is, the helmet might not stay on your head when push comes to shove, and it certainly won’t offer the degree of impact protection you’re looking for.

A helmet that’s too tight isn’t comfortable either. You’ll want to loosen your helmet, which puts you at risk per the paragraphs above.

Nevertheless, an ATV helmet should be tight but not squeezing on your head. If the helmet doesn’t fit well, after all, then it can’t take the brunt of an impact if you have an accident.

How to Measure for an ATV Helmet

The best way to find an ATV helmet is to measure your skull. You will need a second person to help you, so enlist a friend, neighbor, or family member. You’ll also require a flexible measuring tape.

Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1 – Put the Measuring Tape in the Correct Spot 

Your friend should begin by taking a flexible measuring tape and wrapping it around your forehead right in the center. 

If the measuring tape is about a half-inch over your nose bridge or right over your eyebrows, then it’s where it needs to be. The goal is to wrap the measuring tape over your occipital bone, which is where your skull is the thickest.

Step 2 – Jot Down Your Head Measurements

After finding the right place to put the flexible measuring tape, tell your friend to pull the tape firmly but not too tightly around your head. Where one end of the measuring tape meets the other is your head circumference. 

Step 3 – Buy a Helmet That Matches Your Head Circumference

Now it’s just a matter of matching your head circumference to an ATV helmet size. Here’s a handy chart that breaks it down for you.

What to Look for When Buying an ATV Helmet

chart showing what ATV helmet size you need according to your head circumference in inches. 
extra-small: 20.5 to 21.5
small: 21.5 to 22.5
medium: 22 to 23 
Large: 23 to 24
Extra Large: 24 to 25 inches

You now know what size ATV helmet you need, so you’re ready to get started shopping. When replacing your helmet, be sure to keep these factors in mind.

Fit

The top consideration when shopping for an ATV helmet should always be a proper fit. Remember, your helmet shouldn’t be so tight that it’s clamping down on your skull and giving you headaches, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it can easily fly right off your head! 

Comfort

The fit of your helmet and its level of comfort often go hand in hand. More so, your budget (which we’ll get to momentarily) also determines your helmet comfort. 

The more money you can afford to spend on an ATV helmet, the softer the foam will be, the higher the quality of the liner, and the more breathable the helmet. You could even have adjustable comfort features such as customizable cheek pads. 

You won’t mind strapping on your helmet every time you want to ride your ATV because it feels nice to wear. 

Ventilation

This is a factor that can often get overlooked until you’re out on your ATV sweating buckets. 

Your helmet traps in all that head sweat, soaking your hair and making your skin slick. The friction as your helmet rubs against you feels awful. Plus, the helmet could potentially slip off.

Newer ATV helmets feature both air exhaust and intake ports so that even if you’re breathing heavily, all that hot air has a way to safely exit the helmet. 

Mouth vents are also bigger than ever, which further improves the breathability of your helmet. 

Additional Features

Outside of the features we’ve discussed, you’re also likely to find a whole slew of features in a good ATV helmet. 

For instance, your helmet might come with a multi-directional impact protection system or MIPS liner. 

The liner features slip-plane technology so that even if you’re in a crash, the amount of rotational force you’d experience is reduced. This can spare your neck.

If not that, then your helmet might have a rotational liner. Even if your ATV helmet is breathable, you will still sweat, and so the helmet will stink. Being able to take out the liner at the end of a long ride and wash it will go a long way towards improving the longevity of your helmet.

Your helmet might include goggle holders too. These are a small but still handy feature, and one that’s especially convenient for long rides. 

Looks

This is a smaller consideration, of course, but it’s a consideration, nevertheless. 

When you’re on your ATV, you’re trying to convey a certain image, right? If your helmet doesn’t meet your personal standards for taste, then you’re not going to be able to achieve that image. 

Thus, you must find a helmet that fits well and looks good to boot!

Price

We saved what is arguably the most important consideration for last, and that’s the cost of your helmet. 

The average price of an ATV helmet is between $100 and $200, but as with everything, lower-end and higher-end models exist.

If you only casually ride your ATV, then a $200 helmet should suffice. We’d even say a $100 helmet would be fine.

For those who use their ATVs often or race, then you need a more expensive helmet too, one that’s upwards of $500 and sometimes more.

You get what you pay for when shopping for ATV helmets. A lower-cost helmet is easier on your wallet, but the foam might be cheap, and the helmet shell could be made of poorer quality material as well.

Your helmet will wear down faster, potentially sooner than the three years, especially if you use it a lot. Plus, how safe the helmet would keep you in a crash would not be as much as if you had a better-quality helmet.

If there’s one area in your ATV equipment list to splurge on, it’s a helmet. Remember, helmets save lives, but a helmet is only as good as what you spend on it.   

Final Thoughts

You should plan to replace your ATV helmet every three to five years or whenever its quality begins degrading, whichever happens first. 

For instance, if the interior foam begins flaking, the straps won’t stay adjusted, or the locks don’t work, it’s a good idea to replace your helmet no matter how old it is. That’s also true if the helmet endured a crash.

We hope the information in this guide helps you buy a great replacement ATV helmet!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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