When Do Snell Helmets Expire?

The Snell Memorial Foundation sets the standard for the most popular helmet safety ratings in auto racing events. The 2 most popular Snell ratings used in most auto racing events are M, and SA.

The Snell Memorial Foundation (SMF) states that they recommend the latest Snell standards to all consumers that need head protection. Since the SMF updates their standards every 5 years, there tends to be a bit of confusion. Questions about preceding standards being accepted once a new standard has been released start popping up in forums, sanctions, and manufacturers.

When will snell 2020 helmets be available?

Snell SA2020 standard for auto racing helmets will take effect on October 1, 2020

Snell M2020D and M2020R standards took effect October 1, 2019.

Source: SMF Updates

Manufacturers can begin submitting helmet models for testing after this date in order to obtain their respective Snell certifications.

Expect Snell helmets with the new SA2020 to be available several months after the standards have been released by the SMF. This means Snell SA2020 helmets should start becoming available close to spring of 2021. M2020 helmets could start to become available by the end of 2019, or early 2020.

So what if you buy an M2015 or SA2015 helmet in 2020?

Since helmets can degrade with use, it is generally a good idea to replace your helmet every 5 years even in good condition. Padding, and adhesives can start to break down to some degree overtime, and with heavy use. Helmets subjected to very frequent use, heat, or cold could have a tendency to break down quicker than a helmet stored indoors and used less often.

An expired certification means that a helmet with a 2015 certification will no longer be permitted beyond a certain date per the rules of the association you are participating in. Most racing associations permit helmets with certifications dating back usually 10, or 12 years.

When should you replace your Snell certified helmet?

Considering that most helmet manufacturers recommend replacing helmets 5 years from the purchase date, and that most racing associations do not force you to buy a helmet once the newest standard has been released, the following is a general guideline to help racers have a better understanding of when to replace their helmet based on certification expiration dates.

  • 2005 - Replace by 2015
  • 2010 - Replace by 2020
  • 2015 - Replace by 2025
  • 2020 - Replace by 2030

Be aware that you should always reference the most current rule book for any racing event, or association you plan on participating in.


“Helmets meeting the following standards must be worn while on course: All helmets meeting the latest or two immediately preceding Snell Foundation standards (SA2015, SA2010, SAH2010, SA2005, M2015, M2010, M2005, K2015, K2010, K2005)”


The IHRA helmet guidelines are slightly different depending on which class you will be competing in. For most car classes, and the motorcycle class, a helmet within the 2 most recent Snell certifications are accepted.


The NHRA rule book states that helmets with a 2015 certification don’t expire until January 1st of 2027. 2020 certified helmets will expire 2032.


The IMCA states in their rule books which SA certification years they will accept. This includes the most current certification year, and the next most current certification. In 2019, the IMCA accepts SA2010 and SA2015 helmets.

Snell Helmets