Safety equipment does expire over time. That applies to window nets, seats and harnesses, and other items. Recently my DefNder head and neck restraint had expired, which meant I needed either to recertify it, or buy a new head-and-neck system. The DefNder is no longer manufactured, so if I wanted to keep it, I would have to recertify it. The company’s new product is called the NecksGen, which is significantly different from the DefNder and the industry mainstay, the HANS device.
Since the notice came out some time ago that these restraint systems would expire after five years, I investigated the costs involved in recertifying my DefNder system. When I called the company in El Cajon, Calif., I was told that it would cost $75 for the inspection and recertification plus shipping. The big plus, for me, was that it was even easier because their shop was the next town over from where I live, and I could simply drop it off to get the work done.
Last week I stopped in to do just that. I met with a few folks at NecksGen, who answered all my questions and explained in detail the process and the changes in the SFI rules that would have to be applied specifically to my DefNder. Unfortunately, the price has gone up significantly from $75 to $270 because SFI now requires that all flammable materials must be replaced with a nonflammable material for my system. It was quite the brow-raiser for me. As they were telling me this, I realized that I had the potential, for the last 5 years, to be a candle with my flammable straps and pads.
They did offer to trade in my old Defender for one of their newer NecksGen systems with a $100 credit for the trade in, but it was still more cost effective to stick with the DefNder, but with the upgraded straps and pads.
Fortunately, the upgrade to nonflammable materials would be a one-time cost — unless, of course, I am involved in a collision or crash. Then it would need to be recertified again, and any damaged straps would need to be replaced.
The next time it needs to be recertified, it should only be the cost of the inspection and the recertification. It’s still cheaper than buying a new system, which is a big plus for me because I really like the DefNder restraint.
Shawn Meze is race director for the Southern California region and National Director of the Spec E30 class.