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Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Air Helper Springs Installation - 2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty

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How to Install the Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Air Helper Springs Installation - 2015 Ford F-250 Super


Ryan: Hey everybody, my name's Ryan. And here at etrailer, we install, test fit and review a lot of different parts. That way we could try to answer any questions those of you might have. And that's exactly what we're doing here today. On our 2015 Ford F-250. We're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs.

So before we actually put our airbags on, what we like to do is kind of just a before and after. So how the truck sits and rides prior to the airbags. Once we have them on, we'll see how it does afterwards. So as you can see right now with our salt spreader in the bed of the truck, it's relatively empty actually. And you can see it's still making the truck squat in the back quite a bit, and that's really going to affect a few different things negatively.First one being your overall ride quality.

Back here we're not going to have that suspension travel that we all want, so you're really going to feel those bumps hard. And even when you're making turns or cornering, you're going to feel that weight back here quite a bit, and not to mention all this additional weight that's going to be in the bed of your truck, whether it's inside the bed or you're pulling a heavy trailer. You're going to overload the suspension components and you could potentially make them fail prematurely. But that weight just doesn't affect the back of the truck, it also affects the front of the truck.So since the front is raised up a little bit, it's going to do a couple of things. Our tires aren't going to be making the proper contact to the pavement, so it's going to more or less kind of throw your alignment off if you will.

And so that's going to create uneven wear on your tires. Not to mention too, just the overall braking performance as well as the steering performance, it's also going to be affected since the truck's sitting up higher. We don't have that weight up here like we normally would if our truck was unloaded. So it's really going to affect that whenever you're going down the road.Now let's go ahead and run through our test course to see how our truck does without the airbags installed. Now before we even get moving, right away soon as I hop in the seat, first thing I noticed as you can definitely tell that the truck is indeed kind of squatting in the back and raised in the front.

I can really feel it, I'm kind of leaning like this. So it's not super comfortable. And as I said, you can definitely feel that weight back there. But with that being said, let's go ahead and take this for a spin kind of straighten out here.First thing we're going to do is go over some bumps. So I like to kind of really get into them here these first few, really get a feel for how the truck is doing. And honestly, there's really no other way to put it. You can feel that weight back there. Feels like the suspension travel isn't all that great. So it's kind of harsh as it comes down and just not as responsive as I would like it to be personally. Even at a very slow speed like this, I can feel how it's affecting our steering. Whenever we hit this bump, you kind of lose a moment of control in the steering wheel. So really not that great, really don't put your mind at ease when you lose that control for a brief moment.So now that we ran through our bumps, let's go ahead go through our slalom course and make some evasive maneuvers. So I'm going to pick up a little bit of speed here. Let me get to this clearing. I'll make some more aggressive turns. So turn it pretty good. I will say you can definitely feel that weight kind of throwing you around a little bit. The suspension just doesn't really feel that responsive. There's definitely a delay there in the amount of time it takes to kind of straighten it back out. So something that wouldn't give me a ton of confidence if I did have to make a sweeping turn like this, and definitely something that I would like to have corrected.So now that we have our airbags installed, right away you can see that the truck looks a lot better. You don't have nearly as much squatting in the back. And so it should perform really well too. So let's go ahead, hop in, run through the test course again and see how it actually does. So first thing I noticed just by hopping in the truck without even driving it yet is it already feels better. I feel like we're nice and level, and we're not leaning all the way back here in the seat. So honestly to me, that's how I want it and prefer it. But with that being said, we're going to do the same test course again. We go in here and I kind of straighten out and get going over the bumps.And as we go over the first few, I will say you can still feel the bumps. And to be honest, it's not a crazy improvement, I guess you can say that. It does feel better though. You can't feel the weight in the back nearly as much. The ride's a little bit stiffer. But keep in mind too you can adjust that air pressure to your liking. I just kind of guessed what I thought we might need and went from there. But overall it does feel better. The suspension feels a lot more responsive. And now that I think about it too, I'm not having nearly as much movement in the steering wheel when we're going over the bumps. So it's a little bit easier to main control. I didn't even really realize that until I kind of just looked down and thought about it. So definitely an improvement there.So now that we hit the bumps, let's run through our slalom course. And this is where I'm really curious to see if the bags are going to help or not. Because honestly, I feel like the slalom almost had the worst results without the bags on. You could really feel that weight throwing you around. So we'll see what happens. Pick up a little bit of speed here, come into our clearing and start making the maneuvers. And honestly, even after these first couple of turns, it is much better. I don't even feel a weight in the bed of the truck at all. It has not nearly as much body roll and it feels great. Honestly, I feel like I can make these turns faster and more aggressive if I needed to. And to me, that's a good thing because I feel like this is the most real world type situation. You know, how often are you going to be going over a ton of bumps But you turn every time you drive. So to me, this improvement is the best. And one that I would definitely like to have if this we're my truck.So now that we've been out on the test course and seen how our truck performs with and without the airbags, let's go ahead and take a closer look at the bags themselves. So this is what they're going to look like once you have them on your truck, and they're going to fill that void in between the bottom of the frame rail and your rear axle. So it really got to give us a lot of support there as compared to the factory style jounce bumper that was originally there. As you can see, this really wasn't doing a whole lot. Honestly, the only reason for these even being there is just to stop your suspension from completely bottoming out. So they don't offer us any support.And that's just not the case with the bags. Air bags are going to be adjustable. And so you're going to really be able to fine tune them. So if you have a light load or relatively light load, you may need say 10 pounds of air, something like that. If you have a heavier load, you're able to crank them up a little bit more. So maybe you put it at 20 or 30, drive around, see how they feel, and you could make your adjustments to really give you that sweet ride that you're looking for. Now there is something to consider with airbags, and that is a fact that they do require a little bit of maintenance. You're always going to have to maintain at least five PSI in the bags. And whether that's a big deal or not, it is something you're going to have to keep in mind. So especially in the winters where we got a lot of temperature fluctuation, you're going to have to kind of keep an eye on them.Now one way to make it easier and combat that is by getting a compressor. The compressor allows you to set a minimum air pressure in the bag. So if you hop in the truck, turn the key, it'll automatically take it on and set it at that pressure you wanted. Or you can also make your adjustments like you normally would with that compressor as well. There's a bunch of different ones to choose from. I'm a big fan of the wireless ones because they're super easy to use. Now if you're looking to kind of stay away from that altogether, there is other options to enhance your suspension. One of the other ones is SumoSprings. I'm actually a big fan of those. They pretty much fill the void like the airbag does in between our frame rail and our rear axle. Well, once you have them installed, you're not going to have to perform any maintenance to them. They're there and really that's about it. However, on the same note, they're not adjustable. So you kind of get what you get and work with it.So there is a big question we get asked all the time in regards to airbags, and that's if they're going to be able to work with your fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer hitches. And the answer is yes. They are going to work with a majority of the hitches. And today is a perfect example of that. Our customer actually has a BMW gooseneck in his truck, and the airbags worked out pretty well with it. There is a couple of small things you're going to have to do to kind of work around your hitch, but it's really not a big deal. No crazy modifications needed or anything like that. So at the end of the day, a great choice to have all that adjustability and make your truck ride that much better whenever you're carrying around your load.Now as far as the installation goes, it's really not too complicated. However, at times it can be a little time consuming and tricky just to get to some of the hardware. But as long as you stay patient, shouldn't have any issues getting it done at home. Speaking of which, let's go ahead and put them on together now. So to begin your install, what I did is used a pole jack to apply some pressure on the body of our truck. That way it's going to increase the amount of space in between our frame rail and our rear axle. It just makes it easier to work. If you're at home doing this and don't have a lift, what you can do is just jack your truck up by the frame rails. That way the rear axle will hang down and you'll accomplish the same thing and you'll have that extra room to work. But with that being said, we're going to go ahead and start on our driver's side.So now underneath the truck just above our rear axle, first thing we're going to need to do is remove our factory jounce bumper. That's going to be held in place with one 15-millimeter nut right there. Just remove this and set it off to the side as we won't be reinstalling it. So now what we need to do is secure our upper bracket. These brackets are side specific. So make sure you have the appropriate side. You can look in the instructions and see the parts' layout to identify that. But the way it's going to work, this hole in the top of the bracket is going to line up with that hole right there in our frame rail. That's a pre existing factory hole. And if we grab our bracket, the bottom of it, this oblong hole is going to line up with the hole in the bottom of our frame rail where our jounce bumper was right there.So with that being said, we can loosely secure it. Whenever you do this, you want to make sure you're not tension any wires or anything like that. I'm going to do the bottom first. What we're going to do is take these two thick spacer blocks, and the purpose of those is to go in between the bottom of our bracket and our frame rail to fill that void. So we can push those in. Then we're going to take this bolt here, it's got a headset on it. That's going to go through the bracket, through both of our spacer blocks, and that bolt's going to go through that factory jounce bumper opening there. Push that up, we can move to the inside of the frame and loosely secure the rest of the hardware.So when I was trying to hold our upper bracket up flat, I noticed that the top hole was not lining up with the hole on the frame. And that's due to the fact that we have an aftermarket gooseneck installed on this truck. And so the hardware that was holding the gooseneck on was interfering with that. So to give us a little extra space, I just swapped out one of the large spacer blocks for a thinner one. And that solved that issue, the bracket still sits nice and flat and everything else. So the kit does come with quite a bit of these spacer blocks. So you may need to adjust those accordingly depending on if your truck has an aftermarket hitch and so on. That being said, it's lining up the way it should. Our bolt's going to go through. In the bottom, we're going to put on the large flat washer and a flange nut. I'm just going to get everything just started hand tight.Now as far as the harbor goes that runs through this top corner bracket, what you're going to do is take this three eighths bolt, push it through the bracket, through the frame rail. Now since we have that gooseneck, the side plates are on the outside of our frame rail, and we don't have a ton of space in between that gap if it makes sense. So what I'm going to do to help kind of shorten the bolt up and draw it further back, that way it'll fit in between the side plate and the frame rail. I'm just going to use a few washers, these aren't included. But if you have a gooseneck or inaudible 00:16:01 something like that, chances are pretty good this is something you might have to do. So I'm going to put those on, coming through. Push it through the frame rail, and then I'll be able to go to the other side and secure it.So in our case, I'm going to have to run our washer and our nut through this opening here in between the side plate and our frame rail. I'm just going to use a three eighths flange nut and a three eighths flat washer. And what I actually did is just tape them together to my wrench. And so it'll be a little tricky but it can be done. I'm just going to line everything up there, and then turn the bolt to get it started. So once you get the hardware in place in hand tight, we can come back and snug everything down. So once that hardware's snug, you want to make sure and come back with a torque wrench and tighten it all to the amount specified in the instructions.Now what we need to do is grab our airbag and this air fitting. This air fitting is going to thread into this portion of the bag here. So it simply just goes right in, I'm going to hand tight. Come back with a wrench and tighten it until the thread locker engages. And once it engages, from there what I like to do is just kind of give it another turn, half a turn or so. You want to make sure it's snug but not so tight. If you over tighten it, this brass can crack and then the fitting will be no good. So my thought is you can always come back and tighten it down a little bit more if you need to. However, what I suggested is a good starting point.So now we can get our airbag in. How it's going to work is this portion of the bag here is going to go through that opening and our bracket. And one thing you want to make sure of, there's going to be this little dow 00:18:39 on top of the bag, this thing here. You want to make sure that that is going to line up and engage with this hole in the bracket here towards the front of our truck. Go ahead, go through, kind of rotate it. You kind of feel that pin, dial pin, click into place. And then up top, hold the bag to the bracket. We're going to take the star washer, slide that over and this large hex nut. We're going to run this down hand tight.So once the airbag is in place, we can come back with a inaudible 00:19:25 and torque it down to the spec in the instructions. Now if you look on the bottom side of your bag, you're going to see a threaded portion there. And what we're going to do is you take the lower bracket, slide this into position. And on the bottom side of that bracket, we're going to see a oblong hole there with a beveled edge. We're going to take this hex head bolt and get this started. Now what we're able to do is take this bracket here, and you can see the bottom of it is kind of curved and has a radius to it. So this is going to set on top of our axle tube. So we're going to sneak this in. And then the slots here on this bracket are going to line up with the slots on that very bottom bracket. So we kind of maneuver everything to get it into position.And once we have it in position, what we're going to do is take the hex bolt and from the inside, we're going to run it through both brackets. And where it comes out, I'm just going to take a flange nut and get it started hand tight. And I'll do that for our three remaining slots. We'll have one more on this side right here, and two more exactly like this on the other end of our brackets. This point we can take this bale clamp. And the way this is going to work, so you're going to wrap it around your leaf spring pack, and you're going to want to put it through the top hole in your bracket. See, it's easiest to get both sides lined up. Then once you have them through, again, we're just going to take a flange nut on each end and get them going hand tight. So now what we need to do is torque down that hex head bolt that runs into the bottom of our airbag.Then we can move on. We can grab our axle strap here. It's going to go around your axle tube. And you're going to take one of the carriage bolts and put these on each side of your bracket. Carriage bolt's going to drop down through. Again, come back with a flange nut and just get it going hand tight. So now what we want to do is push this bracket down as far as you can go without actually hitting the metal stopper that's above the axle that runs through there. You can get it down nice and low and you want it to be parallel to the ground. So I'm just going to kind of hold one of these bolts and I'm just going to snug it up a little bit. That way there's some tension. And whenever I have it where I want it, I'll run the hardware down completely.Now what we can do is tighten down our axle strap bolts. Now when you're doing these carriage bolts, you want to make sure to alternate from side to side. That way it pulls everything up evenly. Then we come back to our big U bolt that goes around the leaf spring pack and do the same thing that we did with the carriage bolts. You want to run these down nice and even on each side. Now what we need to do is make sure we come back and torque down all of the hardware that we left snug. Again, you can find all those specs in your instructions.So once you have the driver's side done, you're going to repeat the same process over here on the passenger side. And really the main difference is just make sure that you install the included heat shield. So after your upper bracket is installed and you go to connect your airbag to that upper bracket, you want to make sure that that heat shield is sandwiched in between there. That way it'll protect the bag from any excessive exhaust heat. So now that we have both of our bags installed, we can start hooking up the air to them. So first thing you're going to do is mount up your no-drill bracket, this more or less zip ties to your hitch. We're going to put it over here on the driver's side. I like to leave it kind of loose for now until I have everything hooked up. But once you do have it on there, we need to connect our inflation valve.So I already did that one side. We're going to do the other side. You're going to take the valve, a flat washer, drop that through. On the other side of it, it's going to take another flat washer and that brass nut, get it snug. And then I'll just come back in with a couple of wrenches and just snug it up a little bit more. You don't need to get these super tight. You don't want to break the plastic or anything like that. So got that in there, grab my wrenches and tighten it up. Then we can do this, take the included air line, cut it in half. One side will run to the driver's side, other side will go to the passenger side. And we're going to plug them into our inflation valves here.Now when you plug these in to any quick connect fitting, so not only these fittings but the ones that go in the bag as well, you want to make sure you have a nice, clean, straight cut end here. So what you don't want to do is use a regular pair of snips, those typically kind of pinch it and leave a crooked cut. What you'd like to do is use a tool like this, a tubing cutter or even just a sharp utility knife. So after you make that cut, you want to examine it, make sure it's good to go. And now that it is, this line we're going to run to the driver's side. So I'm going to plug it into the driver's side valve. Just line these up, push them into place and lightly pull back to make sure it is in there completely. Here's my side that I'm going to run to the passenger side. I already cut that one. I'll plug that in as well. Then I can kind of just get it how I want it to be positioned. And then I'll just tighten down our zip ties here.So I went ahead and routed my lines, and this is the path that I took. If you have any extra air line tubing, I do suggest just to kind of coil it off like this. That way if you ever need to make a repair or something like that, you have more than enough. That being said though, here on the driver's side, I just ran it up kind of on the inside of our frame rail there where it comes out here. You do want to do your best to avoid any hot moving parts. So it's important to zip tie everything once you have it completely in. And usually following factory wiring is usually a pretty safe bet. That being said, I already cut my end nice and clean. I will take it and plug it right into the airbag.Now the passenger side has been routed back to the bag. This is the path that I took, just kind of behind back of our truck here, long frame rail. It's essentially very similar to how I did the other side, where it runs through. Now the only difference being kit does come with some shielding here that helps protect the air line from the exhaust heat. So you want to put those on. Those just slide right over. And there's where I connected it into the bag. Now we have everything hooked up. It's a good idea to fill the bags up full of air, that way we can check them for any leaks.So once you have your bags full, the way you can check for leaks is one, spraying all of the connection points and fittings down with soapy water. And if you have a large leak, a lot of times you'll be able to hear it actually physically leaking. I don't hear anything. And back here, I don't see anything. But what you would do is wait a couple of minutes, and all those attachment points if we see bubbles rapidly forming, you know you have a leak there and you're going to need to repair it.To repair it, you can simply pull the line out of your push connect fitting, recut the end nice and clean, put it back in, fill the system up full of air and check it again. So not only do you want to do the fittings in the back, you also want to come down and spray the bags down as well. So now we verified we have no leaks and everything looks good. We're ready to load up and hit the road. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs on our 2015 Ford F-250.


Ben

3/15/2022

On the passenger side does the bolt hole the airbag uses and the center bolt for the B&W side plate use the same hole?

Les D.

3/16/2022

What is the model number of the B&W part you are mentioning?

Ben

3/16/2022

@LesD it is part number GNRK1111. For a 2016 Ford F-250 6.7 diesel.

Les D.

3/16/2022

@Ben I looked through the customer comments and found that some of them also had to use a frame hole to do double duty. Yes, you can mount your air bag and underbed turnover in the same spot. Air bag mount goes to the outside of hitch connection plate.

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