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Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs Installation - 2018 Ram 2500

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How to Install the Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs on a 2018 Ram 2500

Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today, on our 2018 Ram 2500, we're gonna be showing you how to install the Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs for the rear axle. But before we do that, why don't we check them out and make sure that they're something that's gonna work for you. So, before we get started here, what we'd like to do is just kind of a before and after. You know, that way, we can kinda compare how the bags are going to affect our truck's suspension and things like that. So, what we're gonna do first is just kinda get a baseline and we're gonna take a measurement of where our truck's ride height is at, with the factory suspension and no weight in the bed of it.

So, here at the back of our truck, from the ground to the edge of our wheel well, it looks like it's gonna be right at 43 1/4 of an inch. Now, here at the front of the truck, we'll take that same measurement. And from the ground to the edge of the wheel well, looks like we're gonna be right at 40 1/4 of an inch. So, I went ahead and loaded our truck down with some weight. And with the factory suspension here, we'll take that same measurement.

Here at the back, it looks like we're gonna be right at 41 inches. And here at the front of our truck, again, from the ground to the edge of the wheel well, we're gonna be at 40 3/4 of an inch. So, more or less, what's happening whenever we have some weight in the bed of our truck, the back end is squatting, which is forcing the front end to come up a little bit. And that's really going to affect a few different things. Just your overall performance and comfort whenever you're towing something is going to be decreased.

You know, you're putting extra wear and tear on your suspension components, and so they're just gonna have to work harder, which can, you know, make them prematurely fail and things like that. Not to mention, just, you know, your stopping distance is going to be decreased. You know, how it feels whenever you turn and everything else. So, even just some weight in the bed, not to mention, if you're pulling a super heavy trailer, you know, you can really feel it. But with that side, you know, talking about it is one thing, but how it's actually gonna feel is a completely different story.

So, before we get the bags on, why don't we go ahead, jump in the truck, take it out on the test scores and see how it feels. So, we're here in the truck, we'll go for a spin. And before we even get started here, just sitting in it, I can actually feel that weight kinda squatting us back a little bit. Not a huge deal, but definitely not the most desirable ride, at least in my opinion. With that said, we'll go ahead and get going here. First thing we're gonna do is hit some bumps. And as we go over the first few, what I like to do is just kinda get moving along, trying to get that weight kinda really transferring in our suspension. And as we hit them, you know, I'm not gonna lie, it's not terrible, but I do you feel like there's room for improvement. You know, the suspension just feels a little soft. You know, not as responsive as you'd like it to be. And I mean, keep in mind too, this is a pretty heavy duty truck and we don't have a ton of weight back there, so even just some weight, you know, affects that. So, anything that's heavier, the symptoms here are gonna be amplified. So, definitely some room for improvement, at least over our bump section. So, now what we're gonna do is a little evasive maneuvering, and this is where I'm really curious. It seems like in the past, you know, these maneuvers make the truck get kinda off balance, if that makes sense. We get a lot of body roll. So, I'm gonna pick up some speed here and start to turn our wheel pretty sharp. And just like I thought, you can really feel that weight. You know, you could feel the truck kinda getting pushed to one side and a little slow to come back, you know, to the center, so it takes a little more effort to kinda steer this thing and keep it planted and pointed where you want it to go. Now that we have our airbags installed, I put that same amount of weight in the bed of our truck. And we'll just take these measurements again. So, here at the back, form the ground to that wheel well, we're right at 43 inches. So, it's about a quarter-inch lower than what it was from the factory with no weight. But keep in mind, I only got about 25 pounds of air in the bags. So, if you wanted to gain that quarter-inch back, all we'd simply have to do is just put a couple more pounds in the backside here. And here at the front, again, from the ground to the edge of our wheel well, that's right at 40 1/4 of an inch, so that's exactly where it was from the factory. And what that means is, you know, our truck is riding how it should. You know, how the factory intended it to be. So, we should regain all those performance benefits that we had lost without the airbags. And, you know, the truck should just ride a whole lot better, but you know, we're not gonna know until we get out on the road and actually test it out. So, why don't we go ahead, hop inside and take it for a spin. So, we're up in the truck. Before we even take off, I can feel a difference already. You know, the truck feels flat, like it should, so we're not kinda leaning way back here from that weight in the bed. So, we're gonna do the same tests that we did before. Kinda get straightened out here and get going over these bumps. And just like before, I like to hit a few. Really try to get that weight moving our truck around. And after these few, it actually feels, it actually it feels a lot better. I was kinda skeptical on how much this would help on a heavy duty truck like this, but you can tell the difference actually. It rides a little more firm, but the suspension feels a lot more responsive, you know, like it has a lot more travel. And so, overall, it kinda just feels like, you know, when we're hitting those bumps, you know, it feels like the suspension isn't working nearly as hard and we're not stressing it out, so that'll be good. So, we'll go ahead and run through the slalom course again now and kinda get through this clearing up ahead here and start to kinda make some sharp turns. And a lot better, actually. Much, much better. You can hardly even feel the weight in there. Nope. Pretty much no body roll, I mean, a little bit, but way better than what it was. I feel like, you could do this faster and, you know, the truck's going where you have the wheel pointed. And it really wasn't like that before when I was doing this. You know, it'd eventually go in that way, but there's a delay there, and that's really not the case anymore. You know, it does what it's supposed to do and, you know, can give you a little extra confidence whenever your towing down the road. So, now that we felt how the airbags performed, let's take a look at them here underneath the truck. And so, this is how they're gonna be set up once they're installed. And more or less, what they're gonna do is replace your factory-type jounce bumper. Now, this is there, from the factory, more or less, to prevent, you know, your trucking bottoming out. And what the airbags are gonna do is fill that void there, so from the top of your axle to the bottom of your frame rail. So, more or less, you're gonna have a big cushion in here. And these are gonna be adjustable from five to 100 psi. And that's gonna be pretty convenient. You know, you can adjust them depending on your load. So, if you have a light load, you might only need 10, 15 pounds in there. Heavier load, you know, you can go all up to 100. Typically, you don't really exceed 40 or 50, from my experience, but it's good to have it and not need it than the other way around. Now, the thing is with airbags, they are going to require some maintenance, okay So, for example, these have to have a minimum of five psi in them at all times. And you know, they do potentially have, you know, the potential to develop an air leak. So, definitely something to keep in mind. You know, you're gonna have to do a little bit of maintenance on these. To make that easier, you can use a compressor system. And a lot of those compressor systems will maintain the pressure in there for you every time you get in the truck, so it makes it easy and you can make your adjustments on the fly as well. Compared to some of the other suspension-type enhancements, like a Timbren, for example, you know, the bags have their positives and negatives. So, what a Timbren would do would, essentially, just be a big jounce bumper, more or less. You know, the good thing about those is no maintenance. Once they're in here, they're kinda in there and they're doing the job, you're kinda forget about them. The downside with the Timbrens, you know, you're not gonna have the adjustability. So, there's definitely, you know, some advantages and disadvantages there. I'm kinda partial towards the airbags, especially if I was towing a lot of different types of trailers. Just having that adjustability would really make a difference. The airbags are gonna provide us with 5,000 pounds of load leveling support. Now, keep in mind, that's just how much weight these can handle. That's not going to, you know, increase your truck's carrying capacity. And something I wanted to mention too, is if these can work with a gooseneck or a fifth-wheel-type hitches, we got a lot of questions about that. And today, we actually have the OEM prep package on our truck and the airbags works just fine with it. With that side, you know, as far as aftermarket hitches go, you know, I can't speak for every single one of them, but just how the airbags are positioned and the location where it connects to the bottom of our frame, I could see, you know, a lot of the hitches working just fine. I really don't see why it would give you any issues there. But again, you know, I can't speak for every hitch available, I'm just generally speaking. But other than that, you know, a suspension enhancement that can really make your ride a lot more comfortable and your driving experience that much better, you know, whenever you're pulling a trailer. With that side, as far as the installation goes on these, you know, they're not too bad, actually. I've done some that are easier and some that are much harder to do, so these kinda are average in my opinion. So, as long as you take your time, it really shouldn't give you a whole lot of issues. Speaking of which, let's go ahead and put them on together now. To begin our installation, we're gonna be underneath the back of our truck. And what I got set up here is just a pole jack. That way, you can put some pressure on the frame and have it lift up. And what that's gonna do is increase the space in between our frame rail and our rear axle. And I'm doing it this way, 'cause I'm on a drive-on lift. But for those of you at home, chances are good, you're gonna be on the ground. So, to accomplish the same thing, you can simply jack up your vehicle from the frame rails, and that'll allow the axle to hang down and give you that space that you need here. With that said, you also want to just temporarily remove the spare tire. It just gives you a lot more room to work. And I've also pulled off our heat shield here over on this side, so pretty straight forward. There's gonna be five 10-millimeter bolts. You're gonna have three over here, and two up here. Now, what we need to do is remove our factory jounce bumper. And this is gonna be held in place on each side with a 16-millimeter-head bolt. So, we'll grab our socket and get it removed. We'll just get this out of the way as we will not be reinstalling it. Now, we can go ahead and preassemble our airbag. So, first thing we're gonna do is take the air fitting. It looks like this here, it has a 90 degree bend in it. We're gonna get this started, hand tight. And then we can grab a half-inch wrench and we're just gonna tighten this up. You don't need to crank down on it. You just wanna make sure that it's engaged, and nice and snug. And we're gonna have it pointing like this. From there, we can take this bracket. Now, these are side-specific, so make sure that you reference to your instructions. Right here on the right side. And that's just gonna set up on there, like so. We'll grab these hex nuts. Get both of these started. We'll come back with a 14-millimeter socket and snug them down. And then we wanna make sure to torque them. And you can find this specification in your instructions. So, once those are tight, we can flip this over. And on the backside, you're gonna see it, the right hole there. We'll take our lower bracket, line that up. We're gonna take this beveled bolt here. Just take this one. And this one, we're just gonna get started hand tight for now. Back underneath the vehicle, we can take these brackets here. And these are gonna bolt up where our factory jounce bumper once was. You have to orient these in a specific manner. You can see, the holes are kinda offset, they're not in the dead center of the bracket. The hole that is closest to the edge, this one here, you want that to face towards the front of the truck. So, I just wrote on it, just so, you know, I can keep everything straight. But with that said, we're gonna hold this up and we're gonna take these bolts here, they're gonna have the six-millimeter-Allen-head opening. And I'm just gonna get both these started hand tight. And once this bracket is up there, then we can come back and get everything tight. So, we'll get them both snug. Once these are snug, come back and torque them down. And again, anything that we torque down with this kit, you can find those specs in the instructions. And if you need a torque wrench, you can pick one up here at etrailer. Or a lot of times, if you go to your local auto parts stores, they'll have one available to rent as well. So, I went ahead and just grabbed our airbag assembly and just kinda held it up in place. And what I noticed was the air fitting here, the way we had it pointed this way, it'd have been really hard to get our airline set up on it. And so, I just tightened it up a little more and bent it this way. Just kind of a reference, this is gonna face towards the back of the truck. So, this will be on the outside of our frame, this will be on the inside. And we're gonna plug our airline into it now, 'cause we ain't gonna have a ton of room to work. So, I simply unraveled the airline, cut it in half. And when you cut it, you wanna make sure that you have a nice clean straight cut, so you wanna avoid using your regular pair of snips. A lot of times, that can pinch it. So, you wanna use a tubing cutter or even just a razor blade to make it nice and straight and clean. With that said, these are quick-connect-type fittings, so you simply just push it right into place. Now that we have this setup, we can go ahead and get it in place here. So, what's gonna happen is this bracket is gonna line up with the bracket up there. And you'll see, we have some holes there and a bolt that's gonna go through there, all right So, go ahead, and get this roughly into position. So, with this in position, we're gonna take this bolt here. And from the inside out, that's gonna slide through both the brackets. Make sure that it's gonna clear the airline. In our case, we have some space there, so nothing to worry about. And then I'm just gonna take a hex nut and get this started on each side. The holes here, closer towards the front of the truck, we're gonna use that same exact setup, so I'll go ahead and take our nut and bolt and get that one going too. With those bolts in place and hand tight, we'll come back with a socket and a wrench and snug them down. And don't forget to come back and torque these bolts down. At this point, we can come back to the bottom bracket here and we wanna make sure that this is nice and straight. And the side that doesn't have any cut-outs here, we want to face towards the back. And we're just gonna mark our bag in relation of those bracket. So, we'll take a paint marker. We'll just make a reference line there. I usually like to do two. And what I'm gonna do is keep those lined up and make it kinda tilt it up like this. And we're gonna tighten up this bolt now. I believe this is a 7/32-size Allen key. Let's go ahead and check it. It looks like it moved on us a little bit, so not a big deal. I'll loosen it up and do it a couple times until I get those marks where we need them to be. So, once we have them lined up and tighten, at this point, we can come back and make sure to torque that bolt down. At this point, we have this bracket here that's kinda holding on our brake line, I'm gonna remove this temporarily, just so we have some more space to work 'cause we're gonna have some bolts that we're putting in through here. So, I grabbed a 13-millimeter socket to pull that out. That gives us a little more space there. And now, what we can do is take these long carriage bolts. There's gonna be two square openings there on our bracket. We're gonna be using the one here closest to the inside of our vehicle. So, go ahead and drop that down. The other side of our bracket will be set up the same way, so we'll have this one over there as well. So, here's where our carriage bolts dropped through. We're gonna take the axle strap bracket, put this over it. Of course, you want the beveled edge to face up towards the bottom of our axle tube there. And let's try to get these bolts through and kinda hold that up. I'm gonna take the hex nuts. Get each side going. And then we'll come back and tighten and torque them. And when you're tightening these up, you wanna do it evenly. You know, run this one down for a second, run this one down, this one, this one, it'll kinda pull it up nice and flush and make sure everything's, you know, squared up. Now, I went ahead and reinstalled that little bracket that we had removed earlier. So, I just screwed that in and then just use my thumb to kinda push up on it and give us a little extra clearance around that carriage bolt. And with that said, now what we can do is simply repeat that exact same process that we just did over here on the other side of the vehicle. Essentially, they're gonna be installed the exact same way. Really, the only difference is the shape of the upper bracket, but it still uses the same hardware and everything else. So, once you get this one installed, now we can start to route and hook up all of our airlines. So, I went ahead and got our airlines routed. We'll do one side at a time here, starting with the driver's side. So, I put some loom over our airline just to help kinda keep it protected here in the sharp edges. And you know, you wanna do your best to avoid moving parts. I just ran it along this factory wiring using some zip ties along the way to secure it. Here, I kinda bumbled up the extra wire, or I'm sorry, tubing and dropped it down right here. And we're going to make sure this airline is cut nice and clean. We're gonna take the inflation valve. It's gonna get pressed onto it. And then I'm going to take a flat washer, put that on, and put them into our no-drill bracket. So, this comes with the bags. And really simple, I mean, you just find where you want to put this and use a couple of zip ties to secure it. With that said, we'll put that through. Followed by another flat washer. We're gonna take a nut, and get this going. So, with these, what I like to do is just run them down by hand. And then we can come back, we'll take a half-inch wrench on each side and just kinda snug them up a little bit, like so. With this one done, I already have the right side complete, so let's move up there by the bag and show you how I got this one over here. Over here on the passenger's side, here's our airline tube. Again, I put some loom over it. And this one, I actually routed up through this opening here in the frame, and continued to push the airline towards the back of our truck. So, right here at the end of our frame, there's an opening and it comes out right there. Again, more wire looms to help keep it protected. And from there, I just continued to route it, kinda behind our bumper here where it comes down to our bracket, where I have it set up the same exact way that we did this one. So, once everything set up, we need to inflate our airbags to the amount specified in the instructions, so that way, we can check them for leaks. So, whenever we're ready to check for leaks, one way you can do it is listen for them. You know, if you hear something leaking, you can investigate it a little further. And another way is to use soapy water. And you're just gonna spray the fittings down really well and kinda give them a minute. And what we're looking for is air bubbles to be rapidly forming, more or less. So, we have some bubbles there, but that's just coming out of the bottle. What we're looking for is wants to continue to be created. And I'm gonna do this for all of our fittings and check them. If we do have a leak, what you can do is take all the air out of the bag and pull the line out. So, to pull the line out, you have to kinda push down on it and kinda hold this ring there with your thumb and pull out. Recut it, nice and straight, plug it back in, fill it back up full of air and check it again. So, it looks like these are good, so I'll just continue on to the rest of our fittings and make sure those are leak-free as well. So, once everything is done, I simply reinstalled our heat shield and the spare tire. And as you can see, everything fits good. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs for the rear axle on our 2018 Ram 2500..

Info for this part was:

Employee Jeff D
Installed by:
Jeff D
Employee Joshua S
Video Edited:
Joshua S
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Dustin K
Video Edited:
Dustin K
Employee Chris R
Video by:
Chris R
Employee Jonathan Y
Video by:
Jonathan Y
Employee Michael B
Video by:
Michael B
Employee Shane H
Test Fit:
Shane H
Employee David F
Test Fit:
David F
Employee Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G

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