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Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs Installation - 2021 GMC Sierra 2500

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How to Install the Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs on a 2021 GMC Sierra 2500


Hi there GMC owners, Tundra 2021 GMC Sierra 2,500. We're gonna be installing Firestone's ride-rite air helper springs. Before we put our airbags on we are gonna hit the test course just so we can get a baseline of how the truck feels. Gonna head and load it up and we're gonna hit our uneven bump section first here. This is gonna simulate a pothole. And when we hit the bump, we can feel it does got kind of a bump to it.

There's pretty stiff. We are sagging down in the back and a little bit, but it's not as bad as I had expected it to be on initial takeoff. Next we're gonna hit the even bump section and this is gonna simulate going in and out of your driveway. And you definitely can feel every time that that back-end hits, boom, it's kind of does slam down. Once we get some airbags under there I expect it should help cushion that and so we're not hitting quite as hard.

And lastly, we're gonna be going into the slalom section here. We gotta get around there and this is where we're gonna simulate an evasive maneuver. Now, if we look around outside today we do have some pretty inclement weather. So we're not gonna be taken in as quite as hard as we usually do due to the slicker conditions out. And we're coming into our section now so we're gonna get her going a little bit.

And it does seem to be taking the weight fairly well. The snowy conditions out here are limiting on how much I'm willing to go with this. I do feel like the body roll would be a lot worse if I was more aggressive but you definitely can feel the roll. I do feel like once we get the bags on there and we head out on the course, it is gonna feel quite a bit better and it will likely help improve our handling here in the snowy weather 'cause even though I'm not taking it as aggressive as I normally do, we're still throwing some weight back and forth. And every time the truck rocks it really tosses that weight, and that's what causes you to slide in that direction.

So by stiffening it up we shouldn't have as much sway and the weight won't be tossed around as much. So we should be able to be a little more aggressive on round two. Now we've got our airbags installed. We're gonna hit the test course once again. We'll be on the same path starting with our uneven bumps section. And you can definitely notice an improvement just right over the bumps. It's definitely smoother than it was. We don't hit quite as hard when we're coming down, it feels quite nice. Almost like there's nothing back there. Next we're gonna be going into the even bump section. Again, this simulates going over a speed bump or pulling it out of your driveway. And it's basically the same story. Here's with the uneven bumps, especially there in the back. It is a little bit stiffer, but we don't have quite as much of a up and down motion. Just a little bit stiffer. Lastly, we're gonna be going into that slalom section and that's gonna mimic an evasive maneuver. And once again, our parking lot is a little bit wet and it is very cold today. So we're not gonna be quite as aggressive as we normally are with it. This is where we usually notice a lot of the biggest improvements is how much of the anti-sway it takes down 'cause when you're going to turn and as the body rolls and the weight throws to one side, that's what really causes you to slide especially in this inclement weather. So we're heading into the section now and we're gonna see how she feels here. Oh yeah. And it does definitely feel a lot better. Stuff like this does help it improve it in these colder weathers 'cause if we're not leaning in as much and throwing that weight around, that's less of a chance that that weight's gonna take hold and cause us to slip on these slippery conditions. And same thing even when it's dry out, as that weight throws the traction from the tires grip on the road, eventually that force is gonna exceed it and that's when you slide. So it's definitely made a big improvement on how this truck feels. This truck already had great suspension to begin with but when you're really loading it down this is gonna be the tipper. It's gonna bring it back up to make it feel like it's just as good as it was before you loaded it down. And this is what our airbags look like when they're installed. They replace your factory jounce bumpers and go in between the frame and the axle of your vehicle to help provide support for any weight that you might be carrying. Now, these don't increase the maximum carrying capacity of your vehicle. They just help to provide support for it. And what the main purpose of that does for you is when you normally load your vehicle down it sags down the back-end, and it causes your handling and braking performance to degrade due to the geometry of your suspension. Since the back-end is down and the front is up our tires are no longer contacting the road with as much surface area as they had before which diminishes that handling performance. And with the weight all towards the back, it's not being positioned properly under the front brakes 'cause that's where the most stopping power happens at the front. So it does increase your stopping distance when you're loaded down in the back. By raising the vehicle back up in the back it's going to return some of that lost breaking and handling performance and it also lowers our headlights down back onto the road increasing our visibility at night. These bags operate between five and 100 PSI, five PSI being for your unloaded conditions. It is important that you do have at least that five pounds in there, 'cause if you don't, then as it's moving up and down it's kind of like creating a vacuum and it can suck the airbags in. You don't wanna collapse them. And then a hundred PSI is for your maximum load. However, in most cases, you're not gonna need to load it up to that 100 PSI. That's usually gonna be more than you're ever gonna need. It's gonna make your suspension pretty stiff. In most cases, when you're loading on your truck you're gonna be able to get away with 40 to 50 pounds. And that's usually gonna get your vehicle back up to that height when you're loading it up to near its maximum. This is a double convoluted design so you can see the two sections here that helps increase the burst pressure of our bags, and it offers that 5,000 pound carrying support that they have. I also like the way that the bags are formed together, the top and bottom with the way they have the plates on here, the way they're attached and crimped, it allows these bags to actually be serviceable where if you we're to lift the vehicle up and let the axle hang, you won't damage the bags. A lot of the other competitors won't let you actually lift the vehicle and have the axle hang as that could potentially damage the bags. So it's nice that these ones allow better service for your vehicle, especially if you're a guy that likes to do stuff at home. Now that we've covered some of the features of our airbags, why don't you follow along with me and we'll show you how to get them installed. We'll begin our installation by preparing our upper brackets. This is our upper bracket here, and we'll have clamps that we need to put into place. They're gonna sit just like this and line up with these slotted holes. We'll get the chrome colored tapered screws and these are gonna fit on the bottom side of our upper bracket, right into the slot there. It's gonna go through our upper bracket here and we want the angled portion here to base just like that. So it's gonna slide on top and then we'll put a flange nut on it to secure it. We don't wanna to be too secure, we need to be able to slide it around. So we're just gonna go just down until it's loose. We'll do the same thing to the other side. And then we're gonna be placing the other clamp bracket the opposite direction, just like this line up in those holes. And when you got them both on a little like this and you can see you're gonna be able to slide them. That's why we just tighten them all the way down yet. Now we'll head over to the vehicle and underneath the vehicle we'll need to remove the jounce bumper. It's located just above the axle here. And you can just pry this out with a screwdriver or a pry bar, just kind of hook it up in there And you can see it'll just kind of pop out of there. We'll do the same thing on the other side to remove the one over there as well. We're gonna take our bracket and it's gonna clamp around the cup where our jounce bumper was and we'll be using these to tighten it on there. I found it a little bit easier if we take these and start them first. So just slide it in and then just these are gonna be the smaller nuts that come in your kit. Just put it on about like a thread because if you go too far you're not gonna be able to open the cup up far enough to get it in place. But just to thread on there, you're good. Now we'll take the upper bracket, we're gonna spread it open and then we'll work our bracket around the cup. Here we go. And then we can push the two together and then tighten down those nuts on those side bolts that we had just slid in. We can now go back and tighten them down. You wanna make sure that we're pushing up. And when we tighten it, we'll use an 11 millimeter socket on the nut and then a 10 millimeter socket on the bolt. And then we pushing upward to make sure we don't have a gap between the bottom of the cup and the top of our bracket. We're gonna snug that one up a little bit and then we'll snug up the other side. Once you get one snugged up usually it holds it up against the bottom so you don't have to worry about pushing it up anymore. Now we can go back and tighten down the bolts that we had left loose. In our bottom bracket we're gonna use a 7/32 Allen key and a 9/16 wrench to tighten them down. We'll now preassemble our bottom bracket. This is gonna use the shorter tapered screw. It's gonna go in the bottom, into the tapered side there and then our airbag is gonna thread onto the top. We wanna leave this one loose as well 'cause we're gonna need to make some adjustments for its positioning. But we're just gonna get it kind of just started in place so that way we can make our marks. We're now gonna put our airbag into place. If we look at the top of our airbag we've got this larger threaded tube right here at the top. That's gonna go into large hole here and there's a small button alignment peg also in the top of our airbag. That's gonna line up in one of the three holes, depending on the best positioning. So you go ahead and put it in place now, so you wanna squeeze the airbag to collapse it. The long plate where it angles down it's gonna go towards your leaf spring and it should sit right on the strike pad for where your old jounce bumper used to hit. And this is what it will look like when you got it up in there. Next you'll wanna turn your airbag until it lines up with one of the alignment pegs so it won't spin anymore. It's important that that is lined up with an alignment peg 'cause if it's not, when you go to tighten everything down it can damage the bag if it's not in one of the holes. So now we know we're in alignment peg, you just wanna make some marks. So we know the proper orientation of our airbag. So we're gonna put a little mark there and I can put one on the other side just so I got two marks that I can line up. So we got one there as well. Now we'll take the bag out. We'll line up our marks and tighten down that bolt that was loose. So we know that it's in the correct position. So we're just lining up our marks and snugging it down. We can now put our airbag back into place, make sure that it's lined up with an alignment peg and if it's not you'll need to take it back down and readjust it. Everything's lined up with your alignment peg and you can take the large star washer, slide it over the threaded tube and then the large nut and thread that onto the tube as well. And then we'll come back and just snug it up with a one and an eighth inch wrench. And then in the center of that tube we're gonna thread our air fitting that comes in our kit. And you wanna have this threaded down until at least two of the threads that had the sealant, you see on it there, the orange reddish color are down inside. We'll use a 9/16 socket or wrench to snug that down. We can now put our brackets into place. On the front side of the axle the shock mount here is pretty tight but there is little gap there. So you will likely need to take a hammer and tap the bracket into position. Once you get your holes lined up you can drop your carriage bolt down through the top and then thread a flange nut on the other side. We'll go ahead and put our other bracket on the other side first 'cause you wanna tighten these back and forth making sure you tighten it down evenly. When installing the bracket on the other side, you do wanna make sure you don't pinch any lines or wires. So make sure you go around those and we'll attach basically the same way. And then we can go back with our 9/16 socket or wrench to snug these down. Now if you have the one side installed the other side's gonna install the exact same way, with the only difference being that there's a heat shield here. All you do is when you're putting your airbag into place after making your alignment marks and tightening it down, slide this heat shield on top, double-check make sure that alignment pin is lined up and then you can just continue on with the process. And then just angle this over towards your exhaust, so that way it provides a barrier against the heat so it doesn't get into your bag. We now need to run the lines for our airbags but we're gonna need a bracket that's gonna give us a location where we can access our fittings and be secure to be able to put air in them. So you do get a bracket that comes included with it, we're gonna put it on the hitch. You also have an option you could drill out holes if you wanted to to put them somewhere else. But I do like that it has a bracket so that way can keep the install clean. We're just gonna use the included zip ties to zip tie the bracket here to the hitch. We'll then take our air fittings. We're gonna slide a flat washer on the fitting, slide it through the bracket follow that up with another flat washer and then the nut. We'll do the same thing with the other air fitting and the other hole over here. And then tighten the hardware down with a 1/2 inch socket or wrench. And you don't need to go crazy tight with these. They are made of a softer metal. So just snug's fine, it's just going into plastic. Now I'm gonna go ahead and route my airlines and get those plugged in. Your airlines are all gonna connect with a quick-connect fitting so we can show you that right here. So to connect them, it's pretty easy, you just take your airline, go to the back of the quick-connect fitting, and just push it in. That's it. And now it doesn't come out. If you make a mistake and you need to take it back out for routing, just push in on the collar on the back and then it'll come out. When routing your lines you wanna make sure to avoid any moving components such as your suspension and anything hot such as your exhaust that could melt the line. Also wanna show you cutting your line when you're cutting it for length, you don't wanna use just a pair of side cutters when doing it. We're using a pair of hose cutters. You can pick up host cutters here at etrailer. We've got smaller ones available instead of the more industrial size here. And it's important to have a clean square cut on the end to seal properly in those quick-connect fittings. So when you're cutting them, you'll see here how our end is from the factory, it looks great, but when you cut it at home you wanna make sure it looks the same and you can see how clean and square that cut is. It's gonna seal properly. So I'll go ahead and get these rounted up and then I'll show you the path that I did. We rounted our airlines from our fittings. We curve around our hitch and then go right to the factory wiring where we follow that factory wiring up over our crossbeam here just following the factory wiring all the way down until we get above the airbag where we just dip down and poke into the quick-connect fitting and we zip tie to that factory wiring along the way. Also wanted to point out I did remove the spare tire to make it easier to see and also route the lines. It's not necessary to do so but it can make things a little bit easier on you. For our other line, we routed it up above our hitch and then follow factory wiring there across to the other side. Once we hit the frame, we go up on top of the frame. We go through the channel here and you'll get some sleeves in your kit to protect it against any rough edges or sharp edges. It's not overly sharp, but since it's metal I went ahead and put the sleeve on there. We then just continue above our heat shield where we then drop down and go into the quick tank on our airbag. I then went down, put another sleeve on that came with the kit to protect it from rubbing up against the heat shield. Now we can air up our airbags and check to see if we have any leaks. So we're just gonna shoot a little bit of air in there. And now we'll wanna spray each of our fittings and connection points and check for the presence of bubbles for this reason, some soapy water. And we're not talking about bubbles like you might see there, ones that continually reproduce bubbles that means we have air coming out that's actually blowing up those bubbles. So check the backsides your cricket X at your fittings and at your airbags. And now that we have no leaks present, we're ready to load up our truck and hit the road. And you will receive also a couple of caps. Once you've got your desired pressure you can put those on as well to keep out any dirt and debris from messing up the valves. And that completes our installation of Firestone's ride-rite air helper Springs on our 2021 GMC Sierra 2,500..


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