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

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


Rob: Rob here at etrailer.com. Today, you're going to be taking a look at the Firestone Red Label Extreme Duty Air Helper Springs for the Rear Axle on our 2018 Ram 2500. The need for airbags comes in whenever you have a heavy load in the back of your truck, or if you're towing a heavy trailer. Now, our Ram specifically has coil springs in the back which, when we're unloaded, gives us a really comfortable ride. But as soon as we start putting a lot of gear, a trailer back here, anything we start weighing it down, the back end is really going to start squatting. Once that happens, it's putting a lot of strain and stress on our rear suspension, and our ride quality is going to suffer quite a bit as well.

Since the back end is going to be pushed down, it's going to cause a teetering effect, which is going to cause the front end to come up.And since the front end is being pulled up and stretched out, it's actually going to change how our tires are contacting the ground. Our alignment's going to change, so we're going to have a little bit of uneven tire wear. They're not going to contact the ground as much, which means that our turning and braking is going to be diminished. Not to mention, our headlights are probably going to be blinding everybody as we're driving down the road. So, just overall, not a safe, fun experience to have.Before we put our airbags on, let's go ahead and take our truck out on our test course and see how it handles.

As I'm driving through my bump course, I can definitely tell that there's a large load in the back. The engine really isn't struggling to pull it, but I definitely feel a jarring feeling with every bump I go over resonating through the seat. Not to mention, on the uneven bumps, the fact that I have a water tank back there, I really feel it sloshing around and pushing me side to side. As I go into my slalom course and I'm going in and out of the turns, I'm getting the same kind of effect. That water is really hitting the side of the tank and pushing me one way, and the truck doesn't want to react as quickly as it should going in and out of the turns.Now that the airbags are installed, we can see we have the same load in the back of our truck.

We can get about 25, 30 psi in our bags right now. And you can see if we look at our truck, it's sitting a lot more level. The back end isn't being pushed down anymore. It's being supported by the airbags, which means there's less strain and stress on our suspension, and everything is right where it should be. And if we move up front, we can see that the gap in between our tire and our fender isn't as big because it's not getting pulled up anymore, which means we're going to have a lot better handling, braking, and just responsiveness when we go in and out of the turns.So, now that we do have our airbags on, let's go ahead and take our truck out with the same load over our test course and see how it improved everything.

I can definitely see there's an improvement. Don't get me wrong, I know that there's bumps there and I can feel them, but I'm not getting a jarring effect every time I go over a speed bump, and the truck reacts and responds more quickly. I'm not continuing to bounce after the bump. You have the initial bump, then it seems to have leveled out back to normal. On the alternating speed bumps, the airbags are definitely absorbing a lot of that shock and swaying feeling because I feel a lot more in control.Now, as I come into the slalom course, it definitely feels more stable and genuinely just like the truck wants to go faster. Don't get me wrong, I can tell there's something in the back of my truck, but it definitely doesn't feel as heavy or as much of a problem as it did before. I feel a lot more stable and in control of going through our course.So, here's a closer look at our airbags and what they look like once we have them installed. These are going to provide us that support for our rear axle because they're going to mount in between our rear axle and the frame. Whenever we have a heavy load and the back end starts to sag down, our air springs, we can inflate them, which will bring the back end of the truck back up to where it should be. I personally have always really liked Firestone airbags. Never really had too many issues with them, and they're just a really good, durable design. It is going to be made out of rubber, but each piece of the rubber is actually being crimped into the top and the bottom of the bag so we don't have to worry about them separating.One of the really nice things about the Firestone airbags is when you go to get your service done and you need to, say, do a tire rotation or anything where the axle's going to be hanging and it's on a lift, we're not going to have to worry about the airbags. Other manufacturers will tell you, you need to let the air out or disconnect them so that you don't have the actual hanging. But Firestone says it's completely safe to do regular maintenance and have the axle hanging by the bag while you do it. These are Firestone's Red Label bags, which means they're going to be the heavy-duty version. These are going to support up to 7,500 pounds, so they're going to give us that low-leveling support. So, whether we have a gooseneck, a fifth wheel, or a bed full of landscaping racks, or anything in between, these are going to be able to support up to 7,500 pounds and make sure that our suspension doesn't have any premature wear on it.Now, one thing to keep in mind with these airbags is they're not going to increase the capacity of your truck. We still need to double check our owner's manual and see how much our truck can handle because these bags are purely there to help support the weight, not increase the payload. Our airbags are going to have a working range from 5 psi all the way up to 150 psi. Since they're the Extreme label, they are going to go up that high; whereas, most bags are only going to go up to about 100 psi. But you don't want to run these with no air in them. You want to keep at least 5 psi in them, even if your truck's unloaded.As far as the installation goes, it is going to be really straightforward. The instructions are really clear, and it is something you can completely do in your garage at home. One tip I do suggest is if you plan on adding a compressor, I would wait to run your lines until you have your compressor on, because typically you're not going to have enough air lines to do both at separate times.But now that we've seen how our airbags handle, to see what they look like underneath the truck, let's go ahead and put one side on together. To begin your installation, you want to get to the back of your Ram, and you want to lift up the back end. You want to lift it by the frame so we can have a little bit of sag in our suspension. But because of the type of lift we're using, we can't lift it that way. So, we're going to use a jack stand to lift the back end up so that suspension can have a little bit more space in between the frame and the axle.We're going to start out on our driver's side. We want to go right above the axle. Now, on the bottom of the frame, we'll find this triangle rubber piece. This will be your factory jounce stop. We're going to need to remove it. You can see there's one bolt in the very back of it, then there's going to be another one on the front. So, we'll grab a 16-millimeter socket, and we'll pull both of those bolts out. Once you have both bolts pulled out and the jounce stop, we can set it aside because it's not going to get reinstalled.We're going to want to grab our frame bracket. Each one is going to be identical. There should be two of them in your kit. You'll notice that there's going to be a slight offset of where the holes are. There's going to be a large section and then a smaller section. We want the flat piece to be going against the frame, but then we also want the large section here to be pointing towards the back. And this is going to line up right where our factory jounce stops went, except instead of using the factory bolts, we're going to take the flathead cap screws. We'll come up through our bracket, and we just want to get them at least hand-tight for now just to get it loosely in place so that it'll hold itself. So, I'll just get one threaded in by hand, then I'll put the other one in.Then, grab a 7/32" Allen socket, and we'll tighten both those points up. Then, you want to make sure you go back and you torque your hardware down to the specified amount in the instructions. Now, anytime we tighten any of our bolts down, we're going to come back with a torque wrench and tighten them to those specifications. Now, we're going to go ahead and start to assemble our airbags. The top section on here will have two studs coming out along with an opening that's threaded. It's going to be the top, so we want to flip it over. We'll have a single hole on the bottom.We'll grab our lower bracket, and again, these are going to be identical, so you'll have two in your kit. We're going to flip it over to where that little recess is pointing towards the threads. Then, we're going to grab the short cap screw bolts out of our kit. You just want to get this in there hand-tight. We want it to be secure so the bracket's not going to come off, but we still want to have plenty of movement in our bracket. So, you can use that same 7/32" Allen bit. I'm just going to snug it up really loosely. That way the bracket will still move on there, and we can make any adjustments.We can go ahead and flip our bracket back over. Then. We want to grab the upper bracket at this point. Now, these are going to be side-specific. The left-hand side or the driver's side is going to look like this. It will have a very large flat section and then kind of an angled piece on the other side. And if we look, we're going to have two holes and a large opening. The two holes align up with the stud in our airbag, and the large opening here is going to be so we can get our air fitting installed. So, if we take our bracket, slide it over the studs, you can see how it's going to fit right over and everything's going to line up. What I like to do before we secure everything is, I like to get the fitting in place. That way we're not fighting the bracket trying to tighten it up.So, we'll grab our quarter-inch push fitting. We'll just get it loosely threaded in by hand. Make sure that it doesn't cross-thread. Then, once we have a few threads engaged, we're going to want to grab a half-inch wrench, and we're going to tighten up our fitting until the thread locker is fully engaged. You don't need to have it bottoming out, but you want to make sure that thread locker is inside those threads.When we tighten it up, we want our fitting to be pointing towards the inside or towards those studs. We can always do a dry fit and make sure that it's going to clear everything, but we want that opening to be pointed right to that opening on the other side of our bracket. That way we have a clear shot, and we know we can get our air line tube in place. Once you have everything lined up and you know it's where you want it to be, we're going to grab a nylon locknut out of our kit. Again, we'll just get it started by hand on each one of the steps. Then, I'll come back with a 9/16" socket and snug up my hardware.Now, we need to get our bag ready so we can put it in place. Now, the way it's sitting right now, it may be a little bit of a tight fit to get everything in there. So, ideally, we want to collapse the bags so there's no air in there. But if we let go, it's going to re-inflate. So, an easy trick to do is if we take one of the inflation valves from our kit, we're going to hold onto this real quick, and then we can grab our air line tube. And we only need a few inches, so I'm going to cut the end of it to make sure it's a nice clean cut.Then, I'm going to come down about a few inches and cut just a little section off just like this. We'll take our air line tube and grab our fitting. We're going to push it in till it bottoms out, locks in place, and we'll compress all the air out of our bag. I want to feed the air line in through that opening and put it in just like we did with the fitting, and now, that trigger valve inside's not going to let the air back in. It'll be a lot easier and save you a lot of headache when you're trying to put this in place.So, we want to take our spring, and we're going to lift it up. And the two tabs, the large tabs here, are going to be going around the bracket that we installed on our jounce stop. If we look at our upper bracket, we're going to have four holes. Those are going to line up with the holes that are on our upper bracket. This is going to fit right inside, and those holes will line up. So, we'll just move our breather tube out of the way, kind of loosely get everything in, make sure everything's sitting properly, and we can either lower the truck down or let the air out by pushing in on that ring and pulling out the air tube. It is a little bit of a tight fit, so you may have to just kind of work it back and forth until those holes line up. Once we get everything lined up with the holes, you can get some hardware in place, make sure everything fits properly.We're going to have some long bolts in our kit. We're going to come from the inside. You can see it's going to pass through the outer bracket, the frame bracket, and then through both going to the other side till it comes out on the outside of the frame here. We just want to loosely put these in, making sure they go all the way through on the front and the back. Now, on our lower bracket here I do want to point out, you want to pay attention to where these square holes are. You want them to be on the back and the front of the axle like they are here, but they're going to be slightly towards the inside. So, you want to make sure you had this lower bracket positioned correctly.Now that everything is dry fit in place, we want to take a paint marker or some kind of marker. I'm going to mark the lower bracket, and I'm going to come straight up and mark the actual bag itself. That way I have a reference point of how my bags and brackets should be sitting together, because we're going to remove this and tighten that bottom bolt all the way. You want to make sure you have your marks lined up, then we'll take that 7/32" Allen socket and tighten up that bolt on the bottom. Now that it's snug, we'll come back with our torque wrench and make sure it's secure all the way.Now that we have our marks lined up and everything tightened down, we're going to re-install our airbag assembly. You can remove the air line and let all the air come out. We'll put the bolts back in and fully secure everything. On the end of each one of our bolts coming through our brackets, we're going to take a nylon locknut and secure it down. Do that for both bolts coming through. I'm going to grab a 9/16" wrench and socket, and we'll tighten up our hardware.Next, we want to grab our long carriage bolts out of our kit. As we look down, we're going to have those two square holes. I want to use the one that's closest to the inside or the center of our truck. We're going to drop it down so the bolt comes all the way through. Just want it to be mindful of where these brake lines and ABS sensors are, and make sure that the bolt is on the forward side of this, or towards the front of the truck. We're going to put our other carriage bolt in the same location on the front side of our airbag.Go ahead and grab our axle clamp now. It's going to have a little curve section in it. You want that to be sitting against the axle. You can see how it's going to kind of wrap around it. So, we'll pass our carriage bolts through the holes in the bracket, and we'll lift it up. You want to grab a flat washer, slide it over our carriage bolt. Then, we'll grab another nylon locknut. For right now, we'll just get it loosely on there so we can know that our bracket's not going to fall off. We'll do the same combination of hardware for the forward mounting carriage bolt. Then, we'll grab that 9/16" socket, and we'll snug up both of the locknuts. Now, while you're doing this, you're going to want to alternate back and forth so it clamps down evenly and we don't have it drawing up crooked.Now that we have the drivers side in, we're going to repeat the exact same process on the passenger side. You just want to pay attention to the upper bracket, but everything else is going to be the same. Now, everything on the passenger side was the same except, however, it will be a little bit easier to work with if you remove your spare tire as well as the heat shield over here. We'll have three bolts that are going to be going against the frame, and then this crossmember here, and you'll have two more bolts going towards the back of the truck. Removing this will make it a lot easier to get in. And then, making sure you have that room in between the axle and the frame, you make it a lot easier to get your bag in place because we have so many components that are really close by.At this point, we can start running our lines all the way to the back of the truck so we can put our inflation valves in. However, we're going to be adding a compressor charge system, so we're not going to be running our lines that way. Once you do have your lines ran, you do want to put a little bit of air in there and check for any leaks. We're going to go ahead and put our compressor in because that way, we can fill our bags up and check for leaks now.We're going to come back with some soapy water, and we're going to spray down all my connection points. Now, the airbags are going to be a little hard to see if they are leaking, but anywhere you have an air line going into a fitting, you want to spray it down and check for expanding bubbles. If we don't have any bubbles, that means we don't have any leaks. So, we're going to continue to spray all of our air lines and connection points looking for leaks.Again, I'm Rob here at etrailer.com, and that'll finish up your look at the Firestone Red Label Extreme Duty Helper Springs for the Rear Axle on our 2018 Ram 2500.


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Test Fit:
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