Firestone’s Ride-Rite air springs are a worthwhile addition to any rig that’s going to live up to its “heavy-duty” moniker. Diesel trucks especially have that expectation. Using all of that turbocharged torque is a major benefit when towing and hauling is required, but making sure the truck can last for the long haul is what these air springs are designed to do.
Air springs are a good addition for several reasons. For one, they help protect cargo by preventing bottoming out of the suspension, while also getting rid of sag. Air springs also improve ride safety, giving better steering and braking control to the driver. The leveling offered by air springs is another benefit, which will keep the headlights pointing down on the road ahead (instead of up in the sky) and reduce excessive wear to the tires, too.
“Our main customer is the work-hard-play-hard dude,” said Firestone’s Paul Fessel. “They load the vehicle down. Our product can re-level the vehicle and improve its handling, braking, and suspension travel that it has when it’s unloaded. As a truck loads down, it’s losing suspension travel. With the Ride-Rite product, you get that five or six inches in travel back.”
We recently received a kit to install on a 2015 Ram 3500 (PN 2560). The kit included two convoluted air springs, as well a heat shield, air line tubing, fittings, and other hardware required to complete the job.
To begin, the kit was laid out to ensure all of the parts were there. The rear of the truck was lifted and placed on jack stands along the frame, letting the rear axle droop all the way.
The jounce bumpers, also known as bump stops, were underneath the frame. We took out the bolts holding them in and removed the jounce bumpers. We wouldn’t be needing them anymore, since the Ride-Rite air springs have internal jounce bumpers.
Moving on to the lower brackets, we chose the correct side to use on a diesel truck – the wider side. We installed it on the driver’s side air spring, along with the combo stud. We then moved on to the upper bracket, installing it onto the truck’s frame.
The air spring assembly was ready to go in now. We compressed the spring to make it fit in between the frame and axle, making sure the alignment pin sat correctly. Next, we screwed in the nut to hold the air spring on top, while using a bail clamp (aka U-bolt) and bracket to affix the spring on the bottom. The last step at this phase was screwing in the air fitting, situating it so the air line tubing could easily reach it, while also engaging the thread locker coated on the fitting’s threads.
On the passenger side, the process was much the same. The only difference was inserting the heat shield on top of the spring before installing it into its brackets. This would protect the spring from high temperatures coming off of the exhaust. Before moving on, we situated the heat shield properly, shielding the spring from heat while also having good enough clearance from the suspension.
Now, it was time to cut the tubing. Marking the halfway point with a marker, we cut the tubing into two long pieces. We then routed the tubing through the undercarriage, connecting one end to the air fittings and using thermal sleeves where necessary to prevent heat decay or punctures. The other end hooked up to the inflation valves, which we had emerge from the bumper next to the license plate.
Now on the home stretch, we pumped up the air springs to 70 psi. We then sprayed soapy water on all four of the air fittings and inflation valves. The bubbles dissipated without inflating, so we knew we had no leaks in the air lines. After double-checking the rest of the system, we inflated the bags to have matching psi.
The truck, now equipped with Ride-Rite air springs, will serve its purpose even better than before. Its ride comfort while towing will be better, as well as its stability on the open road. If you’d like to have the same for your truck, then be sure to check out the Ride-Rite website and Facebook page.