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Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs Installation - 2020 GMC Sierra 2500

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How to Install the Firestone Ride-Rite Rear Axle Air Helper Springs on a 2020 GMC Sierra 2500

Connor here at Today, we're going to be taking a look at these Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs for our 2020 GMC Sierra 2,500. Our Firestone air Springs here are going to be an excellent option for our Sierra. So what these are going to do is they're going to offer us additional support while we're towing or hauling a heavy load. Now we're going to need this extra support because when we are towing or hauling in a heavy load, the rear end of our truck is going to sag, which is then going to bring the front end up and that's going to cause all sorts of problems. So just as a bit of comparison here, we have the factory jounce bumper and her we have our Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs installed.

Now, as you can see right away, there's a pretty big difference. So in regards to suspension enhancements, the air bags are definitely going to be the best option for a pickup truck.And the reason for this is they're adjustable, meaning that we can always get the perfect level of support and comfort for any particular load we have. And furthermore, our air springs are actually going to be a Juul 00:01:00 fill therefore, we can adjust them. We can adjust each one individually if we have any off center loads. Now, when we compare these to other options, such as Timbrens, Timbrens the benefits they offer are that's maintenance free and they're easy to install.

However, as we mentioned, the reason the Firestone air bags are the best is because they're adjustable. Therefore, we can always get the perfect level of support and comfort for any particular load we have. So at etrailer, we carry two different types of air bags. We have the Firestone air bags you see here. We also have another brand called Air Lift.

Air Lift air bags are excellent. However, they differ from Firestone and that Firestone, it's got a better construction of the bag overall.So Firestone actually uses a crimperal 00:01:43 design whereas, Air Lift uses a band clamp design. Now the crimperal 00:01:48 design is going to do a couple things. Number one, it's going to be a lot more durable and it's going to hold it better over time. And number two, if we ever have to do any maintenance to the vehicle, we can lift it by the frame and let the axle hang freely.

Whereas if we had the airlift air bags, which is a band clamp, we would have to support the rear axle anytime we raised the vehicle. So in my personal experience, I tend to prefer the Firestone air bags over the Air Lift air bags, because they're just a little bit easier to install because we don't have as many components. To our Firestone air bags here have a 5,000 pound weight capacity. And essentially this is going to more or less translate to the payload capacity of our vehicle.Now, if you need more, which I don't think you will, because most trucks on the road today are going to be just fine with this 5,000, Firestone does offer a line called the RED label, which has a 7,500 pound capacity. Now, if you're wondering why you may need that extra capacity, that would more or less be for trucks who are constantly hauling day in and out, such as a car hauler across country. So just touching base on the adjustability of our Firestone air bags here, the PSI range is going to be from five to 100 PSI. And again, we can adjust the PSI depending on how much load we have, how much squat we have and how much we need to take out of the system. Now, keep in mind, we do need a minimum of five PSI in the air bags at all time so we don't have to worry about them deforming.So in regards to installation, this is definitely going to be something you can do at home. We don't have to make any permanent modifications to the vehicle. Everything is just simply a bolt on fit. We are going to need some common tools such as wrenches and sockets, but I don't think it's anything you wouldn't have in a standard tool kit at home. The only thing you may not have as a torque wrench, however, these can usually be rented by most local auto parts stores. Now, just to show you how much of a difference our air bags are going to make on our theory here, we're going to go ahead and give you a few measurements with the stock suspension unloaded. We're going to measure from the ground to the top center of the bottom lip of the wheel well here.And at the rear, we're going to get about 41 inches, Dallas 00:04:05, move over to the front and take that same measurement. So from the ground to the center of the bottom edge of the wheel well on the front is going to be about 39 and a half inches. So now what we're going to do is we're going to place some weight in the truck bed. We're going to retake our measurements and then we're going to install the Firestone and show you the difference it makes in the ride height. So now that we have some weight in the bed of the truck, we can go ahead and retake our measurements. Now keep in mind, we do not have a whole lot of weight in the bed of the truck. So your particular measurements and results may vary. We are just going to give you a general idea to see how much of the benefit the Firestone air bags provides.So the distance from the ground to the top center of the wheel well is going to be around 39 inches. Therefore, it looks like our rear end sacked about two inches overall. Now we're going to go to the front and retake our measurement there as well. It looks like we're around 40 inches from the ground to the center of the wheel well here, therefore the front of our truck raised up a half an inch. Now I know this may not seem like a lot, but that half an inch that we have raised in the front here is going to have drastic effects on our truck and the ability for it to handle correctly while driving down the highway. So in summary, the rear of our truck dropped about two inches and the front of our truck, came up a half an inch. Now, in addition to the stability issues we talked about earlier, this is going to cause a few other problems.Number one tire wear. We're going to have some increased tire wear issues in the front end, because the inaudible 00:05:27 isn't correct due to the front suspension being unloaded. Now, in addition to this, since the front suspension is more unloaded than it would be from the factory, we're going to have some issues with breaking and stopping power. About 60% of the vehicles breaking force is going to be attributed to the front axle. So when we take away off the front axle, we're obviously going to have some decreased braking performance. Now, in addition to all this, we're actually going to have some issues with our existing suspension components wearing out faster because they have more of a load placed on them. So last but not least the raised front in here, is it going to project our headlights upward more towards the sky and not down towards the road where we need them.This is going to do a couple of things. This is going to reduce our visibility at night, and it's also going to cause our headlights to shine into other motor's eyes while we're driving out on the road. Now the further demonstrate the effects are Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs are going to have on our Sierra here compared to the factory suspension, we're going to go ahead and take the truck on a test course here at etrailer, we have the speed bumps set up with the load in the back in our factory suspension. So we can compare the two and show you the difference. Let's pick up some speed here. Yeah, we can definitely feel the truck bounce that around a lot more in the rear end than we should be with the factory suspension with no, weight here. The steering wheel, as you can see here, it's jerking back and forth to one side.Yeah, we can definitely feel the weights back there. We get a little bit more bouncy, a little bit more inaudible 00:07:00 definitely than we would with our factory suspension here. So now that we've gone over the speed bumps, we're going to go ahead and take the truck through our slalom course. Again, with the factory suspension and our container in the bed to simulate the weight. So we're going to pick up a speed here. Then we're going to do some evasive maneuvering around 20, 30 miles an hour. Right away, we definitely feel the truck swing side to side. There's going to be a lot more body roll than we would with just the factory unloaded suspension. Go ahead and take it the other way they, try to show you the effects of the reduced stopping power. Keep in mind these results can vary depending on how much weight we actually have in the back here.Get up to speed here then give a hard breaking. Yeah, we can definitely feel that weight pushing us a little bit. It's not real drastic, but we can definitely feel it's back there. So now that we've gone over some of the benefits and features of our Firestone air bags here, let's go ahead and show you how easy these are to install yourself. So before we begin our installation today, we're going to go ahead and remove the spare tire from the vehicle. However, keep in mind, this is not required of you to do so. We're just doing this to give you a little bit better view of what we're doing under the vehicle. If you would like to do this yourself, to give you more room to work, you can remove the spare tire by first removing the lock core, which is going to be the key or the emergency key on your key fob. And then getting the spare tire removal tool, which is located under the back seat of the vehicle.So before we get under the vehicle, we need to go ahead and preassemble some of our parts here. This first part, we're going to be taking the upper bracket here or upper airbag bracket, as well as our little spring clamps here. We're going to position these like so under the corresponding holes. So we have the open end of the circle facing the center here. And then what we want to do is we want to take some hardware. I'm going to take our flat-head three inch screws and our 3/8 inch flange nuts. Basically what we're going to do is we're just going to loosely assemble our clamps spring to our upper bracket. We're going to take one of our screws here at the back, put it up in that hole. We're not tighten anything down super tight right now, just getting at about hand tight. One in. Keep this processing the rear.Again, we just want to make sure the open end of our circle is facing the center here, where these three holes are. So we'll take the other bracket here, assemble it like so, then finally one more. Just like that. So now that we have one of our brackets assembled, we're going to go ahead and take our quarter inch hex head bolts. We're going to clamp together these two pieces here. And again right now we're not tightening anything fully, just loosely installing everything. Please keep in mind, we do want the open end of our bolt facing out away from the bracket. So once this one's done, we can again, go ahead and repeat the same process for our other bracket. So before we get started, we're again going to remove another component under the vehicle, which is not required, but again, it's just going to help you guys see what's going on a lot better. And that's going to be this heat shield because it's only held up with two bolts.So if you would like to remove this yourself, you need a 13 millimeter socket. It's going to be one bolt here, and then another bolt here, that'll come out just like so. Now we need to go ahead and come under the vehicle here. We're going to be removing the factory jounce springs, which are these orange springs here under the frame between the axle here. So in order to remove this, we need to remove them on both sides. We're going to take some spray lubricant. We're just going to get the outer edges of the cap here to help loosen that spring up. Then we're going to take a pry bar, if you have a flat-head screwdriver, or if that's all you have that may work as well. But essentially we're going to try to get in between the cap and the spring there. We're just going to try to work our way down.There we go. Now we just need to repeat that process on the other side. So now we want to take our upper bracket here. We want to loosen this top hex bolt here, as much as we can without the nut falling off. We're going to do that on both sides. Because then this little cup here for the space here is actually going to go over our jounce spring cap we just removed the jounce spring from. We're going to place that over there like so. We might have to get one side on first, just like that. Now we're going to go ahead and tighten the hex nuts up here, the flange nuts just by hand, hold it in place hopefully. Okay, now I'm just tighten everything by hand as much as I can to try to get the bracket to hold in place. So our next step here, we need to go ahead and tighten down these quarter inch hex bolts, which are clamping the two clamps here to our factory jounce spring mount.Before we do this, so we want to press up on the bottom of the plate here. So we make sure the jounce spring mount is flush with our upper bracket. We also want to alternate tighten between two sides. In order to do this, we're going to need a 10 millimeter socket and an 11 millimeter wrench. I'm using my thumb here to press up on the bracket and you'll alternate to the other side, do the same thing. So the backside is actually going to be a little tight, but we're going to go ahead and switch over to a 10 millimeter wrench.If you have a bottle jack handy, we could place that at the bottom of our mount here and pin it up against the bracket up against the jounce spring mount. If you don't feel you can hold it and tightened at the same time. Now we've got them tight enough to hold the upper bracket. We can go ahead and snug our bolts down. Again, alternating front to back. So it's going to be hard to see that we have the bottom of the jounce spring mount flush with our upper bracket. So what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to take my hand in here. I'm going to fill along the outer edges that cut there to again, make sure it's flush with the bottom of the plate. So it looks like we're good. So now we want to attach the lower bracket to our air spring here using our 3/8 inch flat-head bolt.Again, we're not tightening anything down right now. We're just going to loosely attach the two. Keep in mind with our lower bracket here, we want this tab to be fointing 00:14:28 down away from the bag just like so. Now we're going to go ahead and roughly just set our airbag up at the place with the lower bracket. We need to pay attention to two things here. One, so we have the valve here, it's going to be lined up with that bigger hole then we have our alignment pin here, which needs to be in the center pin of our upper air spring bracket.So in order to compress the air spring, you have to take that cap off, roughly line it up. We can try an alignment pin here. This is the center hole. We can adjust our lower bracket here. We've seen the tab that points down earlier. It's going to be on this side and then the longer tab it's going to be on the other side. Now we want to go ahead and make a Mark on our air spring here in relation to the lower bracket. That way we'll removed both from the vehicle and we tighten the lower bracket to the airbag. We know everything's seated positioned, or we're lined up with the center alignment hole on the upper spring. So I'm just going to make a Mark here, just like that.Now we'll go ahead, press the air spring so we can remove it along with the lower bracket from the vehicle. Now we can go ahead and fully tighten up our lower bracket to the air spring here. And in order to tighten this Allen head bolt, we're going to need to get a seven 30 seconds Allen driver here. We're going to begin to torque everything. Come outside here, make sure our alignment marks match. Forgive us, ours is a little messy. So now we can go ahead and torque down our Allen screw to the specifications on the top of our air spring. Just to show you that, so you have the specifications here. We're going to be using a seven 30 seconds inch Allen head driver here.We're again, going to be making sure we keep a close eye on the alignment tabs or alignment marks while we're torquing this down now. Now, before we fit our air spring, back in place, we're going to go ahead and at this time now and torque our upper bracket to the clamps here. Before we do this, we want to make sure the top edge of this bracket here is butted up against the frame rail. We also want to alternate these bolts. So we ensure this bracket comes up evenly. So we're going to be taking a 14 millimeter wrench here. We're going to be using the same seven 30 seconds Allen head that we used for the air spring. Again, this is going to alternate our torque down here before we hit everything with the torque wrench. Now, once we have all these bolts snug, we can come back with our torque wrench and torque everything down to the specifications listed on the top of our air spring. Keep in mind, these flange 00:18:00 nuts have serrations on the bottom. So that should hold the nut in place. We torque it with our Allen key.And again, we do want to alternate. So now that we have the upper bracket, all torqued down and secured, we've, torqued our lower bracket to our air spring. We can go ahead and set the two in place. It's going to compress our air spring here and make it a little bit easier to work loose. Keep in mind when we're reinstalling our air spring here, we do want to make sure the center pin goes in the center hole here. However, since we've already aligned our lower bracket, it should fit right into place. Once we have the air spring up, we can go ahead and take our little clamp bracket here. We're going to use the hook end, which is going to hook around the bottom of the striker pad.And the top here, these two holes are going to align. We're going to take our 3/8 inch carriage bolt, set it down through this top hole here, take our 3/8 flange nut, just loosely get it on there to get into position. So we do have one more of these clamps, which needs to go on the back correspond to that hole there. So similar to how we did on the front. Has to come down with our carriage bolt through the hole. Hold this in place, then get our flange nut on. Now, keep in mind, it is going to be pretty tight here with the shock mount on our axle but we do have enough room to make it work. Now our next step here is we're going to take our 3/4 inch lock washer or 3/4 inch jam nut. We're going to insert it onto the valve at the top of the airbag. However, again, we just want to triple check that our pin is lined up with the center hole on our bracket.Now we're just going to go ahead and take our 1-1/8 inch wrench here. We're going to tighten down the jam nut. It's holding our airbag to the upper spring. Now we're going to go ahead and take our 14 millimeter wrench and we're going to tighten our flange nut here to our carriage bolts that are holding the spring clamps to the bottom of the striker pad. And again, we want to alternate sides to make sure they come up easily. Then we can take our air line fitting here and thread it into the top of the valve here. And we can take our 14 millimeter wrench and tighten it down. Please keep in mind, we don't want to go super tight with this brass fit in here. They also have issues with this ceiling. We just need enough to where these thread sealant engages, and that should be good.Now we can go ahead and repeat this entire process on the other side of the vehicle. So keep in mind on the passenger side here, we're actually going to have this heat shield bracket, which is going to be sandwiched between the upper airbag mount and the airbag. So we're going to provide protection for our exhaust pipe right here. So our final step here is to go ahead and run our air lines from the bags 00:21:27 to the inflation valves in a spot we like them. Just to show you how we ran our air lines, keep in mind, your installation may vary depending on where you want the inflation valves to be, but here's just how we did it. So we take the air line here. I'm going to run it into the fitting in the bag. In order to do this, you have to hold down the collar around the air tube fitting.You're going to press the air line in there, let go of the collar and then pull up to lock it in place. Then we can go ahead just show you where we routed our air line. You have some zip ties, tying it off at intermittent points to secure it to the frame, making sure it's free of any of the exhaust or moving parts. We ran it over here, up above this. And we came out here, tied it off to some existing wires, tied it here to the trailer connector. Now we see we have the end of our air tube here. So we're actually going to be mounting ours, using the bottom holes for our license plate bracket. You can see it here. So we're going to be using those because that's where this customer wants the inflation valves to be located. But again, this may vary depending on where you'd like to position yours.So one important note we need to make is how we cut our air lines. We need to use a tubing cutter for this. And the reason is because if we do not use a tubing cutter, we don't get a perfectly straight cut. We're just going to have problems with leaks. If you don't have a tubing cutter, you can pick one of these up here at etrailer. Just to show you how this works, there's a blade here, the air line goes in there and makes a perfect cut every time. So as you can see here, we have our inflation valve mounted to the bottom holes on our license plate. However, the kit does come with a bracket here, which we could use to mount the inflation bows in another location. Just to point out some popular options, some people will drill some holes in the plastic here to mount them, or they'll mount them up by where the gas cap is.So to installed the inflation valves, want to take the jam nut off, put one of our washers on there and we can take it through this side, run it through the hole like so, install our other flat washer and then finish that up with our jam nut. And then we can tighten these up using our half inch wrench and a 13 will work as well. We don't have to go super tight, just hold them in place. And once that's tight, we can follow it up with our cap. So now the last step is we're going to check our system for leaks. We're going to fill each bag to about 70 PSI, and then we're going to spray all the fittings lines and air bags down with soapy water solution looking for any bubbles forming. If we do get bubbles that we know we have a leak, we need to correct it. So now that we have air in the system, go ahead and spray down all the lines and fittings with our soapy water solution. So we're going to be looking for small bubbles that form.Usually they're going to form at the connection point for the valve and our fitting here, as well as the connection point for air line into the fitting. As we can see, there are no bubbles. So that means we don't have any leaks. Here's our last fitting we just want to check. And again, no bubbles therefore, we don't have any leaks. We're good to go. If we want it, we can let this sit for a couple of minutes just to make sure the 70 PSI we put in stays there. So now that we have our Firestone air bags installed, we want to go ahead and take our measurements again. Now, keep in mind, we have about 70 PSI in the air bags now, which is adjusted for this load. However, if it's too high, we can let some pressure out or if it's still sagging too much, we can obviously put some more pressure in up to a 100 PSI.So if we remember, we we're at about 41 inches from the ground with the factory unloaded suspension. Now that we have the Firestone air bags installed, we're actually a little bit over factory. So if we wanted, we could let some air out, but we definitely got back to our factory ride height. Now we can go ahead and take our front measurement here. If we remember from the factory without the truck loaded, we we're about 39 and a half, or we're just slightly over that. So we've gotten pretty much back to the factory ride height. Now, by getting back to the factory ride height, this is then in turn, going to negate any issues we are going to have with our stopping power, the headlight aim being up, any issues we we're going to have with irregular tire wear and last but not least the existing suspension components wearing down too soon.So now that we have our air springs installed, we had the weight back in the truck bed. We're going to go ahead and take our truck over the speed bump course see if we notice a difference. Yeah, definitely right away, it just feels a lot more planted on the road. We don't have near as much bouncing as we did before. Just feels a lot more stable even in the winter weather that we have today in Missouri. Yeah, we don't have that rocking around as much, that's definitely what I noticed right away. So now we're going to go ahead and take our Firestone air bags through the slalom course here at etrailer, going to get up to speed and make some evasive maneuvers.So again, we just definitely feel a lot more planted on the road. We don't have as much body roll. We don't have nearly as much body roll. The steering definitely feels a lot more responsive. I don't have the wheel jerking around on me as much. Let's go ahead and turn it around. Let's see how our stopping power has improved since we have more weight back on the front axle here. So we're just going to get up to speed here and I'm not going to go super fast. We're going to slow down. Yeah. So again, nothing dramatic, but we definitely feel it stopping a little bit better. We don't have the weight pushing us as much like we did before without the air bags. So now that we've gone over some of the benefits and features, that's going to do it today for the Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs here on our 2020 GMC Sierra 2,500.

Ron H.


This 2613 kit has been a terrible fit on my 2018 gmc 2500hd. The was ebrake bracket interference on both sides. I managed to finally bend the left bracket out of the way. The right side bottom clamp is positioned right over the bolt that secures the right ebrake support. I had to remove the bracket and ziptie the support. Finally the jounce cup support on my truck is slightly tappered. As as result the bottom of the clamp does not have good clearance as you tighten the large nut on the pipe on top of the bag. All of my complaints deal with the fit for a 2018. Firestone needs to address the engineering and fit for 2018. I wish I had chosen a different brand. If they insist they fit, have them produce a video for installing a f2613 on a 2018 gmc 2500 hd duramax 4wd

Ron H.


You never mention The spring steel ebrake tetainer that fouls the upper retainer on the driver’s side. Also not discussed was weather the passenger side was an exact copy or a mirror copy of the driver side. This makes a big difference on the upper bracket on this f2613 kit.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


I'm not sure what you're referring to when you talk about the ebrake retainer but I can say that the brackets look to be the same for both sides of the vehicle.

Ron H.


@JonG The diagram shows the bearing surface of the left upperbracket agaist the inside of the frame. Ii am guessing the right side would be also bear against the inside of the frame in othe words the two bracket would point opposite directions to align. The directions mention that.

Ron H.


@JonG The bracket at the same. Directions are clear on positioning Left side. My question is right hand bracket. Does the top bracket position against frame/bump cup from the inside or outside? inside seems logical with the bracket facing opposite direction from left.
See All (6) Replies to Ron H. ∨

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