Firestone Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs Installation - 2003 GMC Sierra

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How to Install the Firestone Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs on a 2003 GMC Sierra


Today on our 2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Extended Cab, we're going to be installing the Firestone Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs for the rear of the vehicle, part number F2250. Now with our stock suspension setup and no airbags installed, we're going to go ahead and take a couple measurements. We're going to measure from the ground to the bottom of the wheel well. Looks like we have 41 inches. With no weight in the bed of the truck, in the stock suspension we have 41 inches of height. Now, let's go ahead and install our water tank into the bed of the truck. Now that we've added our water tank to the bed of the vehicle, we've added a little over 1500 pounds to the bed of vehicle. Now, we are at about 38-1/2 inches from the ground to the bottom of the wheel well.

Now with our water tank in place, we'll go ahead and take it out on our test course and show you how the truck reacts. You'll be able to see how much body roll the vehicle has as we go through our slalom course. You'll also be able to notice how the suspension works as we go over our alternating bumps as well as our solid bumps course. This will simulate going in and out of a parking lot or running over a speed bump. Now, our air bags have been installed on this vehicle. We have about 60 psi in each of the air bags. We have our weight back in the vehicle, and now we're at about 41-1/2 inches from the ground to the bottom of the wheel well.

We'll go ahead and run it through the test course again. We'll go through slalom course, and we'll show you how much less body roll there is to the vehicle. We'll also take it over our alternating bumps and our solid bump course. You'll see how much stiffer or better the suspension is with that extra weight in the bed. Now, before we begin our installation, we're going to go ahead and remove this spare tire just to give ourselves a little more working room and allow you to see things a little bit better. Now, first we're going to need to remove the bump stop that's secured to the frame.

Now in order to remove the bump stop, we'll need to remove the two nuts that are located here and here. Now, we'll go ahead and repeat the same process over here on the passenger side. Next, we're going to go ahead and do a little bit of pre-assembly. We're going to pre-assemble the driver side. Now, this here is the upper bracket. You'll notice how one side here is taller than the other.

The shorter side goes towards the rear of the vehicle, so it'll be like this. You'll also notice when it's in the proper position, there is an L stamped on it, so it'll sit just like this. Now that we've gone ahead and we have our position where we need the bracket to be, go ahead and pull the two rubber caps off the studs here. We'll then need to take our bolts here. Looks like this. Put that in the shorter side of the bracket, here on the outer hole, so it will go in there just like this. You'll need to put this bolt in first because once the bracket is bolted to the air bag, you will be unable to get the rear bolt in. Now with our bolt in place, we can go ahead and take two 3/8 lock nuts, tighten them down. Now that we have our bracket tightened to the air bag, we're going to need to remove this plastic plug right here from the top of the air bag. We'll then be taking our 90 degree push fitting that already has some sealant put on the threads. We'll thread that into the top of the air bag. Now when you put this fitting into the air bag, you want to make sure that you get at least two to three threads into the top of the air bag so that it's sealed with the sealant here. You'll also want to make sure that when you have it tightened down that the air fitting faces towards the inside of the vehicle, like it would be positioned right here. Next, we're going to be attaching the air bag to the lower bracket as well as installing these two carriage bolts. This is the bolt that we're going to be using to attach the lower bracket to the air bag. Now, you'll notice that these two carriage bolts are different sizes, and over here on the driver side, we're going to need to use the shorter carriage bolt at the rear mounting location on the lower bracket, so it'll just hold right here. Now the shorter bolt is so that it will clear that emergency brake cable that we just removed. We're going go ahead and put that one there. Now, we'll put the longer carriage bolt here on the forward hole. Then, the air bag will sit on top of the bracket like that. We can then flip the bracket on its side where we'll take our flange bolt here that has the locking grooves here built into it as well as some thread locker. We'll then thread it through the hole in the lower bracket here into the bottom of the air bag. Now for now, we'll just put this bolt hand-tight so that we can slide our air bag back and forth and make final adjustments once it's installed in the vehicle. Next, move over here on the driver side. In this emergency brake cable, bracket and bolt, we're going to need to temporarily remove. Go ahead and take the bolt out. Now, we will be reinstalling these once the air bags have been installed. Next, we're read to take our assembly here and install it onto the driver side. Now that we have our assembly in place, we need to point out a couple things. We want to make sure that this lower bracket is up tight against the springs, actually it is. Now up top here, you'll see this bolt that we installed earlier, that's what lines up with one of the holes that we removed from the bump stop. Now, the forward hole on this bracket will line up with the forward hole on the bump stop. Now, let's go ahead and we'll install the bolts and secure the upper bracket to the frame. Now, here's the hardware that we're going to be using at each location. We've already installed the bolts here at the rear, and on top, we'll be putting this large washer and a 3/8 lock nut. Go ahead and install our flat washer as well as our lock nut. Now, the forward mounting location is the same hardware we just installed in the rear. Go head and slide the bolt through. Go ahead and take a couple wrenches and just tighten things down for now to keep it in place. Next, we're going to need to install our clamp here that goes around the springs that will go in this hole on the back side of the lower bracket. There is a hole over on the front side of the lower bracket that will go through as well. Go ahead and take the bail clamp and go around, slide it down into position. We'll then be installing a lock nut on each side. Next, we'll go ahead and tighten down the two nuts that we will alternate between the two sides to keep them even if we tighten them down. Next, we're going to take our bracket clamp. It looks like this. We'll go around the rear axle. We need to line up with the two carriage bolts we installed in the lower bracket itself. We're putting another 3/8 lock nut in place. Once both of the nuts are in place, we can go ahead and tighten them down. Again, we'll alternate between the two. Next, we'll go ahead and reinstall the hardware and the bracket for the emergency brake cables. Now before we tighten down the bag, you'll notice it can still move back and forth. You want to make sure that you have at least a 1/2 inch clearance between the bag and any of the suspension parts. As you can see here, we can easily put our finger in there. Same thing on the front. Go ahead and make the bag. Center it up here. Make it be straight up and down making sure we still have plenty of clearance. Once we have our bag in position, we'll go ahead and take our wrench and tighten down the nut on the bottom of the air bag that secures the lower bracket to the air bag. Next, we'll go ahead and tighten down the top bolts here. The bolts are securing the upper bracket to the frame the rest of the way. Now, we're going to go ahead and repeat the same process over on the passenger side with two exceptions. We'll need to install the heat shield, and this rear carriage bolt on the lower bracket will be a longer bolt, not a shorter bolt. Now, we'll go ahead and assemble the right side air bag or the passenger side air bag. There's the R, we want to make sure it faces out as well as having the shorter side towards the rear. Make sure we put our bolt in. We're also going to need to install our heat shield in between the upper bracket and the air bag assembly. We know that exhaust comes down in this area. This right here is where air bag will be installed. We want the heat shield lined up kind of about like that in that particular angle. That way we get coverage so that its heat from the exhaust does not damage the bag. Now, we can go ahead and tighten down the hardware. We can go ahead and remove our plug here from the top of the air bag. We'll again be using the longer carriage bolt on the front, and on the back, we'll use a longer carriage bolt as well, as we don't have the emergency brake cable in the way this time. Go ahead and attach the bag to the lower bracket. Let's keep it hand-tight for now. Now, we're ready to install our assembly into the vehicle. Now, a quick tech tip and to make things little easier installing your air bag assembly. As long as you leave the bag in the lower bracket loose like that, you'll be able to remove the two carriage bolts from the bottom bracket to make the installation a little bit easier. Once everything is in place, we'll be able to push that air bag over far enough that we'll be able to reinstall those too. Now that we have our assembly up in place, we'll go ahead and push our air bag towards the outside. We can then reinstall the two carriage bolts. Kind of bring our air bag back to the center. Now, we'll go ahead and repeat the same process for installing the remaining hardware as we did over on the driver side. Next, we're going to need to route our air lines. Now, we're going to start over here on the driver side. Before we actually do the routing, we're going to add a piece of 1/4 inch wire loom over the air line to help protect it a little bit. Now, this wire loom that we're using is part number 7509-10. We're going to ahead and slide that over our air line. Now, we'll go ahead and start on the driver side here. We're going to start at the rear of the vehicle and work our way back up towards the air bag. Next, we're going to need to take our air line tubing. We're going to be using our Firestone tubing cutter, this is part number F9009. We're going to need to make sure that we get a good, clean, straight cut here on the end. Now that we have a good, clean straight cut, we' ready to push it into our fitting on top of the air bag. Line it up. We'll then push firmly in place so that we feel it bottom out, and you can gently pull backwards making sure it's secure. Next, we'll go ahead and use the zip tie to help secure off our air line. We can go ahead and trim the end of that off. Now, we'll go ahead and take our tubing cutters. We'll trim our tubing to length here. We've routed it to the center of the vehicle. Now, we'll go ahead and repeat the same process over here on the passenger side. With adding the section of wire loom, we'll then go ahead and route our air line tubing over on the passenger side. Next, we're going to need to add a couple of the thermal or heat shields onto our air line tubing. We'll slide it over. Go ahead and put the second one on as well. Then, make sure that we have a good, clean cut here on the end of our air line tubing. You can then take our air line tubing and put it into the fitting on our air bag. We'll then take a zip tie to help secure the air line up out of the way from the exhaust. We'll go ahead and trim off any excess zip tie. Next, we'll continue routing our air line back to the center of the rear of the vehicle. Use a couple zip ties to help secure it. You can then go ahead and cut our tubing to length. Now instead of having the air lines come out to two separate Schrader valves, we're going to actually be plumbing them together so that there is only one fill port or one Schrader valve used to fill both air bags. To do that, we're going to be using the Firestone Union Tee, which is part number F3025-1. Now, we'll go ahead and take one air line here. We'll push it into the one-half of our Union fitting. We'll need to cut this side to length. Go ahead and push that side in as well. Now, we're going to go ahead and just drill the hole right here in the 7-way bracket. It'll allow us to mount our Schrader valve right to the bracket. We'll then need to remove the nut from the Schrader valve. We'll be installing one of the flat washers that comes with the kit. We'll then reach behind the bracket, push the valve through where we'll install another flat washer followed by the hex nut. Go ahead and tighten everything down. Now, we'll go ahead take some more air line tubing. We'll add it here to our third port on our Tee. Once that's in place, we can go ahead and secure these lines up using a couple zip ties. We'll then need to go ahead and figure out how long we need our piece of tubing to come down here to our Schrader valve. Go ahead and trim our tubing to length. Now, we can go ahead and take the other end of the tubing and push it into the backside of the Schrader valve. Once that's done, we can go ahead and trim off any excess zip tie. Next, we're going to need to go ahead and test for leaks. We're going to need to add some air to our air bags as per the instructions, and then we'll spray down the fittings to check for any leaks using a soapy water solution. Now, we can go ahead and reinstall our spare tire. That will do it for our installation of the Firestone Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs for the rear axle, part number F2250, on our 2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Extended Cab. .


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Info for this part was:

Test Fit:
Joe V
Test Fit:
Nicholas E
Test Fit:
Shane T
Test Fit:
Randy B
Test Fit:
Jared G
Video Edited:
Andrew K
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Joshua S
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Jacob T
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Andrew L
Video Edited:
Chris R
Installed by:
Jeff D
Installed by:
Shane H
Installed by:
David F
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Dustin K
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Jonathan Y
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