Project Dodge Mega Cab: Air Helper Springs

Jan. 27, 2011 By Jaime Hernandez

Leveled, mini-packed and still able to tow… you’d better believe it. Our project Dodge Mega Cab was modified to handle off-road conditions, deteriorating highways and most importantly towing—just like a diesel truck should.

We found amazing ride and handling with the KORE Performance suspension and Bilstein shocks upgrade.  Now we just needed a little help with hauling heavy loads.

On occasion, we have the need to haul an overhead camper and tow ATVs or a trail rig behind the pick-up truck. It’s during these instances that we are reminded that we don’t have the extra capacity of a 1-ton.

 Project Dodge Mega Cab heading up the coast on Historic HWY 101 fully loaded with Lance overhead camper and 21-foot trailer loaded with off-road toys.

Since we primarily drive the truck unloaded, swapping the suspension for some 1-ton leafs wasn’t really an option. We also aren’t ready to give up our added wheel travel and performance ride from KORE.

Other Dodge Mega Cab Build Stories:

Diesel Performance Gauges

AMP Research Power Step

Superchips Flashpaq Install

Diesel Performance Exhaust

That said, the best solution for our sagging loaded truck was to either get longer bump stops (that would limit travel) or a set of air springs. We went with air springs for their adjustability.

Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs from Firestone pictured Kit #2299 for 3rd Gen. Dodge Ram 2500/3500 (photo compliments of Firestone).

When talking about air springs or air bag suspension, the name Firestone quickly comes up. This is because they are the leading supplier of air springs in the aftermarket. 

Air Springs are used by RVs, pick-up trucks, vans and even hot rods. The ride is popular among those looking for a soft ride with adjustment for ride height.
The Firestone air helper springs is a proven, technology-driven piece of equipment that will add stability and safety to any vehicle hauling or towing a heavy load.

Project Dodge Mega Cab with KORE HP Front & Recon Rear Suspension

One of the key features that sold us on the KORE Recon Rear suspension was that it significantly improves the handling of the truck on and off-road and kept its towing capability.  It also will work well with Firestone air helper springs. According to KORE Performance, the added wheel travel is still within spec of the bags. They just recommend using a low PSI.

Designed for a max of 100 PSI, the set of Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs will give 50 LBS of support for every 1 PSI of air put into them (pair). That means 5,000 LBS of added support for our pick-up truck.

The Ride-Rite helper air springs can be inflated on their own, but we really liked the Firestone Air-Rite system that allows the driver to do it all from the confines of the cab. The Firestone Air-Rite on-board compressor and monitoring controller system is designed to work with the Firestone Ride-Rite system.

Air-Rite Air Accessory Kit #2490 with Single Digital Gauge Kit—the on-board solution from Firestone Industrial designed to work with the Ride-Rite system.


Both the Firestone Ride-Rite and Air-Rite kits used on our Dodge Ram are bolt on kits.  The installation can be done with simple tools found in most toolboxes.  After reading the detailed instructions from Firestone Industrial, we felt confident to take on the installation in our very own garage.

Pre-assembling the Firestone Ride-Rite helper springs to the beefy ¼-inch steel plate brackets is the first step of the process.

The factory bump stop (a.k.a. Jounce bump) will need to be removed.  In its place, the upper bracket for the Firestone Rite-Rite air helper springs will be fitted.

The bottom bracket is designed to work on both gas and diesel models. The end with the wider lip needs to go up against the leaf pack on the diesel model. Since the bracket needs to be wedged in between the leaf pack and U-bolt, a little leverage might be needed to slide it in. Once in, the bottom bracket is tightened in place by the axle clamp bracket and bail clamp.

Included with our air accessory kit was a bracket to install the air compressor along the frame rail. It works great on most trucks, but since our Dodge Mega Cab does hit the trails, the mounting location was a little vulnerable being that close to the ground.  Our truck gets dirty—so rocks, mud, snow, water and dirt are inevitable.

We racked our brains trying to come up with a solution on where to place the compressor. It needed to be high enough to keep dry, close enough to the battery for performance, and yet be sturdy enough to keep up with our traveling Dodge.

After a little cutting, drilling, grinding and welding—the new bracket was ready.

We finally had it, on the Cummings 5.9l diesel there is an open bracket in front of the intake pipe. We test fitted the compressor and there was plenty of room. We ended up modifying the bracket that came with our kit so it would bolt onto our engine.

We are really happy with the way it turned out.  The air compressor location looks really trick.

The sturdy ¼-inch steel plate bracket mounted on the Cummins Engine keeps it up high and away from the elements.  The left side of the engine is also cooler than the right side where the Turbo and exhaust come out, so this is an added bonus to operating the compressor.

Next we completed assembling the pressure sensor and solenoid on the Valve Block. There was some wiring to route and hook-up for the compressor, sensor and solenoid that allows air pressure to be released by the controller. 

Installing the on-board electronic controller was easy.  We found a nice spot on the left side of the dashboard that has an auxiliary switch spot—usually where the axle locker is found on the Power Wagon. We just needed to add ground and a (+) signal wire from the ignition switch. The rest was taken care of by plugging into the wiring harness coming from the relay in the engine bay. We used an existing hole on the firewall also used by our AutoMeter Gauges.

We ran both our air lines on the driver side of the Dodge Ram Mega Cab.  This side of the truck typically stays cooler since there is not exhaust pipe. There are brackets used for fuel and brake lines along the frame rail you can tie into.


The Firestone Ride-Rite and Air-Rite addition has been well received by our Dodge Ram Mega Cab. It rides and handles much better when loaded now, and no more sagging.

When off-road they don’t get in the way with our current kit. With long-travel suspension, a different type of air springs can be used. Firestone has hundreds to choose from.

The Firestone Ride-Rite air helper springs are working in tandem with our KORE Performance suspension. When off-roading we typically keep around 10 lbs. of air to allow our suspension to fully flex and travel. So far no issues with the air bags tearing.

The installation of the Ride-Ride air helper springs was easy. All the parts are bolt-on and the instructions provided with the kit are easy enough for anyone with some tools and a desire to get under the truck to do it at home.

In our case, the custom bracket and installation of the compressor in the engine compartment is what took the longest.  We could have used the provided bracket for frame installation, but we wanted to make sure our Firestone compressor has a long life away from rocks and the elements we sometimes face on and off-road.

Firestone Air-Rite system installed on Dodge Cummins diesel

Overall, towing and hauling is much better. Having the on-board compressor and the ability to make adjustments from inside the cab is awesome. We can make adjustments on the fly and really fine-tune our tow/haul ride.

We’ll come back with a 1,000-mile review and give you some additional feedback on how the Firestone Ride-Ride system does.

So far, so good.


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