Bully Dog tuner review – The ultimate buying guide 2020

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A detailed Bully Dog tuner review is hard to find.

So, I created one.

Now,

I know what you’re thinking:

“I want to get better performance and economy from my car…

…these Bully Dog tuners seems pretty good…”

but how can you know for sure?

What you need is an article that not only reviews every single Bully Dog tuner product in detail but also covers the performance gains you can expect, how to install the device as well as important considerations and questions you may have.

Well, I’m here to tell you:

In this Bully Dog tuner review, we do exactly that. So that you can decide if their tuners are right for you and if yes, which one will provide you with the functionality you require.

Jump to the Bully Dog tuner review.

What can I expect from a Bully Dog performance programmer?

It is important to understand what outcome you are trying to achieve with your Bully Dog tuner. Their tuners provide a very long list of specific functions but ultimately, by adjusting settings to suit your needs, these devices enable you to:

But that is not all!

Apart from the important performance increases these devices also allow you to:

  • Run diagnostics and clear engine error codes
  • Monitor performance in real-time
  • Control digital accessories (ie: automatically locking doors at a specific speed)

Some of the Bully Dog programmers will be better at certain functions than others and some are meant, primarily, for monitoring to gather valuable data and diagnostics.

Bully Dogs GT tuners offer a wide range of custom tunes and customisable functions. However, they also come standard with 3 easily changeable programs. Namely, ‘economy’, ‘performance’ and ‘ extreme’.

When talking about their GT Diesel tuner, Bully Dog states that you can get the following gains:

Economy:

  • Horsepower: Up to 50 HP
  • Torque: Up to 100 lb/ft

Performance:

  • Horsepower: Up to 75 HP
  • Torque: Up to 125 lb/ft

Extreme:

  • Horsepower: Up to 120 HP
  • Torque: Up to 250 lb/ft

We’ll see below in the case studies whether these claims actually stack up…


Performance increase – case studies


Bully Dog BDX Performance Programmer case study:

If we want want to get really really comprehensive with this Bully dog tuner review we need to look at a real life example:

The team at Diesel Army actual had to the opportunity to test the performance of a 2018 Ford F-250 with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke, before and after having installed a Bully Dog BDX Performance Programmer.

To perform the test, they raced the truck without any modification and recorded it’s times. After that, they repeated the test after tuning the truck with the Bully Dog Tuner.

These were the results:

Bully Dog tuner review

The stock Ford F-250 is an already powerful car and its quarter-mile time was 15.761 seconds at a speed of 87.50 MPH.

However, its quarter-mile time with the Bully Dog tuner decreased to 14.709 seconds at a speed of 94.74 MPH. This translates to the following increases:

  • Horsepower: +74 HP
  • Torque: +104 lb/ft

It is clear from this example that a Bully Dog Tuner can significantly increase your cars performance. But…


GTX performance tuner & monitor case study:

If you’re still not convinced…

Diesel Army ran another performance test. This time, on a Dodge Ram 2500 6.7-liter Cummins Diesel using their Dynojet dynamometer.

They ran the test without the tuner installed to get a baseline. After that, they ran the test another 3 times after installing the Bully Dog GTX Tuner to test its 3 different built-in programs. As mentioned before, these are ‘economy’, ‘performance’ and ‘extreme’.

Here are the results:

Bully Dog tuner review

From the above you can see that even the economy program provides a massive increase in performance and when using the ‘extreme’ program you are getting significant performance gains in both horsepower and torque.

You will also see that in this particular case the horsepower and torque increases for each program actually exceed the claims made by Bully Dog about their tuners.


Installation

Depending on which tuner you purchase, the physical installation will vary slightly. They are all very easy to install and it is something you can do yourself without any specialised skill.

Your car must be equipped with an OBD-II port which is typically used as a diagnostic port to check for engine errors. These are common but it is worth double-checking if the year your car was manufactured is before 1996.

The key steps in every installation (not necessarily in this order) are as follows:

  • Connecting the device to the OBD-II port via an adaptor or module
  • Installing/updating the software or tunes
  • applying pre-loaded or custom tunes

Depending on the device you are installing, you may also require the following tools:

For specific installations see the diagrams below:

GTX AND BDX performance Programmers:

Bully Dog tuner review

GT performance programmers:

Bully Dog tuner review

If you are looking for a full, detailed run through of the installation, this video should do the trick.


Bully Dog tuner reviews:

1. GTX Performance Tuner & Monitor

Next generation performance tuning


PROS

Wifi Enabled
Easy to use
Diagnostic functions that allow you to treat and clear error codes

CONS

Some customers have had technical difficulties
The product is relatively new so documentation and support may be lacking

Summary

This is Bully Dogs newest addition to their list of performance products. This is evident in the slim, modern design and the shift to a touch screen interface.

The device comes standard with multiple pre-loaded programs that have been designed and tested on dynamometers to increase performance . On top of that, it allows you to load up to 20 custom tuning files.

Furthermore, you are able to use the built in diagnostic tools to assess a wide range of engine errors and clear them as well. This can save you the trip and expense of going to the dealership

As this is such a new product, it is a good idea to be cautious when buying as there is not as much documentation as some of the other Bully Dog tuners. It is also, the most expensive of the Bully dog tuners and while it shows great promise it also seems to be having some growing pains.

Key features:

  • Responsive touch-screen interface
  • Magnetic mounting system
  • Record and replay vehicle performance with the data logging features
  • Very wide range of vehicle brand and model compatibility

2. GTX Watchdog performance monitor

Next generation performance monitoring


PROS

Wifi Enabled
Can monitor parameters not included in their other devices
Cummins vehicle optimisation

CONS

No performance tuning
There have been complaints about the device not reading certain parameters and other minor glitches
The product is relatively new so documentation and support may be lacking

Summary

The Bully Dog GTX Watchdog boasts the same modern design and touchscreen interface as the above but it is designed specifically for monitoring your cars performance.

What this means, is that you will not get any performance tuning from this device but you will be able to monitor a massive amount of parameters and you will still be able to use the diagnostic functions included in the previous device.

A cummins unlock cable is included with this device that allows you to unlock your cars engine control module (ECM) and use an additional performance tuning device.

Key features:

  • Optimised for Ram Cummins vehicles
  • Cummins unlock cable included
  • Record and replay vehicle performance with the data logging features
  • Access to monitoring features that are not included in their other devices

3. SCT BDX performance programmer

Best bang for your buck


PROS

Wifi Enabled
Lower price point
Access to pre-loaded custom tunes

CONS

No Touch screen
There have been complaints about the device causing errors

Summary

SCT is a sister company to Bully Dog and this is their BDX tuner which is pretty much identical to the Bully dog version.

This device provides you with all the capabilities of the GTX tuner including wifi capabilities, data logging, performance monitoring, uploading tunes via the cloud and the ability to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)

but..

at a much lower price!

So, if you are looking for a more affordable option but you do not want to compromise on functionality… this device may be fore you.

You’ll want to make sure that there are customs tunes already available for download onto the device for your specific vehicle because if you have to purchase customs tunes elsewhere, it may be costly.

Key features:

  • Fits a wide range of vehicle brands and models
  • Backs up factory tune for easy restorability

4. GT performance tuner & monitor (gas or diesel)

Top seller – Our recommendation


PROS

Built-in performance programs
Diagnostic error checking and clearing
large list of customisable options

CONS

No touchscreen display
Limited to 10 custom tunes
Some customers note only minor improvements

Summary

While this device lacks the modern design and touch screen of the GTX tuners, its it is still packed with functionality. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the GTX tuners but, in terms of performance increases, they seem to be on par.

This device is available for gas and diesel cars and it has built-in programs that give provide great gains in horsepower, torque and fuel economy. Furthermore, this device has been tested on a dynamometer for verifiable performance increases.

In addition to the performance gains, this accessory also gives you control over some of your cars functionality such as automatic door locking, accessory delay, headlights settings, etc.

There is also a version that is compliant with all 50 state emission requirements here.

Key features:

  • Plug-and-play with built-in tunes
  • Fits a wide range of vehicle brands and models
  • Now has custom tunes available for select vehicles

5. Bonus review – SCT X4 Performance tuner

Recommended over Bully Dog by enthusiasts


PROS

Highly rated
Easy to use
Wifi capability
Lower price point

CONS

Some buyers note only minor performance increases
No touchscreen display
Limited to 10 custom tunes

Summary

Bully Dog and SCT are both child companies of Derive Systems. The reason I decided to include this tuner is that SCT performance products are often recommended over Bully Dog by many car tuning enthusiasts. In addition, this particular SCT tuner has slightly higher overall reviews.

It supports all the extra functionality of the Bully Dog GT tuners including data logging, engine monitoring, clearing error codes, etc. but on top of that, this device has wifi capability.

One note on this tuner is that it is optimised for Ford vehicles so if you are purchasing for a different model, check compatibility.

Key features:

  • Dynamometer-tested, pre-loaded tunes
  • Fits a wide range of vehicle models
  • Real-time data monitoring

Other considerations

Bully dog tuners are designed with the performance of trucks and big rigs in mind while SCT programmers are designed for muscle cars but there seems to be a lot of overlap in actual use. Therefore, be sure to check that the tuner you desire fits your vehicle.

Likewise, with all of these devices, you need to check what customs tunes are available because if your vehicles is not included you may need to buy these elsewhere.

There are also the following legal considerations:

  • The BDX performance tuner is not legal for sale or use in California;
  • The GT tuners are not legal for sale or use in California on pollution controlled motor vehicles.

With each of the Bully Dog tuners, the options you can adjust, and the custom tunes available with the product, will depend on your vehicle. The same goes for the performance increases, which will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Depending on the tuner you choose, it may or may not already have custom tunes installed. If you are expecting customs tunes for your specific vehicle to be installed, check this first or risk being disappointed later.


Frequently asked questions

Q: Will the Bully Dog tuner void my warranty

A: It shouldn’t. However, the dealer will likely be able to determine the use of a tuner if they look hard enough. While this is unlikely, if they do find traces, it could be grounds for a dealer to not cover any damage. To be safe, make sure you uninstall the programmer and drive around a bit beforehand (to reset the monitors) before going to your dealer.

Q: Will the performance tuner fit my car model?

A: Each tuner only supports a limited selection of car brands and models. Make sure to use amazons ‘check fit’ option to make sure that your car is supported. On top of that, make sure to find out what tunes and functionality are available for your specific vehicle. If you are unsure, contact the companies customer support.

Q: Do car performance chips really work

A: Bully Dog and SGT tuners have been tested on dynamometer and are proven to increase performance. However, the actual increases will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Q: Can I use my tuner on multiple vehicles

A: No. You will need to unpair the tuner with your current vehicle before pairing with another vehicle.

In summary…

If you are looking to increase or monitor the performance of your car or truck this Bully Dog tuner review shows that they have a wide range of options available to you.

Furthermore, their products have been thoroughly tested for effectiveness and seem to show significant increases in performance. In addition, they are easy to install and use.

Before purchasing though, you will want to make sure that your tuner fits your make and model of car and has custom tunes available for download onto the device. It will be more costly to purchase these in addition to the device.

Our overall recommendation is to go for the simple GT gas or diesel tuner as they seem to be the most effective and robust. This does not have all the frills like wifi or touchscreen but the reliability and performance increases are on par with the newer iterations.

If this Bully Dog tuner review has been helpful to you, please share or comment below if you have further questions.


Sources:

Track Testing The Bully Dog BDX at Palm Beach International Raceway – Diesel Army

Bully Dog GT Platinum Diesel Tuner Packs A Powerful Punch – Diesel Army

https://www.bullydog.com/ – Bully Dog

https://www.sctflash.com/ – SCT

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