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Old 03-04-2013, 05:44 PM   #1
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Real world experience with the Bully Dog tuner in my 3.6

I'm back from my trip and I have some real world mileage examples to share.

First off, the installation wasn't entirely smooth. As with any brand new product, the release rarely goes smoothly. There were a few hurdles that required a call to tech support. The automated process for getting the right files into the programmer wasn't 100% and we had to get the files on the SD card manually. I'm sure they will get their ducks in a row within the next week or two but do your programming when the tech support lines are open just in case you need to call in. Fortunately, it's easy to put the SD card in the supplied reader and plug it into a USB port. If it comes to it, tech support can send an email with files attached and all you have to do is drag and drop them onto the SD card.

Once the file issue was straightened out, the programming went reasonably well. There is a lot of turning the key on, waiting, turning the key off, waiting, etc. You install the tune first, then you get to choose between the four different tunes. You get "stock", "regular", "premium" and "trail". The stock tune is the factory original tune. Regular is for using low octane fuel. Premium is for more power using high octane fuel. Trail has a few tweaks to perform better off road.

I decide to run the regular tune since I wanted more of an apples-to-apples comparison.

I also tried reprogramming the tire size but it screwed up the speedometer. The programmer apparently reads the existing tire size and pre-loads it. When I switched it back, the speedometer went back to accurate.

If you don't feel like reading all of the details, I'll say that the mileage improvement was dramatic. I saw almost 2 full miles per gallon improvement over the test runs. But there are a couple of caveats that go along with that. Read further if you want to know more.

To start, my test was run on a relatively stock 2012 JK. I have the factory original 255/75R17 SR/A tires with 3.21 gears and the 6 speed manual transmission. I left with about 3,800 miles on it so it's gone far enough to break in. I did some comparison with my GPS and after 700 miles the gps odometer and the trip odometer were only off by 1 mile. This becomes important on the trip back. Also, every time I filled up I stopped as soon as the gas pump clicked off. This isn't the most accurate method to fill it but it's close enough for me.

The "before" section of the trip took a couple of tank fulls.

Leg 1: Cedar Rapids, IA to Osceola, IA. It was snowing with a very stiff head wind which really kills mileage. I also left without filling up so I couldn't get an accurate mileage reading anyway. I was trying to get out of town before the storm picked up.

Leg 2: Osceola IA to Emporia, KS. I filled up with non-ethanol 87 octane gas and cruised down I-35 the whole way. I maintained my cruise around 75 MPH the whole way, except going through the traffic in Kansas City. I made it to Emporia, KS right as the fuel light came on.

Total miles: 253.2
Total gallons: 15.909
MPG: 15.92

Leg 3: Emporia, KS to Norman OK. I don't know if the station sold ethanol gas or not. I didn't see anything on the pump that said one way or the other. I continued down I-35 the whole trip. I tried stopping at a couple of places to find a hotel room but it was hard to find one until I got through OKC. It was late enough that I didn't have any traffic to deal with as I went through OKC so that didn't impact my mileage.

Total miles: 257.8
Total gallons: 15.671
MPG: 16.45

Leg 4: Norman, OK to Fort Worth, TX. This only took up half a tank. It also involved a lot of city driving which impacts mileage.

At this point, I stopped by the 4 Wheel Parts in Fort Worth and picked up my programmer. I got everything installed and did a lot of driving around town.

Leg 5: Fort Worth, TX to Gilmer, TX. I drove out to Barnwell Mountain to do some wheeling over the weekend. I wanted the program time to settle in and I also wanted to get some good wheeling in. Besides, my GPS crashed on my in the middle of the trip and dumped half the trip data. Unfortunately, I forgot to install the "trail" tune all weekend so I can't report on how much better it is for wheeling.

Leg 6: Gilmer, TX to Big Cabin, OK. I filled up before leaving town and reset the trip odometer. I don't know if the gas had ethanol but being in small town Texas I am inclined to doubt it. I took US-271 north out of town, hooked up with the Indian Nation turnpike, up US 69 and ended up running low on gas just before I got to I-44. It was mostly 4 lane road with 70-75 MPH limits. Some of it was not limited access and I had to slow down through several towns.

Total miles: 295.4
Total gallons: 15.443
MPG: 19.13 (no, that's not a typo)

Leg 7: Big Cabin, OK to Cameron, MO. I'm not sure if the gas I bought had ethanol or not. After filling up, I headed up I-44 to Joplin, MO and caught I-49 north to Kansas city. My GPS decided to take a dump on me again so I had to rely on the trip odometer. Fortunately, I was able to verify that it's fairly accurate so it shouldn't impact the mileage numbers. Trying to catch I-435 north around Kansas City, my GPS gave me bad instructions putting me in the wrong lane for my exit and I had to get of the interstate not once but twice to turn around. So the GPS was "aggressively turned off" and not used for the rest of the trip. After finally getting on I-35 north, I decided to turn in for the night in Cameron, MO right about when the fuel light came on.

Total miles: 171.6
Total gallons: 16.014
MPG: 17.02 (there were a couple of "spirited" acceleration runs getting on the highway in Kansas City so this is probably lower than it should be)

Leg 8: Cameron, MO to Tiffin, IA. I woke up to a pretty stiff wind and I ended up doing a bit of an elevation change heading north on I-35. I filled up before I headed out. When I got on I-80 heading east, I was going directly into a heavy head wind. It got to the point where I couldn't hold speed going up hill and dropped it to 5th gear for the whole leg east. Because of this, I got some significantly lower mileage.

Total miles: 247.5
Total gallons: 15.426
MPG: 16.04

The rest of the trip was just 20 miles and that's hardly enough to get any useful data. Though once I got out of the head wind I noticed my indicated MPG on the console went up as I was able to run 6th gear up the hills without dropping speed.

I really don't think Leg 8 is a fair one to use for comparison. But if you combine the overall mileage from legs 2 and 3 (16.18) with the overall mileage from legs 6 and 7 (18.06) you can see that I really did get a noticeable increase in mileage. Almost 2 full MPG.

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Old 03-04-2013, 07:30 PM   #2
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I did forget to add driving impressions.

My Seat-Of-The-Pants meter didn't notice much of a difference between the stock and regular tune. I did notice that there wasn't as much of a "surge" when I hit 2,000 RPM as the stock tune. It also did slightly better at holding speed up long hills than before. Not much but slightly. Throttle response was really unchanged. Other than watching the numbers on the economy gauge run higher than normal there really wasn't much change that I noticed other than the lack of a surge at about 2K RPMs.

I will say that after this trip I am entirely convinced that 3.21 gears are really not optimal for the 255/75R17 tires. 6th gear is just about useless. By the time I'm going fast enough to get the engine into it's power band, I'm going 75 to 80 MPH and at that speed your mileage really starts to drop off. The lack of significant low range power on the 3.6 is just not the best engine for a heavy vehicle with the aerodynamics of a brick. If there was some kind of RV cam set for the engine so that it could make decent torque below 2K RPM where you need it, even if you lost some top end power where you don't need it, the 3.6 could be a much better engine. I'll be doing some experimenting with the premium tune to see if that can make a difference. But in my (not so) humble opinion, a tuner won't make up for 3.21 gears with the bigger tires. At least not on the highway. I'll be glad later this summer when I get the 4.10's in my axles.

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Old 03-04-2013, 08:10 PM   #3
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nice wright up and great personal review.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:19 PM   #4
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Is the premium tune for 91 or 93 octane? I was looking at this and the Diablo Trinity.

So in your personal opinion, would you buy it again or spend your money elsewhere?
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:36 PM   #5
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Yes, the premium is for high octane gas. 91 or 93, depending on where you live. It is supposed to give you more power by pushing the spark and fuel maps to where you'd get detonation if you were running 87 octane. I haven't tried it out yet. But changing tunes is really pretty easy.

I would certainly buy the programmer again. The difference in mileage alone will pay for it over the years. And it gives you quite a few other features. You can monitor just about anything in your engine, it lets you have more control over the lockers and swaybar if you're running a Rubicon. You can program gear ratio and tire size changes. You can set rev limiters and the speed limiter. It's a pretty full featured programmer.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:02 PM   #6
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Nice write up.

What "tweaks" are part of the Trail tune?
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:22 AM   #7
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Do you have to program the PCM to control the sway bar and lockers on the rubicon?
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:10 AM   #8
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Nice write up.

What "tweaks" are part of the Trail tune?
I have the BullyDog GT Tuner for my '08 Wrangler X, if its the same tuner i believe the "tweaks" is something along the lines of responsiveness in the throttle, so basically easier to control the jeep while climbing a rock or things of the sort. I cant remember if theres anymore features to the offroad setting . But just my .2 cents, im riding on a 5" lift with 35x12.50's and 4.88 gears. I get about 13 MPG on regular gas and the regular setting. I had some trouble with the install also they had to send the files to my computer and all that good stuff. Kind of took a long time. But overall im happy with the tuner and i'd recommend it.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:08 AM   #9
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Do you have to program the PCM to control the sway bar and lockers on the rubicon?
No. You can monitor gauges and control all that stuff without installing the tune.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:59 AM   #10
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Nice review.

Thing I hate about the bullydog is how close it is to the clutch pedal, a friend of mine had the OBDII port break because of this.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:11 AM   #11
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what about your warranty, my dealer said they could tell if it was ever installed, and it would automatically void my warranty. The only reason I would install such a thing is for changing tires size, and lockers in 4 Hi.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:07 AM   #12
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what about your warranty, my dealer said they could tell if it was ever installed, and it would automatically void my warranty. The only reason I would install such a thing is for changing tires size, and lockers in 4 Hi.
This is an old topic and one that's hotly debated. What it comes down to is that they have to prove that the modification you made caused the problem in order to void the warranty. Sure. If you set the rev limiter to 10K RPM and shoot a valve into the cylinder, that's on you. If you install one of the tunes and your radio quits working, your warranty is intact.

I know several dealers who are perfectly happy selling trucks off the lot with a tune from a programmer already installed and they have no problems doing warranty work.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:23 AM   #13
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The gas in Oklahoma is supposed to be 100% gas - no ethanol - unless the pump labels it. Of course 'mistakes' happen sometimes too. Going by that, your fill ups in Oklahoma with non-labeled gas should be 100% gas.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:39 AM   #14
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The gas in Oklahoma is supposed to be 100% gas - no ethanol - unless the pump labels it. Of course 'mistakes' happen sometimes too. Going by that, your fill ups in Oklahoma with non-labeled gas should be 100% gas.
I used to live in Edmond a few years back. Most of the pumps were ethanol. You had to look to find stations 100% gas, at least in that part of town. And the ones that sold pure gas advertised that fact pretty loudly.

I know for a fact the station in Norman was a 100% gas station because the pump had a sticker on it saying that's what they had. Big Cabin is just a small town off the turnpike. I know I didn't see anything saying the gas had ethanol in it but I didn't see the typical "100% gas" stickers on the pump either, so it probably was zero ethanol.

But, like you say, there have been mistakes made so there is the possibility I was running ethanol when I thought I wasn't.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:47 AM   #15
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This is an old topic and one that's hotly debated. What it comes down to is that they have to prove that the modification you made caused the problem in order to void the warranty. Sure. If you set the rev limiter to 10K RPM and shoot a valve into the cylinder, that's on you. If you install one of the tunes and your radio quits working, your warranty is intact.

I know several dealers who are perfectly happy selling trucks off the lot with a tune from a programmer already installed and they have no problems doing warranty work.
Completely untrue. The dealer CAN and WILL void your warranty for any reason they feel fit to. The only way to overcome this is to hire an expensive lawyer, park the jeep permanently, and fight the dealer in court.

In the real world, very very few people will actually do that or even be able to afford to do that. So my point is, the dealer only has to honor warranty and related rules once it hits the court system. Until then, you're at their mercy, so don't give them a reason to void your warranty.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:18 PM   #16
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Nice review.

Thing I hate about the bullydog is how close it is to the clutch pedal, a friend of mine had the OBDII port break because of this.
Haha. I have the same fear. Sometimes the tongue of my boot will get caught up on it while releasing the clutch pedal and it gets irritating
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #17
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Haha. I have the same fear. Sometimes the tongue of my boot will get caught up on it while releasing the clutch pedal and it gets irritating
Is there some sort of extension that can be purchased?


In regards to mileage, any way you could report back at 5000 miles?

Finally, if I was selling programmers, I might be tempted to play with the speedo/odo to show more miles traveled than the factory settings, insuring that my customers always reported better mileage...
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:46 PM   #18
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Is there some sort of extension that can be purchased?


In regards to mileage, any way you could report back at 5000 miles?

Finally, if I was selling programmers, I might be tempted to play with the speedo/odo to show more miles traveled than the factory settings, insuring that my customers always reported better mileage...
I didn't go off the reading on the dash. I calculated miles driven (via GPS) and gallons of fuel to fill the tank back up. It's hard for the tuner manufacturer to screw with those numbers.
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:06 PM   #19
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I installed mine last night. Installed the Regular tune and adjusted for my tires and tire pressure. When driving it today, it felt sluggish and seemed to have a heavier throttle, than before. It just didn't seem to run as good or rev up as quick. Not sure if the tune moved the hp an tq up higher in the rpm range or what. When I got home I set it back to stock tune, but left tires and pressure the same and it ran like before the tune. I will try the premium tune later and see if it works any better.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:32 PM   #20
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I installed mine last night. Installed the Regular tune and adjusted for my tires and tire pressure. When driving it today, it felt sluggish and seemed to have a heavier throttle, than before. It just didn't seem to run as good or rev up as quick. Not sure if the tune moved the hp an tq up higher in the rpm range or what. When I got home I set it back to stock tune, but left tires and pressure the same and it ran like before the tune. I will try the premium tune later and see if it works any better.
Now that I'm back from my trip and I've had a chance to do some daily driving, I was thinking the same thing. It is ever so slightly sluggish compared to stock. I wrote that off as me overreacting to the 3.21 gears with the 255/75R17 tires. When I burn off this tank (I only drive ~10 miles a day so it takes a couple of weeks) I may try the premium tune to see how it works.
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:58 PM   #21
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Well I filled up with 93 this afternoon, added a bit of octane booster to help the remaining couple of gallons, then installed the Premium tune. The throttle is definitely more sensitive and it seems to have a bit more pep, then stock. I've only driven around my house a bit, to test it. I think I'll leave it for a while and see how it goes.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:12 AM   #22
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I'm still above half a tank of regular. I think I'll go for a drive tomorrow for no reason.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:40 AM   #23
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I want to get the bullydog for my 2013 since im a firm believer in tiners on modern engines are like the little extras that bullydog added for offroading. My question is where did everone mount this at? Any pictures? ?
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:11 AM   #24
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I've only driven around my house a bit, to test it. I think I'll leave it for a while and see how it goes.
Dude. HOW BIG IS YOUR HOUSE!!??

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Old 03-26-2013, 01:44 PM   #25
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I read on another forum that you can program it to run on 4cylinders when the eco on light comes on (3.6L). Anybody try this?
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:06 PM   #26
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I read on another forum that you can program it to run on 4cylinders when the eco on light comes on (3.6L). Anybody try this?
Interesting question. Bully Dog website states Yes for MDS (4 CYLINDER MODE) function on 2011 3.8L and 2012-2013 3.6L VVT.
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:19 PM   #27
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Dude. HOW BIG IS YOUR HOUSE!!??

OK I meant the roads near my house.

I ended up running the Premium fuel tune for a few days and went back to stock tune. The Premium tune made the throttle too sensitive. When driving at a steady pace, if you lifted for any reason, getting back on the throttle, no matter how easy you try would cause it to jerk a bit. Like it was opening to quickly. I just didn't like the way it felt. I also couldn't really feel any difference in power.
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:36 PM   #28
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OK I meant the roads near my house.

I ended up running the Premium fuel tune for a few days and went back to stock tune. The Premium tune made the throttle too sensitive. When driving at a steady pace, if you lifted for any reason, getting back on the throttle, no matter how easy you try would cause it to jerk a bit. Like it was opening to quickly. I just didn't like the way it felt. I also couldn't really feel any difference in power.
I had that problem with the premium tune too.

However, I did notice that there was a lot more consistent power in the low end and it did just a hair better holding speed up hills.

I couldn't stand driving it with that sensitive throttle so I removed the tune. I'm going to try calling Bully Dog on Friday when I have some free time and see what they have to say.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:38 PM   #29
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Cool I check back, for updates.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:07 AM   #30
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I recognize that plate, arent you with DFW-Tx4wd?

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