Straight from the factory, trucks have very competent and informative gauge clusters. Gone are the days when all you could see were RPM, speed, and trip mileage; now, you can view tire pressure, pitch and roll, and even outside cameras.
But when we consider knowledge as power, knowing what’s going on under the hood of your diesel truck is just as important as the horsepower and torque it’s making. This goes double for pickups that have had performance modifications, or do significant amounts of towing. Thankfully, Bully Dog has stepped in to give truck owners a sleek and vital tool in this endeavor – the GTX Watchdog.
The GTX Watchdog may seem simple, but it can do a lot for a small package. It can monitor engine vitals in real time while on the go. It can also datalog parameters programmed in by the end user.
The GTX Watchdog seems to be a wonderful add-on, but we wanted to see for ourselves by installing it on Dustin Marshman’s 2013 Ram 2500. This was the same 2500 we sourced for our Rigid Industries LED Grille install.
To get some background on the GTX Watchdog, we spoke with Krysta Wilson at Bully Dog. As she explained, the vision behind the GTX Watchdog was to offer users the ability to read engine vitals, while also having an added bonus.
“Currently, the GTX is a monitoring device with an unlock feature,” said Wilson. “A lot of times, the customers like to do an unlock and go with a different company’s programmer, but the unlock has to come first, and that’s partly what makes the GTX great.”
Diving a little more deeply on the unlocking side, Wilson explained: “A three-pin cable is connected to the backside of the intake manifold. Our cable connects to that three-pin cable, and then unlocks the PCM and ECM so that users can read, write, and tune the vehicle.”
We now had a better understanding of the GTX Watchdog. This meant it was time to see what the device could do. We started by hooking it up to a computer and letting it download the necessary updates.
With that done, we plugged the GTX Watchdog into the OBDII port on the truck and set the device into its provided mount. The mount has a suction pad to make it stick on really well to the windshield. Also, its internal magnet kept the GTX Watchdog firmly in place when we wanted it there (it also made removals a cinch, too).
We were able to flip through the menu effortlessly using the capacitive touchscreen. It was as intuitive to use as any smartphone out there, and just as quick, too.
Viewing parameters was simple; the hard part was choosing which ones. This was because the GTX Watchdog could see everything the ECU could see.
From EGR valve position to exhaust gas temperature to battery voltage, there were several options. Thankfully, the GTX Watchdog could view up to 12 of these parameters simultaneously. This gave us a well-rounded picture of everything going on at a given time.
Datalogging was a breeze. We triggered it by pressing the screen once to bring up the menu, and then hitting “Record.” Wilson was able to touch on this aspect of the GTX, saying: “It gives users all of everything they need, right when they need it. Other programmers’ datalogging involves having to take the programmer to a computer, hook it up, and then pull the files from the memory drive. Our GTX, however, will let you review the data right away, right on screen.”
We imagined this would be a great tool for Dustin. As the owner, he would be driving the truck for longer periods and in more situations – towing, commuting, off-roading, or just taking a lazy drive around town.
Now that he’s become familiar with it, we spoke with Dustin to get his thoughts on the GTX Watchdog. “It gives me so much data!” he said. “As an engineer, I can really appreciate that aspect.”
“I love that it can read diagnose and clear any ‘check engine’ notifications,” added Dustin. “I almost can’t wait for one to come on so I can use the GTX to clear it. It’s so easy to use – all I have to do is start the truck, and it starts displaying readouts. I think anyone who owns a diesel should look at getting a GTX.”
All in all, the GTX Watchdog offers a lot to owners of a 2013-16 Cummins, chief among them better insight and knowledge about the truck’s vitals. To find out more, we recommend you check out the Bully Dog website, as well as the Bully Dog Facebook page.