The Jeep Wrangler is a incredibly capable four-wheeler and the aftermarket has gone hog wild creating accessories to make it even better, but one of the most inventive devices we have encountered in years to enhance the Jeeping experience is the Superchips TrailDash.
There are a number of automotive engine tuners on the market for the Jeep Wrangler and some include more than just a performance tune. The TrailDash is one of those, offering a multitude of additional features that make four-wheeling in the Jeep more convenient.
Although Superchip manufactures power adding tuners for many different vehicles, the TrailDash was specially designed for the hardcore Jeep enthusiast. It is currently available for 2003 to 2007 TJs and 2007 to 2014 JKs.
The TrailDash offers tunes with claims of gains up to a 30 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque. With this device you have access to multiple performance Power Levels that include those intended for 87, 91, and 93 octane grade fuel, Mileage XS intended to conserve fuel, and Crawl designed for off-road conditions during which the pedal response is less responsive. A transmission performance tune for ’07-’10 JKs only is also available.
“Our simple to understand interface is the key to making the TrailDash so easy to use and set up.” – Joe Dussol.
A maintenance manager (to schedule and track maintenance), mileage mentor (to track and help save fuel), performance tests, the ability to read and clear trouble codes, and a host of other customizable functions are also available.
It delivers all of this through an easy to read and operate 4.3-inch color touch-screen interface. “Our simple to understand interface is the key to making the TrailDash so easy to use and set up,” said Joe Dussol, Marketing Director, Superchips.
The TrailDash is also capable of expanding its capability to include other aftermarket accessories and sensors via the Superchips EAS, as well as using a monitor to provide video input and run a backup camera or other camera accessories.
For this installation of the Powerteq Superchips TrailDash, the subject vehicle was our 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU Project Sgt. Rocker that many Off Road Xtreme readers are familiar with. Afterward, we’ll get dyno numbers to see how it delivers. Sgt. Rocker will also see some hard rock use, so we can give you real world impressions too. The first step was to locate the OBDII port and connect the OBDII cable.
The cable was routed up along the driver’s side of the dash panel (neatly wedged deep into the corner of the bodywork) and across the top of the dash to its center where the Superchips Dash Pod No. 38302 was mounted. This particular dash pod is one of three designed by Superchips to fit different models of Jeeps in the range for which the TrailDash applies.
We liked the Dash Pod mount much better than the suction cup windshield mount; it was sturdier, lower and out of the driver’s field of vision, and it made the TrailDash more easily accessible to the driver. The connecter on the end of the OBDII cable was inserted into the 16-pin connector on the back of the TrailDash tuner, and then the TrailDash was seated firmly in the DashPod.
Now we were ready to begin initializing the the TrailDash and booting up the vehicle. Once the Jeep’s settings have been saved to the TrailDash for future use, the set up goes pretty quick. As Dussol said, “we prefer our customers be on the trail, not in the garage during their free time, that’s why we take care of the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is plug-and-play and you’re off.”
Easy Set Up
After we plugged in the TrailDash and it had booted up and saved the Jeep’s stock settings for later use, the first default screen appeared. The factory stock settings can be reset any time through the programming mode if you choose to.
… all you have to do is plug-and-play and you’re off. Joe Dussol
The second screen, depending on your vehicle model, offers one of two Off-Road Feature screens. Since our project vehicle Sgt. Rocker is not a Rubicon model, we saw the Non-Rubicon screen that has the two inclinometers side-by-side in the center of the screen.
Each Off-Road Feature screen is equipped with digital style gauges as well as analog pitch and roll gauges. For Rubicon models only, three additional features have been added: Selecting TPMS would disable communication with the sensors; selecting SWAY would disable the light from displaying on your dash; selecting LOCK would lock and unlock front or rear differentials. The LOCK feature will automatically disable once you exceed 30 mph for safety.
Both Off-Road Features screens also offer information such as MPH, mileage economy average, RPM, ECT temp, a read on your mileage coach, and a couple of other items as well.
The third or Stand-Alone screen features are vehicle specific. The Stand-Alone screen can contain features such as timing (1998-2003), engine idle, tire size, axle ratio (2005+), tire pressure (2007+), run lights (2007-13), TPMS (street legal, 2007+), one-touch lane change, keyless entry (2007+ only), speedometer corrections, Electronic Stability Optimization (2011-14w/auto trans), and locking axle (2007-14 Rubicons only).
All this information is dialed in for your specific set up before moving on to the Programming Mode. Prior to starting the programming mode it’s important to unplug anything you may have powered through the cigarette lighter or any power outlets in the vehicle. Do not leave the vehicle unattended during programming either, as it’s necessary to follow on-screen instructions during the operation.
First we entered the Main Menu and chose the Programming option. The vehicle must have been read by the device already to begin programming. We selected the Power Level we desired, which happened to be 87 octane, but we later tried Crawl since were were planning for some serious four-wheeling very soon. The Crawl tune took the edge off the gas pedal sensitivity, and worked great for off-road activity. Superchips recommends 87 octane fuel or higher when using Crawl tune.
There are quite a few more programming options available that we could have toyed with, and may at a much later date, such as Speed Limiter, Rev Limiter, Pedal Response, MDS Disable (for V8s with MDS), WOT 1-2 Shift and WOT 2-3 Shift, two transmission custom options, and many more. Dussol said, “The TrailDash offers utility for any off-roader from newbie, seasoned veteran, weekend warrior, or the geeky engineer type who wants to measure G-forces their Jeep is pulling or what their battery voltage is.”
To be perfectly honest though, other than a couple of basic tunes for the Jeep, we were more interested in the TrailDash device’s ability to offer control of the vehicle’s mechanicals and accessories through its interface. Its integrated, heads-up display of vitals were attractive, too.
Among our favorite features were the Pitch and Roll gauges on the Off Road Screen because it’s fun to see just how far off kilter you really are. However, many others really are very functional.
Included on the Stand-Alone Screen are Tire Size that allows you to modify the programmed tire height while also adjusting the speedometer for non-stock tires up to 44 inches. The Axle Ratio feature allows you to adjust the calculated output shaft speed and supports ring and pinion ratios up to 5.38:1.
A Tire Pressure feature on the Stand-Along Screen lets you adjust the TPMS system for low pressure thresholds and is selectable down to 22 psi without the light coming on. There is also a Street Legal TPMS feature that turns the sensors off. An Engine Idle feature can increase the RPM momentarily during certain conditions such as running a winch; you just select an RPM you want the engine to idle at and press Enter.
For those with Rubicon models, of course the ability to control the electronic lockers in the front and rear axles from the TrailDash is ultra convenient. In addition, being able to disconnect the anti-sway bars at the trail head and then hook them up again before jumping back on the pavement from the TrailDash is pretty sweet, too. These little tricks are all fine and dandy, but what about the extra power available from the TrailDash?
We wrapped up the entire installation, selection process, and download in well under two hours. As we began our dyno runs, we ran into an interesting situation with the tuner and automatic trans-equipped Wrangler. When we attempted to run it on our Power Automedia in-house rear-wheel DynoJet dynamometer to curate gained horsepower and torque, the automatic transmission and tuner spoke to each other and signaled a limp mode because the front wheels were not spinning.
This caused the auto trans in the 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU to operate in no higher than second gear. After working with the Superchips engineering department, we discovered that it had similar experiences and had to resort to using a manual trans-equipped Wrangler in order to proof-out its product.
We best we could manage under the circumstances was to run our project vehicle in second gear to obtain before and after performance numbers. We also made the decision to include the dyno chart of the performance numbers on the TrailDash unit from Superchips.
Our baseline dyno runs (seen above) produced a peak of 200.1 hp and 177.2 lb-ft of torque with the Stock Tune. After installation of the 87 Octane Tune, we saw peak numbers of 205.7 hp and 183.5 lb-ft of torque, and there were also consistent gains throughout the power curve. If we had been able to run the Jeep through the full range of gears, we are sure the results of our independent testing would have much greater breadth and depth.
Just as interesting is the chart (seen below) supplied by Superchips. The top end improvements are 23.2 hp and 7.9 lb-ft of torque, and there are also consistent gains in lower- and mid-RPM ranges where most of the four wheeling is done anyway. The power improvements we saw and felt, and the additional mechanical and accessory control features available through the Superchips TrailDash made it a rewarding addition to our 2013 Jeep Wrangler Project.