Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Monroe, Washington
Garmin GPS Malfunction/Tech Support Quirk
I've had a Garmin Etrex Vista GPS for the past 4 or 5 years. I've used it for hiking and outdoors stuff, so when I got the Vstrom, I naturally had to get a RAM mount and use it on the bike. Although it has street maps, the screen is too small to use effectively to follow the map while riding. Primarily, I use it for speed, distance, elevation, etc.
Well, yesterday, the old GPS stopped working. It would see satellites, but would not lock on them and continually gave me the "Wait. . . Tracking Satellites" window. It didn't matter how many satellites where showing up on the screen, or how long i let it sit, it gave me the same message.
I called and waited 30 minutes on Garmin's tech support line (after unsuccessful attempts to use their web-based support) and finally talked to a tech support person. He guided me through the steps to essentially remove the satellites' almanac data and have the GPS find itself anew. He said if that doesn't work, then the next step is to send the unit to Garmin, pay $89 and they would repair or replace the unit. Not a bad deal if you have a high-dollar, fancy unit that's out of warranty, but I didn't want to go there.
I did the procedure, let it sit outside with a clear view of the sky for over half an hour, all with the same result: "Wait. . . Tracking Satellites."
I was getting ready to send it in, when a friend mentioned that I should search the internet for "Garmin reset codes" and see if there was something there. Apparently, there are button combinations on these units that can be pushed at power-on so that a unit can be reset or put into test mode. I considered this step to be sort of a "Hail Mary pass," but I had nothing to lose since the unit was inoperable. I found the reset code for my specific GPS unit and tried it. I was warned that it would likely delete everything, so I had downloaded my tracks and waypoints previously.
Well, the reset appeared to work fine, and I set it out for a clear view of the heavens. Lo and behold, it worked. It found itself and tracked as it should.
Turns out the reset code did, in fact, delete the waypoints and tracks, but did not delete the maps I had installed. So back went the waypoints and tracks I'd saved and I was in business again! It worked flawlessly on my commute this morning.
I thought it was interesting that the Garmin tech did not even hint at a reset code. (He did, however, seem pretty confident that they would be "fixing" my own unit and sending it back to me, rather than sending me a new or refurbished unit.) Perhaps this was because he recognized that it could actually kill the unit (it was already inoperable, and hence valueless to me). Or, it could be that it's Garmin's policy to let the user try the first level of troubleshooting (for free) and then faithfully send it back to Garmin so they can push the three-button combination to make it work again, to the tune of $89. I prefer to think it's the former, not the latter.
What are your thoughts?
[COLOR=Blue][B][FONT=Comic Sans MS]2005 Blue DL650[/FONT][/B][/COLOR]