Garmin GPS Malfunction/Tech Support Quirk - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-07-2008, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Monroe, Washington
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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?


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post #2 of 11 Old 08-07-2008, 12:34 PM
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Many times the rep are not familiar with the level of technical experience of the end user, so he may have thought it would be easier to send in the unit, or perhaps he thought it may be something else. He may have just been new and not aware of the easy fix you performed.
I have had nothing but good experiences with garmin, with so much piss poor customer satisfaction in the the us holdhold goods, I must say they rate towards the top in my book and I would be willing to give them another chance.
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-07-2008, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Don't get me wrong: I love Garmin. I'm quite convinced they are the best and would not consider purchasing a different brand of GPS. However, it seems like this reset issue should be pretty basic. The technical expertise of an end user doesn't have to be very broad to be able to push three buttons simultaneously.

I'm just happy I could set it right without sending it in or paying $89.


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post #4 of 11 Old 08-07-2008, 04:36 PM
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I don't know about your Etrex unit, but my GPS V did something similar last week and I ended up pressing the 'page' button and then it seemed to work just fine...

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post #5 of 11 Old 08-09-2008, 06:10 PM
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Hope it keeps working for you.

My experience with Garmin has been very favorable. I have an ETrex Legend that I got about 6 yrs ago. The LCD was showing horizontal bars across everything. I called Garmin, described the problem and told them that the unit was way past warranty. They had me send it in for warranty repair! It was replaced with a refurbished unit and has been working great!

I will buy another Garmin when I'm ready for a new unit.

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post #6 of 11 Old 08-09-2008, 06:31 PM
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Sounds like Tech support have a commision on offer for sets returned & reset codes applied!! how much of the $89 do you recon they get (or is that me being synical)

Hope You don't think this bit off topic.....

I've got my eye on a Garmin ZUMO 400 or 500 (when I can scrape enough pound coins together) yes I'm this side of the pond, any one had one ? any good? and what's it cost in the US??

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post #7 of 11 Old 08-09-2008, 06:37 PM
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I use a Garmin Forerunner 301 for running and biking, it shows your speed, pace, and distance and has some training tools in it also. It's been out there for about 3 years now and many of my friends have the same unit.

The problem with it is the mini USB connector in the unit, due to sweat and water intrusion the connector fails after six months or so, mine has failed 3x already and the total number of failures with my friends units probably is over 40.

To Garmin's credit they still fix the units (actually replace it) for $79. BUT the gyrations you have to go through with tech support is mind boggling. They have this script they must use, taking you through hardware support than software support where they have you re-loading software, drivers etc. etc. Even though I tell them it's the connector, the same thing you fixed just 6 months ago and the 40 or so you fixed for my friends alone...just give me an RMA # thats all I want, but no you have to play this game for a half hour.

Ron W.
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-12-2008, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Garmin tech support update: I emailed the support person asking if there was anything else, short of sending it to them along with $89, that I could do to troubleshoot/remedy the problem. I explained that I wasn't wild about spending that money, and that for probably less than twice that amount, I could get a new, more modern GPS that had a few more bells and whistles.

I received a reply within a couple of hours which outlined the reset procedure they hadn't told me about initially (the one I found elsewhere online -- the one that worked). He also said that if that didn't work, they would go ahead and fix it under warranty this time (it's probably 5 years old).

I guess they have to go from lowest to highest degree of difficulty when they try to fix a problem. Sorta makes sense.

My faith in Garmin and their customer service has been (mostly) restored.


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post #9 of 11 Old 08-12-2008, 05:27 PM
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Glad it all worked out for you.

Here's something that happened to me with my 60CSx that I use when hiking.

I keep the unit in "track up" mode.
While hiking I noticed it started tracking I walked forward the little triangle traveled down the screen.
I tried everything but still the same...I was just about to reset it when I remembered the "compass calibrate".
That did the trick.
Just in case some else runs into this.

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-12-2008, 06:59 PM
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What was the reset code?

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