How To Fix a Garmin GPS Screen

by David Lipscomb

Garmin GPS devices perform their essential task of getting you from place to place reliably and as quickly as possible. On occasion, Garmin GPS users experience a nonresponsive touch screen or inaccurate response. Like many touchscreen devices, Garmin GPS units often require screen calibration. Resetting the screen so it does what you expect when you command it is an important thing to know as a prospective or current Garmin owner.


When you touch your Garmin's screen you expect the area contacted to respond appropriately. Surefire ways of knowing when your Garmin unit is acting up is if you touch a menu icon and it does nothing, you can't touch the icons at the perimeter of the screen or you cannot accurately indicate your position on a map. In most cases, the issue is simply a matter of the screen requiring calibration. This is a documented and routine process that normally does not indicate a problem.

Calibration Process

For most Garmin devices, calibrating your screen is straightforward. First, touch the "Setup" icon in the main or "Tools" menu. Tap "Display," then "Press to Begin Screen Calibration." At this point the Garmin will begin displaying dots on the screen for you to touch. Press these as indicated to give the Garmin unit sufficient input data for an accurate calibration. Continue with the process until you see the "Calibration Complete" message, then tap "OK." If you screen is totally nonresponsive, you will have to perform the process manually. To do so, power down the unit completely. Press the "Power" button for roughly 30 seconds until you see a white dot, accompanied by a "Press the Dot" command. Tap and hold on the dot until the "Calibration Complete" message appears. Tap "OK" when the Garmin unit instructs.

Software/Firmware Updates

All Garmin units occasionally require software updates to stay current. However, you may need to update your Garmin nuvi 30, 40 or 50 device with the newest version to resolve your screen issues and perhaps others. Head to the Garmin driver page (link in Resources). Download the Recovery Application program and the correct recovery file for your unit. The page linking to these files is located in the fourth reference below. Click and drag the RGN file over the "Updater.exe" Recovery Application icon. Ensure that your Garmin unit is turned off and not connected to the computer. Press and hold the upper left corner of the unit's screen. While continuing to press the screen, insert a mini-USB cable into the Garmin unit, connecting the device to your PC. Click on the radio button next to the "USB Device" icon, click "OK" then release the screen. Keep the unit connected to your computer as it goes through the updating process. Do not disconnect the device until you see the following message: "The software on the device is newer than the software you are attempting to install. Installing the older software will erase all user data. Install the older software?" Press "No" when you see this message. Plug the unit into your vehicle's power source to finish resetting the firmware in your Garmin unit.

When All Else Fails

There are occasions when your Garmin unit needs to be sent for repairs. These issues have mainly to do with lines on the screen interfering with normal operation, or if the unit powers on with an audible "beep" but nothing ever appears onscreen. To initiate the repair process, navigate to one of the Garmin Support webpages. Click on the "Request Service" option. Select an option to indicate which device you need to report to Garmin. Click on the icon for your device when it appears in the subsequent window. Select the "Touchscreen or Display" option from the list. From there, you can select a specific issue pertaining to your device's display, such as calibration, image quality or brightness issues. Check up to three boxes in the next list that appears to further dig down into the issue. You can also supply Garmin with a specific message if the options presented do not fully describe your issue. Click "Continue." Garmin's site will ask you to plug in your device to check for outdated software. If you already updated and other quick help options do not resolve your issue, you can begin the process request by signing into your Garmin account and entering the required data.

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