What Do You Do When Your Garmin Freezes?

By David Lipscomb

A frozen Garmin device requires reset or updating.
i Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Garmin GPS devices operate, like all portable electronic devices, using a combination of hardware and software. On occasion, these devices may freeze or become unresponsive, creating the need to reset the device. Portable Garmin units, whether used on the trail, in your car or on the water, may also require firmware updates. Re-calibrating the screen also frequently alleviates these issues, restoring your GPS device to normal operation.

Soft Reset

Soft resets are one step ahead of a simple power cycle. If your Garmin nuvi fails to respond to screen interaction, a soft reset will often solve the issue. No data loss should occur, unless something else is amiss with the unit. To perform a soft reset, locate the Power switch. This switch is on one of the upper or lower corners of the unit. Slide and release the Power switch to the left shut off the device. Slide and hold the Power switch for roughly 8 seconds, resetting the software. Release the switch and slide it once to reboot the device. For Edge or Forerunner units, connect the device to your computer using the supplied USB cable. Press and hold the "Mode" and "Lap/Rest" buttons for 10 seconds. Release the buttons. Turn the unit back on after the "Charging in Process" message is displayed on the screen.

Hard Resets

A hard or master reset typically restores Garmin GPS units to their default states, which eliminates any stored information. Should a nuvi or Edge device fail to acquire satellites or respond in other ways, a hard reset might prove necessary. You should back up your data via Garmin Connect software prior to initiating this procedure. To perform a hard reset, slide the Power switch to shut off the device. Slide the Power switch to the left once more, while simultaneously pressing and holding your finger on the bottom-right corner of the screen. Tap "Yes" in response to the "Do You Really Want to Start your Garmin in Maintenance Mode?" message. Depending on the nuvi model, you may alternately see "Do You Really Want to Erase All User Data?" Tap "Clear User Data," then "Yes" to confirm. Wait roughly 30 to 45 seconds for the reset to complete. For Edge units, begin by pressing the power button to turn off the unit. Simultaneously press and hold the "Page/Menu," "Start/Stop" and Power buttons. Do not release the buttons until the "Garmin" logo disappears. Proceed through the initialization process. Expose the Edge device to open sky for at least 15 minutes, allowing the unit to re-acquire satellite data.

Using WebUpdater

WebUpdater is Garmin-exclusive software that allows you to update the GPS device's software. Many times, using WebUpdater to update the device to the newest software alleviates lockups and freezes. Most Garmin GPS units use WebUpdater for software updates and revisions. Plug your Gamin unit into your computer and run WebUpdater. Allow the software to identify your connected unit. Follow the on-screen prompts. Click "Yes" when the software locates new software and asks you if you want to install it. Unplug the unit and perform a power cycle to restart the device. Updating software does not eliminate data onboard the unit.

Garmin Communicator

Garmin Communicator is a Web plugin for updating and restoring Garmin GPS devices. This plugin works with your device over USB to maintain accurate map data and firmware. Garmin Communicator is needed for registering your device and for using WebUpdater. You can even use programs like Feedburner to notify you if new maps or critical firmware updates are available for your device, perhaps forestalling a problem with your Garmin unit.

Calibrating the Screen

On occasion, a Garmin unit may appear "frozen" when in reality the screen is simply unresponsive for various reasons. You can perform a screen calibration to ensure that the unit reliably responds to touch and in the expected spots on the screen. Tap the "Setup" icon in the "Main" or "Tools" menu. Tap "Display," then "Press to Begin Screen Calibration." Wait for the unit to display a series of dots, representing calibration points. Press these points when prompted, until the "Calibration Complete" message appears. If you cannot get the unit to respond at all, turn off the device. Press and hold the Power button or switch until a single white dot appears on the screen. Tap and hold the dot until you see the "Calibration Complete" message. Tap "OK" to complete the process.