Why won't my Garmin device acquire satellites?

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01/24/2014

As GPS devices are used, data is gathered which helps them acquire satellites quickly at the start of each use. If a device is used daily it should be able to acquire satellites in a minute or less. Using a GPS device while it is outdoors with a clear view of the entire sky is the ideal condition for acquiring satellites. Please know that there can be several different factors that may cause a GPS device to not acquire satellites:

  • If your device is trying to acquire satellites for the first time, it may take longer than normal to establish an initial position. If the device is powered on and outdoors with a clear view of the sky, this should not take more than 3-5 minutes.
  • If your device has not been used for an extended period of time (more than a month), it may take 3-5 minutes to acquire satellites.
  • If your device is indoors, it may not acquire satellites. Even standing next to a window indoors will block a majority of the sky which is needed for a device to locate and lock onto a satellite signal.
  • If you have just finished updating the software in your device or you have performed a master reset, your device may take 3-5 minutes to acquire while outdoors as the data that is used to locate satellites may have been erased.
  • If your device has traveled over 500 miles while turned off or not tracking your travel, it may take 3-5 minutes to acquire even in ideal conditions.
  • If your vehicle has a protective coating on its windshield or electronic devices which interfere with the device receiving signal, your device may need an external antenna* in order to acquire satellites.
    • If you suspect this to be an issue, try taking the device outside of the vehicle with a clear view of the sky for 3-5 minutes so that the device can acquire satellites. If your device loses satellites once moved back into your vehicle, you will most likely need an external antenna*.

If your device is still having trouble acquiring satellites, please ensure that it has the latest version of operating software by using the Garmin Express program. Once your device is updated, please allow the device to acquire satellites outdoors in a stationary position with a clear view of the sky.

*Note: Some devices may not be compatible with an external antenna. Please check the Compatible Devices tab on the external antenna's page to see if your device is listed.

Links referenced in this article:

external antenna: https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/prod1326.html

Garmin Express: http://software.garmin.com/en-US/express.html

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