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The most common Garmin problems and how to fix them
Smartwatches and fitness trackers face loads of daily abuse. Strapped to our wrists, they brush off bumps and knocks, dirt and splashes. Understandably, they face the occasional problems and issues, but you can remedy many of these with a few simple troubleshooting steps. Although Garmin makes some excellent smartwatches and fitness trackers, the company’s products are not immune to these issues, either. Below, we look at some of the common problems Garmin devices face and provide a list of possible fixes.
Problem #1: Syncing issues
Like most wearables, Garmin products sync with Android smartphones over Bluetooth. Often this connection is affected by several factors. As a result, you may not be able to sync your Garmin’s info with your smartphone. If this is something you experience, here are a few ways to remedy the issue.
- Make sure you have Garmin Connect installed on your smartphone. Also, ensure that Bluetooth is activated on your phone (Settings > Bluetooth > On).
- Double-check if your Garmin wearable is in pairing mode. To do this, head to your Garmin device’s Settings menu, tap Bluetooth, and select Pair mobile device.
- Try switching Bluetooth off and on on your smartphone. It seems a simple fix, but a simple on/off cycle can often remedy most minor issues.
- Power cycle your smartphone by switching it off and on, too.
- Power cycle your Garmin device by switching it on and off. We cover this process further below in the “How to restart your Garmin” section.
- Reinstall the Garmin Connect app on your phone. Head to your phone’s Settings, find the Apps menu, search for Garmin Connect, and uninstall it. To reinstall, head to Google Play, search for Garmin Connect and install. You may need to log in to your Garmin Connect account once again after installing, so be sure to have those details on hand.
- Check if your Garmin device has the latest software installed.
- To do this, head to Settings > About. Compare the software version on your device to that listed by Garmin.
- If the software is outdated, try to update your device’s software by heading to Settings > System > Software Update.
- If the update didn’t complete, you might have to connect your wearable to a PC or Mac and manually update it. Install Garmin Express and connect your device to the PC or Mac via a USB cable to update the software.
- You can also check if syncing works via Garmin Express to eliminate an issue beyond Bluetooth connectivity.
- Try removing your Garmin device from your Garmin Connect account and re-adding it. To do this, open Garmin Connect. Tap on the Menu button. Scroll down and select the device you want to remove.
- To add your device again, follow the same steps but tap Add Device instead.
- If you still can’t seem to connect to Garmin Connect, even on your PC, the service might be down. Double-check Garmin Connect’s status here.
Problem #2: Notification issues
You may experience notification problems from time to time. If you’re in this boat, you may need to tweak a few settings on your smartphone or Garmin.
- Double-check if Bluetooth is activated on your phone and that it’s connected to your Garmin.
- Check if Garmin Connect has notification access. On your Android phone, head to Settings > Apps, tap on Garmin Connect, and select the Notifications option. Ensure Allow Notifications is toggled on.
- If your phone’s UI is presented a little differently, you can also search for “Notifications” on your Android phone’s Settings page search bar.
- Check if the notifications you wish to receive are enabled in Garmin Connect. Open the app, select the Menu button, then Settings > Notifications > App Notifications. You can then toggle to enable or disable the apps you wish to receive notifications.
- If you own a Huawei device, you may need to set Garmin Connect to run in the background. Head to Settings > Battery > App Launch. Toggle Garmin Connect to Manage manually. This should allow the app to run in the background and auto-launch.
- Double-check if Do Not Disturb is set to “off” on your smartphone.
- Check if Sleep Time settings are correct on your Garmin. This feature on Garmin devices prevents notifications and alerts from disrupting your sleep, but it could disable all notifications if the time isn’t set correctly.
Problem #3: Power issues
If your Garmin smartwatch or fitness tracker doesn’t switch on, there are a few ways to check if it’s a simple fault.
- Check if the device is fully charged by plugging it into its charger and a power source.
- Check if the charging points on the Garmin device or charger are damaged or corroded. They may also need a clean. You can do so with a dab of rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab.
- Still no power? Check if the power cable you’re using is damaged.
- You can purchase a new charging cable from Garmin’s website.
- Try force rebooting your Garmin. To do this, plug it into a power source via the charger, press and hold the power button for between 15-60 seconds until the display lights up. This is only applicable if your Garmin device can be rebooted or restarted.
- It could be a software issue if the device is charging, but the screen doesn’t light up. Try to update your device’s software by connecting it to a PC or Mac and using Garmin Express (instructions above).
- If your device’s display does light up but doesn’t acknowledge touches, you could try cleaning it.
- Use device cleaning spray and a microfibre cloth to clean the surface. Dry it as soon as possible with another cloth.
- Still nothing? If you have a screen protector on your device, try removing it and replacing it with a new protector.
- Some users have had issues fitting the Garmin’s Fenix line and new Epix charging cable. The trick is to use the right amount of force. If you’re still struggling or find the charger simply doesn’t work, consider purchasing a new charger or dock.
Problem #4: GPS issues
Watches with GPS connectivity will often take a moment to lock on to satellites. The time it takes depends on your location and other factors. But here are a few steps to remedy the issue.
- Try syncing your Garmin. Syncing to Garmin Connect should prompt the device to scan for available satellites and, therefore, speed up the GPS signal acquisition.
- Begin your activity in an open area outdoors devoid of trees and buildings. The lack of physical interference should help your wearable acquire GPS signal a little quicker. Heavy cloud coverage may also affect the signal.
- Are you still having issues? Double-check your device’s software version. If it’s not current, be sure to update it.
- Some Garmin devices support multiple positioning systems, including GLONASS. Double-check if it’s on by heading to System > Sensors > GPS on your device. Toggle on the switch for the systems you wish to use alongside GPS.
Problem #5: Barometer and altimeter issues
If your Garmin is displaying an incorrect altitude or struggles to keep up with you during a hike, there could be an issue with your altimeter or barometer. There are a few ways to remedy the issue, though.
- First off, recalibrate your watch.
- To manually recalibrate your device, hold Up to access the main menu, then select Settings > Sensors & Accessories > Altimeter > Calibrate. Follow the prompts.
- Ensure Auto Calibration is switched on. This setting will use your GPS data to calculate your current altitude.
- Find this setting by pressing Up to access the main menu, then selecting Settings > Sensors & Accessories > Altimeter > toggle on Auto Cal.
- If this doesn’t solve the issue, your sensor port might be blocked. Garmin recommends cleaning it using “low pressure, warm water.”
- Importantly, do not put any pins or sharp objects into the sensor hole, but do remove any debris by hand if there is any.
- Once washed, shake away excess water and air dry the watch.
- When dry, recalibrate the sensor using the steps above.
- Still have an issue? It’s time to contact Garmin. Your problem might be related to faulty hardware.
Problem #6: Garmin Pay issues
Garmin Pay is Garmin’s wireless payments system that is compatible with many Garmin devices. It allows users to pay for products using their wearable. While it’s convenient, it may also face a few issues from time to time.
- Check if Garmin Pay is supported in your country and by your bank. Although the service plays nice with Mastercard and Visa cards, Garmin Pay will only work if your bank is supported. Garmin lists the supported institutions here.
- If you can’t add a card to your Garmin Pay Wallet, you’ll need to be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi.
- Double-check that your smartphone meets the Garmin Pay minimum device requirements. You’ll need at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and the device is required to support the Google Play Store natively. Android Go phones are not supported.
Problem #7: VO2 Max issues
Most recent Garmin wearables can track VO2 max, an important metric for cardio trainers. However, you may not get a VO2 max reading unless your device is appropriately set up and your activities meet some criteria.
- Garmin suggests completing the User Profile with birth year, height, weight, and power zone settings. This data will be used to calculate VO2 max figures better.
- The company also suggests completing the Heart Rate Zones setup too. Find these settings under Settings > User Profile > Heart Rate on your device. You can also tweak these settings later in Garmin Connect.
- Garmin support documents suggest activities need to meet the following criteria to provide a VO2 max estimate:
- For running, walking, and trail running, the activity must last for at least 10 minutes on some devices and 15 minutes on the Vivosport.
- For cycling, the activity must last for at least 20 minutes without any stoppages.
- The activity must be recorded outside with GPS connected.
- Heart rate must be elevated to at least 70% of your maximum for at least 10 minutes on some devices and 15 minutes on the Vivosport.
- Some newer Garmin watches can provide VO2 max estimates from all-day heart rate data.
- Finally, it may take a few days for your VO2 max estimate to display in Garmin Connect.
Problem #8: Battery issues
Battery drain issues can happen to all devices, be it buggy software or aging components. There are a few ways to manage your Garmin’s battery life better if you find it’s draining too quickly for your liking.
- If you don’t train regularly, you can switch off your GPS. Find these settings on your watch by heading to System > Sensors > GPS. Toggle off systems you don’t use.
- Notifications can also play a role in reducing the battery life of your device. Be sure to curate which apps are allowed to send through notifications. Open your Garmin Connect app on your phone, select Settings, and toggle off the apps you don’t need.
- Adjust the brightness, length of the timeout, gesture controls, and other features of your display.
- If you own a Garmin Venu series device, you can find these controls in your watch’s Settings > System > Display menu.
- Garmin Fenix 6 users can find the setting by holding Menu and selecting System > Backlight. You can then set the backlight to activate upon button presses or alerts.
- On most recent Garmin Forerunner devices, hold Menu, then head to Settings > System > Backlight to activate the backlight settings on your device.
- The Garmin Vivosmart 4 automatically scales the backlight, but users can pick a number between 1 and 7 for more granular control. Find these settings by tapping the capacitive button at the bottom of the display, tapping the Settings cog, then swipe to and tap the Brightness icon.
- If battery drain is related to a software issue, there’s a good chance that Garmin has issued a fix through a patch. We recommend checking if your device is using the latest version of its software.
- Head to Settings > About. Compare the software version on your device to that listed by Garmin.
- If the software is indeed outdated, try to refresh your device’s software by heading to Settings > System > Software Update.
- If you feel your Garmin device is discharging way too quickly, even after following the above steps, we recommend contacting Garmin directly.
Problem #9: Music issues
Bluetooth headphone issues
A selection of Garmin watches support music playback via Bluetooth headphones. However, Bluetooth isn’t always the most reliable medium. You might run into a few audio issues with your headphones connected to your Garmin. Here are a few ways to remedy these problems.
- Try rebooting both the watch and your earbuds. If it’s a minor issue, this should resolve it.
- If the audio is still intermittently cutting out during training, Garmin suggests wearing your watch on your other wrist. This might prevent body interference if this is indeed a cause.
- Facing connectivity dropouts? Garmin suggests using the wireless earbuds exclusively with the watch. Some earbuds can connect to multiple devices simultaneously. In this case, disconnect your headphones from any other device before listening to music on your watch.
- If you’re still facing issues, try removing and reconnecting your Bluetooth earbuds. To do this, head to Settings > Music > Headphones. You can also add a new device from this menu.
Spotify login and syncing issues
Some users seemingly experience regular Spotify sign-in or syncing issues on their Garmin devices. Thankfully, there is a seemingly simple fix.
- Log out of Spotify in Garmin Connect.
- Delete and re-add the Wi-Fi settings on your watch.
- Reboot your smartwatch and phone.
- Reconnect Spotify.
Another common problem relates to syncing specifically. Users are greeted by a Sync Failed message on the watch when a sync is attempted. Garmin has a possible fix.
- Remove/add Wi-Fi settings on your watch. If it is a simple internet issue, this could fix it.
- Double-check that your watch is connected to your phone and that Garmin Connect sees your device.
- Place your watch on its charging cradle and try to sync once again.
- Move the watch closer to your Wi-Fi router while syncing.
- Finally, if all else fails, uninstall Spotify from your watch through Connect IQ. Reboot your watch, then reinstall Spotify.
Problem #10: Garmin band issues
No watch strap or band is indestructible. If your Garmin band breaks, you have a few options.
- Garmin explains on its Shipping page that merchandise can be returned for a refund within 30 days of receiving the order.
- You’ll need to fill out a Return for Refund Request form to start the refund process.
- Garmin’s Consumer Limited Warranty page explains that non-aviation products are guaranteed to be “free from defects in materials or workmanship for one year from the date of purchase.” If you believe your Garmin watch strap (or Garmin device in general) is defective, you can contact Garmin to get the faulty part replaced at no extra cost.
Looking for replacement bands for your device? You can, of course, head to Garmin’s website to buy a replacement or head to the Amazon links below for a cheaper alternative:
- Garmin Venu 2 replacement bands
- Garmin Venu replacement bands
- Garmin Venu Sq replacement bands
- Garmin Fenix 7 replacement bands
- Garmin Epix replacement bands
- Garmin Fenix 6 replacement bands
- Garmin Fenix 6S replacement bands
- Garmin Fenix 6X replacement bands
- Garmin Vivoactive 4 replacement bands
- Garmin Vivoactive 4S replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 945 replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 745 replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 645 Music replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 245/Music replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 55 replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 45 replacement bands
- Garmin Forerunner 45S replacement bands
- Garmin Lily replacement bands
- Garmin Instinct replacement bands
- Garmin Vivomove 3 replacement bands
- Garmin Vivofit 4 replacement bands
- Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 replacement bands
How to restart your Garmin device
- Garmin Venu 2/Plus: Press and hold the Action button at the top-right of the device for 15 seconds to switch the watch off. Press the button again for one second to switch it on.
- Garmin Venu: Press and hold the Action button at the top-right of the device for 15 seconds to switch the watch off. Press the button again for one second to switch it on.
- Garmin Venu Sq: Press and hold the Action button at the top-right of the device for 15 seconds to switch the watch off. Press the button again for one second to switch it on.
- Garmin Epix series: Press and hold the Light button to switch off the watch. Press and hold the same button once more until it powers on.
- Garmin Fenix 7 series: Press and hold the Light button until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Fenix 6 series: Like the Fenix 7, press and hold the Light button at the top-left of the device until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S: Press and hold the Action button at the top-right of the device for 15 seconds to switch the watch off. Press the button again for one second to switch it on.
- Garmin Forerunner 945: Press and hold the Power button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds, or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Forerunner 745: Press and hold the Power button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds, or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Forerunner 645: Press and hold the Light button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds, or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Forerunner 245/Music: Press and hold the Light button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds, or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Forerunner 55: Press and hold the Light button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds, or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Forerunner 45/45S: Press and hold the Light button at the top-left of the device for 15 seconds or until the watch switches off. Power it back on by pressing this button once more.
- Garmin Lily: There’s no way to switch off or restart the Lily physically.
- Garmin Instinct: Press and hold the CTRL button until the device switches off. Hold CTRL to switch it back on again.
- Garmin Vivomove 3: There’s no way to switch off or restart the Vivomove 3 physically.
- Garmin Vivofit 4/Jr 3: There’s no way to physically switch off or restart the Vivofit 4 or Jr. 3.
Are you still having issues? Is there any problem you think we didn’t cover? Be sure to let us know in the comments.