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The most common Garmin problems and how to fix them

Garmin wearables are excellent for runners and active users but are not exempt from issues.
By

Published onApril 5, 2024

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Water

Smartwatches and fitness trackers face loads of daily abuse. Strapped to our wrists, they brush off bumps, knocks, dirt, and splashes. Understandably, they face the occasional problems and issues, but you can remedy many of these with simple troubleshooting steps. Although Garmin makes some excellent smartwatches and fitness trackers, the company’s products are not immune to these issues. Below, we look at some common Garmin problems and issues and a list of possible fixes.


Problem #1: Syncing issues

garmin connect app on google pixel 5

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 info with your smartphone. If you experience this, here are a few ways to remedy the issue.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure you have Garmin Connect installed on your smartphone. Download it here. 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 your smartphone’s Bluetooth off and on. 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 further cover this process 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    • If the software is outdated, try updating it by heading to Settings > System > Software Update on your device.
    • 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.

Other solutions:

  • 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

garmin venu sq review smartphone notifications

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.

Potential solutions:

  • Double-check if Bluetooth is activated on your phone and 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 differently, you can 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.
  • You may need to set Garmin Connect to run in the background if you own a HUAWEI device. 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

garmin venu 2 review charging cable battery life

If your Garmin smartwatch or fitness tracker doesn’t switch on, there are a few ways to check if it’s a simple fault.

Potential solutions:

  • 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 dirty or clogged. You can clean them with a dab of rubbing alcohol, a cotton swab, or a small brush for more stubborn dirt.
    • Still no power? Check if the power cable you’re using is damaged. If you see any exposed wires, faulty or damaged ports, frayed insulation, or sharp right angles at any point along the cable, do not use it.
    • 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 and press and hold the power button for 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. 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.

Other solutions:

  • Some users have had issues fitting Garmin’s Fenix line and the new Epix charging cable. The trick is to use the right amount of force. If you’re still struggling or find the charger doesn’t work, consider purchasing a new charger or dock.

Problem #4: Heart rate tracking issues

An image of the Garmin Venu 2 Plus on the wrist showing heart rate and activity summary details

You may face a few issues with Garmin’s heart rate tracking features. Here are the most common fixes.

  • For missing data fields and sections on your watch or Garmin Connect, try hard restarting your devices and app. This should be your first port of call for most issues on the device.
    • Additionally, log in to Garmin Connect on the web to check if the issue is present there. If it isn’t, we can assume it’s a problem with the app on your tethered phone.
  • You can usually remedy inaccurate heart rate readings by adjusting the watch’s fit on your arm.
    • Wear it a finger width or two above the pointy bone above your wrist.
    • Additionally, make sure the sensors are clean before use.
    • If there’s a new update available, consider installing it. If you’ve just installed a new update, read the patch notes and check if other users are facing similar issues.
    • If you care about heart rate accuracy, you should consider purchasing a heart rate strap.
  • If your heart rate strap fails to broadcast your heart rate, try removing it and repairing it to your watch.

Problem #5: GPS issues

garmin forerunner 245 music running watch running screen gps

Watches with GPS connectivity can 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.

Potential solutions:

  • Try syncing your Garmin. Syncing to Garmin Connect should prompt the device to scan for available satellites and 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 a GPS signal 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 watch. Toggle on the switch for the systems you wish to use alongside GPS.

Problem #6: Barometer and altimeter issues

A Garmin Fenix 7 rests on a wooden post displaying topoactive map nearby locations.

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.

Potential solutions:

  • 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.
  • Your sensor port might be blocked if this doesn’t solve the issue. 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 #7: Garmin Pay issues

garmin pay wallet shortcut on Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Garmin Pay is Garmin’s wireless payments system 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 occasionally.

Potential solutions:

  • Check if Garmin Pay is supported in your country and by your bank. Although the service works 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 #8: VO2 Max issues

A Garmin Venu Sq 2 displays a user's stress level as low.

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.

Potential solutions:

  • 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.
    • The activity must last for at least 20 minutes without any stoppages for cycling.
    • 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 #9: Battery issues

The blank face of the Garmin Lily Sport Edition smart watch in purple.
Garmin Lily Sport Edition

Battery drain issues can happen to all devices, including buggy software or aging components. There are a few ways to manage your Garmin’s battery life better if you find it draining too quickly for your liking.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus battery drain:

Several users on Garmin’s forums over the past few months are reporting quicker than usual battery drain on the Venu 2 Plus. The issue seems to span multiple update versions, and what’s causing the problem is unclear. We recommend running through the steps outlined below to narrow down the problem.

Potential solutions:

  • 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.
  • If you use a custom watch face, try disabling heart rate and seconds display. These details may force the watch face to update more often per minute than it otherwise would.
    • No improvement? Consider installing a default Garmin watch face.
    • Additionally, if you have any third-party widgets running, disable them.
  • Disable continuous pulse ox monitoring if your watch supports it. You can usually find this setting in your watch’s settings menu, then select Pulse Ox > Tracking Mode.
  • 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 the 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 display features.
    • 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 you can’t find the source of your battery drain, consider installing a battery monitoring app on your watch.
  • 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 outdated, refresh your device’s software by heading to Settings > System > Software Update.

Other solutions:

  • If you feel your Garmin device is discharging way too quickly, even after following the above steps, we recommend contacting Garmin directly.

Problem #10: Music issues

An image of the Garmin Venu 2 Plus in hand showing Spotify offline downloads

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 encounter audio issues with your headphones connected to your Garmin. Here are a few ways to remedy these problems.

Potential solutions:

  • Try rebooting both the watch and your earbuds. If it’s a minor issue, this should resolve it.
  • Garmin suggests wearing your watch on your other wrist if the audio is still intermittently cutting out during training. This might prevent body interference if this is indeed a cause.
  • Facing connectivity dropouts? Garmin suggests using 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 still face 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 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, uninstall Spotify from your watch through Connect IQ if all else fails. Reboot your watch, then reinstall Spotify.

Problem #11: Garmin screen issues

A Garmin Venu Sq 2 on a user's wrist displays a watch face.

Garmin uses a slew of screen technologies across its watch range. There may be a few problems that you might encounter on your device.

General problems and solutions:

  • If you suspect a hardware fault of any kind, contact Garmin. This should be your first step if your device is still under warranty.
    • In the meantime, try restarting your device. If that doesn’t fix your issue, consider a factory reset. If it’s a software issue, this should solve it. Alternatively, this could cement the fact that it’s a hardware fault.
  • Some readers have called out Garmin devices’ “washed out” displays, especially at night.
    • If your device is old, it may simply be the display reaching the end of its working life. Newer devices should be returned to Garmin.

Fading pixels:

If you own an older Garmin device, your display’s pixels may start to fade or die. If you purchased the device seven years ago, it’s likely just the age of the hardware catching up to it. However, you might still be able to get suggestions from Garmin directly. Contact the company.

Unresponsive screen:

Your Garmin device’s display may not respond to touches or button presses. In this case, you have a few possible solutions:

  • Restart your Garmin device. You can find the process for your device in this section.
  • If this doesn’t work or your device refuses to switch off or restart, let the battery run dry. Once your wearable is dead, plug it into its charger and charge it 100%. Try to start it up once again.
  • If the device starts up but still isn’t responding, check for any updates on the Garmin Connect app on your phone if possible. Install any that are available. The update may contain a fix for your particular issue.

Blank display:

If your device’s screen remains blank or you spy a vertical grey, red, or green line across it, it has a hardware problem. Depending on your model, it may only require a battery replacement.


Problem #12: Garmin band issues

A user showcases the highly adjustable strap on her Garmin Instinct 2 series device.

Band breakage 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.
  • 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. For more information, read our short guide on Garmin watch warranties.
  • To reduce the likelihood of band breakage, try not to wear your band too tightly around your wrist. This will also reduce the stress on your arm and skin beneath your watch.

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:

Band rash issues

There’s a chance you are or have experienced watch band rash while wearing a device on your arm. Garmin devices aren’t exempt from this issue. If your band is causing wrist discomfort, there are a few things you could try to alleviate the problem

Potential solutions:

  • You can try regularly rotating your watch between your dominant and non-dominant wrists.
  • Ensure that the band isn’t too tight on your wrist. Sure, it needs to be snug, but loosen it a little if it’s restricting blood flow or chafing your skin.
  • Consider purchasing a new band made of a different material.
    • Some materials like elastic, nylon, metal mesh, or leather allow your skin to breathe more easily than silicone or TPU.
    • It’s also a good idea to have at least two bands, one for workout activities and the other for daily wear.
    • If you can’t afford a third-party band, clean and dry your stock band after workouts before placing it on your wrist again.
  • You can try contacting Garmin about the issue.
  • If none of these potential solutions fix your problem, contact your doctor or a dermatologist.

Problem #13: Assistant issues on the Garmin Venu 3 and Venu 2 Plus

A user access their voice assistant via their Garmin Venu 3.

Voice assistant support on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus and Venu 3 is a great addition to the company’s smartwatch line, but it can come unstuck. It’s not always an easy fix, but here’s how to troubleshoot assistant problems on the device.

Potential solutions:

  • Notably, as of April 2024, Garmin is still investigating the cause of a long-running Google Assistant connectivity issue on the Venu 2 Plus.
  • Generally, you can temporarily fix the issue by removing the Venu 2 Plus from your Garmin Connect profile, and then re-adding it.
    • To do this: Open Garmin Connect, then tap the three-line menu button. Tap Garmin Devices, select the name of your watch, tap the three-dot menu button, then Remove Device.
    • To re-add the device, head back to Garmin Devices, then tap Add Device. Follow the prompts.

How to restart your Garmin device

  • Garmin Venu 3/2/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/Sq 2: 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 5/4/4S: 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 965: 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 955/Solar: 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 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 265: 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 255/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 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 165/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 series: Press and hold the CTRL button until the device switches off. Hold CTRL to switch it back on again.
  • Garmin vivosmart 5: There’s no way to switch off or restart the vivosmart 5 physically.
  • Garmin vivomove 3: There’s no way to switch off or restart the vivomove 3 physically.
  • Garmin vivomove Trend: There’s no way to switch off or restart the vivomove Trend 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.