Your Garmin GPS device can be a powerful tool when you’re driving through uncharted territory, but the device won’t be much help if you can’t get it to power on. In most cases a hard reset can resolve whatever software problem the device is experiencing, but some Garmin units shipped with a known issue that prevents them from booting after a software update. Clearing out software bugs will allow your device to boot cleanly.
The other day, my Garmin Fenix 3 that I love just decided not to turn on. I went to start a workout, saw the screen flash on and off a few times and then it just died. Nothing I did would get it to turn on and I tried everything I know. I’m quite familiar with the watch itself and with Garmin products having owned quite a few over the years so I know all of the usual troubleshooting steps. I’ve written a number of helpful posts about the Garmin Fenix 3 in the past, including a very popular Garmin Fenix set up guide. I therefore tried the various
- Soft Reset
- Hard Reset
- Factory Reset options
I also tried charging it overnight just in case the battery was flat – it was on around 75% charge when it happened but I thought I’d charge it just to be sure. I was hoping to try connecting the watch to my computer as a USB mass storage device so that I could remove files from it just in case a corrupt file was causing the problem, but there was just no life in it at all so it wasn’t recognised by the computer.
I did have a sneaking suspicion though that there was a problem with the Back/Lap button on the watch. It didn’t have it’s usual positive feel to it so maybe it was jammed in. Having the Back/Lap button pressed in may just explain why there was no life in it.
Garmin Support – Gone Downhill
By now I’d tried contacting Garmin Support but had no joy. I’ve used them quite a bit in the past as my Garmin 910XT had recurring barometric altimeter issues. Because of this I’d had my Garmin 910XT replaced at least 4 times so have always been quite impressed with Garmin Support. In the end though I discovered a really easy fix for the Barometric Altimeter issue on the 910XT – All that was required was to give it a bit of a scrub with soapy water. Thankfully, since figuring this out, the fix had kept my 910XT working flawlessly ever since and had helped countless other people too. No doubt it had saved Garmin a fair amount in returns and replacements as well. Although quite why Garmin themselves never worked this out and recommended it as a fix themselves I’ll never know.
My 910XT had been sat in a box in the cupboard for a few years but with my Fenix 3 not working it came out of retirement and was being used for my workouts. It was still working and the fact that I now had a method for fixing the altimeter meant that I hadn’t contacted Garmin Support for 4 or 5 years. Unfortunately it seems as though they aren’t as good as they used to be. I’ve sent 3 messages via their support form online, I’ve sent emails direct to them and I’ve even sent direct messages to their Twitter account about the issue but haven’t had a reply from any of them. I’ve tried returning the Fenix 3 using the Garmin online returns system but it won’t let me do so. It just gives me a message saying that it can’t be returned for repair or replacement and that I have to contact support. I’ve tried that, but they won’t reply.
Another easy Fix for my Garmin Fenix
All is not lost though, whilst talking to Anna about it, and mentioning the possibly jammed button I was wondering if it was worth me taking it apart to see if I could fix it myself. It was out of warranty, it wasn’t working so I couldn’t make it much worse and I was running out of options. Anna then suggested giving it a good scrub with soapy water just like I used to with the 910XT. OK, it wasn’t a case of a clogged barometric altimeter this time but maybe a good clean would free up the stuck button.
Would you believe it, it seems to have worked. I scrubbed it in hot soapy water with a toothbrush, paying particular care to the area around the buttons and it seems to have worked. The Back/Lap button still isn’t quite as positive a click as it used to be so it might get stuck again, but when I pressed the On/Off (Light) button it powered up and seems to be working fine.
So there you have it, yet again, a good clean maybe all that is needed if you have a Garmin Fenix series watch that won’t turn on. It may be all that’s needed for any Garmin product it would seem.