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How to Get Upgrades for your Garmin GPS

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 7/27/2010

Garmin GPS devices need to be upgraded occasionally in terms of their mapping software and navigational aids. The process is relatively easy once you learn the information provided below. Convenient links directly to Garmin are also here so you can have your Garmin up-to-date in a matter of minutes.

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    Additional Bright Hub Resources Regarding Maps

    Before we delve into how to get upgrades for your Garmin GPS devices, understanding how the maps and navigational aids designed for Garmins work might be beneficial. So, in case you're not up to speed on the map software exclusive to Garmin GPS products, you might want to read Garmin MapSource Information for some very helpful general information about this software. A quick link in that series will also hook you up with details regarding GPS maps in general that you might not be aware of plus Topo maps from some of the most reputable third party providers. The Topo maps are phenomenal for the portable handheld Garmin GPS devices designed for outdoor enthusiasts, and, since we are talking about updates here, conditions in wilderness (trails, contours, elevations) areas that Topo maps predominantly cover don't change.

    However, road maps, city guides, and Points of Interest (POIs) do frequently change from year to year for reasons ranging from failed businesses to the construction of brand new roads and interchanges, which is why upgrades are so important. Garmin recognizes the necessity to update and innovate its map products and, therefore, makes it relatively painless to acquire them on their website or with a CD-ROM. Unfortunately, the upgrades usually are not free. Glitches or defects discovered along the way in any of their models should, however; be fixed and/or upgraded when they occur. Should that be your problem, several different means for contacting Garmin customer service are detailed in the article referenced above, so just click on it.

    In case you're wondering if Garmin will upgrade the actual GPS model you own to a newer version with more advanced technology, be assured that you're not alone. That is why they list this Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) on their website and then answer with an unequivocal no "almost always" as they state. However, they do "on occasion" offer trade in opportunities. Be sure and check their Current Promotions Page if you're feeling lucky.

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    Upgrading your GPS Unit with Garmin

    It's important to be a little proactive in terms of looking out for upgrades for your GPS device. If you're not, you might remain in the dark about the availability of them, especially any that might be free. Keeping your navigational GPS up to date allows you to get the maximum benefit out of your particular unit. You do this by checking out the Software Updates & Downloads on the Garmin website. For most of the updates, you can either download directly from the site or by a CD they send you depending upon your preferences and the operating system of your PC.

    Be advised that Garmin's flagship software for automotive navigating City Navigator is updated annually each June. You may be able to find third party vendors that sell additional mapping software or updates for Garmins on your own with a little Web searching. But, for the purposes of this article, I will stick to the most reliable source: the company that made your device that should stand behind service and support and is somewhat lauded for its commitment to keeping its customers happy and up to date. By accessing and surfing the Garmin website, you can keep the pivitol mapping capabilities up to date and locked on.