Garmin’s Repair Center
Garmin GPS repair for out-of-warranty products is actually quite easy with Garmin's flat-rate repair center. Years ago they used to take your GPS unit, diagnose it, send you a quote and wait for your authorization to proceed, but they found that a very costly and labor-intensive undertaking. Thus, they instituted the flat-rate repair center. No matter what is wrong with your GPS unit, Garmin will repair it for one flat cost. They overhaul it as best they can, giving the same treatment to each unit, and even load the latest software on it that they can. This is an excellent service. The warranty on new units is one year, which works sufficiently well for most defects. But if you have an older unit, it may give out simply from being used extensively over the years.
You may know why your GPS isn't working. If it stopped working right after you dropped it in your extra-large soda, you already have the problem in mind. However, it may be a little more mysterious. Maybe it just doesn't turn on anymore. Before sending your Garmin GPS back to the factory, there are a few things to check to do some quick diagnoses to user-serviceable parts.
Check the Fuse
Your GPS, just like almost all electrical devices, has a fuse that keeps it from getting a power surge. The fuse for your Garmin GPS device is located in the plug that goes in the cigarette lighter of your car. This is considered a user-serviceable part. Unscrew the plug and find the fuse. Remove it and look at the thin wire inside. Sometimes you will be able to see a break if it is burned out but other times it is not so obvious. You can test it with a multimeter or simply replace it. Automotive fuses can be purchased for a couple dollars at your local auto parts store. To me, a couple dollars is a good investment before spending money on shipping and repair costs.
Check Your Cigarette Lighter
Simply checking the fuse is not enough. You have to determine whether the unit is actually getting power from the cigarette lighter. One easy way to figure this out is to plug in the element that might light a cigarette. If it gets hot, your lighter plug is working. If you are like me and lost that little gizmo years back, you can still check it, again, by using a multimeter. If the lighter is working and the fuse is working, you can determine that the GPS is broken and that you should send it to the Garmin GPS repair center.
If the lighter is not putting out power, go back a step further and check your automotive fuse block. Your fuse block will have a little map that can guide you to the fuse for the cigarette lighter. If that fuse is blown, replace it and you should be back in business. If it keeps blowing every time you use your GPS, chances are that you have a bad GPS unit that is drawing too much power. Send it back for repair.
Written from author's experience working on cars and diagnosing automotive problems.