How To Update Garmin Maps – An Easy Guide

  • By: Dylan
  • Date: February 4, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Table of Contents

This post was updated on the 1st April 2020

 You have a brand new Garmin sat nav your delighted with it? Great however, have you checked to see if the maps on your device are up to date? There’s not much point in having sat nav maps that are out of date. Here I’m going to look at how you can easily update your Garmin maps.

One Way System Street SignOne Way System – My Confusion

Ok, so roads don’t usually change the layout that much over the years, but sometimes you can find yourself in a bit of a pickle. Around our way, a number of the local roads have become part of a one-way system. It’s a system that works well if you know your way around it correctly. 

Unfortunately, if you don’t then there’s every possibility that you’ll spend an extra 10 minutes circling around the loop once again. Not quite the end of the world, but if it’s you driving around the block a couple more times than is necessary it’s very very frustrating!

The roads around where we live changed to this one-way system earlier this year. In fairness, we had received a number of informational leaflets about the forthcoming change and did feel that we were well prepared. Well, what I mean is that I glanced at them thoroughly before throwing them into the recycling bin.

GPS Reliance

Previously I hadn’t given much thought into how much I relied upon my little sat nav. In fact, my reliance on these little devices probably goes far beyond what is normal. Without that little speaking box in my life, I’d be properly lost. I mean, she’s the only one that doesn’t get annoyed with me when I take the wrong turn. In fact, all she does is quietly and calmly reroute my journey without much fuss. There aren’t many people I can say that about! What I did find remarkable though was that I am usually completely ‘lost’ without one. 

I still totally rely on the straightforward navigational advice even on those everyday commuting journeys. Initially, the main reason was because I didn’t know the route, then it was because of the traffic updates. These are fantastic at helping me to avoid those rush hour traffic jams. Today the sat nav is an intrinsic part of any car journey that I take – she is the voice of sanity in what can be a very chaotic cabin at times. There’s only so many times that you can listen to the soundtrack of ‘Frozen’ in the car!

Confusion Reigns

Going back to the one-way system and without digressing too much, the rerouting of the roads played havoc with the sat nav. It kept telling me to turn right where now there was a big red sign that read ‘No Entry’. As it happened I had to travel a good bit further up ahead before I was able to turn right. I then had to track back on myself and eventually turn left in order to have turned right (as I had initially wanted to do!) – confused? 

Well, I was confused. Rightly perplexed. And the sat nav didn’t have a clue either. What should have been an easy and straightforward escape from our little urban area had become complicated. To make matters worse the sat nav was of no use whatsoever with the new road layouts. Just like me, my trusty device just didn’t know where to turn!

Therefore, in order to prevent this from happening it’s important to update and check your Garmin maps regularly. Plug your device into the computer and take a look at what updates are available. You may decide not to do any updates but, at least you’ll be aware of what’s available.

Most manufacturers release new map updates a few times each year. Depending on the device that you own these may well be free to registered users. If they’re not free then it may well be worth purchasing an update every so often to ensure that your map details are correct. As a bare minimum with a sat nav purchase you typically get at least one free map update within 30 days of purchase.

How To Update Garmin Maps

In days gone past updating your sat-nav devices was a right pain. You’d have to order a CD and then wait for it to arrive by mail. The technology was still in its infancy and therefore, it was still rather a tad bit exciting to receive the new update in the post. Alas, all that nostalgia has now long since disappeared to be replaced by a cold practicality.

Today, the process is much easier as the map updates are only a click and a download away. The process is typically managed through the manufacturers own propriety software. This is custom-designed to ensure that your little device is kept happy. 

What they don’t tell you though is that the whole process can sometimes seem to last as long as the CD in the mail took to arrive. For some reason, a number of Gps map updates are notoriously slow to transfer onto your sat nav. I’m not too sure why this is, as the file sizes themselves are fairly small in comparison. Perhaps I shall investigate further in a future post, but for now, it suffices to say that it can be more than a little annoying having to wait so long. Take a look at the problems I encountered on the TomTom Go 500.

Step By Step Guide

Software Download

  1. Download the Garmin Express Application here
  2. Install the Application
  3. Connect your Garmin device to your computer – using the USB cable
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions

The Garmin Express Application should detect which maps you have installed. It will also provide you with details of which updates are available for your device. 

The newer maps released by Garmin tend to have more information and additional Points of Interest within the file. This will mean that they require some further storage space on your device. If you do not have enough space on the device then, unfortunately you may need to purchase an additional memory card. This will provide enough space for the full updated maps to sit on the device.  

It still baffles me why the manufacturers don’t provide enough space on their devices initially. This is particularly annoying when the price of storage has dropped substantially in recent years.

Hopefully you won’t have to sit around waiting of too long for the updates to complete!

[wpsm_button color=”orange” size=”big” link=”” icon=”none”]Go to Amazon for Micro SD Cards[/wpsm_button]

The above Amazon link is for an SD card compatible with the following devices:
Compatible with the following DriveLuxe models: 51, 51LMT-D, 51LMT-S / 50, 50LM, 50LMT, 50LMT-D, 50LMTHD
Compatible with the following Drive models: 61, 61LM, 61LMT-S / 60LM, 60LMT / 51, 51LM, 51LMT-S / 50, 50LM, 50LMT / 40, 40LM, 40LMT
Compatible with the following DriveSmart Series models: 70, 70LM, 70LMT, 70LMT-D / 61, 61LMT-D, 61LMT-S / 60, 60LM, 60LMT, 60LMT-D, 60LMTHD / 51, 51LMT-D, 51LMT-S / 50, 50LMTHD, 50LM, 50LMT, 50LMT-D

Garmin have released the following updated videos on how to update your devices using either a Mac or a PC.

How To Update Your Garmin On A Mac

How To Update Your Garmin On A PC

If you have any problems with updating your maps then please do let me know. It’s always useful to let other readers know of any potential difficulties. I can then amend this guide in order to reflect these problems so that they can avoid them in the future.

  1. Hi there,

    I am glad I stumbled upon your site as you do seem to be an expert on sat nav’s.

    I would like to buy one, but it must be portable, I’d like to use it as handheld device, perhaps mount on my scooter and bicycle as well as the car.

    Essential that I can tag places like, where I stay, hotels, restaurants and pubs, etc. Be able to load in maps of Asia, as well as Europe as I travel a lot.

    Long battery life, plug in rechargeable preferred.

    Your help, advice appreciated.

    Thank you kindly in advance.

    1. Hi Derek,

      I’m delighted you find my site useful and thanks for the kind comments.

      The Montana 680 is a good solid device for multi activities. It is a little pricey but it does provide a number of features. it has a long battery life of around 15 hours and can take the normal AA batteries (useful if your out and about on your travels). The screen isn’t as big as a normal vehicle GPS but that’s ok if you need it as a handheld. It’s a rugged device that you can also get a holder for your bicycle – great for those off road trips! You can read some reviews of it here Garmin Montana 680

      Oh and I also recommend getting some screen protectors if your going to be out in the wild!



  2. I just viewed your site and I think it’s great and it’s easy to navigate – like a sat nav!

    This is handy information for me as tonight I’m going to be updating my Garmin maps. I’m also happy to see that those Micro SD cards aren’t too expensive to purchase.



    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks a million for stopping by and I’m delighted the article was of use to you.

      Good luck with the map updating!



  3. Thanks – I think you just saved me some money! I was looking to upgrade my GPS but I think I am now going to try and upgrade the maps instead. This guide really helped me understand better how to bring my maps up to date and what problems to watch out for. Would you believe I have not updated my ROVI since I got it – 7 year ago! Wish me luck!

    1. Hi Scott,

      I’m very glad that I may have saved you some money! Hopefully once you’ve updated the GPS you’ll be driving around with no problems. Once any road changes and any new routes are updated you should have hassle free motoring.

      If you run into any problems feel free to drop me a line – always happy to help.



  4. Hi Dylan
    I’m trying to up-date the maps on my Garmin Nuvi 2599 – purchased with lifetime map up-dates
    I get into the process with garmin express and hit the wall of…”This Garmin GPS is not eligilbe for up-date as previous map version not installed”
    Any help much appreciated

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