Garmin GPS Map Update 2009 And Some Tips

Note: This is the short version. Last week on my personal blog I wrote a very long-winded article about the Garmin City Navigator North America NT Map Update 2009. And yes the title of the product is in fact that long. But anyway, if you want to read up on what I think Garmin needs to do in order to keep up with the times as far as map updating goes, read up if you wish.

If you have a Garmin StreetPilot c3xx, c5xx, the big units like the 2720/2730 or any nuvi series and live in North America, this update applies to you. No, it is not free and yes, that makes people upset they have to pay for it. However that’s the way things are at present with Garmin and map updates.

We’ll leave the pay factor aside for the time being and concentrate on how to make the map update process smooth and easy.

Step 1. Where to get it?

Register your Garmin GPS at the Garmin web site. All you need is the unit so you can enter in the serial number that’s physically printed on it.

Once registered you will have the option to purchase the update you need.

Step 2. DVD or download?

Get the DVD in the mail. The download takes way too long. Remember, it is a DVD’s worth of information we’re talking about.

Step 3. Install the latest Garmin USB drivers.

Grab those from here. It’s a fast install and painless. To note: Windows (and even OS X) will usually automatically install the drivers, but it’s better to get them manually just to be on the safe side.

Step 4. Plug in the GPS to your computer.

Step 5. CLOSE apps

This is the #1 reason why people have any problem with updating a Garmin GPS. They have a bunch of CRAP running, such as instant messengers, web browsers and so on. This does nothing but SLOW THE PROCESS DOWN. Whether your using Windows or OS X, close those frickin’ apps and KEEP them closed until the update is completed.

Step 6. Pop in the DVD and follow the instructions.

Step 7. Wait. A long time.

The update process takes 1 to 2 hours to complete.

For those wondering why it takes so unbelievably long to complete, remember once again we’re talking about a DVD’s worth of data here transferring over USB. Have you ever transferred over 4GB of data over USB? If you have then you know how long it takes.

There many be instances where the updating program appears to lock up. Trust me when I say it’s not. You just have to wait and be patient. It will complete.

I have performed map updates several times on several different Garmin GPS units. It always takes a long time. As long as you have no apps (or as little apps as possible) running and are patient, the update will complete successfully.

The 2009 update to date has been the easiest by far. The updater app did exactly what it was supposed to do and now I enjoy the latest-and-greatest map data set on my c580.

How to report map inaccuracies

If while driving you see a road that is marked incorrectly, or the intersection that is labeled wrong, or a business listed that is no longer there or the like, remember the following:

Garmin does not provide the map data.

NAVTEQ does.

If you want to report a map inaccuracy, head over to This is where you report inaccuracies. It’s free and stupidly easy to report map errors there.

So if you ever wondered how you can easily report map issues, there you go. No calling or e-mailing necessary.


  1. So, just HOW worth it is it to update to 2009. I live in Canada, do a little driving in the US, but not a lot. I just have a little Nuvi 250W, so if the updates are for bells and whistles, it won’t do me much good (e.g. the only specific I have seen is for better pronunciation of street names – no good for me!) The POI’s are nice, but not a deal breaker, as this is primarily an A to B tool. If this is a 2009 version, when was it actually mapped (same question for the 2008 version)ie. how “new” is the newest road or POI on the map? I guess it boils down to, if the 2008 hasn’t sent me in the wrong direction yet, is there any real reason to get the 2009, and if I don’t get it, are the updates incremental or can I jump right to 2010 if they release one in another year?

  2. Sharri, don’t bother updating your software until you believe you need to do so. I just updated the software on my unit and it is missing a lot of local businesses and new roads. Since Garmin has changed its policy of allowing two units to be updates as of may 2007, it doesn’t make sense to update religiously. Maybe if they knocked the price of updates down, but not at US$70.

  3. I just bought a Nuvi 750 last month and it has the “2009” version of the mapping software. Let me tell you, this software HAD to be created at least three or four years ago, because there are a lot of places that don’t even show up on it and many more that show up wrong! For example, my house is shown as being on the opposite side of the street with a number that doesn’t even exist, even if I go to the far corner of my back yard which is at least 200 feet from the street. I have used it around town and it gives wrong directions at least 10% of the time. I like the unit, but the so-called “2009” software is WAAAAY out of date!

  4. I tried to update my Garmin GPS, but my computer said I didn’t have enough space, needed 37MB. I got a SDHC and it didn’t work, so I got a regular SD and it still said I didn’t have enough space, needed 37 MB extra space. I am confused. Help!

    • This is a little late, but your computer meant the space on your hard rives computer not the space on GPS.

  5. I have a Nuvi 200W and got the same message – I believe it is the Nuvi that is short on space, not your computer – although it is certainly possible that your computer may be short also – I copied all the files from the Nuvi sub folders “Help”, “Text” and “Voice” onto my computer as a back up – then I deleted all the folders from the “Help” folder except the “American_English” folder – I deleted all the files from the “Text” folder and I deleted all the files from the “Voice” folder except “english_american_.sum” and “English_American_.vpm” –

    At this point the install is proceeding – I am hoping that I don’t need any of those other language files for my Nuvi 200W to work properly –

    Good Luck

    Larry Holbrook

  6. I just bought and installed a 2009 update for my street pilot c330 and yes, from a CD it took about an hour.
    My question is – I was given 4 options lower 48 states, Canada and border states, east, west. I loaded the lower 48 states but can I load the other programs or are they mutually exclusive options.
    You would think for $70 there would be a little information loaded on the disk about what it contains.
    Jim McCain

  7. Gary Cassard says:

    I am amazed that the map update card instructions say nothing about how to do this and how long it takes. I will be very disappointed if it is as accurate as the 2008 or whatever I have in it. I purchased it in 2008 and found bank locations that have not existed for 4 years. How can that be good for Garmin. We need a quick and easy way for these guys to make changes to the info. Perhaps if you reported x number of accurate changes, you would be tracked by provider and earn your way to a new enhancement from the company. You know, let your good customers make your product better so you can be competitive.

  8. Folks.. of all the Garmin features and functions, I am not impressed and very dissappointed on the way they provide service to it’s customers. You should be able to at least get a single update or upgrade after an intial purchase, and their so called freebees are mostly junk (if you can even find one that looks good). The costs of their maps are way too high…. as it would be easier & cheaper to just pick up an AAA map from your insurance company (which are usually free for members).
    I switched to the TomTom Go and found it much more appealing and so many more features. Major map updates still cost, but you can alo join a group for free which allows you to download map updates as members pass on to the group site. This of course only updates bit pieces at a time, but hey… it’s still providing free updates as they are found. After all.. do you really need an update to the whole USA if you never leave your own state? So why buy it? (at least at the high csts they usually want). If they brought these prices down, they’d still make a good profit just off of quantity sold vice rip-off prices.
    My personal choice now is that if you want a better GPS… look elsewhere than Garmin (until they revamp or change their ways & policies). Can’t say TomTom is the best, but does have 4 times the features and freebies than Garmin. Oh.. also, when you connect your GPS to your computer and then to the TomTom site, the software will automatically detect updates, items on your device, and other neat features needed or available. Very user friendly too!
    So… sorry Garmin (& users), I’m dumping my c330 and going elsewhere. (TomTom GO at the moment)
    The only thing Garmin allowed me to get free was a small update to the system software, which I doubt even helped me out for what needed. (fm 6.0 to 6.1 – whoopee)
    P.S. maps made a vailable should at least be every 6 months.. oh and by the way.. that site whereyou can report changes.. what good is that to you? It does not provide you feedback or an update with what others also gave. All it is doing is providing more information to Garmin for their updates which they turn around and charge you for… maybe a year later… if they are even that fast… ?

    • Hi Dave, Customer Service of Garmin SUCKS. They are rude, unfriendly and frankly have a ‘know all’ attitude. I updated my streetpilot 2610 to City navigator Europe 2009 and it’s indicating the wrong strreet names. Phoned them and they couldn’t help me, as they took this update out of of the market. RIGHT, so I have a perfectly functionning STREETPILOR 2610, giving me wrong streetnames (but correct ‘directions’ to drive from a to b) and they don’t support it. ‘Buy a newer Garmin the guy told me. Well, I BOUGHT A TOMTOM….they are more friendly, works MUCH better than Garmin and its a EUROPEAN company. GARMIN won’t see ME back as a customer…..

      • So you called for support on a product that’s been discontinued for years. That’s like calling Microsoft for support for Windows 98. Of *course* Garmin will tell you to use a product they currently support. Discontinued means discontinued and not, “I’ll call for help on something I know can’t be supported, but maybe if I YELL LOUD ENOUGH they’ll help me out. And when they don’t, I’ll find the nearest blog and say that they ‘suck'”.

        And no kidding that a new GPS unit (no matter the make or model) routes better. Wow, who would have guessed..

  9. Hi Folks… back again to add one more thing. In my previous comment I may have sounded a bit strong on the Garmin company in general. Don’t get me wrong or misunderstand, as I do think Garmin makes some really good stuff (& hardware), however their policies and customer support is where they really lack!
    The site and features, not to mention basic oeprating systems should be more user friendly. And why not give a little more to your customers to keep them as well as make them happy? Why do they have to make such a big profit over a little map, instead of a little profit over “REGULAR” updates a little more often than once a year or so, right?
    Oh… and it would sure be nice if they could actually give you more info as to “What” was update as well as the ”
    Date” for those last updates! I don’t blame anyone for being angry over buying an update that is still a year or so old! Especially at the cost they ask! Garmin GPS systems work great for what they are designed to do (based off of model of course…) but they would be so much better if they improve the software and the support. Treat their customers & owners with more respect and friendliness and stop being so greedy.
    With so many competitors now… you’d think they would want to keep the customers they have. The way I see it, they are going to lose them instead… especially if the customer looks at & compares the other systems out there.
    Good luck at what you decide… after all… this is only my view & opinion. I am not an expert at these things, but I do know what I like and what works for me and have compared several systems etc against each other. Good luck with whatever your choice of GPS.
    (note: even many of the new cell phones now have GPS available which do so with your service (at cost of course) but you at least always have the most up to date maps.)

  10. Tom Robinson says:

    I have a 260W Garmin that does everything I want except give me the speed limit when I travel on major roads. Is there any way I can add it to my unit; possibly with an update or software add on?

    Thanks for reading this

  11. You started out by mentioning the cost and charging for multiple units. In my opinion this one of the worst things that Garmin could have done. We own two units, one each for my wife and I, when I updated for the 2008 we had an option to update a similar registered version. This is no longer the case and, considering the advances that other manufacturers are making, such as real time traffic updates from other users or gas station pricing, Garmin is putting itself at a disadvantage and will be hearing about on the discussion boards.

  12. Lost Lissa says:

    $69.99 for a map update, to a device that cost well over $200.00… WTH???? I found a business, on the gps, drove all over the city looking for it and kept hearing, “recalculating” whuh? I turned left when it said turn left, I made U turns when it said make U-turns… and now, $70 to update the maps so it won’t get me lost? OR at least FIND the place? The ONLY place Garmin has successfully taken me is to the zoo, oh and the football stadium, other then that… I go in circles… $70 dollars for an update… GEEZ. They are lucky they are still in business in this economy!

  13. Lux Lucis says:

    Why do you guys need updated POI’s? I have an older Garmin, and whenever I need to find a business that is not in my GPS, I just enter the address. Works 95% of the time, without any need to pay for map upgrades.

  14. Is there anywhere where you can take your GPS to be updated.

  15. Mark Hubsch says:

    I recently took a trip to Niagra Falls New York and was amazed how my Garmin 200 took me off the highway and got me traveling over local roads in New York state. While pretty, the route was far from direct or fast. I was taken through New York City as well, rather than around it. So what’s with the routiing program? I googled the question, ” Why does my Garmin take me the long way?” and you would not believe how many people are having the same problem with bad routing.

  16. SARAH OLSEN says:

    my friend has a TOMTOM gps navigation device…so i decided to buy a Gramin because i wanted a differnt companys GPS system..
    I did not want to have the same device company as my friend…once i bought a Gramin device…the first week i was practicing how to use the device…
    i thought that i didnt know how to operate the system…
    one problem out of a thousand was that when i put an address in the GARMIN device..
    it said ”no match found” but when i compared it to my friend whom has a TOMTOM gps device
    it provided the i decided to return the deivce to where i bought it…
    where i bought it they had a return poilicy that says you may return it
    within the 15 days… and i returned it on the 16th day and they didnt take it back because i was only a day late—which is so unfairr.. and i payed $367.49..
    so all i could do was to use it cause there was nothing else i could do..and plus i payed alot for the gps system..and also they didnt take it backk…so
    i thought maybe i could do something about the i went on the garmin website.. .
    because i wanted to download some maps that were on there website which
    said they were free once i clicked on the link it asked me to pay.. how is it possible for such a link to say it is
    free but once you click on it .. it is asking you to pay for the maps..there website givess me a
    headache all the time..the site is not true to its word or advertising…IT IS FALSE ADVERTISTING!!!!
    so from that day on when i had the problems with the address and gramins website…
    i made sure that none of my friends who want to buy a gps system does NOTTT buy a GARmin…and i am true to my word on that
    and i also make sure that they dont buy a Gramin gps until GRAMIN fixes there website on free downloads friends and i instead of buying a Gramin they have bought a TOMTOM and so have i
    and since then I havent had any problems with my TOMTOM…TOMTOM
    gps naviagation systems are waayy better.. and there
    websites are awsome.

    i believe that they should give feed back and take care of there customers respectfully.

    • Oh. Good. Lord. Child-speak. Well, based on how much I could translate:

      The reason your “Gramin” was unable to be returned after 14 days is due to the vendor and not Garmin corporation.

      Each Garmin automotive GPS device offers one, and just one, free map update – but it requires you to have a free MyGarmin account. It is not “FALSE ADVERTISING”, as you put it. Not in the slightest.

      If you want to tell your friends to “NOTTT” buy “Gramin” GPS devices, feel free. You probably cannot locate addresses in your “Gramin” because it can’t correct your unbelievably poor spelling.

  17. SARAH OLSEN says:

    i believe that GARMIN gave you something left over to eat thats why you are siiting in there gate 🙂 and your supporting false advertising.

    • I believe you need to go back to school to understand the difference between a possessive and an indicative. “Their” and not “there”, “you’re” and not “your”.

  18. I have had a Garmin Nuvi 250 (now discontinued) for a couple of years. For the most part, it has served me well. It does at times route me around Robin’s barn instead of a shorter more convenient route. The maps need updating. I have taken a few long trips and due to new highways, streets, roads that no longer exist, I ended up getting lost and forced to use a paper map. My complaint, as voiced by others, is the cost for updates. To purchase a lifetime plan isn’t worth it either. Technology changes are so frequent, the better bet is to buy a new GPS. Also, just how long will my Nuvi continue to function, considering it had to be replaced 6 mos after I purchased it. (Thank God not at my expense). I am now researching just what is out there in features, cost, and map update plans. Garmin is no longer a consideration.

    Rich Menga has surely waved his flag for Garmin, leaving the impression he may be a Garmin employee!!!!!

  19. Flyingman says:

    Hey, I just updated my 2006 maps successfully. Took about 6 hours or so, but well worth it I think. How can anyone expect to get free updates for maps when it is a major job to maintain this. Stop whining and enjoy the technology.

  20. I did not know that “Each Garmin automotive GPS device offers one, and just one, free map update – but it requires you to have a free MyGarmin account. ” I do have a MyGarmin account, but I don’t see anything about free map updates. What’s that all about?

  21. Currently have a Nuvi 200W twith old maps.

    Updated maps cost $69, but I can buy a refurb Nuvi 255W for $99. For $30 more I get newer technology, updated maps and a backup GPS i can give to my mom. No brainer.

  22. Kathi Jingling says:

    I have a nuvi 755. I followed your instructions to access the website and register the product. It quickly progressed to the point where it asked me to plug in the USB cable and it appeared to be moving forward with the download. I’m assuming I didn’t wait around long enough for it to offer me the option of having the DVD mailed? There was also no mention about a fee for the update. I left the site because I didn’t want to tie up my computer tonight. Could something major have changed through Garmin? Did they stop charging for the updates? Or am I just thinking wishful thoughts? 🙂

  23. I bought a Garmin nuvi 255W last year. Big mistake – doesn’t work very well in providing verbal directions, and not that 1st free map update from

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