How do I update Garmin maps for free?

how to update garmin maps for free- best gps tech

Any Garmin GPS device will need to be updated periodically, and this is especially true when it comes to Garmin maps. Garmin’s mapping system is quite extensive, and this has been true since its earliest GPS products up to the present day. Garmin does charge for map updates, but is there any way to get free maps updates for a Garmin GPS device?

To get free map updates for your Garmin GPS device, you can navigate to Garmin OpenStreetMap on a web browser to download the applicable software. You will need to choose routable maps and select your applicable continent and country to properly source the maps needed.

In this guide, we will explain exactly how you can get free Garmin map updates for your GPS device of choice. We will explore how older Garmin models can be updated as well as an explanation for how to get free map updates for newer GPS devices. Read on to find out more.

Is my Garmin device too old to update?

Most Garmin GPS devices will date back as far as the late-2000s. Many of the older models can certainly support newer map updates, and all you will need to integrate these maps to an older device is an SD card of around 2 gigabytes or so.

This much is needed since the new updates are far beyond what older models could adequately carry within their software.

Having a current and up-to-date GPS is essential for most everyday tasks, especially if you regularly go outdoors or drive extensively.

The great thing about Garmin is that this company designs its products to have at least a substantial amount of evergreen software potential, so as long as you can hold the space in a backup card, you can apply new updates.

The key to this is deciphering between updates that are free and updates that you need to pay for if you go through Garmin directly. So read on to find out more about how to get free updates no matter how old your Garmin GPS device is.

How often should I update Garmin maps?

This all depends based on the device in question. Some of the newer models of GPS devices do not need as many updates as models that are over 5 years of age.

Furthermore, it is not always guaranteed that Garmin will apply all updates automatically.

This is because many map updates may not be something that you would use extensively based on the performance tracking that your Garmin GPS device holds onto in its memory.

Updating Garmin maps process

To update the maps on your Garmin device, and to get free Garmin map updates as well, you will first need to go to the support section on the main Garmin site. You can then navigate to Garmin Express and download the software.

Keep in mind that if you have an older Garmin GPS unit, you can only update those devices that have LM or LMT.

Most Garmin NUVI devices will be compatible. If not, you may want to consider getting a new Garmin device to avoid the rather high price of updating older systems.

Make sure you have an applicable USB cable if your device requires it.

After the download, you will need to ensure your device has Net 2.0 and 3.0, but this will likely come with the download, so be sure to accept these features.

Once downloaded, launch Garmin Express and then click the icon to add a device. This will allow free Garmin map updates for your specific device.

Connect your device with the USB cable. Make sure you name the device so you will remember it, and then click ‘next,’ which should show you all the available free Garmin map updates for your device.

Click install to have all the updates synced into your Garmin devices.

If no available updates were found for your Garmin GPS, you can troubleshoot this by clicking the refresh button several times to ensure there are no updates available.

Garmin GPS back-up

After you have gotten free map updates for your Garmin GPS, it is also important to backup your Garmin unit. This is important as there may be various waypoints, operating system updates, predefined country updates, or other specifications that need to be updated as well.

To do this, open Garmin Express or leave it open from the free map update screen, and click on ‘tools and content.’ Once there, press ‘utilities,’ and then click ‘back-up now.’

This ensures that you now have the free map update and that your Garmin GPS is properly backed up.

This completes the process for free lifetime map updates on various Garmin GPS units.


Does the Garmin Nuvi 1350 have lifetime maps?

This device does have maps, but since it dates from 2011, it will need to be updated. Since this GPS device is much smaller than newer models, you will need to buy an SD card to hold the large zip file protocols of today. A 2-gigabyte SD card should suffice.

Like all Garmin GPS units, you can check to see if a free update for maps is available through the Express download. Granted there is enough space available on the SD card, and there should be with 2 gigs, you can easily install the map update.

Once the installation is done, you now have a Nuvi 1350 with new maps corresponding to the modern era. All it will cost is the price of an SD card.

Does Garmin charge for map updates?

With newer Garmin GPS devices, there is a charge for map updates. The price ranges are based on the individual model and the new map update costs for specific GPS products. The update process itself does not have a charge, but the specific maps do, especially on a new device.

Some map updates can run several hundred dollars on the Garmin website, so it is always good to check if there are any procedures you can follow to get free maps.

Is there any way to get a free Garmin map update?

Yes! All you will need is an SC card and an SD card reader. If you have a Sat Nav, this is a very easy method to follow. A Sat Nav is the easiest device for free map updates, but any GPS device can work with some tinkering.

For a Garmin Sat Nav, you should first open a web browser and go to Garmin Openstreet, which should be the first search result. Once there, make sure you select Generic Routable Maps and then select the continent and your relevant country to get the free maps available.

Once you select download map, make sure you select the last option for a compressed file. Keep in mind that you can only add maps that have turn-by-turn navigation.

You can then add various maps of your choosing by going to Google Maps and copying and pasting in the coordinates for the destination of your choosing. Once your maps of choice are integrated into the system, you can then navigate to the map sections of your device to check if the free maps have been properly integrated.

Does my Garmin have lifetime maps?

With a Garmin Nuvi, for example, there is a way to get free lifetime updates for maps. Open a search tab and go through the process of opening Express.

Once Express is open, make sure you have your device on and connected to your PC through a USB cord. Hit next to get your updates, and you now have all the free updates available for a Nuvi. The process works much the same for any Garmin GPS device.

You can also check Tools and Content for additional updates for your device.

Can I update Garmin maps without Garmin Express?

If you do not wish to use Express to download map updates, you can also perform the process manually. But this is truly not necessary since Express makes the process much easier and much less time-consuming.

You can do the process manually by getting the map update directly from the Garmin website. You will need to pay the fee required for the updates.


Updating the maps on your Garmin GPS device is easy and fast when using Garmin Express. If you wish to get free map updates, you can download the protocols found on Garmin OpenStreetMap which can be found with a simple Google search.

It is certainly worth doing, since you can get all the map updates you need for free when going through the process in this method. You can also update very old Garmin GPS device’s such as a Sat Nav or any of the older Nuvi device’s granted you use an SD card and have a USB cord.

Attaining free map updates for your Garmin device is certainly worth looking into since the cost charged by Garmin can be quite substantial based on the device that needs updating.

Got more questions about the Garmin features? Read these:

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