August 5, 2005

GPS Review Update: Garmin Vista, Legend and regular eTrex Shut Off Problems

A lot of our readers have complained about the Garmin eTrex Vista, the Garmin eTrex Legend or the Garmin eTrex units shutting off automatically when the GPS is mounted on a handlebar mount while cruising down a bumpy trail, or bumpy road. A while ago, we got in touch with Garmin Technical support, and they claimed that there was no known issue with the unit that would cause this. We have had the problems ourselves and we have a solution for you.

The issue is not some loose connection in the unit (sort of), and it is probably not something broken inside. It's most likely a case of the batteries losing their connection with the battery contacts as you hit those bumps. Here's a solution.


For the Rubber band-ectomy, you will need:

1. eTrex GPS (Ours is the Garmin eTrex Vista),
2. a Swiss Army Knife and
3. a thick rubber band, preferably about 1/4 inch.

We took the thick rubber band, and cut three small pieces out of it and stuck those pieces in behind the three bent metal end battery contacts. On the eTrex Vista, as you are looking at the back, ours has bent metal contacts on the lower left connector (positive end), and on both ends of the right battery. The battery contacts are folded over, and we stuck the rubber band inside this bend using the tweezers from the Swiss Army Knife (see picture at right). This will tighten up the battery contact and not allow the batteries to bounce around in there, losing contact for that split second that makes you go mad considering the lengthy boot time that you now have to deal with in the middle of a ride. When we put the batteries back in, it was a pretty snug fit, but not too tight. We have heard about this problem from mountain bikers, road bikers and ATV riders who hit the trail and can't rely on the GPS through all conditions. Now this little issue is solved. Thanks to Bill McCarthy for the submission.

Note: We haven't had these problems with the Garmin Vista C unit, but if we do, we'll let you know.

Read More in: GPS News | GPS Reviews | Garmin GPS Reviews | Handheld GPS Reviews

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Posted by Scott Martin at August 5, 2005 1:37 PM

Recent Comments

i have a garmin etrex venture it keeps shutting down. it comes on for about 5 seconds then goes off. i tried new batteries to no avail.


Posted by: dale at July 14, 2013 3:05 PM

I hope this is not dead, but just waiting for some refreshment...

Early tests suggest that with recording set to Manual/100m my eTrex will switch itself off unpredictably. With recording set to Auto/Medium it won't. I have no idea why this would be but it seems to be the case.

In previous situations I have found that Garmin will declare that none of their products have any faults and all perform "within the design parameters". In other words if they know it fails, they decide that is how it was designed, it performs as designed and is therefore perfect.

Anyone know a of a gps company that is run by managers, not layers?


Posted by: Victor Wilkins at August 21, 2011 2:03 PM

Derk D Feb.4,10....I had the same problem, the unit needs updating, If you cant do that go to setup menu and to system...turn off WAAS option. This will solve problem, unit will be less accurate (appprox.+/- 5 meters) but it will work.


Posted by: Larry Sloop at March 10, 2010 7:53 PM

I have a garmin etrex vista. While using it the screen goes out and it has verticle lines on it. Once this happens it will not do anything. I have friends that have the same Gps that are having the same problem. Is there anything that can be done to correct this?


Posted by: Derk Despain at February 4, 2010 2:09 PM

also have had prob w/etrex shutting off this yr. unit is 5 yrs old used only for hunting so not a vibration prob. will boot up thenshut down anytime within 3 min. will not stay on more than 3 min.


Posted by: don at November 30, 2009 2:41 PM

I have a handle bar mounted GPSMAP 60CS that has recently started exhibiting the problem of shutting off when hitting a bump (even small ones), and it is possible that the rubber band fix may help--I'll try it.
However, I previously had an eTrex Vista (at least five--serially replaced by Garmin by warranty). The problem was more than going over a bump. In addition to shutting off when going over a bump, all of the eTrex Vista units I had would shut off when the bike was stopped (at a traffic light for example) or even just sitting in the open on a picnic table. This occurred despite the rubber band fix, and despite using a variety of different battery brands--alkaline and rechargeable. Even though they replaced the units five times through warranty, Garmin denied there was any problem with the units. I'm wondering if anyone is experiencing similar problems with the newer eTrex units that accommodate a micro SD card, as I am interested in a Legend or Vista HC model, but hesitant . . .


Posted by: Stan at April 2, 2009 9:47 AM

I have just bought a Vista Etrex HCX - and just after loading all the latest updates it now powers off on connecting the USB cable to the lap top.
As the HCX only has a USB connection - and as the unit is never able to be on when connected, I have no way of downloading or updating the maps any more. My lap top still connects just fine to a GPSmap 60CS - so it is not the laptop or USB connection. I have tried all the resets - to no avail.
Any ideas on how to fix it !!!


Posted by: Mark at July 11, 2008 7:00 PM

Well this may help me. I actually have the vista C unit and this started happening to me a lot recently. I'll try to use this method for a possible resolution. Hope it works.


Posted by: Jason at September 22, 2007 5:26 PM

I have had these problems with eTrex Vista C very often. I will try your trick. Thank you very much!


Posted by: Dimitris at April 30, 2007 5:59 AM
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