How To Update The Maps On Your Sat-Nav

Reviewed April 2024


All new Garmin automotive sat-navs (car, motorcycle, truck and camper van) come with free map updates for the life time of the device (often this can be 5+ years if they are well looked after).

1. I have an older sat-nav between 5 - 10 years old, all I want is to update my Ireland & UK maps.

If your device comes with free lifetime map updates then go to step 2 below.

If your device does not have lifetime map updates then the bad news is that Garmin no longer offer Ireland & UK map updates via either microSD or as a download from their website, therefore your only option is to purchase a new device.  There are a few reasons why purchasing a new sat-nav is worth considering:

  • All modern sat-navs come with free lifetime map updates (which are released every 3-4 months)
  • All now include address searching using Eircodes (Ireland new postcode system) which is a game changer
  • You will be getting the latest tech which means faster, more accurate devices that are easier to use
  • While smartphones offer good navigation capability and are great for short trips, there is nothing like a GPS chip in a phone to drain the battery
For a basic 'says it on the tin' Europe model with Ireland and UK maps we recommend the Garmin Drive 53 with Live Traffic.  It has everything you need to get you from A to B with the option of live traffic information if you pair the device to the Garmin Drive app on your smartphone.  Details of the unit can be found here:

Garmin Drive 53 Europe
Garmin Drive 53 Europe with Live Traffic

Add Garmin Drive 53 Europe to cart
This is a straightforward sat-nav with a 5" display, driver alerts, million of points of interest, and compatible with BC40 and BC50 reversing cameraa.

If you would prefer a bigger screen (with a bigger price) then you are looking at the Garmin DriveSmart series.

2. My sat-nav comes with free lifetime map updates

If you have a Garmin Drive, Drivesmart or an older nuvi with a "LM" designation, for example, the nuvi 2415LM or nuvi 2597LM then your device comes with free lifetime map updates.

TIP: A number of recent Garmin sat-nav editions have WiFi access capability that allow you to update the maps on your device wirelessly.  Unless your broadband connection is very reliable we do not recommend wireless updating as some of the map files are insanely large and any dropped wireless signal means a lengthy updating process.

You update the maps on your sat-nav using Garmin Express which you download from Garmin's website and install on your PC or Mac.

Once downloaded and installed, the update process is relatively straightforward.  You connect your sat-nav to your PC or Mac using the USB cable that came in the box or you can just try a standard USB cable from another device which will normally work.   Before starting the update process just make sure that the battery in the sat-nav is not depleted and that there is some charge.

After the sat-nav is connected, Garmin Express will automatically detect your sat-nav, so follow the on-screen instructions. Selecting the default options is the safest.

If all goes to plan, not only will the latest maps for your sat-nav be installed but also the latest device software, Bluetooth updates, voice updates and so on. At the end of the process your sat-nav will be right up to date.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

a.  Register your sat-nav by entering your email address when requested to do so.

b.  During the update procedure and depending on your device, you may be asked to disconnent your sat-nav from your PC and reboot it (turning it back on). This step is the installation of the latest software (not the maps) for your device. It is important to let this procedure complete - don't be tempted to switch on/off your device even if it looks like nothing is happening. The software update procedure can take several minutes to complete so be patient.

c.  It is advisable not to update your sat-nav if the battery is flat, make sure it is charged.

d.  Your sat-nav may not have sufficient space for the map update. In this case you can either select a smaller region that will fit on your device or you can insert a microSD card into your sat-nav to hold the maps.

e.  Always make sure you have the latest version of Garmin Express installed before updating your sat-nav. You can check this by clicking the 'cog' icon, top right hand side of the Garmin Express window and clicking on the link in the 'About Garmin Express' panel.

f.  Unfortunately, Garmin Express does not always work. Sometimes it has trouble recognising the devices that are connected to it. In these cases, even though your device comes with lifetime maps, no matter how many times you connect your sat-nav to Garmin Express it informs you that can purchase a map update. If this happens, you will need to contact Garmin through their online support centre, Garmin Support Centre to have the problem resolved.

3. I want to add different maps to my sat-nav

Again, this is done through Garmin Express. The only difference is that you have to purchase the map from Garmin's website first and then use Express to apply the update.

Map purchases like this are only single updates. They do not come with free lifetime map updates.

4. Would mySatNav update my maps for me?

In the past this was a service we did offer.  Nowadays, with Garmin Express, the improved reliability of the devices and increased broadband speeds, map updates is really an easy to use self-service.  If you are stuck, of course, we can help out but you should find that you will not need our assistance.

5. Who should I contact if I have problems using Garmin Express?

Submit an online query to Garmin's Support Centre.