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More About GPS Map Updates


About ten days ago we wrote about why GPS maps are often incorrect and outdated. On Sunday the New York Times wrote an article about NAVTEQ and their process for mapping changes to their data.

Navteq updates its database continuously, releasing new versions several times a year so its customers are not selling maps that are long out of date. But as long as GPS units depend on digital maps stored onboard – the satellite’s signal provides information only to determine a position, not the street grid itself – they are always going to have some holes because road networks are constantly evolving.

They also briefly talked about the expensive costs sometimes associated with map updates, particular for in-dash GPS navigation systems.

For consumers, keeping a navigation system up to date requires purchasing a new digital map. Automakers typically issue annual updates for their systems; most recent models require a new map DVD at $200 and up. (One for a Cadillac Escalade or a Jeep Grand Cherokee is $199, while the latest Lexus update is about $350.)

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9 Responses

  1. I went to the local Circuit City a few months ago and observed a big difference in map accuracy/currency between the manufactures. I simply attempted to locate my house, which I have lived in for more than 3.5 years. The streets have been here even longer. TomTom and Magellan didn’t even have my street. Garmin did. Of the big three, I decided to stick with Garmin for my latest purchase. You can do this test yourself, by trying to find 12380 W Tonto St in Avondale AZ 85323. If your unit can’t find it, try finding it on a Garmin unit and then manually move and zoom the unit you are trying to find it on, to see if the streets even exist. Another test is to find a more recent street addition, which is the intersection of Avondale Blvd and W Coldwater Springs Blvd. They didn’t intersect on any TomTom or Magellan units. They did on the Garmin units. This test is by no means representative of the overall coverage and capabilities of a unit and its maps, but it was eye opening for me. Garmin seems to get information more quickly than the others (in this small sample).

    Brian - December 24th, 2006
  2. If I buy a new Garmin GPS like 750 or 780 from an online store like Amazon, how to make sure that I am getting latest map? what is the latest map available now in Sep 08? Is 2008 or 2009? Do we have internal versions or 2008 will have only one map?

    Neal Pressley - September 14th, 2008
    • i purchased a plenio gps,and looking at all data most of gps unit use the same program .so why is that my unit is off by at least 200 ft and tells ypu to turn down one way streets going wrong way,left turns and i live in nj were left turns are not something you do in jersey its almost all jug handles,roads are changing all the time,why cant there be a system in place that all gps co use and updates are available asap and should be downloaded by co that you are using product are they going to pay if you have major accident because you turned were gps said to,i read a story about some guy rhat made a turn on a rail road track,car got stuck and you can figure out what happened nrxt!! no one got hurt,gov also has set so that you can only be close to your destination .but they can be within inches!!! bs paid alot of money for product and co should take care of cust or else dont sell something that could end up getting someone killed,if it didnt happen already!!!

      dan - February 5th, 2009
  3. How to make sure if I am getting latest map when I am buying Garmin GPS 750 ot 780 from an online store? Do I need to expect 2008 maps for do we have 2009 maps available? Do we have only one version in 2008 or many?

    Neal Pressley - September 14th, 2008
  4. Neal, you won’t know for sure which map the device has without turning it on, but Garmin has also just announced the Garmin nuMaps Guarantee.

    Tim - September 14th, 2008
  5. is there a map update for hp310 gps if so please let me kno thx

    paul - June 3rd, 2009
    • Paul, see our HP GPS Forum for people discussing ways to get map updates.

      Tim - June 3rd, 2009
  6. i have a amcor 3900 and want to update the maps and poi’s to 2010 and the original website no longer exisits any suggestions, thanks.

    jamil - January 26th, 2010
  7. Ineed to find updates for my viscon530a… any place anyone knows of?

    Rob - February 6th, 2011

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