GPS Not Picking Up Satellites: How to Resolve it Quickly

If you find your GPS not picking up satellites, it can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area and depend on your device for directions. This detailed guide will provide you with the information you need to resolve this issue systematically.

gps not picking up satellites

Understanding the Basics of GPS

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system that allows users to determine their approximate location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) anywhere on Earth. For a GPS receiver to produce an accurate position, it needs to connect with at least four satellites. The more satellites a GPS can connect with, the more accurate its positioning will be.

The basics of how GPS works are simple: your device sends a signal to the satellites, which then send data back to your device. This data is used to calculate your exact position. If your GPS is not picking up satellites, this process is interrupted, which can result in inaccurate or completely missing location information.

Common Reasons for GPS Not Picking Up Satellites

The inability of a GPS device to pick up satellites can result from various factors. Here are some common reasons:

  • Physical Obstructions: Buildings, trees, and even cloudy weather can obstruct the signal between your GPS device and the satellites.
  • Software Glitches: Sometimes, a temporary software malfunction can prevent your GPS from connecting to satellites.
  • Firmware Outdated: Outdated firmware can lead to compatibility issues, making it difficult for the device to establish a connection.
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Understanding the root cause can significantly help in troubleshooting the issue effectively.

For more articles like this one click here – GPS Problems: Your Complete Guide to Common Issues and Solutions

Initial Quick Fixes

If you find that your GPS is not picking up satellites, a few quick fixes can often solve the problem. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Restart the Device: Often, a simple restart can clear any minor glitches that may be affecting your device’s performance.
  2. Check for Obstructions: Move to an open area free of obstructions and check if the device picks up satellites.
  3. Update Software: Ensure that your GPS software is updated to the latest version available.

Advanced Troubleshooting

If the initial quick fixes haven’t resolved your problem with your GPS not picking up satellites, it’s time to consider some advanced troubleshooting options. Below are the methods to help you isolate and possibly fix the issue:

  • Factory Reset:
    • What it does: A factory reset reverts your GPS device to its original factory settings, essentially making it a “new” device in terms of software configuration. This action can be particularly useful for resolving issues related to software corruption, incompatible settings, or system glitches that prevent the GPS from picking up satellites.
    • What to consider: Performing a factory reset will completely erase all the personalized settings, saved routes, waypoints, and any other data stored on the device. This is a last-resort option due to its potential data loss. Before proceeding, make sure to back up any important information to an external storage medium or cloud storage.
    • Preparation Steps:

      Before you initiate a factory reset, it’s advised to:

      • Charge your device to at least 50% battery life.
      • Sync or transfer your data to an external source.
      • Log out of all linked accounts to avoid future authentication issues.
    • How to do it: While the specific steps can differ by brand and model, the general process is as follows:
      1. Access the ‘Settings’ menu on your GPS device.
      2. Scroll down to find an option labeled ‘System’, ‘About’, or something similar.
      3. Look for a ‘Restore,’ ‘Reset,’ or ‘Factory Reset’ option.
      4. Select this option and confirm any prompts that follow.
      5. Wait for the device to reboot; this could take several minutes.
      6. Once the device powers back up, you’ll need to go through the initial setup process as if it were a new device.
  • Firmware Update:
    • What it does: Updating the firmware can resolve compatibility issues and improve the functionality of the device.
    • What to consider: Ensure your device is fully charged or connected to a power source during the update to prevent any interruptions that could corrupt the software.
    • How to do it: Visit the manufacturer’s website and locate the ‘Support’ or ‘Downloads’ section. Search for your device model and follow the detailed instructions provided for firmware updates. Some devices allow for automatic updates via Wi-Fi.
  • Antenna Inspection:
    • What it does: Examining the antenna ensures it’s not the cause of your GPS not picking up satellites.
    • What to consider: Check if the antenna is damaged or if the connection to the device is loose. Sometimes, dust and debris can also affect the connection.
    • How to do it: For devices with external antennas, gently remove and reconnect the antenna to ensure a good connection. If the antenna is damaged, consider purchasing a replacement from a reputable source.
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For more comprehensive guidelines on advanced troubleshooting techniques, consult the Garmin Support Page or the customer support of your device’s manufacturer.

Contacting Customer Support

If you’ve diligently followed all the above steps and your GPS is still not picking up satellites, it may be time to consult with professionals. Customer support can provide tailored assistance and, if necessary, advise you on whether you should send the device in for repairs.

Keep all relevant details at hand when you make the call, such as the device model, any error messages displayed, and the steps you’ve already taken to resolve the issue.


In conclusion, if your GPS is not picking up satellites, the issue can often be resolved through a series of systematic troubleshooting steps.

From initial quick fixes to more advanced solutions, each method serves to identify and fix the problem that’s causing the disconnection between your GPS device and the satellites. If all else fails, customer support is the final avenue for resolving such issues and may provide insights into whether your device requires professional repairs.

While it can be frustrating to deal with a GPS that’s not picking up satellites, especially when you’re relying on it, remember that most issues are temporary and fixable. Follow this comprehensive guide to troubleshoot and hopefully resolve any issues you may be experiencing.

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