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Updating satellite navigation - Do you need to go back to the dealer?

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Updated 30 Oct 2019

Joel Ilton

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In the days before in-vehicle technology existed, the only way you could find your way to a destination was by using a street map or Refidex - relying on your passenger to let you know when to turn off or what roads you needed to take. This would often lead to confusion and frustration when the ‘you needed to turn right back there’ or the ‘you need to be in the left-hand lane’ call comes too late, usually accompanied with many expletives from the driver's seat.

With the invention of Satellite Navigation, these frustrations became a thing of the past, as putting in the destination address would provide you with a step by step guide on how to arrive at the destination, often with traffic updates and estimated time of arrival.

However, with new roads and destinations appearing almost weekly, these Sat Nav maps can often be outdated quite quickly, which leads to the question of updates. If your vehicle is fitted with factory Sat-Nav, do you have to revisit the dealership to have it updated (if there is an update available) or can you do it yourself?

If you have a factory fitted Sat Nav system, unfortunately, your update options are quite limited, often requiring a trip to the dealership and the exchanging of quite a large sum of money for the ‘official’ map update, which is often one or two years out of date by the time it becomes available.

This is changing, however, as most manufacturers are offering free or cheap updates for a certain amount of time when you purchase a new vehicle, or regular updates that you can download yourself and install into the vehicle using an SD card or DVD.

If you don’t have factory Sat Nav fitted to your vehicle, there are a number of different options out there, most which outperform the factory fitted options, providing features such as speed camera and red light camera warnings, school zones and other areas with reduced speed limits. These options usually come as a separate Sat Nav unit, such as one from TomTom or Garmin, or an app on your mobile phone, such as Waze or Google Maps - Note: your mobile phone must not be used whilst driving, your destination must be entered and the route calculated before starting off to avoid large fines or loss of licence.

If you are unsure if a Sat Nav update is available for your vehicle, checking on your manufacturer's website would be the best place to start. If you have an older vehicle that doesn't have Sat Nav or Bluetooth technology, an aftermarket stereo unit that can be installed into the factory radio position may be the best option for you. These stereos often have a Sat Nav app, or can use Waze or Google Maps when connected to your phone via Bluetooth to provide you with all the directions needed, leaving your passenger to focus on being in charge of the music instead of navigating!

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.