Data card dilemma

GPS unit not reading mapping program files

Dear Capt. Paul:

I have a Garmin 182c that is not reading the data card with topo map source on it. I have two friends who have the same unit, and their units are reading my data card. I tried their cards in my unit, and my unit does not read their cards. I called Garmin and they sent me the data card 6.0 update to update my unit but it would not work in my unit, so I called them back and was told the data card reader in my unit is bad and they no longer support this unit. I was wondering if you know anyone who can fix the unit or where I may get another unit secondhand because I have all the attachments and really like the unit. This unit was purchased in 2001. I just thought maybe you had a good idea on what to do since I like the unit so much.



Capt. Paul’s response:

Sorry RG,

The only people that I know of who repair Garmin units are Garmin. The same thing holds true to almost all other GPS manufactures.

The units are now made with sealed cases and use Garmin propriety parts that they don’t sell or distribute outside of the Garmin Company.

If they can’t help you I don’t know of anyone else who could.

You said that two of your friends had the same unit. This may be so, but sometimes there is a manufacturer’s update in the same model number without giving it a different number. It may be an actual mechanical upgrade, an operating software or in some cases an actual redesigning of the motherboard, the screen or the case itself. Usually, these upgrades are promoted and advertised as a new model, but in some instances that is not the case. It is possible that your unit is an older unit or has a different upgrade than your friend’s unit. The units may look the same but may have some kind of a different configuration.

However, even if this is so, it does not rule out the possibility that the card reader/writer in the unit is actually defective.

I sure hope that you have backed up your waypoints, tracks and routes, because if you have not you may be on the verge of losing it all. If you did not yet back up the data, do so as soon as possible.

Before submitting the unit to the scrap heap, I suggest that you do a little investigation on your own to actually narrow down the problems you are having.

First get a spare data card that meets the requirements of your unit. Be sure to look in the owner’s manual and in the specification page. Note the type of card that is required by the manufacturer. I say this because many of the newer secure digital (SD) cards are now high capacity and high speed and extreme ( HC, HC, EXT). These newer-type cards may not be able to be read by a older unit that reads older, vintage technology cards.

The new TOPO mapping card should meet the stated specifications, just as any other card should do. So check out the map card to be sure that it meets specifications for your unit.

Then, in a strong light, inspect the card reader slot. Be sure that nothing has made its home in the cavity where the card is supposed to go, or that there are not other items of debris that would prevent the card from being read.

Now find a standard SD memory card that your unit was initially designed to read. With the unit turned off, place the new “standard” SD memory card (again, be sure that it is not a HC SD, or HS SD or Extreme SD card) in the card slot of the unit and then turn the unit ON. This is necessary, as the unit must write coded info to the card so the unit will later recognize it as a Garmin Card/unit.

Then, using the MENU feature in the unit, transfer any of the existing internal data, such as routes, tracks or waypoint data to the new card by giving it a unique name and writing it to the card. With the unit off, remove the card and place it in the card reader/writer of your computer, and see if you can read the data file that was transferred. If you can see the file on the card, then try and double check the data on the card. To actually view the data, you have to have either the Garmin Trip and Waypoint Manager, Base Camp or Garmin MapSource 2005 topo installed on your computer. If you don’t have one of the Garmin data programs installed, you will not be able to actually read the information, but you should still see a new file with under 150KB on the card.

If this is successful, then it is not a defect in the unit’s card reader being able to write to a data card.

Then, use the specified memory card and your Garmin data transfer program and mark some waypoints in the program and transfer the data to the memory card while in your computer. Place that card in your GPS units and using the MENU feature of the GPS unit, read the card and try to transfer the data into your GPS unit.

If the data was able to be transferred, then it may be something wrong with the TOPO data card when used in your unit.

If the file name was NOT written to or can be transferred from the new card, then the internal card reader of the GPS unit is defective.

If the file reader in your unit uses the older technology SD card, try to copy the Topo SD card data onto the older SD card and see if the unit will recognize the mapping. There are some programs on the market that will allow for such a transfer.

If this all fails, then it is time to start shopping for a new unit. I suggest that you stick with the Garmin line, as you already have a TOPO mapping program for the unit, as well as having other Garmin accessories. These accessories may save you having to purchase different accessory items from another manufacturer.

If you are unable to complete the data transfer via a memory card, you may have to use the Garmin USB to RS232 cable (part number 010-10310-00) that allows you to connect your GPS device to your computer, even if you don’t have a 9-pin serial port connection.

Using this converter cable and the PC interface cable for your device, you can transfer maps, waypoints, routes and tracks between your computer and your GPS device.

Contact the Garmin support section at 800-800-1020 and see what you would need to purchase to accomplish the data or even map data transfer from your PC directly into the GPS unit.

Check out the new unit to be sure that some of the accessories will work. You can check out the new unit by going to the Garmin web site at

I and our readers are interested in what you find out about your unit.

Capt. Paul

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About Captain Paul Titus 192 Articles
Capt. Paul Titus has been responding to G.P.S questions on since 2000. He has been fishing and hunting in Louisiana since 1957. Titus holds a USCG license and conducts instruction courses in the use of GPS for private individuals and government agencies.

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