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Customer Discussions > GPS forum

Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch Problem

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Showing 1-11 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2008 9:55:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 27, 2008 11:59:14 AM PDT
** Update ** 9/4/08 - I have just confirmed that the Nuvi 660 has the same switch and design flaw as the Nuvi 350. :(

For those of you that own a Nuvi 350 with a on/off power switch problem....don't worry you're not alone.

Two days after I purchased my Nuvi 350, my switch broke too. The problem I faced was that I bought it from a so-called "Authorized Dealer" on eBay. Turns out that Garmin never heard of the dealer and therefore refused to register my Nuvi and honor the warranty. When I tried to register the unit with Garmin, they told me that it was already registered to someone else. They did however offer to fix it for a flat $170.00 fee.

So what do you do in this type of situation? I did some research on the web and discovered that this is a common problem with the Nuvi 350.

Here's why it happens:

The on/off switch is a surface mount switch that is mounted vertically off of the main PC board.

The problem is, that there is no support behind the switch, so when you press down on the button, the very small solder leads of the switch are stressed and eventually the switch breaks off the main PC board. This is a design flaw and it could have been easily prevented by gluing a small piece of custom-fit plastic between the rear of the switch and the SD card housing to give the switch support. Also, the solder pads for the mechanical connections of the switch could have been made bigger, allowing for more surface area and more solder application.

Another possibility of failure because of poor support, is that the switch body may have bent down and away from the case's on/off flap that pushes the switch. There is a plastic stop pin in the case that prevents the flap from going down too far. So, if the switch has been bent down as much as 1/16", the flap will never reach the button on the switch.

Can it be fixed? Yes but it's not just a simple matter of just resoldering the switch. Without fixing the original support issue, the problem will certainly happen again. In some cases, the printed circuit board tracks may have lifted up off the board and need to be bypassed with wires.

The proper way to fix this problem is to improve the mechanical mounting of the switch by securing its metal body to the motherboard groundplane with pre-tinned buswire. The mechanical leads of the switch are not enough to secure the switch to the board. A custom-fit plastic block needs to be glued between the rear body of the switch and the SD card housing. Bottom line, if the switch can't move, the leads won't be stressed causing them to break.

It's very unlikely that the switch itself is bad. The life cycle of this switch is 250,000 cycles. For example, if you pressed it 20 times per day for an entire year, that would add up to 7,300 presses per year. Divide 250,000 cycles by 7,300 and it would take 34.25 years before the switch would fail. No doubt the switch will outlive the Nuvi itself.

Taking the Nuvi apart itself requires the right tools. The internal flex cables for the antenna, touch screen and LCD screen are delicate and can be torn easily if you're not careful. The antenna flex cable runs through the swivel antena shaft and is very delicate.

You will need a surface mount desoldering/soldering station with illuminated magnifier. A standard soldering iron is far too big to solder the leads and will overheat the solder pads, lifting them off the board. All work should also be performed with proper grounding to eliminate static charge issues.

To determine if your switch is broken with no other issues, please
confirm the following:

1. Pressing the on/off switch has no effect and the switch feels mushy
when pressed - no soft click.

2. The unit powers up and operates normally when using the car adapter
or USB adapter and can be turned off by pressing the reset button.

If the above conditions appear to be the symptoms of your Nuvi 350,
then most likely, the on/off switch has broken off from the main
printed circuit board.

Please contact me at KS3R at sharc dot net if you would like further information about this problem.

Best wishes,
- Jim
Pittsburgh, PA

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2008 10:04:08 PM PDT
Maddy's pal says:
Thank you for your extensive research and clear writing. I have one question: would the design allow the switch to be stabilized by a daub of cement in lieu of a plastic block?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2008 6:05:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 7, 2008 6:05:28 AM PDT
I've had the opportunity to work on several units where the manufacturer "attempted" to address this issue by applying epoxy around the switch. It didn't work. The switch still broke free from the board, taking the epoxy with it. All it did was make my repair/modification more difficult because I had to scrape off all of the epoxy off.

- Jim

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2012 4:30:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 14, 2012 4:36:05 PM PDT
ladi k says:
can u assist me in any way my Nuvi GPS will not power on or off if i do not have it pluged into my car or my laptop that is the only way to get it to turn on or off

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2012 9:11:24 AM PDT
If you own a Nuvi 350 or 660 with a defective on/off power switch, you can turn the unit off by pressing the reset button underneath the flip-up antenna.

If you would like the switch design issue PERMANENTLY resolved, please email us at sharcnet-usa AT sharc DOT net.

Posted on Mar 15, 2012 2:01:22 PM PDT
lori watson says:
I am looking for something my husband can use to mark the locations where he dropped his crab pots. Any ideas? does the Magellan Meridian Hiking GPS mark points?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 9:44:55 AM PDT
Gotglasses says:
Newer Nuvis require a 3 second long light touch on the power switch to turn on and off. If you don't realize this and push it really hard it can break.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 9:48:14 AM PDT
Gotglasses says:
I know that The Garmin Etrex series do. Probably any hiking unit will - but you need water proof.
The old Garmin Marine GPS on my boat has a BIG waypoint button just for this purpose. I used it to find my outdrive after I hit a sandbar!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2013 2:47:54 PM PST
Jim , I sent in a nuvi 350 aproximately a couple years ago and you fixed the broken switch and came back with good maps. I think i sent it to you . My name is Robert J DePew 350 NW 231st ave. Hillsboro Orebon 97124.(phone 503 640 1560) (E mail = Is it possible to send you my old garmin nuvi 350 and have you fix the switch and possibly maps ?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2013 2:51:23 PM PST
i sent off a nuvi 350 years ago to someone and it came back fixed with good maps . I don't know if this was you or not. Now i have a nuvi 350 that won't power on . Can you help ?

Robert J DePew
350 NW 231st ave.
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124
Phone 503 640 1560 E mail

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2013 9:22:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2013 9:24:32 PM PST
Hi Robert,

We've sent you a response by email.

- Jim
President/Senior Engineer
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Discussion in:  GPS forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  11
Initial post:  Aug 26, 2008
Latest post:  Mar 2, 2013

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