Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

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Thread: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

  1. #1
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    Default Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    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. Garmin told me that my Nuvi was already registred 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
    Associate Engineer
    Amateur Radio Operator
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Last edited by SHARCNET; 09-18-2008 at 06:51 AM.

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  3. #2
    Junior Member JRE56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    Quote Originally Posted by SHARCNET View Post
    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. Garmin told me that my Nuvi was already registred 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 and how to get it quickly repaired.

    Best wishes,
    - Jim
    Associate Engineer
    Amateur Radio Operator
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Does the 360 have the same switch problem?

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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    I've never worked on a Nuvi 360. I know the 350 and 360 are identical except that the 360 has bluetooth.

    So far, all of the units I have seen with this problem have been 350's. I haven't received any complaints about the 360 so far. I'd like to purchase a 360 for the BT function. I'd also be interested in taking it apart so I can see if it has the same switch design flaw.

    - Jim
    Last edited by SHARCNET; 09-18-2008 at 06:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    You might want to hold off on the 360.The recieving end say my voice sounds like an echo or not too clear sounding.On my end the voices are crystal clear,no problems.I did the bluetooth upgrade,apparently it didn't upgrade enough!!

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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    I have confirmed that the Nuvi 360 & 660 have the same on/off switch design flaw.

    - Jim

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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    In future purchases of possible non authorized dealers on ebay or anywhere else you may consider warranties from Squaretrade.com they cover anything even grey market and if they can't fix your item they refund you full purchase price. Came in handy when my Avic Z2 crapped out and it was grey market.
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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    Refurbished units on ebay only carry a 60 day warranty thru EBAY not Garmin! did you get the 179.00 refurbished one? If ya bought a new one on ebay it should have been advertised as NEW with Warranty and Ebay should make it good!

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    Default Re: Garmin Nuvi 350 On/Off Power Switch problem

    Most people may have already given up on the Nuvi 350/360, but I (foolishly, perhaps) bought "lifetime" maps for it last year, before my power switch broke. Today you can get a Nuvi 1300 from Costco for about what I paid for lifetime maps. Also, Garmin has reduced the repair price to $90. But if you DO want to fix your Nuvi 350 power switch, there is an easier method - at least it worked for me. You don't need to disassemble the Nuvi, and you don't need surface-mount soldering tools, but you do need a good fine-tip temperature-controlled soldering iron. I used low-temp solder and tip. This is what worked for me:
    1. Remove the plastic tab that covers the power switch - just pry it up and bend it back and forth till it breaks off.
    2. Examine the power switch to determine which lead has broken. In my case it was the right-hand lead.
    3. Using a small, flat screwdriver, put some pressure on top of the switch to press it down onto the PC board. Press the switch and see if it works. You may have to reposition the loose end of the switch a small amount until it makes contact.
    4. If you can't get the switch to work this way, give up. Otherwise, get out your soldering iron, heat up the broken switch lead and add a small amount of low-temp solder while at the same time maintaining downward pressure on the switch. When the solder cools, if you are lucky the switch will work.

    Obviously this does not address the original design flaw of no support behind the switch, so it may not last forever, but if you apply only the minimum pressure to the switch, it should last a long time.

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