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Thread: How to 'Un-brick' a Garmin device the easy way [step by step]

  1. #1
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    Default How to 'Un-brick' a Garmin device the easy way [step by step]


    Modern Garmin units have a visible file system. Older units such as StreetPilotc3x0, 26x0 or earlier and many GPSMAP models do not have such a system visible to a computer in Mass Storage Mode. Both types of units have the internal memory divided into 'regions' which contain pre-determined and very specific information for the unit or generic for the model series. In 'nuvi-type' units, the visible file system is formatted in FAT16 or FAT32 and is contained in region 48 or 83 depending on series age. One disadvantage in the 'file system' units such as nuvi series is that they are easier to 'brick' than the older types. Fortunately they are also very easy to 'un-brick'. I'm using the term 'brick' loosely as it applies to a unit which will switch on but not boot past the logo screen or 'splash screen' to use the more specific term. Most units stuck on splash cannot be seen in Mass Storage Mode [MSM] but can still attain pre-boot mode. This is related to the mode that the older units [non-file system type] rely upon solely to flash firmware and update maps etc. Even if your unit appears dead, it may still be be possible to revive it if there's a very faint light showing on the screen in a dark room or even if the screen's completely dark. For further details on possible fix of a totally black screen, see Post #5 and for one with dim light [pre-boot is still usually attainable for many units].

    So, if you have a modern 'nuvi-type' unit which is stuck on splash, the chances are 99% that it can be un-bricked. There are a very tiny amount of units which exhibit that symptom but it's due to a physically damaged flash chip. There is a fix for that, but it involves replacing/reprogramming the chip and is not to be done without highly-specialised kit. In any case, such a unit would not be economically repairable and would be better broken down for parts such as screen and case and the entire board junked after any salvageable parts are stripped. The vast majority of units which will turn on can be fixed [cured] one way or another quite easily as follows:


    Before you do anything, make a copy of your unit's region 41 via SD card, details below. This region contains vital information and can be restored to fix future problems in many units. Unfortunately older units with format FAT16 cannot make a copy of region 41 though.

    Possible scenarios:
    1. Can your unit be seen in MSM by PC? [don't use a Mac for this]. Check in Windows Disk Management in case it's shown without a drive letter, if so right click it and add a letter. If you can see the internal file system it may be sufficient to simply remove any file you suspect is responsible. i.e. if you just updated a map *.img or flashed a firmware gupdate.gcd file or sent a POI *.gpi file or a Voice *.vpm file immediately before the problem simply delete the suspect file and see if the unit boots fully. Those common file types are the culprit most times. You need read no further if this scenario fits, just remove the file and be sure you replace it with a known-good one.
    2. Is your unit not detected by the PC at all? Then you will need to flash a modified firmware which bypasses loading common file types. This previously would involve using a hex editor to laboriously change the file extension in the firmware [e.g. .img to .imx; .gcd to .gcx and so on]. Thanks to a brilliant guy with nickname 'kunix', we can now do that process with a small application he named 'Cure3' [i guess he got it right on his third attempt to create it].
    3. If you've accidentally reformatted your Garmin to NTFS you can use Cure3 to access it in MSM and then correctly format it to FAT16 or FAT32 with RMPrepUSB and reflash original firmware [see below].

    So let's now deal with scenario 2 above in detail. Once you've flashed Cure firmware [full details below] there are two possible situations:
    • If you think you know the suspect file because of what you did immediately before the problem simply remove it. Make a full backup of your other files first then re-flash with original firmware [full details below].
    • Or, if you have no idea what file is causing the unit to stick on the splash screen, then it's best to reformat it appropriately [older units such as SPc5x0, nuvi 2x0/W, 3x0 6x0 and 7x0 use FAT16 - Windoze simply calls it 'FAT'], later units such as nuvi 2x5/W, 7x5, 1xxx, 2xxx, 3xxx etc all use FAT32. If you're not sure please ask first in this thread or the linked Cure3 thread [see below]. In most cases it is not advisable to use the inbuilt tool of Windows to reformat a Garmin and NEVER use a Mac. There's more than one way to do a FAT format and if you use anything but the RMPrepUSB tool [details below] you may simply end up with another problem. Just because you get away with using windows one time doesn't mean it'll always work, but using RMPrepUSB will always format a Garmin properly. Garmin's proprietary OS is very sensitive to the formatting of the file system. Before formatting make a backup of the files system.
    • After curing you must flash original fw again to the unit. If you've reformatted, you may need to add at least a Garmin root folder to some units, others such as 2xxx may need basic files replaced from a same/similar series unit, but others like 1xxx will boot empty. Make sure that only known good files are replaced on the cured unit, if you add a corrupt file from your backup it will just brick again. Best don't add any suspect files, replace them with WebUpdater etc.

    Here's all the vital links to help you fix your 'bricked' unit [you'll need to be registered]:


    [even if your unit has a damaged USB socket (common with 1xxx devices, especially 14x0) you can maybe still delete files and folders from it and replace with known good ones to allow it to boot].
    See in there for making patched boot.bin [ldr.bin].

    • Always use a rear port of a PC for USB connections in pre-boot, avoid a front port or an external hub because they might be insufficiently powered.
    • Remember that Cure3 fw cannot boot the unit. In fact that's the whole idea of it so that any corrupt file cannot be partly loaded to 'brick' it. Once the bad file is removed or a format is done then original fw must be flashed to allow the boot to complete. If you leave the Cure fw loaded the unit will still be stuck on the splash screen.
    • Finally if you can't do something or are having trouble understanding what to do, do nothing until you understand but please read the following thread BEFORE posting for specific help either here or in one of the above threads: .
    Last edited by Surething; 12-07-15 at 02:39 PM.

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  • #2
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    I have a Garmin Drive 6 LM, and it seems to have "bricked" after I tried to update it with "Garmin Express"

    Is there a write up, on how to revive it for this device?



  • #3
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    I'd suggest you click on the link at the bottom of post 1 & go from there. Those guys know exactly how to do everything for Garmin devices.
    Cheers, Tiny
    "You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can't make them think? If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
    The information is out there; you just have to let it in."

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    Surething (04-08-19)

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