What To Do When Your Garmin Watch Is Not Charging

I have a Garmin Forerunner 245, and I love it. I like it a lot better than my old Fitbit Charge 3, and the Garmin is definitely a better watch for running.

There’s only one thing that annoys me about the Garmin watch. Sometimes, it has problems charging.

If you have a Forerunner, you’ve probably experienced something similar. You come back from a run, you plug it in, and you walk away. You come back later and realize your Garmin watch isn’t charging. What gives!

Keep reading for an in depth discussion of this issue. But if you’re in a hurry one of two things will usually fix the problem: a) clean the charging port with some rubbing alcohol and/or b) grab one of these charging pucks from Amazon.

Why Your Garmin Watch Won’t Charge

There seem to be a couple reasons why your Garmin watch might have problems charging. Let’s run through the possible explanations first, and then I’ll give you some suggestions on how to address the issue.

Based on my own experience and reading a bunch of threads on Reddit, I’ve narrowed down the likely culprits to the following problems.

The Charging Cable Could Be Damaged

First, as with any electronic device, the charging cable could get damaged.

The original cable that came with my Garmin Forerunner 245 seemed a little light weight and flimsy. A charging cable is made up of multiple thin cables inside the rubber sheath, and if these are bent repeatedly they can eventually break. This is why I always try to charge my phone while it’s laying flat on a desk – so I can avoid bending the cable at a sharp angle.

Unfortunately, the way the charging cable plugs into the back of a Garmin watch makes this difficult, so it’s more likely that the cable will get bent. Over a long enough period, this will inevitably lead to problems charging.

If this is your problem, then you’re going to need to replace your charging cable. My favorite is this charging puck, but here are some other recommendations.

Note: I have a Garmin Forerunner 245, but the connector is the same on most recent Garmin watches – including Forerunners (45, 55, 245, 255, 745, 935, 945, and 955), Fenix (5, 6, and 7), Instinct, Venu, Vivoactive (3 and 4), and others.

The Charging Connectors Could Be Worn Out

Over time, the connector on the charging cable also wear out.

When a cable is brand new, you can feel a pretty firm click when you plug in the watch. As you repeatedly plug in the charger, something on the connector wears away. In the end, this can lead to a loose connection – and a loose connection might mean unreliable charging.

If this is the issue, then replacing the charging cable is probably your best bet.

The Charging Port Could Be Dirty or Corroded

The flip side of this problem area is the charging port itself. There are four pins on the back of your Garmin watch, and these pins plug into the charging cable.

Garmins are definitely a wonder of engineering. Somehow these charging pins can remain exposed to sweat and water, and they keep functioning. But the fact that they are waterproof doesn’t mean that issues can’t crop up with these charging ports.

Over time, the pins on the watch get dirty. If you wear your watch long enough, sweat and grime will gunk up on those charging pins. This in turn can lead to a bad connection between the watch and the charger – and no charging activity.

The charging port could also get corroded. If you immediately plug your watch in after running, it could still be damp from sweat. In the short term, this moisture could cause problems with connecting the charger. And in the long term, the moisture plus the electric current from the charger could create some corrosion on the charging pins. This in turn reinforces the previous problem – that the charging port on the watch or on the cable are dirty.

If this is your issue, then a preventative measure is to rinse the watch off when you’re in the shower and only plug it in when it’s dry. If you’ve already developed a dirt or corrosion problem, then the solution is to clean the watch.

So What Do You Do If Your Garmin Watch Won’t Charge?

If your Garmin watch stops charging or does so intermittently, here are some suggestions to help you fix the problem. The solution is going to depend a lot on what you’ve diagnosed the problem as.

If Your Watch Is Dirty, Clean It

First, try and rule out any issues with dirt and corrosion.

If you read the instruction manual (you did read that, right?), Garmin suggests that you clean your watch with damp cloth and a mild detergent solution. You can use something like rubbing alcohol for this. If you suspect the charging port is particularly dirty, you could also use a toothbrush to get in there and scrub it clean.

Once it’s clean, try and avoid creating new problems. This means a) rinsing off your watch and b) not plugging it in to charge until it’s dry.

My old routine used to be to plug it in immediately after my run while I shower, and that may have led to some problems. To try and eliminate charging issues, I now rinse the back of the watch off when I’m in the shower, and I only plug it in at night when I’m in bed. So far, it seems to be helping.

If the Charging Cable Isn’t Working, Replace It

Besides corrosion, the other major issue to deal with is the charging cable.

You’ll know this is likely a problem if you plug in the watch and have to fiddle with the cable to get it to charge. I knew my original cable was starting to go bad because I’d plug it in, and I’d have to put the watch down in the exact right position to get it to charge. Sometimes it would start charging, and then when I put it down it would stop. Chances are, the cable was broken inside or the connector was worn down and wasn’t fitting snugly enough.

Charging cable and puck for a Garmin watch.

While I was looking for a replacement charger, I came across these charging pucks on Amazon. They are amazing.

I love the way the puck sits flat and the watch sits on top of it. There’s no more bending of the cord, which is one way it can eventually break. I can also easily see the face of the watch to know that it’s charging. With the original charger, the watch is usually upside down. This makes it hard to see the watch face while it’s plugged in.

And you will love the way it connects. There’s such a satisfying snap when you plug in the watch. I haven’t had my charging puck for too long, but it definitely feels so much more firmly connected than the original charger.

If you’re not into the charging puck, here are some other suggestions for replacement chargers that work pretty well. At the end of the day, chargers are consumable items. They eventually wear out, and you just need to buy a new one.

The Bottom Line on Charging Your Garmin Watch

If you’ve had problems charging your Garmin watch in the past, the bottom line is that there are some simple solutions to most problems.

First, make sure that your watch is clean and avoid charging it when it’s wet. If you used to charge your watch immediately after running like I did, change up your routine to make sure that it has time to try

Second, pick up a charging puck or a more solid charging cable. This will save you the trouble of having to fiddle with the cable every time you plug it in.

Note: I’m discussing my experience with a Garmin Forerunner 245, but the charger is the same on most recent Garmin watches – including Forerunners (45, 55, 245, 255, 745, 935, 945, and 955), Fenix (5, 6, and 7), Instinct, Venu, Vivoactive (3 and 4), and others.

5 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Garmin Watch Is Not Charging”

  1. I have a Vivomove 3s. Often when I try to charge it, I get a triangle on the screen. It doesn’t charge when it is there. I called customer support about it and they didn’t know what I was talking about. Any ideas?

    • I had the same problem. I just brushed the pins on the watch and charging cable (unplugged) with a toothbrush. It started charging again after that.

  2. Thank you! Had a forerunner 255 for about 1.5 years and it wouldn’t charge unless I pressed the cable into it with force. Cleaning didn’t help. So got a new one 1.5 years ago, same issue for the last week. Ordered the pod you suggested yesterday morning, but watch died on run yesterday (thankfully only half a mile from home). So I sat pressing it on the charger to get it up to 8%. Took it to the running store, figured I’d buy a new watch, then return today if the charger you suggested arrived and worked. Otherwise, I’d just use the new watch to run today. The running store took an official Garmin cable from a new watch and just tested mine and it worked! They charged it to 58% while I shopped, then my pod charger arrived late last night and it worked perfectly! Thanks for saving me hundreds! Unfortunately, the new pod charger also restored my last watch to life (died mere weeks before you posted this), so some unnecessary spending but at least you saved me from doubling my mistake! Thanks again!


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